Come to Natal!

Not long ago, I attended the National In-Service Conference of the National Association for Music Education in Dallas, Texas. This four-day event is an annual celebration that features a full range of presentations for music educators as well as national honor groups. If you have never been to a music educators association (MEA) conference, I heartily recommend it. Some of the guest speakers included Peter Boonschaft (Sound Innovations), Phillip Riggs (2016 Grammy Music Educator of the Year), John Feierabend (elementary music), and Warren Zanes (Rock and Roll Forever Foundation). Now, if you have not heard of some or all of these folks, it’s okay! Many music educators haven’t heard of our horn-heroes either!

The conference sessions covered everything from classroom management to new class resources, repertoire to rehearsal techniques, assessment to advocacy. I was particularly taken with two presentations. The first was a panel discussion by Athletes and the Arts, a group devoted to wellness, healthcare, and performance needs of performing artists, formed to “create opportunities for performing artists and sport athletes to access and benefit from the established research, training and education of the other discipline” (see athletesandthearts. com). The second was a session that featured information on a group called United Sound, a nonprofit organization “whose mission is to provide musical performance experiences for students with special needs through peer mentorship” (see Check them out!

The keynote speaker for the conference was Graham Hepburn, co-creator of Quaver Music, a popular elementary curriculum. His address had three major points, things we all know, that remind us why music and music education must remain integral to our education system, so our children have a chance to become well-rounded citizens. First, Music is Emotion. Unlike other subjects, music not only causes us to feel emotions, but our success in music is determined by our ability to convey emotions, to share them, to encourage others to feel them. Second, Music takes the Mundane and makes it Memorable. Hepburn’s examples included envisioning the shark attacks in the movie Jaws without the score, and reading the text to a famous Michael Jackson song without the music (without the music, would either one affect us – at all?). Finally, Music Lifts us up from our Current State. Guess what we sang together – yep, “Kumbaya!” As corny as it sounds, there was a palpable difference in the room when 1000 people sang that song in response to the venom and sludge of the past election season. I was one of many who were blubbering by the time he finished his intro and we started singing….

The human race is the only group of living things that intentionally make music (as opposed to noise). At our local, regional, and international symposia, we celebrate music with horns, and the ranges of thoughts and feelings connected to that music are both deep and wide.

Radegundis Tavares has put together a wonderful symposium for us this year - see Come to Natal and celebrate oour music. Share the emotion, experience the mundane becoming memorable, and let the music lift you up.

Wishing you good chops,

jeff sig

Meet the New Pres…not exactly... the Same as the Old Pres!

Dear Friends,

jeffI admit I am very surprised to be writing to you as your new President. I am honored to have been re-elected to the Advisory Council, and even more flattered to have been re-elected by the AC to this position. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to both Frank Lloyd and Jeff Nelsen for their leadership of the IHS over the past six years and for the important steps the society has taken during that time. I hope to continue their work and help in whatever ways I can to keep our society’s trajectory soaring upward.

Since leaving the AC and the office six years ago, I have had some interesting experiences that will inevitably affect my new term as IHS “head cheerleader.” The experience that I expect will be most influential was the four years I spent on the executive board of the Washington Music Educators Association (2012-16). This organization is one of the most active of its kind in America, and its various activities on behalf of students and teachers are inspirational. The perspectives I gained with regard to music advocacy and the value of curriculum and assessment will guide my thinking for the rest of my career, and I look forward to sharing some relevant ideas with you.

When Heidi Vogel was hired as Executive Secretary (now Executive Director) of the IHS in 1997, it was doable as a part-time job, involving a few hours a week. Since then, the workload for this position, just like our society, has grown considerably to involve new technologies, more financial details, and more programs, policies, and procedures. This evolution has brought us to a point where we need to make some changes, with Heidi’s help. In an effort to relieve some of the workload, we will split off the responsibility of managing the membership records and create a new paid position, IHS Membership Coordinator. Our goal is to have this position filled as soon as possible. Please consider this opportunity to work for the IHS and its members – follow the link in the ad below to see the job description and the application process.

I look forward to serving you again as President for the next two years. If you have ideas about what the IHS can do for you, please let me know at

Still wishing you great chops,

jeff sig

Projects, Anyone?

Projects, anyone?

Well, it’s May. That means it’s time to pick some projects to complete over the upcoming summer (or winter if you live below the equator). The changing of the seasons is a good time for “out with the old, in with the new.” I do nothing without goals. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with doing nothing! But after your time-for-nothing, it’s project time. Here are some project ideas you might try.

Create a practice shrine

Clear away everything in your practice space and put only things in it that serve your artistically-focused, inspired, motivated state of mind. I’ll post a picture of my practice shrine on the IHS Facebook page. We can all share photos of our practice spaces and steal useful ideas from each other.

Book a public performance


Read more: Projects, Anyone?

IHS LA 2015

It has been a couple months and most of us are still basking in our memories of the fantastic experience that was IHSLA. The week was a truly incredible result of three years of superb planning and brilliant execution by hosts Annie Bosler, Andrew Bain, and their tireless team. A huge congratulations and a deep thank you to you. Way to explode Los Angeles and the Colburn School into a week long Horn Heaven experience we’ll never forget!

Thank you to the members of the IHS Advisory Council and especially to our behind-the-scenes indefatigable irrepressible irreplaceable Executive Director Heidi Vogel. The amount of time, effort, and details Heidi invests into our International Horn Society is immeasurable, and she does it all with that beautiful smile. Thank you Heidi.

Most importantly, thank you to everyone who was there – performers, teachers, students, and amateurs of all ages and levels, vendors, composers, arrangers, and our horn enthusiasts who just wanted to hear some beautiful music. To all of you, we say thank you for the great times, and for the inspiration to do it all again next year in Ithaca, New York, June 13-18, 2016!

Read more: IHS LA 2015

Our IHS. Our Experiences

I am incredibly excited to be your new IHS President. I have been a part of behind-the-IHS-scenes for only a few years, but I have been blown away with what every member of the Advisory Council does to support our special society.

Thanks to Frank Lloyd for his wise presidential leader- ship. Our success is very much his success, and I’ll be keeping him on speed-dial. Frank gave us four wonderful years as IHS President (twice now) and, lucky for us, will not be going far as he steps into his role as Advisory Council member yet again. Thank you, Frank, for guiding us with such deep diligence.

Read more: Our IHS. Our Experiences

London Calls

A musician’s life is often one involving traveling far and wide, touring the world and spending long periods away from home. As a young horn player, I relished traveling abroad, and looked forward to the next trip to foreign shores. On taking up a post in London in the late 1970s, the traveling became even more of a commitment, owing to the fact that I was working in so many different orchestras and chamber groups that I was often going from one tour to the next with hardly a moment to repack the suitcase − amounting in some years to spending over half of the year abroad!

Read more: London Calls

Embracing Change

Many of us are into spring now, have had an exciting school year, said farewell to the end of an orchestral or band season, or are dreading the inevitable tax time! The Southern hemisphere portion of our international community is heading into autumn. Change is in the air.

I recently watched a wonderful movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, where Judi Dench's character "The only constant in life is change." Her character also suggests, ironically, that what we really fear is life remaining the same. This truth is a reminder to let go of things that do not serve us in the practice room, in the classroom, in rehearsal, and in our daily exchanges with others. Change is a constant, so it is better to guide it rather than fight it. We need to embrace change so that we can wake up energized with fresh goals.

Read more: Embracing Change

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