MIOSM

Music in Our School Month Profile: Startin5 and Laj

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be sharing the stories of people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives.

Today, we feature the production team, Startin5 (Jared Brown, Sterling White) and saxophonist, Laj.

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Music in Our Schools Month Profile: Juan B. Lascano, Jr.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be sharing the stories of people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives.

Today, we feature Juan B. Lascano, Jr. Juan is a teacher at Charlotte Learning Academy in Charlotte, NC and a graduate student at The Johns Hopkins University School of Education. 

Juan B. Lascano, Jr. 

What instrument do you play?

Trumpet and French Horn 

At what age did you begin to play your first instrument?

6th Grade 

Why did you start playing?

I was always interested in the music that my mother and father would play around the house, but I started playing the recorder in elementary school, which started my interest in music. That following year, my aunt persuaded my parents to place me into a music program in middle school. It was then that I acquired a passion for music and the sound of brass instruments. 

What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?

My initial involvement with music started in middle school with the jazz band. I remember when we played a song by Norah Jones that was being played on the radio. It felt cool to play music that was playing on the radio. When I joined the high school marching band we started playing popular radio songs more often, and that was a great experience for me. I was excited to see the crowd respond to our songs, dances, and formations on the field. Peers would tell us about how much they enjoyed our halftime shows and would express interest in joining the band because we were a family. I wouldn't trade my high school band experience for the world, for many of the friends I met at my high school are my lifelong friends today. Without the bonding nature of music, I wouldn't have met the brothers that I call my friends today. 

Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?

Edward Woodis was my favorite music teacher! His teachings still guide me through my everyday life as a teacher and adult in society. I remember learning about the circle of fifths, chord progression, and true musicianship while being a member of the concert, jazz and marching band programs at Nansemond River High School. I remember him showing us videos of his college days playing the tuba, and that served as a motivating factor to get into college to join a college band. In addition, he worked hard to give us access to National Band Competitions and parades across the nation. We traveled to Georgia, North Carolina, Washington DC, and other states, which opened my eyes to the joys of traveling with music programs. 

What is your favorite band memory from grade school?

My favorite band memory was when I marched in my high school band battle against I.C. Norcom High School. This was one of the best band battles that I participated in while in high school because we were able to showcase our strength as a band in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Prior to this battle, I.C. Norcom was the reigning champions of the National High Step Band Competition. I remember marching into the high school gym and hearing the fans cheer. We battled for 3 hours and at the end of the battle the fans were able to decide on the victor. This battle introduced me to the intensity of HBCU band battles, and really increased my interest in playing in a college band once I graduated. 

Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?

When applying to colleges as a senior at Nansemond River High School, I auditioned to play trumpet and french horn at North Carolina A&T University, Bethune-Cookman College, Norfolk State University, Hampton University, and Howard University. I was offered a music scholarship at every school that I auditioned; however, I chose to accept the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences scholarship at Norfolk State University. This scholarship was a rigorous 4-year academic program, so I was unable to march with the Spartan Legion. Although I did not pick up my trumpet in college, I did continue to record music and produce music in my spare time in the dorm. 

What is your current occupation?

I am a teacher at Charlotte Learning Academy in Charlotte, NC. I am also a graduate student at The Johns Hopkins University School of Education where I am receiving my Masters of Science Degree in Education with a concentration in Secondary Studies. In addition, I serve a community leader in various community-based organizations that include O.N.E. Charlotte, Profound Gentlemen, and The Collective-Charlotte. 

How has music helped you in your current occupation?

In addition to teaching biology, earth science, and physical science, I teach a creative writing class at my high school where I am able to assist students with song structure and music production. We currently have 20 students enrolled in the class, and they find joy in creating science songs related to the content that I am teaching. Students are assigned roles that include an A&R, a publicist, and a marketing director. Each of these students plays a role in ensuring that our music is marketed to the proper market and that their music is creative enough to attract the attention of their peers. This course teaches students about the music business and the hard work that goes into creating a business on their own. 

How has music played a part in your adult life?

As an adult, I have started a collection of vinyl record due to the pristine recording that occurred in the early 70s. I now use my spare time to create music with the use of my MPC- Renaissance, and ASR-10 sampling synthesizer. As a teacher and graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, I use music as a release from my long days. There is nothing more relaxing than coming home and listening to the melodic sounds of Ahmad Jamal, the groovy bass lines of Wes Montgomery, or the rich brass sounds of Lee Morgan. It's something about the equipment and techniques that were used between 1968-1973 that made their music sound organic and pure. I use sampling as a way to mesh those sounds of yesterday with the sounds of today's popular music.

What advice do you have for young musicians?

Keep striving for your goals. The arts and music are a lost passion in today's society due to the increased demand for science, engineering, and technology; however, music is an essential component to student growth and maturity. I think that it is important for striving musicians to know that they are fully capable of making a living from music if they are willing to work at their craft. Although I am not making a living as a musician, I would encourage those students to continue to work towards their goals and aspirations without letting anyone deter their vision. 

I currently teach high school science, and although I do not play my trumpet as often as I would like, I used music as a teaching device for my students to retain science content. I have attached the link to our SoundCloud page and my personal sound cloud page below. 

www.soundcloud.com/speakcla
www.soundcloud.com/jboscobeats

Recent Podcast

http://theteachingexperiencepodcast.com/2016/03/episode-23-juan-lascano/

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Music in Our Schools Month Profile: Robert L. Edwards

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be sharing the stories of people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives.

Today, we feature Robert L. Edwards. Robert is a Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Johnson C. Smith University and a business consultant. 

Robert L. Edwards

What instrument do you play?

Trumpet, Baritone

At what age did you begin to play your first instrument?

8

Why did you start playing?

My grandfather was a musician, so I decided to follow in his footsteps. 

What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?

In elementary school, my cousins and I used to play a game called “parade” because we were fascinated with marching bands. We used trash can tops as cymbals and sticks for maces. Our imaginations were huge.

In middle school, I joined the band because I wanted to be able to march in the marching band when I joined high school. My first instrument was the horn. I switched to trumpet the next year. By 9th grade, I was actually able to join the marching band.

In high school, I played baritone. I made first chair district band that year and was able to audition for All State band. The next year, I played trumpet and made district band again. The following year, I made first chair district band and auditioned for All State on the trumpet. High school is also where I was first given the chance to arrange music for a band. 

Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?

Mr. Kenneth Woodley. He motivated me and helped me to be the person that I am. It's because of him that I understand music the way I do now. He helped me to apply to college, also influencing my choice of school. Because he was a father figure to me, he went the extra mile to go as far as to assist me with filling out the college application and, to this day, I think he is the one that paid my senior dues that year, too. I had saved up all of my change. Went to my guidance counselor to pay my dues and she told me they were taken care of. I know they both looked out for me. 

What is your favorite band memory from grade school?

Everything. But, if I had to pick one, when I was in 11th grade one of the tuba players (our resident prankster) made a trombone player eat a chocolate covered cricket. She thought it was a regular piece of candy. When she found out that it was a cricket, she froze. Then she started rocking back and forth. After a few seconds of rocking, she got up, picked up a stand and hit him  upside the head with it. I will never forget that. 

Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?

Yes, I played the trumpet at Norfolk State University. As I said earlier, my high school band director influenced my college choice. 

What is your current occupation?

Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Johnson C. Smith University and business consultant. 

How has music helped you in your current occupation?

Music is my current occupation. It was in college that my band director, Dr. Sanford, told me that I was a jack of all trades and master of none. I was trying to do everything freshman year. I was a part of every organization on campus. His words helped me to focus myself. Because of my newfound focus on music, I was given the opportunity to arrange for the marching band. My arrangements caught the attention of other college band directors and I was able to obtain my first college job as Music Instructor and Assistant Director of Bands at Shaw University at the age of 25 because of it. 

How has music played a part in your adult life?

I’ve had the chance to help others better themselves through music, whether it's in their current occupations or through the opportunity to go to college through scholarships. I also use music as a vehicle to guide students to develop their communication and soft skills that will assist them when they seek employment and other opportunities after graduation. 

What advice do you have for young musicians?

If you want to go into music as a profession, you have to make sure you stay on your craft. Find a way to make yourself stand out from the other musicians. The only way to do that is to be yourself. Be humble. Study to perfect your practice so that you know what you are doing.

 

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Music in Our Schools Month Profile: Heather Novak

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be highlighting people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives.

Today, we feature Heather Novak. Heather is an Emergency Room Nurse who is currently finishing her Master's degree and training to be a Family Nurse Practitioner. 

Heather Novak

What instrument do you play?

Clarinet, a little piano, a little guitar

At what age did you begin to play your first instrument?

7

Why did you start playing?

My Mom played the organ when I was little and I always wanted to play, too. She let me start playing the electric organ when I was around 7, but, I never had lessons. Then, when I was in 5th grade, it was time for school band. I really wanted to play the saxophone, but my Dad insisted I play either the flute or the clarinet, so I choose the clarinet. 

 

What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?

I played the B flat Clarinet in elementary and middle school years. This included concert band and marching band. In middle school (it was actually a junior high back then), I also played the E flat clarinet in concerts. I also played the vibraphone during football half time shows one year. None of the percussionists knew how to read treble clef music and we were performing the Phantom of the Opera so a few woodwinds played for that song. Our band instructor knew how much I wanted to be in jazz band, but he did not allow clarinets in jazz band. He allowed me to play auxiliary percussion so that I could enjoy jazz as well. First chair clarinet alternated between myself and two other girls for the most part.... Who got to play first chair really depended on the week, but the competition for first was great fun! I was also in charge of the school music library one year; looking through all that sheet music and making copies was actually quite fun. I loved the music programs at my elementary and junior high school... but, made the choice to not play in the band in High School. My junior high band had beaten the high school band I was slated to be in during many competitions. I knew that as a clarinet player I was not talented enough to earn a scholarship to college so I opted to join ROTC instead... I sure did miss Band though. 

Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?

Mr. Bill Pease was my favorite music teacher. He was the band director at my middle school. He expected greatness from us and it showed. He never choose music based on the fact that we were a junior high band, he choose what he liked regardless of the grade and then taught us to play it. He was a perfectionist and expected us to always do our best. Tardiness was not tolerated, if you weren't ten minutes early you were late. If we were late we ran laps or did push ups, the same for disrespecting him. Even now, I still cannot stand to be late for things. 

What is your favorite band memory from grade school?

I think my most memorable memory from grade school band was the district band concert. I was the infamous student.... The one who played twinkle twinkle little SCREECH! I was so embarrassed, I could not believe that I squeaked, and so loudly. My band mates didn't care, though... They reassured me that no one knew it was me and it didn't matter. 

Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?

I did not play in college. I got married and had a family instead of going straight to college. When I did choose to go, the music program wasn't really a concern for me. 

What is your current occupation?

I am an Emergency Room Nurse, currently finishing up my Master's Degree and training to be a Family Nurse Practitioner. 

How has music helped you in your current occupation?

I think that music helps you think clearly. You are used to following direction, but also letting your heart sound through your music. In the medical field, caring really is an art. You have to think critically, but you also have to use your heart and sometimes think around the corners of problems to figure out what is really going on with your patient.

How has music played a part in your adult life?

The main way that music is part of my adult life at this point is through my kids. All three of my girls play instruments. I have a high school jazz trombonist, a clarinetist, and a beginning french horn player. I play with them occasionally, but I'm rusty. When I finish school in December, I plan to link up with the local community orchestra and bring music back into my life on my own account. 

What advice do you have for young musicians?

The best advice I have for young musicians is to never let go of their music. Even if you don't continue in a band program, music touches a part of you and becomes part of your life. If you stop playing for a time, you will miss it... it's an expression of your soul and it can be an emotional release when things are tough. 

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Music in Our Schools Month Profile: Benjamin Osoba

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be highlighting people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives. Today, we will highlight Benjamin Osoba, a PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Benjamin Osoba

What instrument do you play?

Percussion, Saxophone, Clarinet

At what age did you begin to play your first instrument?

8

Why did you start playing?

I always wanted to play the drums and we finally got a drum set at my church that year (i.e. 2000).

What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?

During elementary school, I took drum lessons at a local music school. When I was in 5th grade, the movie "Drumline" was released. I loved it so much that I began watching my VHS copy of it and learning the cadences.

This practice eventually paid off, as I was recruited to play in the Eastside High School drumline as a 7th grader. After school, I would travel to the high school to learn and play with the older students.

As I continued learning, my music interests expanded. In 8th grade, I played clarinet and eventually graduated to playing tenor saxophone. The experience of learning woodwind instruments helped me to understand music theory.

While in high school, I played snare drum in the marching band, drum set in gospel choir, and saxophone in concert band. Throughout these years, I attended numerous band camps, including the FAMU Marching 100 summer band camp, the BCU Marching Wildcats summer band camp, and the NSU Spartan Legion high school band camp. I also took to arranging music using Finale software. This eventually led to my participation in the NAACP ACT-SO competition for music composition, which I did on a national level my senior year.

Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?

My favorite music teacher was my first drum set teacher, Mr. Rick Cameron. His teaching style made it very fun to learn and play the drums. I always looked forward to attending the lessons for this reason!

What is your favorite band memory from grade school?

My favorite band memory was putting on the Eastside High School band uniform in 7th grade. I still remember the feeling of pride and excitement at that very moment and I'm sure I'll never forget it!

Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?

Although I did not play in an organized ensemble, music did in fact impact my college choice. When I applied to my now alma mater, Norfolk State University, I did so as a music education major. I wanted to play in the NSU drumline, the "Million Dollar Funk $quad", which I still consider to be the best HBCU percussion section in the nation. As a Florida native, I auditioned for this drumline by way of a recorded DVD (which I still have to this day).

During my freshmen year, I switched my major to electrical engineering so that I could attend NSU on a full ride scholarship via the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences (DNIMAS). I ultimately decided not to play in the band so that I could focus on my academics and thus keep my scholarship.

What is your current occupation?

I am currently a PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley. My research focuses on the design and configuration of Micro/Nano-Electro-Mechanical (M/NEM) relays for ultra low power digital logic applications. I am supported through the following academic fellowships: the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the National GEM Consortium University Fellowship, and the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship.

How has music helped you in your current occupation?

Music is still my passion and I use it to keep myself motivated when graduate school gets very tough. For example, after running microfabrication processes, conducting device measurements, attending research talks, and/or going to class, music is what I use to unwind and relax.

Since beginning graduate school, I have started collecting vinyl records. I have learned so much about the history of recorded music from doing so! I also meet with other graduate students during weekends to play drums for our unofficial jazz ensemble.

How has music played a part in your adult life?

In addition to my academic endeavors, I am also studying audio engineering and production. Particularly, I was inspired to start learning how to produce after being introduced to A Tribe Called Quest when I was in high school.

For these reasons, I spend the majority of my free time studying music equipment, listening to records, and practicing on my MPC5000. I hope to eventually collaborate with some of my favorite artists, including (but not limited to) Talib Kweli, Joey Bada$$, and Black Milk.

What advice do you have for young musicians?

Practice, practice, practice! I didn't understand the importance of practice until I was an adult. The process of learning to play an instrument is analogous to the process of learning anything, be it mathematics, art, science, etc. You have to learn the fundamentals and then build from there. So, developing the discipline to do so at an early age will help you throughout your life!

More importantly, always remember to have fun with what you're doing. Music is a beautiful thing, so enjoy it to the fullest.

The link to my current beat tape is as follows:

https://soundcloud.com/diracproductions/sets/progressive-steps-vol-1

Additionally, if you have any interest in collaborating, I can be reached at DiracProductions@gmail.com.


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Music in Our Schools Month Profile: Anthem Smith

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) has designated March as Music in Our Schools Month. To celebrate, the jsquared music performance center will be highlighting people who played instruments in grade school and the impact it made on their lives. Today, we will highlight Anthem Smith, a band director in Petersburg, VA. 

Anthem Smith

What instruments do you play?

Tuba, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Baritone, Trombone, Trumpet, Percussion, Piano

At what age did you begin playing your first instrument?

9

Why did you start playing?

My mom is a music instructor, so ever since I can remember I was around her bands and loved music. Playing an instrument was destiny for me. 

What was your experience with music during your elementary, middle and high school years?

My very first experience with music was taking piano lessons as a small child at one of my mom's friends, Ms. Geraldine Boone's, home. A few years later my mom bought me a saxophone when I was 9 and I took private lessons with professor James Hester at NSU after school. I always received high marks in music class in elementary school. I played string bass in the orchestra and made all city my 5th grade year. In middle school, I played alto saxophone in the concert band until 7th grade. In 7th grade my director, Mr. Donald Spruill (RIP) needed a tuba player, and my mom recommended he train me to play it. I played tuba from 7th grade until my senior year in college. In high school I played tuba in the concert and marching band, where I was section leader. I also made all district band on tuba. I performed with the Norfolk All City Jazz Ensemble on the tenor saxophone from 9th to 12 grade. My senior year I also took AP Music Theory and began to arrange for my marching band. 

Who was your favorite music teacher? What made them your favorite?

I don't have a single favorite so I will shout out them all. All my band directors and music teachers, Mr. Spruill, Mr. Williams, Mr. Daley, Mr. Krieselman and Mr. Featherer. They all taught me countless things about music and about being a better student and person. My most influential music teacher never officially taught me at all, and that was my mom. She was a public school band director for over 30 years and now works at NSU. Her musical lessons came more subtlety and I can always count on her for advice today, as I continue my growth as a band director. 

What is your favorite band memory from grade school?

Most definitely Friday night with the marching band and our Jazz Band trip to Atlanta. 

Did you play an instrument in college? Did music impact your college choice?

I played tuba with the Norfolk State University Spartan "Legion" Marching Band. Music was the reason I went to NSU. I had loved the Legion all my life up until that point and always knew I would end up there. Band was the best reason about undergrad and I made friends that eventually became my family, all thanks to music. 

What is your current occupation?

I am currently a band director in Petersburg, VA. I am the head director of bands at Vernon Johns Junior High. I am also the assistant head director of bands and chief arranger at Petersburg High School under Clyde Boswell. 

How has music helped you in your current occupation?

Music is my profession. I love introducing music to my students and helping them grow into fine musicians through concert and marching band. It's very rewarding when you see a child get better and better from month to month and year to year.

How has music played a part in your adult life?

Music is my life. I would be lost without it. I'll love it forever. 

What advice do you have for young musicians?

My advice to young musicians is to never stop exploring your instrument and other instruments. Also, always remember music is art and should always be fun. Never take it too serious, but, don't take it as a joke. 

Be on the lookout for anything related to the Petersburg High School Marching Band and the Vernon Johns Junior High School Band as well. 

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