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SoundCheck Performance Assessment Will Be Included with Essential Elements Methods This Fall

MILWAUKEE, 5/18/22 -- Hal Leonard has announced that this fall, SoundCheck™ will be included in Essential Elements Interactive at no additional charge to students using Essential Elements method books. This makes Essential Elements the only band and string method with included performance assessment technology.

Powered by MatchMySound™, a proven leader in assessment technology, SoundCheck provides ratings and feedback on pitch, rhythm, and intonation, and supports both audio and video recording assessments. Students and teachers will be able to access SoundCheck in their Essential Elements Interactive account and easily create assessment assignments, apply their own self-evaluation rubrics, and turn them into the EEi grade book.

“SoundCheck assessment has proven to be a valuable tool for learning to play music,” says John Mlynczak, Vice President, Music Education & Technology, Hal Leonard. “Integrating this technology into Essential Elements Interactive allows us to offer the most comprehensive collection of included resources for learning to play an instrument.”

“All of us at MatchMySound are thrilled that our assessment and guided practice technology used to power SoundCheck will be part of the Essential Element Interactive experience,” added David Smolover, CEO of Accelerando, LLC. “We have long admired Essential Elements as the leading and most innovative instrumental method on the market.”

SoundCheck will be included for all Essential Elements Interactive users this fall.


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About Hal Leonard

Founded in 1947, Hal Leonard is the world’s largest music print publisher and digital content provider, producing educational publications, songbooks, sheet music, reference books, DVDs, magazines, eBooks, digital sheet music, apps and more. The company is also a major distributor of music technology products, selling and marketing the most popular software, hard goods and accessories available today, to musicians and recording enthusiasts around the world. In its more than one million available publications and products, Hal Leonard represents many of the world’s best known and most respected publishers, artists, songwriters, arrangers and manufacturers. The company is headquartered in Milwaukee, WI and also has domestic offices in Winona, MN; San Francisco; Austin; and Boston, and offices abroad in Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.halleonard.com.

About Essential Elements

Essential Elements is the bestselling method for middle school and high school band and orchestras. First published in 1991, the band series was written by renowned educators Tim Lautzenheiser, John Higgins, Charles Menghini, Paul Lavender, Tom C. Rhodes, and Don Bierschenk. The strings series was written by Michael Allen, Robert Gillespie, and Pamela Tellejohn Hayes. The series features Essential Elements Interactive which provides a valuable online resource center for teachers, students, and parents. 

About Accelerando

Accelerando is a music education company that specializes in music assessment technology. Its flagship practice and feedback technology, MatchMySound, powers the apps SoundCheck, Achieve Music, Dohrey.me, MusicFirst’s PracticeFirst, Piano Adventures’ Sightreading Coach, My Choral Coach, and Marching Band Pro. Accelerando also works with School of Rock, one of the world’s largest music lesson providers. The company recently developed Songley, an app that is transforming the relationship between performing artists and their fans. The company’s mission is to make learning fun, exciting, and affordable, and proudly serves its solutions to publishers, schools, private teachers, student musicians, and hobbyists worldwide.

Paul Lavender Paul Lavender As Vice President of Instrumental Publications for Hal Leonard Corporation, Paul Lavender directs the product development and marketing of Hal Leonard’s extensive catalog of performance publications for orchestra, concert band, marching band, and jazz ensemble, as well as instrumental books, collections and methods. Paul supervises the creative work of many of the industry’s most respected composers and arrangers, publishing over 600 new instrumental publications each year. His longtime association with renowned film composer John Williams has produced the prestigious John Williams Signature Series, featuring Williams’ authentic film scores and concert music for professional orchestras. In addition, Paul has served as music supervisor and arranger for several of Williams’ concerts and special events, including the 2003 and 2008 Marine Band Anniversary Concerts, the 2004 Rose Bowl, and the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors program (televised on CBS). Also a prolific writer, Paul has contributed more than 1,200 arrangements and compositions to the educational and concert repertoire, and he continues to be one of the most widely played writers today. Most recently, he has received international acclaim with two notable transcriptions for symphonic band: Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky and Maurice Ravel. Both works were written for and recorded by the world-renowned United States Marine Band, and performed on national tours under the direction of Colonel Michael J. Colburn. Paul is also co-author and managing editor of Essential Elements, the leading method for beginning bands and orchestras. Under his direction, Hal Leonard recently released Essential Elements Interactive, the first-ever, cloud-based resource that features online learning for school band and orchestra programs. His expertise in music notation and preparation, recording production, and computer system design contributes to Hal Leonard's continuing success as the leading print and digital music publisher, recognized throughout the world. In 2005, Paul received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Central Michigan University, where he did both his undergraduate and graduate work in Music Theory and Composition. After serving as a graduate assistant teaching music theory at CMU, he furthered his music studies at the University of Michigan. Paul and his wife Cheryl, an internationally recognized music educator and author of classroom resources, live in Brookfield, Wisconsin. They are the parents of three adult children, Eric, Brandon and Krista. Publications by Paul Lavender
About Us Hal Leonard Corporate History In the late 1930s in Winona, Minnesota, the late Harold "Hal" Edstrom, his brother Everett "Leonard" Edstrom and their friend Roger Busdicker had formed a very popular dance band. Concerned that their conservative father wouldn't approve of using the family name for a band, Harold and Ev took parts of their names and called the band Hal Leonard. As leader of the Hal Leonard Band, Ev eventually became known as "Hal Leonard." The company Hal Leonard was founded in 1947, after the Hal Leonard Band broke up. At the time, Ev started a music store using the Hal Leonard name while Roger and Harold were both directing award-winning high school bands in Winona. In those days, most school bands played serious classical literature, but Harold and Roger had the unique ability because of their professional experience to arrange popular music for school bands. Soon band directors across the US wanted their arrangements. They started to mimeograph copies and sell them. They realized that to successfully (and legally!) launch a new publishing company, they needed to license songs, so they ventured to New York's Tin Pan Alley in search of copyrights. What they got on their trip was an education in publishing and the rights to "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," one of the most popular songs of the day. Eventually, many music publishers in New York were licensing Hal Leonard to do school band arrangements of their songs. Thus began their publishing business and an entirely new industry. Hal Leonard continued to grow and expand into other areas, including instructional materials and repertoire for every instrument, voice, and ensemble. In 1970, Keith Mardak and associates started a new division of Hal Leonard called Learning Unlimited to create the first book/audio music instructional products. This division soon outgrew the company, and Mardak was named general manager for all of Hal Leonard. In 1985, an internal management team led by Mardak purchased Hal Leonard from its original founders. A new corporate headquarters was opened in Milwaukee, WI, in addition to expanding the Winona facilities to handle the company's dramatic growth. Under Mardak's leadership, Hal Leonard dramatically increased its publishing output and pursued a series of acquisitions, leading to an unprecedented period of expansion for the company. Today, Hal Leonard is the world's largest print music publisher, with the #1 methods for learning guitar, piano, band, orchestra, plus publications for learning virtually every instrument imaginable. In addition, they distribute other esteemed publishers including Berklee Press, Boosey & Hawkes, DeHaske Publications, Faber Piano Adventures, G. Henle Verlag, Robert King, Peermusic Classical, G. Schirmer, Schott, Willis, and many more. See all of our publishing partners here. In addition to still being the leader in printed music publications, Hal Leonard has also led the way in digital music technology. Hal Leonard developed SheetMusicDirect.com in 1997 (four years BEFORE iTunes!) with thousands of songs arranged for different instruments available for download. GuitarInstructor.com followed, featuring online video guitar lessons and tab arrangements for thousands of songs. In addition, the company expanded by purchasing Noteflight.com, a music composition website, and Groove3, a website providing online training for music technology. In addition, Essential Elements Interactive was added to the Essential Elements Band and Strings methods which added a valuable online component to benefit both instructors and students. Over a half million students access EEi during the school year. Hal Leonard continued the tradition of innovation in print music with the development of MyLibrary, a cloud-based portal for their books with online content. Customers who purchase books with online audio, access the content online using the unique code inside each book. Audio can be streamed or downloaded and includes PLAYBACK+, a multi-functional audio player that allows you to slow down audio without changing pitch, set loop points, change keys, and pan left or right. In 2020, Hal Leonard launched their own proprietary streaming e-book format: Hal Leonard Digital Books. These interactive, cloud-based publications were designed especially for musicians and include access to embedded video or audio on many titles. Hal Leonard launched Essential Elements Music Class in 2019 to provide a cloud-based, online resource for general music education complete with songs, lesson resources, ukulele and recorder lesson plans, and many more resources for the music educator. In its catalog of more than one million available titles, Hal Leonard represents many of the world's best known and most respected publishers, artists, songwriters, arrangers and musical instrument manufacturers. Its products are sold in more than 65 countries throughout the world through Hal Leonard offices and a large network of distributors. Hal Leonard operates out of two main facilities - its corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a state-of-the-art administration, production and distribution facility in Winona, Minnesota. The company also has domestic offices in Boston, Austin, and San Francisco, and offices abroad in Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom in London and Bury St. Edmunds. CEO Larry Morton, and the more than 800 talented Hal Leonard employees around the world, remain dedicated to providing the very best in music products and services to bring the joy of making music to everyone!
Steve Smith Steve Smith   For twelve years, Steve Smith taught middle school band in the Lewisville Independent School District, a northern suburb of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas.  For eight of those years he served as the Director of Bands at Downing Middle School in Flower Mound.  At Downing, Mr. Smith taught the Symphonic Band, assisted with the Concert Band and taught all of the beginning woodwind classes.  The bands at Downing consistently displayed a high standard for musical excellence highlighted by a performance at the 2005 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. In 2012, Steve joined the team at Hal Leonard as an Instrumental Editor.  At Hal Leonard, he works with the production of instrumental music and educational materials for band and strings.  Steve brings his recent teaching experience to Hal Leonard and is using this in the development of the new Essential Elements Interactive website designed to assist teachers and students at the beginning instrumental level. In 2010, Mr. Smith’s composition Capilano Fanfare was selected in the Dallas Wind Symphony’s Call for Fanfares and received a performance as the opening fanfare for the 2010-2011 concert season.  In 2007, Mr. Smith was honored as a “Distinguished Music Educator” by the Yale University School of Music, in conjunction with an international symposium promoting music in the public schools. Steve earned his Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of North Texas in 1998 and his Master’s degree from UNT in 2012.  While at North Texas, he studied saxophone under Dr. Eric Nestler and performed in the North Texas Wind Symphony under the direction of Mr. Eugene Migliaro Corporon.  Mr. Smith has was also involved in the drum and bugle corps activity for over twelve years.  After performing with and teaching the brass section for the Madison Scouts, Mr. Smith worked with the Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps from Lexington, Kentucky and with the Santa Clara Vanguard from Santa Clara, California. For 8 years, worked with Specialized Administrative Services Inc., providing leadership training for high school band students across the state of Texas. Mr. Smith is an active member of the TMEA and NAfME.  Prior to moving to Wisconsin to join Hal Leonard, his wife, Jenny, was an elementary art teacher and is now a freelance artist in the Milwaukee area.  They enjoy spending time together and are proud parents to their 4-year-old son Seoul.   Publications by Steve Smith