Calling All Music Directors That Write And Use Program Notes!

Hello friends,

        I along with a couple of other co-SAVVY bloggers have started, what will no doubt be the best and most useful, program noteswebsite available to date (how’s that for ambitious!).   I am very excited about the look of the site and the, very real, usefulness factor it provides.

        I/we have been Alpha testing this site and am ready to have about a dozen new folks try this out and work with me on a closed BETA version of the site.   In particular, I am looking for directors with choral, jazz, and orchestra program note experience/writers to continue the testing, but I’ll take band and wind ensemble directors too! :)

        I really would like to publicly have the BETA moved into full production by mid-April.   If you have written notes, and or want to write notes, we could REALLY use your help with this project.  This project will benefit all educators by providing a reliable program note source for all of us.  One that is searchable, expandable, categorical, and FREE.

          If you are interested, and I KNOW YOU ARE!  Please contact me using the contact page and send me a valid email address where I can contact you.  Please considering being part of this global initiative and help us.  If you already have a number of program notes available (whatever the ensemble or level), you are the person (people!) we are looking for to be a part of this BETA bunch.

      Hope to hear from a “bunch” of you soon!

                    Dr. Jospeh M. Pisano

Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is the creator of many education websites, a lecturer, clinician, trumpeter, and conductor. He is currently the Associate Chair of Music and Director of Bands in the Calderwood School of Arts at Grove City College in PA. He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award and the PA Citation of Excellence. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators and the current Vice-President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He also writes for DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and is the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. Find out more at his website
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  • Joe-

    Once again a cool AND practical idea for music educators. This is a great idea! I’m always looking for good program notes…how about expanding it to include some translations as well for us choral director types…

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  • Joe,

    It is great to be working on this project! My hope is that this can become THE resource for program notes in both printed programs and spoken introductions at concerts. As soon as I can clear some of my grad school work, I plan on hitting the saved pile from [[ THE FIRE]]. Another “visionary” idea from Mustech!


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  • Angela

    I’m curious about the attraction of the idea a database of program notes. Clearly such a database could make life very easy, and if the notes are free that makes life even easier. Those two factors alone are pretty compelling, and I won’t criticize any busy and budget-deprived music director who is swayed by them.

    But I’d like to toss in a few thoughts for consideration by you and your team of testers.

    1. Using notes from a database compiled by many volunteers/amateur writers makes for inconsistency of tone, style, length, and, most important, authority. It’s inevitable that some of the collected notes will be extremely good and others will be misleading or not-so-well written. Will the project have an editor who has the trust of everyone (contributors _and_ end-users)?

    2. Using notes from a database deprives you of the chance to write about your program for your concert for your audience. Instead of being able to communicate your repertoire choices and highlight the ways the pieces connect with each other, and to write about the pieces in the context of the performance and your motivation for playing them, you end up a selection of notes that, while they might be good notes, are generic in character.

    3. For the music educators: using notes from a database deprives you of a chance to give your students a chance to learn how to write and to communicate about music to audiences. That’s a really important skill for any musician of the future. It will certainly be more work and slower to enlist students as annotators, but from an educational perspective it’s a far more valuable exercise.

  • Angela,

    Thanks for your thoughts. For me, a database of program notes is an invaluable tool, a place to start from. This is not a new idea by any means as there are books and websites about progam notes. P-notes is just the one most visable via Mr. Internet at the moment.

    While all the exercises that you mention are indeed valuable for a person or a student going through the process -many times having a reference already completed or near-completed is what a person needs in order to expedite their list of realted projects and glean ideas from.

    As you’ve mentioned not having a peer-reviewed could be a problem in having inaccurate statement being made, that is the both the problem and beauty of the collaborative Web 2.0, world we live in. The truth is that most of the new scores come “stock” with a program note plastered on the front of the score and even editor’s comments… We are considering and implementing ways to help the validity of the project. I would state that any source, authoritative or not, would have to be “woven” into the fabric of the concert.

    This project is in BETA and will be for awhile longer (I’m going to extend the length to over the summer). It may very well morph into something much larger and ecompassing that it currently is.

    I think we use things like these for the same reason that we use anything… saving time and getting starting point ideas. The great think about a Web 2.0 styled WIKI is the ability to discuss each and every entry, in a public forum, and further the nature inquery in ways not possible before. Everything in the WIKI will be “copyright” free and free to use as is, or changed.

  • Zhang

    Hi, I’m currently troubling over how to write my music program notes. I’m a piano student and have 4 music program notes to write. Can you help me to write these program notes? Thanks. In order for me to know your standard, can i have a few sample of music program notes that you have written? Please send to my email before i consider if you can help me write my program notes. Thanks.

  • Cary

    Sweet! Sign me up. Even taking Angela’s points into consideration, I think it is a great idea. I would be willing to submit to/help edit the beta.

    In drawing from any source, I would assume that any user would have to both edit the notes themselves for the purpose of personalization (to the point of perhaps simply using them as one of a number of references) and would have to cite the source. I just couldn’t imagine putting any stock quote on my programs without adjusting for style, length, etc.

    I am also interested in possibly creating an in-house band wiki here at school. Perhaps my students can write their own program notes as a collaborative project using a wiki. I would appreciate any input into the use of wikis in the music ensemble class.

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