Brandon FerrellMrs. TilleryAP LiteratureApril 18, 2012 Senior Project Speech My name is Brandon Ferrell and for my Senior Project, I conducted a piece of music withthe Creekview High School Wind Ensemble. What if I told you that you could raise your child’sstandardized test scores by almost 30 percent? With music, this is a completely valid goal andeven a reality for manyband students. I believe that music has had a similar effect and an evenmore intrinsic role in my high school career, and that is why I decided on this as my SeniorProject. In my research paper, I discovered and discussed many different aspects of both musiceducation and music as a whole and its effects on children and their learning capabilities. I alsodiscovered other uses for music such as music therapy, which is used to treat many diversemedical cases, including clinical depression. This topic relates to my project because I gainedserious insight into the life of a band director, the experience of conducting an ensemble, andalso several technical aspects of music literature. The creation of my product was a fairly simple process. I chose a performance to be myproduct because of my lifelong love for music and the band programs at Creekland MiddleSchool and Creekview High School. My final product would be a video performance of meconducting the Wind Ensemble. This process began in late 2011 when I started attending andassisting Mr. Carter, my facilitator, at eighth grade band rehearsals. I also gained a lot ofexpertise through my position in the Creekview Marching Band. This past season I held the
leadership position of Saxophone Captain, a job that entails the oversight of the entire saxophonesection. During our three practices per week, I would conduct music for them while they playedit back to me, and also assist them in correcting flaws in their playing. This is a large part of whatMr. Opitz does in our very own band classes every day, so this proved to be a very helpfulexperience. After marching season ended and my time at eighth grade band rehearsals was done, Ibegan my practice with various members of the high school band. In lieu of requiring practicelogs, we were required to have weekly sectionals to practice our concert music. Sectionals in theWind Ensemble are where each instrument (saxophone, clarinet, etc) divides into groups andpractices their specific parts of a piece they are having trouble with. I took it upon myself tomake this yet another learning experience by running the rehearsals for the saxophones andhelping them with all of their needs and musical inquiries. These sectionals proved to be doublyhelpful because they not only furthered my conducting abilities but also helped me to becomemore proficient on my own horn as well. After two months of this, I began to consider various pieces of music in our library aspotential literature to conduct for my final product. I had trouble deciding on a piece that wouldboth be within my capabilities as a conductor and also challenge the Wind Ensemble or at leastbe interesting to play, because they are such an advanced group. In the end, and with help fromMr. Carter and Mr. Opitz, I decided on the piece River of Life by Steven Reineke. I decided onthis piece not only because of its perfect range in difficulty and playability, but also because ofits ties with my own walk of life. The flowing melodies inherent in this piece are deeply familiarto me as they remind me of my own easy going and serene lifestyle.
As senior projects loomed closer and closer, I decided on the Thursday and Friday beforespring break to rehearse and record the performance with the entire band. On Thursday I spentthe entire class period acclimating myself to conducting for the entire band and learning how allof the intricate parts fit together- what an ideal recording would sound like. The next day werecorded the performance and all was well, or so I thought. Throughout my project I encountered several problems, all of which I was able to correct.To begin, I had originally planned to have Mr. Opitz as my facilitator, because that wouldconsolidate all of the work I had to do to Creekview and my own home. However, he had alreadycommitted to two other people for their senior projects, so I decided to ask Mr. Carter, themiddle school band director. This was a great idea because not only did he accept gladly, but healso allowed me to use his eighth grade band rehearsals as a resource for practice. My nextproblem was the date at which I was going to perform and record my final product. I hadoriginally planned to do it at our spring concert, however I quickly learned that the concert fellafter senior boards, so I had to come up with a new entirely separate performance. The lastproblem I encountered was the length of the actual performance I recorded. The song was oversix minutes long- far too lengthy to play the whole thing during my presentation. I had to editparts out of the video to fit it into my presentation. Aside from these, my work has been problemfree. Throughout this entire experience I have discovered many things about myself and themusic industry. For one, as much as I love music in every way, I have decided against pursuingboth a degree in music and a career in music education. The sad truth is that there is simply novalue placed in music education for children and teens, despite how much it has beenuncontestably proven to benefit them in their learning endeavors. I have also discovered
firsthand the mental effects of music, specifically its ability to soothe, because at several pointsin this process I have felt overwhelmed and music provided an outlet from, ironically, my musicproject. To conclude, I would like to thank you judges for your time and consideration. I hope mypresentation has been a memorable and enjoyable experience for you that you can takesomething away from. Music certainly has that capability, if my project does not, and so I ask:how has music helped you in life, and where would you be without it? As Victor Hugo says,“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”