Posts filed under ‘Music’

Maynard Jackson’s Women’s Chorus Receives Straight Superior Ratings at the GMEA Choral Festival


Women's Chorus 1

by Britney Morgan

The Maynard H. Jackson High School Women’s Chorus received straight superior ratings at the Georgia Music Educators Association’s Large Group Performance Evaluation, Choral Festival. The chorus also received an excellent rating in sight reading.

The evaluation requires the students to perform selections from a state list provided by GMEA.  The Maynard Jackson Women’s Chorus performed “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Sy Miller & Jill Jackson and “Elijah Rock” arranged by Jester Harriston.

Students performed in front of three adjudicators, each giving a rating of either superior, excellent, good, fair or poor. The ratings are based on seven categories including; tone, pitch, rhythm, ensemble, diction, interpretations and other factors such as choice of music, appearance and stage presence.  Jackson’s Women’s Chorus received straight Superior ratings in the Large Group Performance Evaluation.

They received excellent in their sight reading performance. The talented group of young ladies were given 5 minutes to take a piece of music they’ve never seen before and sing it acapella in 3 part harmony.

2 Soloists, Selema Gonzalez and Cecila Cole, participated in the GMEA solo and ensemble contest both receiving superior ratings as well.

Maynard Jackson High School’s Choral Instructor and 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year, Lydia Williams said that she is extremely proud of her talented group of young ladies and that they put in many hours before, during and after school to prepare for this event.

She explained that when students practiced during class time they started out with vocalizes (warm-ups) using solfeggio (do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do) followed by sight reading practice as a large group and in sectionals utilizing the Curwen hand signs to work on intervals.

They also use the digital piano lab to reinforce pitch recognition.

“They even rehearsed in my absence,” said Williams.  “I’m very proud of their leadership and phenomenal talent.”

The Maynard Jackson Women’s Chorus is now preparing for the APS High School Honor Chorus Weekend March 20-21, their spring concert in April and graduation in May.

For more information about the Georgia Music Educators Association visit

March 6, 2015 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

Katy Perry and Staples “Make Roar Happen” for Bunche Middle School students


Global pop star Katy Perry with Bunche M.S. music teacher, Matthew Hall and rising 8th grader, Jalyn Barber (Photo by Dan Harr/Invision for Staples/AP Images)

Global pop star Katy Perry with Bunche M.S. music teacher, Matthew Hall and rising 8th grader, Jalyn Barber (Photo by Dan Harr/Invision for Staples/AP Images)

During the month of May, Ralph J. Bunche Middle School music teacher Matthew Hall asked donors to help him with a class project created using, a nonprofit website that raises money to help teachers receive classroom needs to aid their students in achieving success.  The southwest Atlanta instructor requested funding for music supplies for his program – supplies that would be used to train the school’s 6th, 7th and 8th graders and foster a love for the arts.

On June 30, 2014, Staples  surprised Georgia educators when the company fully funded the balance of every project that was listed on in the Atlanta community, including that of Mr. Hall. The total donation for Georgia was $128,158 and aided 77 teachers with classroom needs, helping more than 8,000 students in the Atlanta area.

Hall’s program will receive about $10,000 worth of band supplies, including-flutes, clarinets, a flugelhorn, a saxophone and a digital piano. “I’m just grateful for the assistance being provided to me to enrich the lives of children through music,” said Hall.

Along with the donation from Staples, Mr. Hall and two APS students were given tickets and backstage passes to attend a Katy Perry concert.

As the presenting sponsor of Katy Perry’s North American Leg of Prismatic World Tour, Staples teamed up with Perry in a nationwide initiative, “Make Roar Happen,” to celebrate and support teachers during the back to school season. Through this initiative Staples is donating $1 million dollars to

Atlanta Public Schools thanks Staples for their commitment to the arts in education and looks forward to the beautiful music that will be made by our Bunche Middle School students.

About Staples

Staples makes it easy to make more happen with more products and more ways to shop. Through its world-class retail, online and delivery capabilities, Staples lets customers shop however and whenever they want, whether it’s in-store, online or on mobile devices. Staples offers more products than ever, such as technology, facilities and breakroom supplies, furniture, safety supplies, medical supplies, and Copy and Print services. Staples also offers free shipping for Staples Rewards Members, in most cases overnight. Headquartered outside of Boston, Staples operates throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. More information about Staples (SPLS) is available at


Founded in 2000, makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need.  At this nonprofit website, teachers at half of all the public schools in America have created project requests, and more than a million people have donated $240 million to projects that inspire them. All told, 11.4 million students—most from low-income communities, and many in disaster-stricken areas—have received books, art supplies, field trips, technology, and other resources that they need to learn.




July 7, 2014 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Parkside chorus performs Nelson Mandela tribute at Georgia Dome during ‘Battle of the Bands’


In front of an audience of over 50,000 fans, on January 25th, the Parkside Elementary School chorus performed at the Georgia Dome with South Carolina State University‘s ‘Marching 101’ during Honda Battle of the Bands. The performance was a tribute to Nelson Mandela as they sang “Dry Your Tears, Africa” by John Williams, in an African dialect.

Denetra Henderson, Parkside music specialist and chorus instructor, was approached three weeks ago by the assistant band director at South Carolina State University regarding this rare opportunity. Henderson states that it was a wonderful chance for the elementary aged students to be exposed to college life as they interacted with the band members before and during the performance. Students, she explained, learned that they could major in any field in college while still pursuing their musical talents.  “The performance was wonderful… it was electrifying and it was exciting,” said Henderson, a 26 year veteran with APS and former conductor of the district’s prestigious honor elementary chorus.

“The students are learning about the colleges represented at the Honda Battle of the Bands, and are continuing their conversations in class about college and careers,” she said.

Alabama A&M University, Alabama State University, Bethune-Cookman University, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T University, South Carolina State University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Winston-Salem State University all took center field during the competition.

Emotions during the performance ranged from excitement to fear, but the young performers didn’t let their nervousness show.  Fifth grader Malaika Alilaw thought the opportunity was the chance of a lifetime.  “I like to sing and Ms. Henderson is my favorite teacher,” said the fourth year chorus member.

No stranger to singing or music — Malaika’s mother is an opera singer — we asked if her mother’s career led to her joining the Parkside chorus.  “Opera is a type of music that really touches you, but I sing in the Parkside chorus because it is something that I really want to do.  After I started in the chorus, my mom told me that when she was my age she also sang in her school chorus.  I thought that was really great.”

When asked if she was nervous about singing in front of a large audience Malaika told us the secret behind looking so confident, “It wasn’t really scary because we had a chance to go to the stadium on Thursday to practice.  By the time we arrived on Saturday, we knew what to expect.”

This event marked the 12th year for the event, which showcases the musical talents and showmanship of bands representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

About The Honda Battle of the Bands:   “The Honda Battle of the Bands continues to support HBCU music education programs across the nation, while producing an entertaining show that never fails to get fans to their feet,” said Gina Jorge, head of Multicultural Marketing for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “We are honored to showcase this incredible musical talent, and are dedicated to sustaining music education at these institutions, through the grants awarded to each participating university.”

Widely known as “The Honda,” The Honda Battle of the Bands was created to celebrate, support and recognize the excellence of Black college marching bands and the unique academic experience offered by HBCUs. The participating eight marching bands each received a $20,000 grant for their school’s music education programs from Honda, along with an all-expense paid trip to Atlanta, to perform at the 2014 Invitational Showcase.

About South Carolina State University:  The “Marching 101” of South Carolina State is known coast to coast for its brilliant sound, high energy and exceptional musicianship. The band’s name is actually a misnomer, since the current band boasts a membership of more than 200. Under its present director Eddie Ellis, they have entertained thousands of spectators across the Southeast and millions more via various media. The band has performed during pro football halftime shows, on local and national TV, and at national events and parades.  Since their inception in 1918, the school’s bands have been an important part of the Orangeburg community and the state of South Carolina.





January 31, 2014 at 9:45 am 3 comments

Help your favorite music educator win a spot at the 2014 GRAMMY awards


March is Music in our Schools Month, and the GRAMMY Foundation and the Recording Academy are providing an incredible opportunity for you to publicly thank your favorite music teacher.

The organizations are partnering to present the first-ever Music Educator Award to recognize music educators for their contributions to our musical landscape and their positive influence on their students’ musical experiences.  The GRAMMY Foundation will fly one lucky winner to Los Angeles during GRAMMY week 2014, and present that person with the award along with a $10,000 honorarium.

Boyd Elementary School music teacher Deborah Howard watches the GRAMMYs every year, and says she thinks the award is long overdue.

“Lots of music teachers are unsung heroes,” stated Howard.  “Every year I watch the program, and I think about how great the artists are who are receiving the awards.  Then I wonder how they learned to play instruments, to sing, to perform.IMG_1708

“Someone had to teach them about presentation and how to understand and appreciate music,” Howard added.  “Music educators have influenced many of these entertainers, and by way of their music, that influence has positively impacted millions around the world.”

Nominees must:

  • be a current music-based teacher
  • teach in the United States
  • teach music to students in any grade from kindergarten through college, in public or private schools

Howard believes the Music Educator of the Year Award focuses on the future by celebrating what teachers are doing now.

” Amazing new artists emerge every year, and the people at the GRAMMYs organization are thinking about the great musicians of tomorrow by recognizing people who are shaping them today.  They always talk about appreciating music educators — I’m excited to see them putting their money where their mouth is.”

Anyone can nominate a teacher; in fact, teachers can even nominate themselves. The deadline for nominations is April 15, 2013.  For more information, visit

March 24, 2013 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

The Atlanta Music Project Invests in Coan’s String Orchestra

Coan music1

The string orchestra at Coan Middle School has gained momentum since they received the Atlanta Music Project grant through the Zeist Foundation in September 2012. The Atlanta Music Project was generous to provide instruments for students, and teaching artists who visit the orchestra classes one day per week. These professional musicians also select students for sectionals and provide group lessons after school. The orchestra students at Coan have the opportunity to further their music education as they develop their instrumental talents in school under the strong leadership of Bridgette Yancy, the String Orchestra Teacher, and trained professionals from the Atlanta Music Project.

Coan’s String Orchestra Concert:
Thursday, February 21st
6:30 p.m.

Coan Middle School’s Annual Fine Arts Festival

coan music

The Atlanta Music Project is a non-profit organization founded in 2010, which has grown to serve more than 87 students at three sites, including Coan Middle School. Rameau, the Executive Director of Atlanta Music Project, can quote statistics that indicate improved test scores, elevated reading comprehension and higher graduation rates from students who have participated in the program. They believe that intense musical training supports the development of confidence, resilience, creativity, and ambition, leading to a positive change in the children and the community.

For more information on the Atlanta Music Project, please visit

February 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm 1 comment

Springdale Park’s Chorus Performs “O, Canada” at Gwinnett Gladiators Game


On Saturday, January 12th, the Springdale Park Advanced Chorus performed the Canadian National Anthem “O, Canada” at the Gwinnett Gladiators Game vs. the Kalamazoo Wings. Over 120 Springdale Park fans were present to support the chorus. The Gladiators are the ECHL Affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres and the Phoenix Coyotes of the National Hockey League and are members of the ECHL, the Premier “AA” Hockey League.

The event was part of a FUN-raiser with many benefits for Springdale Park Choruses:

  • Family and friends of the chorus members were able to buy reduced-price ticket sales for the game
  • The Children had an unforgettable experience singing for a huge professional sports team audience
  • Because Springdale Park sold more than 100 tickets, their music program will receive a donation back from the Gladiators!

The Springdale Park Choruses have performed the US National Anthem for multiple sporting events around town, including Georgia Tech Women’s Volleyball and Basketball games and Springdale Park’s 5th Grade Basketball Challenge. The performers wanted to try something new for the Gladiators game by singing the Canadian Anthem. They further challenged themselves by learning the bi-lingual version of “O, Canada”, singing it in English and French!

“I am so proud of the beautiful singing and grateful for the dedication and hard work devoted by all of our Springdale Park Chorus and Advanced Chorus members! The kids blew me away with their lovely sound and excellent diction!” says Brianne Turgeon, Music/Chorus Teacher at Springdale Park.


Springdale Park is looking forward to the upcoming events:

  • February 9 – The Community Children’s Chorus Festival, featuring choruses from Springdale Park, Mary Lin, The Swift School (private), Henderson Mill (DeKalb), and Atlanta Young Singers (of Callanwolde)
  • February 13 – Advanced Chorus performance at LGPE at Mays High School
  • April 27 – The Inman Park Festival Parade
  • May 13 – Spring Music Concert

For more information, please visit Music@SPARK’s blog:

January 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm 2 comments

APS and the CEP providing cultural, artistic experiences and learning to Atlanta Public School students

The City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs created the Cultural Experience Project to give every Atlanta Public School student, from Pre-Kindergarten through the 12th Grade, the opportunity to experience the city’s premier arts and cultural venues. The vision is for every student in Atlanta Public Schools to have at least one on site experience at an arts and cultural venue each year. The goal is for the students to have an education enhancing encounter that directly ties to the Georgia Learning Performance Standards and curriculum goals.

The CEP provides field trips to APS students that are entirely funded by private donations from Turner Broadcasting, The Zeist Foundation, Loridans Foundation, Keneda Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts Shakespeare in American Communities program and other local businesses and partners. CEP was started under the administration of Mayor Shirley Franklin and has continued under Mayor Kasim Reed. Events are offered free of charge to all APS students and are administered by the APS Fine Arts Department.

“The Cultural Experience Project model ensures that all APS students can access Atlanta’s cultural assets regardless of family finances, where they live, or what school they attend,: said City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Director Camille Russell Love. “We want every child to have opportunities at no cost to them. Even transportation is funded through a generous grant from Turner Broadcasting.”

“The Cultural Experience Project provides powerful educational experiences for all Atlanta Public School students and provides real-world connections for classroom learning while opening students’ hearts and minds to new intellectual and aesthetic horizons. Many students would never otherwise experience the rich cultural life of the city, and because of this program, new generations of citizens will grow up knowing how to take full advantage of the cultural, civic and artistic wealth here in Atlanta, ” said Raymond Veon, Interim Director, Fine and Performing Arts Department, Teaching and Learning for Atlanta Public Schools.

In its first seven years, the Cultural Experience Project has provided over 233,000 cultural experiences that have enhanced classroom learning to the district’s elementary, middle and high school students. The City of Atlanta envisions the opportunity for 100% of its students to experience the wealth of Atlanta’s cultural venues as a part of a “best in class” education through the Atlanta Public Schools.

October 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

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