Music and Strings: Is it just about Mozart, Bach, and Haydn? Monday, Mar 19 2007 

     As I reflect back on my junior high and senior high school orchestra experience, I realize that most students were really not “into” the traditional repertoire that was performed. While the more conventional or traditional “classical” string music repertoire of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, etc. is important and necessary for students to be familiar with, it is not always music that they can fully relate to. Also, for much of today’s adolescence, it is not viewed as “popular” or interesting. The songs that students really got excited about were often of different genre such as world music (African or Irish/Celtic music), movie themes, blues, and even jazz and rock (yes there are such options out there for certain levels of orchestral performance groups).

     One individua who shares some of the above throughts and ideas concerning students is Mark Wood.  Wood is a phenomenal Grammy and Emmy award winning violinist, performer, composer, a member of the Trans Siberian Orchetsra, and owns one of the world’s largest electric violin companies in the world.  It was during the early years of his life that Wood first started playing the violin and viola in his family’s string quartet (he comes from a very successful musical family).   However, an interesting fact about Wood is that he was actually a huge fan of up and coming rock artists such as Jimmy Hendrix and Eric Clapton.  Throughout Wood’s teenage years and after hearing the music of these individuals, Wood realized that he could play this repertoire on the violin. So, after years of playing traditional string repertoire, Wood started to additionally pursue new outlooks and genres.  This led to his ideas for building numerous models of electric violins that are based off of guitars. Some of his most popular models are his “Vipers,” which have six to nine strings. Not only does he play the rock music that he enjoys the most, but will take music from Vivaldi or Bach and add his own interpretation, effects, and flare to it as he “rocks out” on his Viper.

     While it may seem as if Wood completely departed from the conventional path of European Classical Music, that is not the case. Rather, he believed and still does, that it is important to continue to learn, play, and teach European Classical Music, but to more importantly celebrate and work on American Music. Wood currently works with educational programs around the country and promotes the learning of music from American greats such as Duke Ellington, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hendrix, the Beatles, Led Zepplin, etc. Celebrating jazz, rock, blues, folk, etc. is something that he believes is vital to educational programs and is something that all students can relate to as it is a part of our American Culture and heritage (http://madpodsdummycastvideopodcast-http// I strongly recommend going to the above link and listening to an interview with Mr. Woods. He has already contributed a great deal to American music and has a lot of great ideas for music in the classroom and educational programs.


       Music would not be where it is today if it was not for European greats such as Bach, Mozart, Haydn, etc. These men paved the way for public concerts, musical forms, musical advancement of styles and ideas, and much more. However, they along with others even before their time, helped make a foundation for music. As time goes by, others build and expand upon that foundation. It is a never ending evolutionary process of musical ideas and concepts. I fully agree with Mr. Woods, as well as others who believe that relating to music that is happening now or the “Classics of America” is very important for students.  This music is part of our roots and musical foundation and should be regarded just as highly as the European Fathers who lived centuries ago.



Music and Strings Wednesday, Mar 14 2007 

It often seems (at least in rural areas) as if public school orchestras are lacking in numbers. Lack of funding, scheduling, and student interest and recruitment are all factors for this decline. This post is for idea pertaining to building these programs, increasing student interest and numbers, as well as dealing with the stresses and problems of schedling the arts into student’s academics.