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Successful Urban Band Director: Making it Work Where it Usually Doesn't

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  • Four band directors who work in Title 1 schools in the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) share stories and strategies from their successful band programs. Topics covered will range from scheduling, bugeting and grant writing to classroom management, rehearsal technique and philosophy of education. An overview of the unique circumstances of NYC will be presented along with a description of each program.
  • Jeff W. Ball (grandstreetband@yahoo.com)
  • 12/21/2012 03:30 PM - N/A
  • W186
  • Jeff W. Ball received his bachelor’s in Music Education and Jazz Studies and his master’s in Music Education from Ithaca College. Jeff has also participated in conducting symposiums led by Stephen Peterson, Mallory Thompson, Craig Kirchoff, Alan McMurray and Jerry Junkin. In 2004, he became director of bands for the Grand Street Campus High Schools in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Currently, he also serves as coordinator of performing arts at the Grand Street Campus. He is also director of the NYC All-City Marching Band and as assistant director of the Intermediate School 318–Eugenio Maria De Hostos Marching Band. In February 2008, with thirty fellow instrumentalists, he founded the Grand Street Community Band, a group that has grown into the 85-piece Brooklyn Wind Symphony. In 2011, Jeff was appointed director of the Brooklyn College Conservatory Wind Ensemble.
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  • Jasmine Britt
  • Clarinetist Jasmine Britt hails from Pembroke Pines, Florida. She began her musical studies at the age of 10 and participated in concert band, marching band, and pit orchestra during her years at Flanagan High School. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Florida State University, and her Master’s in Music Education from Ithaca College. Upon graduating with honors from FSU in 2004, Jasmine taught band at Olsen Middle School in Dania Beach, Florida. Under her direction, Olsen Middle School’s concert band performed at the Hollywood International Airport Winter Fest in 2005 and 2006. Additionally, Olsen Middle School students participated in the Broward All-County and Florida All-State Honor Bands. In 2007, Jasmine became the band director at Middle School 50 in Brooklyn, leading the symphonic band to its first Gold Medal Rating at NYSSMA evaluation in 2009 and a second Gold in 2010. In 2011 Jasmine became the Assistant Band Director at the Grand Street Campus High Schools, directing the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band B, the Concert Band and several chamber ensembles. Despite a busy schedule as a full-time music teacher, she remains an active clarinetist and bass clarinetist and has performed with the Broward Community College Band, Broward Community College Orchestra, Dolce Winds Woodwind Quintet, Brooklyn Repertory Opera, and Brooklyn Wind Ensemble. She is a founding member of the Grand Street Community Band which is now known as the Brooklyn Wind Symphony.
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  • Jennifer Schecter
  • Ms. Jennifer Schecter has directed the instrumental music program at the Marie Curie Middle School 158 in Queens, NY since September 2004. Under her tenure at MS 158, the instrumental music department has grown to service nearly 300 students each year and has been regionally recognized as a model urban music program. The instrumental music department has now grown to include beginning through advanced level bands, an after-school string program, a jazz band and several chamber ensembles. The MS 158 Symphonic Band participates in NYSSMA adjudication Festivals annually and was called upon to open the 2011 Queensborough Community College band concert. The students of MS 158 regularly perform in honor band Festivals at Hofstra University and Queens College as well as in Borough Wide, MEANYC All County. Ms. Schecter is also the associate director and recruitment/retention liaison of the Queens Borough Wide Band program. To date, she has amassed more than 80,000 dollars in grants for the both the MS 158 Band and Arts Department. Jennifer is a proud product of the NYC Public School System, where she was an active participant in the Queens Borough Wide Band and Orchestra and All City HS Marching Band. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Central Michigan University (Magna Cum Laude) a Master of Science in Music Education from Queens College – Aaron Copland School of Music and a Master of Arts in Wind Conducting from Hofstra University. Jennifer’s unwavering passion in life is to inspire NYC youth through the transcendent power of music. She has presented workshops on urban teaching and grant writing at the 2011 Society for Music Teacher Education in Greensboro, NC and at the annual NYSSMA Convention this past December. To date she has mentored nine student teachers and hopes to be able to open the eyes of many more pre-service and practicing teachers to the joys of urban music education.
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  • Stephen Souza
  • Mr. Stephen Souza is the band director and fine arts coordinator at P.S./M.S. 43 Q in Far Rockaway, Queens, a program which he founded in 2007. Since then, the program has grown from a after-school program of 12 students to a flourishing program including a fourth grade band, a fifth grade band, a sixth through eighth grade middle school band, and a jazz ensemble. Mr. Souza led the P.S./M.S 43 School Band to their first NYSSMA Major Organizations Festival in 2009 and has had students participate in the local NYSSMA Spring Evalution festivals, and the inagural MEANYC Middle School All-County Band. Mr. Souza is also the assistant band director of the NYC All-City marching band. Stephen holds a bachelors degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and is currently finishing his Masters in Music Education in Five Towns College in Dix Hills. Mr. Souza's goals in New York City are to give a quality music and fine arts program to all students regardless of socioeconomic status and background. New York City provides both unique challenges and opportunities in music education and Stephen is thrilled to be a part of this exciting area of music education.
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