Randall Standridge is a composer who has become very popular in the "band world." The Mishawaka High School bands have performed many of his works, including two at our last concert. Standridge was a former band director, so he always strives to make his music educational for the ensemble while also getting the students hooked with fun titles, catchy grooves, and interesting topics.
Here is what Standridge had to say about his new project.
(not) Alone, Grade 2.5, by Randall Standridge
A meditation on mental health for concert band
I would rarely say that the pieces I write are "important."
However, this one is.
As many of you are aware, I live with depression and anxiety. I have tried to use my platform to normalize discussions about mental health and to help start conversations about this issue. Here are some statistics you may or may not be aware of:
1 in 5 of adults in the US experience mental health issues each year.
1 in 6 youths in the US experience mental health issues each year.
90% of suicides worldwide are attributable to mental illness.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States.
With statistics like this, it is shocking and frustrating that so many people are reluctant to acknowledge, discuss, and address these issues.
In 2021, I was asked to create a work for wind ensemble addressing mental illness. The resultant work, “unBroken”, is one of my favorite works I have ever created, both from an aesthetic and personal perspective. However, this work is very advanced (Grade 5), which limits its demographic for performers and, thus, audiences.
Those of us that teach or have taught middle school and high school know that there is a need to address this issue at younger ages, and to make such tools available to middle schools and developing high school ensembles.
With this in mind, I am proud to announce the unBroken Project.
The unBroken Project will consist of two components.
The first is to organize a Consortium of schools and organizations to support the creation of a Grade 2.5 work that addresses mental health. The work, tentatively titled “(not) Alone”, will pull themes from unBroken but place them in a work that is achievable for younger/developing ensembles. The membership fee for this Consortium will be $100, and will include pdfs of the score/parts, a video journal detailing the creation and meaning behind the work, the names of the member ensembles and directors included in the program notes, and a video introduction for the work.
The second component of the unBroken Project is that we will be offering “unBroken (Grade 5)” as a free rental to University/College, Military, and Community/Professional Wind Ensembles, as well as a limited number of select high school ensembles (for High School ensembles, there will be an application process, with details about performance dates, audience/community engagement, and past festival repertoire required.m). Our goal is to increase discussions about this issue within the band community and community at large. The piece is currently going through some minor revisions, but will be available very soon.
Thank you to everyone who has been so encouraging about my online discussions about mental health, and thank you to those of you who have also shared your stories.
This is how we change the world.
One conversation at a time.
And to those suffering in silence, know this and know it well...
You are not alone.
Peace Love and Music"
The Mishawaka High School Band students have chosen to join this consortium. Mr. Chamberlin had the idea for the students to help fund the project, one dollar per student. Everyone was able to help out by doing their part, no matter how big or small. The same idea can be used when helping our peers, friends, or family members through mental health issues. A little help can go a long way - listening to someone who needs a friend, smiling at someone in the hallway, performing a piece of music to spread the word and educate others.
The MHS Bands will combine for the annual May Festival of the Fine Arts on Friday, May 20th at 7:00pm in The Cave (MHS East Gym). They plan to perform this piece - (not) Alone. It will surely be a special evening.