Category Archives: education

Music to my ears: Foundation grant breathes new life into GBN classroom

This article originally appeared at in 2013. I am re-posting it here for archival purposes (you never know what will happen to old content on school websites).

Jason Heath points to one of the gyroscopes student Michael Gershuny is composing with as his classmates Callum McLaughlan and Johnny Bear listen in.

Jason Heath points to one of the gyroscopes student Michael Gershuny is composing with as his classmates Callum McLaughlan and Johnny Bear listen in.

For many students enrolled in Jason Heath’s electronic music production classes, they have never played an instrument, read music or sang in any of the school’s many musical groups.

However, they are musicians — talented ones at that.

“A lot of it is just going with the flow. The creative process can’t be too rigid,” explained sophomore Michael Gershuny over the sounds of his latest production. “We listen to the sounds of other artists and start thinking of ways to put our own spin on their music.”

On a recent spring day, Gershuny crowded around a table with fellow student Callum McLaughlan to tinker with their latest composition. Their workstation was a symphony of music and color as the two manipulated different machines and meticulously evaluated each sound.

Technology is a key component to creating any new musical arrangement in Heath’s classes. And thanks to a recent grant from the District 225 Foundation, students now have access to a new tool meant to make the creative process much easier and more innovative.

This school year, Heath was awarded a $2,000 Innovation Grant to purchase Gyroscopic Music Controllers, a three dimensional tool that, through the use of LED lights, helps students remix music.

The Glenbrook High School Foundation seeks resources to enhance, enrich, and expand access to programs in Glenbrook High School District 225. Each year, the foundation reviews proposals by District 225 faculty and staff members for the Innovation Grants, which are meant to provide support for the development of projects, activities or initiatives.

The devices, which have a similar look and feel to that of a video game controller, plug into a computer and allow users to assign each button a specific color and sound.  By memorizing what each color symbolizes (i.e. red means kick drum), students can create complex compositions literally with the click of a button.

“This technology enables students to rethink what it means to improvise, compose and program music; uniting music, digital media, computer programming and live performance in a bold, multidisciplinary fashion,” Heath said.

In addition to the actual technology, he explained one of the benefits of having the gyroscopes is how easy they are to use. Some of the equipment and software in his classroom can often be overwhelming, particularly for a first year student. With the gyroscopes, essentially anyone with video gaming experience can understand how to use the devices.

They also offer another visual element to a student’s performance. The lights can be programmed to move whenever the gyroscopes are moved or to the actual beats in the music. With many inspiring DJs enrolled in Heath’s classes, this effect is something they are seeing many main stream artists incorporate into their performances (just Google Deadmau5).

“We went from producing music on Garage Band to having the best software in the industry,” said sophomore Johnny Bear. “Having access to these tools is extremely important to us.”


Interview – Marvin Rabin

For the last evening of 2013, here’s a great video of the esteemed music educator Marvin Rabin, who recently passed away at age 97.  I only worked with him one (at Northwestern University in the nineties), but I found him remarkable even in that one encounter, and his influence on the world of music education is tremendous.

Interview – Marvin Rabin on Vimeo

via Interview – Marvin Rabin.

Wabass – Institute for the 21st Century Bass Player

Wabass is now accepting applications for their June 23-29 2013 season.  Information is provided below and can also be accessed via!wabass-institute/c1s1o

The Institute is 6 days of intense study, with morning bass class, lessons every day, and a masterclass or performance each night. Students study with Hal Robinson, Eric Larson, and Ranaan Meyer. The best part is that Wabass Institute is tuition-free. Our application deadline has been extended from February 1st to March 1st, and we’re simply looking for the applicant’s best 10 minutes of video. More information is available at and questions can be directed to

We’ve had some incredible people come through Wabass in the past 5 years – Nicky Schwartz (now in Concertgebouw), Rex Surany (New York Philharmonic), Meredith Johnson (Principal, Winnipeg), Tony Parry (Louisiana Philharmonic), Burke Shaw (Houston Symphony) – the list goes on! Wabass Institute alums have gone on to nearly all the major conservatories in the US, including Curtis, Rice, BU, Peabody, NEC, IU, and so on.

Wabass – Institute for the 21st Century Bass Player | Facebook.

IU Jacobs School of Music appoints double bassist Kurt Muroki to faculty

IU Jacobs School of Music appoints double bassist Kurt Muroki to faculty


Jan. 24, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind — The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is pleased to announce that double bassist Kurt Muroki will join its faculty as professor of music in the fall of 2013, pending approval by the Trustees of Indiana University.

“Kurt’s diverse musical background, passion for teaching, knowledge and experience in multiple performance and recording environments make him the ideal person to educate and prepare young, talented performers for careers in the modern era,” said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School. “We are thrilled that Bloomington now becomes his home and our students become the focus of his pedagogical efforts.”

“I am delighted to begin as a professor at the Jacobs School of Music,” said Muroki. “It has been my lifelong commitment to teach, and what better place to be living my dream than surrounded by such esteemed faculty and wonderfully talented students?”

“The String Department is thrilled to be joined by Kurt Muroki,” said department chair Stephen Wyrczynski. “His virtuosity and musicianship are matched only by his incredible dedication to teaching.”

“Kurt Muroki is a great musician and a fantastic teacher, and I couldn’t be happier with our choice,” said Bruce Bransby, professor of double bass at the Jacobs School. “The students really respond to his positive attitude and energetic teaching style, and they are excited to know that he will soon join the faculty.”

A diverse artist and teacher of international standing, Muroki is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and has performed with the Jupiter Chamber Players, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York City Ballet, 92nd Street Y and Bargemusic. His festivals appearances include the Marlboro Music Festival, Festival L’Autonne at IRCAM and Aspen Music Festival. He has collaborated with the Guarneri, Juilliard and Tokyo quartets, among others, and has performed concerto tours throughout Asia and the United States.

Muroki is also active playing on soundtracks for commercials and movies, including the Oscar-winning film “The Departed,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “Julie and Julia” and “Moonrise Kingdom.” He has collaborated on albums and live concerts including projects with such artists as The Who, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Itzhak Perlman.

A native of Maui, Hawaii, he began his musical studies on the violin before studying double bass with Homer R. Mensch at The Juilliard School. He has won numerous competitions, including first prize in the Aspen Music Festival double bass competition and the Honolulu Symphony Young Artists competition. He was the first bassist to win the New World Symphony concerto competition.
Muroki is currently on the faculty at the State University of New York Stony Brook and the McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University. A former faculty member at The Juilliard School, he is on the board of directors of the International Society of Bassists and is a D’Addario Strings Artist. Muroki plays a double bass once owned by the famous double bassist Domenico Dragonetti and attributed to Nicolò Amati circa 1665.