Meet the Directors
Dr. Brandon Ulrich has been teaching at Stoney Creek High School since the school's inception in 2002. Currently, Dr. Ulrich serves as Director of Choral Activities, where he directs the Men's Choir, Treble Choir, Concert Choir,Chorale, and Chamber Singers. Dr. Ulrich earned his Bachelor of Music Degree from Michigan State University in 2001, where he was the recipient of the Alumni Association's Oustanding Academic Achievement Award for the College of Arts and Letters. He earned his Master of Music in Instrumental Conducting from Southern Oregon University in 2005, and completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University in 2013. He has been honored in Who’s Who Among High School Teachers, The National Honor Roll for Outstanding Teachers, the PTSA Founder’s Day Award, and as a 2006 Local Walmart/Sam’s Club Teacher of the Year. Dr. Ulrich conducted the 2011 TTBB State Honors Choir, frequently presents sessions at MSVMA and Church Music Conferences, and is called upon as a clinician and adjudicator across the state for both MSVMA and MSBOA. He has served on the Michigan State University College of Music Alumni Board of Directors, and on the MSVMA Full Board and Executive Board. Dr. Ulrich is an advocate for new music, having established the Stoney Creek Commissioning Project which annually premiers several new works. An active composer, Ulrich is frequently commissioned by ensembles such as the Detroit Chamber Winds. His compositions, arrangements, and editions are published through Colla Voce Music Inc, Boosey & Hawkes, and Musicatus Press.
As Director of Bands at Stoney Creek High School, Lauren Staniszewski works with the Concert Band, Symphony Band, Wind Ensemble, Class Guitar, and the Cougar Marching Band. Mrs. Staniszewski completed her Master of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Michigan in 2011. She also received her undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Michigan in 2006, double majoring in Clarinet Performance and Music Education. She has been honored in Who’s Who Among High School Teachers, received the Sigurd I.& Jamila H. Rislov Foundation Award in 2004 and 2006, and has served as a guest clinician and coach for many schools throughout Michigan. Outside of the classroom, she has presented multiple sessions at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids and has served as a board member for the University of Michigan Band Alumni Association. She continues to stay active musically through freelancing, playing in local area ensembles, teaching privately, and volunteering for community events.
Solo & Ensemble
Solo & Ensemble Festival is an opportunity for individual students from the music program to perform a selection of their choice for adjudication. District-level festivals are held in late January through mid-February. Each student or group of students is evaluated by one judge and rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the highest rating possible. Students or groups that earn a rating of 1 (or "Superior") are qualified for State Solo & Ensemble Festival which is held in March. The basic structure of State Solo & Ensemble Festival is the same as District, but the students are held to a higher standard. Soloists in grades 10 through 12 must perform Proficiency Exams which include scales and sight reading. Students and ensembles that are chosen for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Honors Band, Orchestra, Soloists and Ensembles come from the highest rated events at the State Festival.
The Solo & Ensemble Festival provides an excellent opportunity for students to explore a wide variety of literature and experience different roles that they don't normally get the chance to explore in a band class setting. Playing on their own and in small chamber ensembles means that they have the opportunity to be exposed to more technically challenging music on their instrument and often times it means that they have the chance to play a more prominent role in the ensemble. Along with this the students have a chance to develop skills such as leadership, teamwork, critical listening, organization, and goal setting. We highly encourage all students involved in the band program to participate in Solo and Ensemble Festival as we believe it is critical for their growth as a musician.
For more information on upcoming Solo & Ensemble Festival News, please visit our official website and our Facebook Group page.
Helpful Hints for Solo & Ensemble
The Instrumental Music Program has its foundation in the three concert bands that meet every day, all school year. Students are placed into Concert Band, Symphony Band, or Wind Ensemble based on audition. In addition to the ensembles, students have the opportunity to be involved in Jazz Band, Pep Band, and chamber music through Solo & Ensemble Festival.
The Cougar Marching Band offers students a way to earn credit outside of the school day. Participation in the non-competitive marching band presents our musicians with fun and exciting challenges that arise when we take a concert band and spread them across the football field.
The Instrumental Music Program places a high emphasis on excellence in performance, and in the few years of Stoney Creek's existence, the Music Program overall has been recognized at the State level for excellence in performance. Many students have gone on to study music in college, and we are proud of the level of achievement already exhibited in the Music Program
The guitar is one of the most popular instruments, found around the world in many different cultures and forms. It is a very versatile instrument, capable of playing in many different styles of music. This course will give you the tools and fundamentals to succeed in many different styles. Prior musical experience is not necessary to succeed in this course. This is a music course; therefore one of the major objectives is that all students be fluent in the reading of musical notation. TAB is a useful tool to aid in learning specific guitar techniques, but does not transfer to other instruments and can in no way replace the skill of music reading. Tests and worksheets will be a part of the grade in this area.
Stoney Creek High School has a number of classical guitars available for student use in school. Each student will be assigned an instrument and book to use, and will be responsible for its care. Students are encouraged to provide their own instrument. Electric guitars may be used without amplification, but tests must be played on an acoustic instrument. Use of a school instrument is a privilege that will be revoked if the student does not demonstrate proper care and respect for the instrument.
This opportunity is not a common course offering in high school, so take advantage of it! This is your chance to gain some valuable skills on a musical instrument that can bring you a lifetime of enjoyment and fulfillment. If you apply yourself well during this semester you could become quite proficient in guitar technique. I am more than willing to help find supplemental materials to cater to your individual tastes and interests in terms of music according to your current skill level and appropriateness for the course.
Stoney Creek High School opened its doors in 2002 as the third high school in the Rochester Community Schools. The Music Department offerings include three concert bands, marching band, music theory, guitar, and five choirs that all meet during the school day. The choral courses include Treble Choir for ninth grade female singers, Men's Choir for ninth grade male singers, a mixed Concert Choir, an auditioned mixed Chorale, and the highly selective Chamber Singers. The instrumental courses include Concert Band for incoming students, Symphony Band, and Wind Ensemble. The elective courses include Marching Band, which meets outside of the school day for credit, music theory, and guitar.
A heavy emphasis is placed on Solo & Ensemble participation and chamber music throughout the program, where 70% of the students will participate in Solo & Ensemble Festival. All of the performing ensembles at Stoney Creek have consistently received Superior ratings at festivals, and in the school's ten year history the music department has proven itself to be one of the finest in the area.
A major component of the music education experience at Stoney Creek is the creation of new music. Through the Stoney Creek Commissioning Project, the bands and choirs have premiered many new works, and have seen several of those pieces subsequently performed across the country. This invaluable experience has sparked an interest in several student composers, and it is one way that we aim to broaden the scope and understanding of their musical literacy.
The choirs perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Chamber Winds, and at the Detroit Opera House on a regular basis, and were the choral forces in the Canadian Premier of Play! at the Hummingbird Centre in 2006. Masterwork performances with the Rochester Symphony include the Vivaldi Gloria, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and Mozart's Coronation Mass, the Rutter Gloria with the Detroit Chamber Winds, and Boito's Prologue to Mefistopheles with the Pontiac-Oakland Symphony. The Choirs also annually combine with other Rochester Schools groups to form the Rochester Masterworks Chorale which performs larger works with orchestral accompaniment.
The Chamber Singers have performed at the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2015 Michigan Music Conferences, and the Wind Ensemble had its Michigan Music Conference premiere in 2007. The Chamber Singers have performed at the 2010 and 2014 ACDA State Conventions and the 2012 ACDA Central Division Convention, and were honored as the 2014 State Outstanding Choir by MSVMA. Music students from Stoney Creek have won significant performance competitions, including Youth Arts Festival Soloist Nominations, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra Idol Competition, and NATS competitions. Students have earned places in National Broadway Touring Companies, numerous All-State ensembles, and many have gone on to study music at the collegiate level.
The bands and choirs alternate years of travel. In 2014 the choirs toured France and performed at Notre Dame Cathedral, and the bands will travel to Disney in 2015. A choral tour of Italy with performance in St. Peters Cathedral (Rome) is planned.
Men's Choir: Men's Choir is the class for all Men entering the Vocal Music Program, and consists of mostly ninth grade students. They perform at all concerts, Choral Festival, and Solo & Ensemble Festival.
Treble Choir: Treble Choir is an all female group for students who are new to the Vocal Music Program. Mostly ninth grade students, the Treble Choir performs at all concerts, Choral Festival, and in small groups at Solo & Ensemble Festival.
Concert Choir: Concert Choir is an intermediate mixed group (10-12) which performs SATB music. Concert Choir is the largest choir in the Vocal Music Program, and performs standard choral literature from all styles and periods of music in a variety of languages. Concert Choir performs at all concerts, Choral Festival, in small groups at Solo & Ensemble Festival, and in combination with the Chamber Singers and Chorale for larger works and at commencements. Students in Concert Choir are expected to sight-read at the intermediate level.
Chorale: Chorale is one of two select, auditioned ensembles in the Vocal Music Program. Depending on the year, the group is comprised of mixed voices or female voices. Students are admitted based on their ability to perform with pure, rich tone, sight reading competency, and ability to hold their own part with confidence. Chorale performs advanced music from the choral literature, focusing on acapella music in a variety of languages, styles, and time periods. Chorale performs at all concerts, Choral Festival, in small groups at Solo & Ensemble Festival, and in conjuction with the Chamber Singers for larger works and at commencements. Chorale members are highly encouraged to perform as soloists at Solo & Ensemble Festival.
Chamber Singers: Chamber Singers is the premier performing ensemble in the Vocal Music Program. Its members are the most advanced in the program, and nearly all of the thirty five singers in the auditioned ensemble study privately. All of the Chamber Singers are expected to perform solos at Solo & Ensemble Festival, and sight read at the advanced level at Choral Festival. The Chamber Singers are regularly called upon to perform larger works with regional orchestras, and have performed several times with the Rochester Symphony and the Detroit Symphony, and the Detroit Chamber Winds. The Chamber Singers have performed four times at the Michigan Music Conference, the 2010 ACDA State Convention, the 2012 ACDA Central Division Convention, and were the choral forces for the Canadian Premier of Play!, a Video Game Symphony, in addition to winning the 2011 $10,000 Magic Glee Club Contest. Chamber Singers repertoire is nearly all acapella music, pulled from the advanced choral literature of the ages, and the Chamber Singers annually premiere several new choral works through the Stoney Creek Commissioning Project. An important component of the class is the incorporation of chamber music. The larger choir performs in several smaller groups of different voicings to increase the depth of literature and scope of performance. Students who aspire to become a member of the Chamber Singers should seek private vocal instruction, and be strong sight readers, able to hold their own part amidst others.