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Known for their methods and collections, Kjos Music publishes such favorites as All for Strings (with corresponding concert pieces), Strolling Strings, String Rhythms, Essentials for Strings, Fine Tuning, and many more. They also publish works written and arranged by such well known writers as Robert Frost, Carold Nunez, Gerald E. Anderson, and Elliot Del Borgo.
Helping to answer your questions String Music Editor Diana Elledge along with the rest of the Kjos staff.
Click here to ask the experts at Kjos Music. Before you ask though, browse through our past questions to see if your question has already been answered.
Question: I am wondering how you grade your string orchestra music. What skills are you looking for in a level 1 and level 2 piece of music written for string orchestra?
Answer: The publishing industry does not have a standard grading system. Each publisher seems to have their own criteria for grading a price and the job is often a difficult one-lots of gray areas. I have also learned that grading systems created for various state festival/contest lists vary from state to state. What might a grade 2 in one state could be a grade 1 in another. I think most educators are fairly flexible when searching for new music-knowing full well that they need to look in more than one category to find music suitable for their groups. On the other hand, I also understand that directors must often follow specific criteria when preparing to enter festivals and poorly or inconsistently graded music could be problematic for them.
Grade 1 compositions are generally no longer than two minutes. They are most often written in the keys of D or G Major. Simple rhythm patterns utilizing eighth notes, quarter notes, half notes, dotted half notes, and whole notes are often featured. Rhythm patters including rests are okay, but simplicity is important. 4/4 or 3/4 time is most often used in grade 1 works. Dynamics are no more elaborate than forte and piano. 3-part writing is generally found where Cellos and Basses share similar lines. 2nd Violins and Violas also share similar material too. All parts should remain in 1st position. These days, we see some bass parts in upper positions-it depends on the philosophy/pedagogy. But the preference is to stay in a traditional 1st or low position. Tempo is also a factor. Usually one tempo is selected for the entire piece and ritards/accelerandos, etc. are not seen. Slow (as in Adagio or Largo) compositions should be avoided for a number of reasons. The use of pizzicato is good and can be an easy and fun way to create different timbre choices. It's important, though to provide ample time for students to switch from arco to pizz to arco. Bowings must be simple. Staying with martele, marcato, legato is good. Slurring in groups of two is okay.
Grade 2 pieces feature what grade 1 pieces do except grade 2 pieces go the next step. Grade 2 music can extend to maybe about 3 minutes, depending on the nature of the work. C Major is a good and sometimes I will accept pieces in F Major into my grade 2 category. It depends on a variety of other factors. Working with minor keys or modes is a possibility-again this hits a gray area and depends on other compositional elements. Multiple keys can be featured, depending on the structure of the work, Rhythm patters become a bit more complex and can include dotted quarter/eighth note patterns but I watch carefully for this. 2/4 time is fine and 6/8 writing is ok, but doubling of parts like indicated in the Grade 1 category is still important. We do begin to see some separation of the cello and bass parts, especially because it's nice to have the cello section featured with melodic material. I recommend that position work for all sections of the orchestra follow the grade 1 criteria. Tempo ranges can be extended, and in fact if the structure of the work calls for it, several tempos can be featured. Ritards especially at the end are fine. More choices in bowings and articulations are available, too.
Like I have mentioned, the gray areas offer the biggest challenges when grading a composition. Sometimes, I will add a 1/2 to a grade, making a piece a grade 1 1/2. That should send out a flag (of sorts) indicating that there are certain elements that make the section a tad more challenging, yet not quite difficult enough to make it a grade 2.
I hope this offers some basic assistance for you. Good luck with all your musical endeavors.
Question: Our orchestra is performing the piece, Chapter One by Carold Nunez, in our Fall Musicale. In our program, we would like to give the audience some additional information about the piece and its composer. Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any information on either. We were hoping you could help us. Please give us any information on Carold Nunez, or the piece, Chapter One.
Answer: Carold Nunez, a native of Texas, received his bachelor of music education from North Texas State University. After 29 years in the Texas Public Schools, Mr. Nunez retired as Director of the Denton High School Orchestra and Coordinator of Orchestras in the Denton Independent School District. In 1989, Mr. Nunez was presented with the Texas Orchestra Director of the Year Award.
In addition to being active in the Texas Music Educators Association and Texas Orchestra Directors Association, he has also been a member of the American String Teachers Association and Music Educators National Conference. Presently, Mr. Nunez resides in Denton, Texas where he is a professional composer, pianist, and continues his close association with music education as a clinician and adjudicator.
With kind regards,
Question: I have a private piano studio in Oregon City, Oregon. Recently, one of my 10 year old students entered the Music Teacher's National Association Composition Competition. He won first in the state and his composition is being sent on for the regional portion of the competition. The adjudicator wrote that this would be an excellent teaching piece and should be published. In my 18 years of teaching, I have never done this. Can you help?
Answer: All piano works should be sent to: Attn: Piano Editor, Neil A. Kjos Music Company, 4380 Jutland Drive, San Diego, CA 92117. We prefer to publish collections (generally, ten or more pieces) of piano music rather than single title sheets. Solo and duet literature for all levels may be sent for publication consideration. The Neil A. Kjos Music Company does not publish music for the organ. We are not currently reviewing any piano methods. All music accepted for review must be original or in the public domain. We do not accept works that have already been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. We do not review works that are currently being considered by other publishers. Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope so that we may return your manuscripts if we are not able to use them.
Let us know why you think your music would be of interest to students and teachers and provide a brief biographical sketch of yourself. You will be advised of the approximate length of time the review process will take.
Thank you for your interest in the Neil A. Kjos Music Company.
Question: How do you get a composer to write a new piece for your school?
Answer: To have a composer write a piece for your school, what you would do is "commission" them to write a piece. The cost of a "commission piece" depends upon the composer, Grade level and style of piece. Many composers do accept commissions, and therefore it is usually just making contact with a composer to start the ball rolling.
With kind regards,