Friday, December 24, 2010

Alpine Road

Sunday, December 19, 2010

BloG #47: Alpine Road Publishing...the road taken

This last year has seen a new publisher in town. It is called Alpine Road Publishing. Recently, new manuscripts have begun appearing in it's catalog of offerings. 

What started as an outlet to release and distribute transcriptions of piano solos has evolved further into an outlet featuring elementary musical scripts and other manuscripts related to music education, primarily of the elementary domain. 

This blog will preview highlights of the offerings listed so far. Several are still in the oven and will be added once they are released.

Our most recent offering is titled Elementary Choir Handbook and Guide. It will soon see distribution at and be available for circulation in other outlets as well, once it clears all the hurdles.

Elem. Choir Handbook/Guide

Take the fear out and step up to the plate w/ confidence! Whether just starting or continuing an already established choir, this handbook/guide provides a beneficial checklist. Included are a dept. mission statement, forms, letters to parents, warm-ups, rehearsal techniques and a simple fund-raising idea to inject necessary funds into your program. After directing his own choirs for 20 years, Jeff found that his routine was fairly well established. Armed with a truckload of past letters and forms, as well as tested strategies, Jeff decided to compile the ideas for the creation of this book. The footwork has been done. The strategies have been tested. Do yourself a favor and avoid the pitfalls of reinventing the wheel. Use Elementary Choir Handbook and Guide to your advantage. You won't be sorry. 
Scott Jeffries - JavaMusiK Publicist

Our next offering is a script written to accompany the excellent Colorado song cycle by John Polinski. It is called Colorado History Songbook Script (Revised).

This script is written to accompany the Colorado History Songbook I by John Polinski. Songs are available through Music For You Publishing. Written with character parts that can be customized to accommodate any size group and still include all your performers.
Published by Alpine Road Publishing, a division of JavaMusiK.
Written by Jeff Van Devender, 2009. Revised, 2010.

In January 2011, the Colorado Music Educators Association Clinic/Conference will host Jeff Van Devender when he presents a session titled Write Your Own Musicals. Posted here are the notes from that session.

Write Your Own Musicals

Too often, music teachers purchase a collection of new canned musicals for the year and later observe little is left in their ever-shrinking budget for purchasing instruments. This session is not a suggestion to completely cut the tether to our favorite publishers. But with the average music budget shrinking, reconsideration of that norm may be appropriate. My own school music file contains more than one script good money paid for that is literally a direct reading of a popular children's book with familiar or very simple songs sprinkled throughout the script. Teachers are generally a creative, intelligent and clever bunch. Yet, they continually underestimate their own creativity with something so simple. This presentation is designed to address that apprehension.

After writing and winning several grants for his program, it was decided to compile some general answers that have had a positive effect with many grant awarding teams. While success is never guaranteed, we think your chances will increase if you make use of the language and terminology highlighted in Grant Proposal for an Elementary Music Classroom.

Grant Proposal for Elem. Music
Write your next grant proposal with confidence! Written in a language with key curricular vocabulary that will sell your idea to the grant awarding committee. Written for music, but can easily be edited to fit other subjects.

The musical program that typically brings more community members to the school than just about any other program often turns out to be the Veterans Day program. After having written several through the years, In Honor of Our Veterans highlights compiled into one cohesive script.
In Honor of Our Veterans
This Veterans Day musical is perfect for a school setting honoring those who have served. Script only. Suggested music is referenced in the script but can be edited. 

Originally written as a masters degree thesis with a recital presentation to accompany, Using New Age and Contemporary Instrumental Literature as a Piano Teaching Tool has been posted as an offering for teachers who have intermediate or advanced piano students who may benefit from an alternative form of piano study.
Using New Age Music as a Tool
Have you ever struggled with learning or even teaching piano at the intermediate to advanced level? Do many of the available literature choices seem dull and dry? This booklet is compiled from a masters degree project detailing instructional strategies associated with piano education. Examples are presented with educational strategies for technical, historical and other applications to assist in enhancing anybody's piano lesson experience. Included is a notated transcription of Jeff Van Devender's composition 'After The Rain' from his 2002 JavaMusiK cd release Bending Chords

Over the course of the year previous to his passing, longtime music educator and community steward, Bill Van Devender had the presence of mind to develop an autobiographical byline to assist in maintaining a sense of historical perspective regarding his life's legacy and body of work. We have Unimaginatively, My Life and Times here.
Un... My Life and Times
An autobiographical sketch of William R. Van Devender, written by him prior to his passing in 2008.

Currently still in development, the 'tis the Season script is being written for primary grade level Christmas season performance.
Not Yet
This particular script will be secular in character, keeping with typical public school needs. Songs incorporated are public domain Christmas carols easily found in any music library.

The original intent for Alpine Road Publishing was to be a distribution outlet for piano transcriptions composed/arranged by Jeff Van Devender. While this stream will continue with further transcriptions eventually becoming available, After The Rain remains one of two currently transcribed.
After The Rain
Colorado musician Jeffrey van D, a.k.a. Jeff Van Devender, recorded After The Rain for his 2002 JavaMusiK release Bending Chords. Level of difficulty is moderate. Be sure to visit JavaMusiK for more information and a chance to listen to the original recording. Please note that while every effort was made to be accurate in the transcription some discrepancies may exist.

This final listing actually finishes with where it all started. Way back in 1981, The Awakening was composed as a Music Theory project. This was Jeff Van Devender's first of currently 33 compositions written exclusively for the piano. It was eventually recorded for Jeff's debut JavaMusiK cd Ascend in 1998 and is now transcribed and published at Alpine Road Publishing.
The Awakening
Transcription of JavaMusiK artist Jeff Van Devender's very first composition, The Awakening. Originally composed as a Music Theory project in college, The Awakening was eventually used in Van Devender's wedding when his bride to be walked down the aisle. Just over 20 years later, it is finally available for purchase as a published piece. Just over 10 years previous to publishing, it was released on the JavaMusiK cd, Ascend

Stay tuned for more as we're just getting started, and the creative juices seen to be a-flowin'! Be sure to set as your Home Page and bookmark Alpine Road Publishing so you don't miss a beat! 

The JavaMusiK BloG appreciates you checking in for the most up-to-date coverage of all things JavaMusiK. For even more non-relevant information, be sure to find us all over Facebook at these locations: 
Jeff Van Devender-JavaMusiK
Alpine Road Publishing
Jeff Van Devender @ Facebook

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Monday, August 23, 2010

BloG #46: Life's Lessons 101

So, I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room after two weeks of following the ups & downs of recovery from a very scary ride that will not be detailed here. Suffice it to say, this ride has driven home some perspective on what priorities are important in life.

This sounds cliche, I know, but we often get so caught up in the little things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things that we lose sight of the beauty of life as a whole. Sadly, a simple ritual like stopping to feel the texture of a branch of pine needles seems so minuscule or redundant until your routine has been completely interrupted by a life threatening trauma of some sort.

What has mattered the last 2 weeks has been family being pulled closer together, friends from near & far reaching out and prayers being said from so many people we know & don't know. Tears come easily when your guard is lowered. No matter what strength you think you possess, life can still bring you to your knees.

We were lucky this time around. Prayers have been answered and a second chance has been given. Barring unforeseen obstacles or circumstances, this week should allow a release back into the real world again. From where I sit today, it appears more branches will be felt, flowers gazed upon & smelled, relationships appreciated, and life, in general, lived.

A routine was interrupted without warning. We are truly thankful for everyone who responded so quickly and saved a life that day.

Jeff Van Devender

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BloG #45: Of Passing Breaks & Discovering That Elusive Purpose

Another summer vacation has passed & here I sit the night before returning to my classroom tallying up my summer to-do list. Did I get through whatever needed to be accomplished? Was it a productive summer? Were my objectives met? Or was it a complete waste of time?

Looking back, I have yet to wish for a shortened summer vacation. This goes all the way back to my childhood. Even when I was in a career that had no summer vacation benefit attached to it, I still yearned for an extended break where I could recharge, re-evaluate my path in life and just simply veg. I value that time greatly and truly appreciate every moment I am given for that purpose.

This is not to say I don't appreciate being employed. I do! The benefits of working far outweigh the alternative and I find it beneficial to my own self worth to be productive in whatever sector I am employed with. This is part of the reason I ventured to complete my masters degree. To help myself become better and more informed at what I do (plus reap the benefits of being on a somewhat higher pay scale).

Returning to the questions at hand, I found this break to be a textbook summer in terms of satisfying my own personal needs. Those needs included (but were not limited to):

1.) Distancing myself from work - physically & emotionally (check)
2.) Spending time with family & friends (check)
3.) Catching up on rest (check-minus)
4.) Reading (check)
5.) Composing/creating (check-minus, minus)
6.) Performing (check)
7.) Advancing JavaMusiK into new territory/frontiers (check)
8.) Traveling to a new location (no check)
9.) Traveling (check)
10.) Bungee jumping (no check)

Not bad, considering all things. This summer will likely go down as a slightly better than average one, though it is not yet far enough back in the rearview mirror to catch a complete perspective on it in relation to the bigger picture. But looking at it from the here & now, a lot was accomplished, as you can see from the somewhat predetermined list. Some pleasant surprises helped the break to actually have some unexpected highlights, though the checkbook seems to be screaming a little louder than normal.

Since I have spent the last few years in my forties, I have found it less appealing to simply relax without some sort of opportunity lurking in the bushes. Let me explain...

I have never quite nailed down what it is I want to be when I grow up. This little tidbit has caused a fair amount of consternation in my ability to be productive, b/c I often have it in my head that I should really be doing something else (without ever really being clear what that something else could or should be). During my time in college, my poor advisers had to feel somewhat dizzy after their visits with me. I went from being a completely undecided major, to music ed to pre-engineering to undecided again to music business. Did I have a clue what I was going to do with a degree in music business?? Not a chance! It took me five years & a summer to get out of that school with a music business degree because I was still dinking around trying to figure out what I wanted to do!

Then after all that, I tried again five years later & got a degree in music education. That degree has served me well, but has also not quite fulfilled my inner need for more. Nevertheless, my time between earning my first and second undergraduate degrees enlightened me to discovering a calling of a higher purpose. Before going back for the second degree, I continually felt the burden of feeding a corporate machine and not much else. That really started to wear on me, almost to the point where I was not feeling real positive about going to work anymore.

During a time when I was training a new assistant manager on the job, I was told I would make a good teacher. Didn't think much of it at the time, but eventually those words began to echo kind of like you sometimes see & hear in the movies. After some soul-searching moments, I finally made the move to get after it & go forward. After all, this could fulfill that higher calling I wasn't feeling in my previous line of work. Teaching children about the creative arts was going to be my ticket to happiness.

Now, with 20 years under my belt in this career of music education, I have found much fulfillment and happiness. I have also discovered much opportunity for personal and professional growth. As a musician with a continual fire in my belly, I have also harbored a fair amount of need to create. And, yet another ember that rears it's head occasionally is a spirit of entrepreneurship. I truly admire those who start a business and make it successful.

Thus, the somewhat uneasiness with simply going fishing, or planting my butt in a lawn chair (for too long). All the above identifiers have conspired to form what has become somewhat of a mission for me. After 12 years, the mission is still in it's formative stages, but becomes a little clearer everyday. The name is JavaMusiK. The mission to this point has included the creation of new music and arrangements without the use of words, giving this music a life of it's own, and bringing people together in fellowship through music. I often get the feeling that there is more to the picture and have recently been testing the waters with that thought in mind. More may be written of that later. Meanwhile, the word legacy begins to creep into my inner thoughts as I continue to advance in age...

This is what rides the forefront of my mind during downtime. How can I advance the mission of JavaMusiK? One thing that drives it forward is the financial investment laid out to get JavaMusiK this far. The cost of studio time and equipment, thousands of cd's that need to be sold and return on investment of the education and opportunity cost of what has gotten me to this point of musicianship, etc. Can I ever reach a break-even point on the sum-total of those elements? Can this ever be a profitable venture? Could it ever become self-sustaining?

I think I have spoken in previous posts about the passion that drives JavaMusiK. I truly believe any thread of sanity I may still possess can be credited to the release that comes from working with the product hosted within JavaMusiK. My appetite for creativity, entrepreneurship/business and desire to perform, in addition to the pursuit of a legacy are all being satisfied under the mission of JavaMusiK.

As I write this, I wonder if these feelings are common among other people? I truly do, because I have often felt alone in my lack of focus as to career direction, etc. The people I am usually around seem very confident in their chosen direction. I rarely feel that... JavaMusiK, as small as it is, is the one truth that I feel comfortable hanging my hat on. Do others feel the need to create? Or is that need being satisfied through whatever it is they do at work, or at home? How about starting a business venture and nurturing it through various stages of growth? Or is working for someone else satisfying enough?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Jeff Van Devender

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BloG #44: He Said What???

This blog entry is being posted with the understanding that it may be edited or added to at a later date. Upon further inspection, I reserve the right to say "OMG! What was I thinking??" Thus will begin the process of either completely dismantling the whole posted premise with a swift toss into the trash can, or scavenging for the various bits of thoughts worth salvaging and piecing it together into a better developed, more concise train of thought, or something. So, there you have it...

And, here we go:

Riddle me this.... Have you ever made a mistake?

Riddle me that.... Did you learn anything from said mistake?


Me? I'm going to pause for a moment, allowing those who know (or have known) me to use this opportunity to pick themselves up off the floor & regain their composure, before proceeding with this textual exercise. . .

As for the first riddle at hand . . . Yes. I have charged forward head first into the occasional mistake. I will not be sharing details here, primarily to protect the innocent but also in an attempt to maintain some sort of online dignity.

My mistakes have typically evolved to become in-house lifelong teachers for me. Brick to the head, sometimes softened w/ a sponge - always full-on brain-wedgie. And I'm usually asking for it in my own ignoramus fashion. I liken this concept to my train of thought concerning skiing. If I proceed through a full day and never fall down, I personally feel I have not pushed myself hard enough. Opportunities for full-on learning were minimal. On the other hand, when I fall, my body and mind is receiving a plethora of messages from sensors sending gobs of juicy tidbits for my brain to chew on, (sometimes for the next 30 years). By that token, I would offer a qualified answer of 'yes' to the second riddle. Let me explain . . .

To say I have learned a lesson is a rather subjective statement. As an educator, I have the daily task & responsibility to project lessons upon targeted learners or students. It is my hope that the learners or students whom my lessons are being projected upon will receive said lesson and learn the desired outcome or objective from my projection. Here is where the air turns foggy, or the water turns cloudy, or the windows get steamy, or . . . you (hopefully) get the picture.

Suddenly, terms such as interpretation, perspective and frame of reference enter into the picture. Each learner or student whom my lessons are projected upon most likely received said lesson(s) through their own wildly unique filter, that cannot be duplicated by any other classmate or, for that matter, any other human being.

Each learner brings their own background and context to the table. These elements represent the evolutionary filter through which classroom interactions pass on their way to each individual's knowledge base. (By evolutionary, I mean that each student's filter is continually evolving. Their frame of reference today is not the same as the frame of reference they brought to the table yesterday.) If I am lucky, my projected lesson will pass through that filter. This is provided the student or learner is following the train of thought being presented (and staying attentive and/or awake).

Long story short . . . A lesson may be learned.

Riddle continues.... Was it the correct and/or intended lesson?

Let's take a small detour here:
A song I recorded on my most recent cd Don't Ever Forget alludes to this very concept. Considering none of my pieces have lyrics, that is quite an accomplishment! Indeed, I say this with all honesty . . . all of my pieces have meaning. They all come from somewhere inside that defaults below the level of external subconsciousness. Sometimes, I will understand a song's meaning early on. Others take time. Then there are the pieces I have not quite decoded or received their meaning yet. But I know it lurks beneath the subsurface. The challenge lies in figuring it out and embracing it while still bringing the listener to a similar wavelength through my playing & their listening, sometimes even before I've received that understanding.

But, I have digressed and must (attempt to) now regress. Alpine Road is a track that comes from a very tender place. The mere mention of those two words together bring to my mind an image of a perfect place close to my heart but is beyond reach, in my everyday life. I have been there, but am generally not afforded the opportunity to go back. To up and go at the whim of my heart would go against the responsibilities I have at hand. My heart beckons, but I cannot go.

Yet . . . Alpine Road represents a higher place. A place where we can look down at all that is below us. We can see things that surround us in that lower confine, that we cannot necessarily see when we are in the midst of said environment. The same can be said as we look back with time on our side presenting a distant perspective.

This is often where the lesson takes shape and form in the mind's eye of the the intended receiver. Yes, maybe a lesson was learned early on. But after climbing that mountain of time, distance and maybe even height, perhaps the lesson crystallizes into another form. Perhaps it joins a bigger part of the picture that we were not aware of as we sat in the eye of the storm. Perhaps we will never really get to know the whole context of the lesson.

Sometimes in the classroom, I want to just say to my students, "You'll understand this later." In an elementary world where concrete thought is king, that concept is far-fetched, at best.

So, mistakes? (to quote Sinatra) I've made a few. End of story (for now): Conclusion stands at the generalized theory - we're always learning. Whether we are learning what we are intended to learn depends on a great many factors.

One idea that can bring some clarity to what is learned (or being learned) would be to step away from the situation, by time, distance and/or height. This most likely is not immediately possible and definitely won't insure against poor decisions. Sometimes, we're just destined to make poor decisions. I am convinced of the inevitability of that one. The key is to see the mistake and learn from it. Otherwise, (now quoting Lennon/McCartney) a long and winding road with a potential unmarked dead-end may await our older self.

Life has a way of making sure we keep things interesting for ourselves, whether we want it or not. With that in mind, keep it real, buy Don't Ever Forget, listen to Alpine Road many times and ponder this thought process for yourself. Consider your filters. I'm guessing your conclusion will be slightly or even completely different from mine. Cool!  = )

Jeff Van Devender

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

BloG #43: Annie Herring Coming to Glenwood Springs, CO

Annie Herring, former lead singer for the legendary music group “2nd Chapter of Acts,” will be performing a special concert April 29, 7:00 pm at Glenwood Springs (CO) First United Methodist Church located at 824 Cooper Avenue.

With over 30 years in her professional Christian music career, Herring has recorded 23 Albums. Her career began in the early seventies as the leader of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame Award winning singing group “Second Chapter of Acts” and has continued through the 90’s to date singing solo concerts.

Miss Herring’s music style is inspirational and is said to reach deep to the heart and stir the soul.

A Free-Will Offering will be collected at the concert. Donations to help defray the cost of bringing Annie’s ministry to Glenwood Springs, CO are also being accepted through the church.

For more information on Annie Herring and her history, visit her web site

Visit or the church website at

Download the official press-release.

It is my sincere hope that this event can become a positive music ministry for our community that can take root and blossom into further events of similar consequence.

Jeff Van Devender

Saturday, March 27, 2010

BloG #42: Of Debates and Friends and Tumbleweeds...

The exercise continues...

Yes, my textual manuscript is slowly inching forward here, once again starting out with nothing to say. The point of this particular writing is to see if it will actually evolve, as I write, into something that actually has a point or whether it just drifts like a tumbleweed being tossed about by a desert wind.


So, here we go....
Much debate has been taking place concerning the recent health care reform and I have to say, heels are being dug in quite deeply on both sides. I'm choosing to say very little beyond the occasional private comment to very close friends regarding this issue b/c frankly, it appears the social networking forums are becoming a rather polarizing medium to be so open with your opinions regarding such topics.

Considering the fact that most 'friends' that are listed as friends on these sites are casual friends at best, no matter which side of the debate you pick to express an opinion about, it appears that you can plan on offending at least 50 percent of your 'friend' base. By my own informal observation, this particular debate has shown friends to be getting quite nasty with each other. Sometimes, even going so far as to de-friend each other.

Social networking has changed quite substantially in the last year or two. Here's how I see it:

In the past, I belonged to 2 or 3 different musician networking forums. 'Friends' that I shared opinions with there were much more distant in that I did not know them on a face-to-face basis. If I did engage in debate on a polarizing issue with them, there was very little consequence based on the fact that we really didn't know each other beyond the textual info we read about each other online, along with whatever avatar they posted for an identifier.

NOW.... here we are engaging in similar banter, only it is with FRIENDS who know (or think they know) us! Suddenly, opinions of each other are formed or changed. Sides are taken. Decades old acquaintances and friendships are challenged by one short little comment you let slip. I have been watching the discourse and have even been somewhat burned by it on fairly recent conversations myself. The question we all need to start asking ourselves is...

Is it really worth it?

The anonymity is gone. We're no longer confronting cyber friends here. Suddenly, our comments are being read by FRIENDS & colleagues of past and FRIENDS & colleagues of present. Watching the debates on this current health-care issue, it seems many of these 'friends' are not so quick to dial it back, as it were. Passion is running amok. Hurtful things are being said. 'Friendships' are ending right before our eyes. And over what?

Is this all really worth the potential loss of friends?

Or, do we just march ahead and say what we feel, friends be damned?

I don't know the answer. But another observation I have gathered in past discussions is that text does not transmit vocal inflections &/or body language. The consequence that often arises is that an intended joke or light-hearted comment will often be mistaken by the intended receiver as less than funny or downright offensive. Add to that all the networked friends who are also reading these comments, many of whom may also choose to be offended and you suddenly have a slight problem on your hands. Or at least a fewer friend or two.

This is not even factoring in the potential employers and other key people in your life who may eventually choose to read things associated with you, including any opinions you may choose to share on a given subject, such as health care reform. Again, it all begs the question...

Is it really worth it?

That is a question only you can decide for yourself. And that answer may change for you as you progress through time. Suddenly, your friendships may begin to mean more to you. Or less. Suddenly, what you decide to put out for everyone to read may not seem as such a good idea as it once did. But by then, is it too late?

Just a thought.

In reference to my first thought expressed on this particular posting... there may have been a point, but again, who cares??