How Does Your Garden Grow?

I read a saying in graduate school that classified teachers as either sculptors or gardeners. The sculptor molded students into masterpieces, while the gardener added nutrients to the "roots" to help students grow and blossom into their potentials. It was shortly after reading that saying over 24 years ago, that I began my “gardening career.” 

Posted on May 3, 2017 and filed under Educators.

The Value of Collegiality

Colonel Lowell Graham spoke at the PMEA D-11 and D-12 Professional Development Conference on the topic of leadership, titled: The Whisperer, With Homage to Cesar Milan and Other Leadership Concepts. In that presentation, he discussed the pack mentality of dogs in relation to the trainer-similarly to leadership in music education. And it brought to mind the Rudyard Kipling quote: “the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack”. It also has an application not only to leadership, but also to overall music department dynamics...

Posted on February 22, 2017 and filed under Educators.

Did You Bring the P.I.E.?

Many educators have started the school year feeling refreshed and excited to create new learning opportunities for their students.  Along with this comes the chance to upgrade how things have been done in the past in designing better lessons and musical experiences.  

Posted on October 13, 2016 and filed under Educators.

Zeswitz Music Named The Only Top 100 Dealer in Eastern PA by NAMM

Zeswitz Music has been named a Top 100 Dealer in the world by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). NAMM, a not-for-profit organization comprised of approximately 10,300 member companies located throughout 87 countries, promotes the pleasures and benefits of making music to people of all ages.

The Top 100 Dealer Award is an “honor and a privilege of which we are so proud,” says Zeswitz owner Randy Shayler. 

Posted on June 3, 2016 and filed under Educators.

“Speaking A Common Language or Getting Lost in Translation?”

One of the goals of the Danielson Framework for Teaching used by many districts for teacher evaluation was to create a common language for its users.  Many teachers and administrators have been speaking this new language over the past few years during pre- and post-observation conferences.  Some schools have expanded the use of this language to PLC groups, where teachers meet to discuss student data and learning.  These areas can provide pathways to teacher and student growth.

Posted on May 12, 2016 and filed under Educators.

Zeswitz Music Hires Strings Specialist Sonya Hoffman

Zeswitz Music welcomes another expert to the team: Sonya Hoffman, Strings Specialist. A music teacher for the North Penn School District in Hatfield, PA, Hoffman will serve Zeswitz Music by reviewing instruments for their sales stock, improving their rental fleet, researching potential whole-sale companies, and according to Hoffman, “helping students find really great instruments that are perfect for their needs.” Hoffman, a viola and violin player by trade, claims “Work? This isn’t work. It’s my passion.”

Posted on March 7, 2016 and filed under Educators.

It’s Called the Circle of Fifths!!

Bret Mascaro, Director of Education


This is the Circle of Fifths:


So is this, but that’s not important:



My point: it’s not the Circle of Fourths, it’s the Circle of Fifths!! Obviously, this is not the greatest debate since Darwin, but it’s worthy of discussion.

A good friend and band director has argued this point for many years, and we agree to disagree. This band director’s initials are D O and (relating them to the solfeggio which it represents) I expect that he understands our tonal system.  SO, in my relentless teasing over the topic I pointed out that perhaps his preference to the ascending 4th is no better than my descending 5th! 

Like a good game of Tic, Tac, Toe (or the inevitable conclusion of the computer conflict in War Games), no one can really win. But let’s consider a couple of viewpoints.  First, Pythagoras and his mathematical relationships of a vibrating string: cut it in half and the result is an octave, cut it in thirds and the result is a FIFTH!! Repeating this process will eventually return to the original pitch class and as such this cyclic result is best organized on a circle.  Pythagoras, being the brilliant mind that he was, decided that it should be clock-wise (because he had a traditional timepiece, not one of these new fashioned digital watches.)

But I can also understand the practical application of D O – the director, not the solfeggio. As a practice tool in a band rehearsal or music theory class, it is much more effective and meaningful to have students understand the SO-DO relationship as the natural tendency for musical resolution. And I suppose it could be argued that the ascending 4th is an accurate definition of that relationship.  But C’Mon Man! There is NO instrumental or vocal range that will allow for the continual use of the ascending 4th between key centers all of the way around the circle!! At some point performers will need to descend a FIFTH! So, D.O., I guess we are both right. But unlike Pythagoras, my students will need to apply it counter-clockwise.

Next Circle of Fifths topic: should instrumental students be able to play all 12 major keys??  Or is that 15?

Posted on March 3, 2016 .

How Northern Lehigh Boosted Beginner Recruitment by 127%

A letter from Mr. David Carroll, Band Director at Northern Lehigh:  "...we adopted a new aggressive and dynamic approach to recruiting new members to the band program in the Northern Lehigh School District. These changes have been successful and are part of a larger plan to make our music programs one of the most dynamic educational systems in the school district."

Posted on February 2, 2016 and filed under Educators.

Welcome Bret Mascaro, Director of Education

This fall, Zeswitz Music is proud to welcome Bret Mascaro as our Director of Education. A seasoned veteran of gridiron performances, Mascaro will serve Zeswitz Music by consulting directly with music educators, offering master classes and serving as artist in residence for school music programs, collaborating with school districts to produce seminars and in-service activities, and advocating as an industry representative at the state and national levels.

Posted on October 20, 2015 .

Zeswitz Returns to Its Roots

William Zeswitz Sr., a master luthier and maker of world-class violins, created the company to serve the Reading Symphony Orchestra and local musicians. Over 90 years later, their work continues as they support music educators across Eastern PA, NJ, and MD.  Their mission, however, has not been without bumps.

This July 28th marks the two-year anniversary of the company’s independence from its former corporate owners.

Posted on August 3, 2015 and filed under Educators.