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Alex Shapiro, composer email





For ultra-flex wind band, orchestra, or small ensemble, and optional prerecorded track.

Composed by Alex Shapiro.

2021; Duration 1:10 or longer, depending on tempo.
Published by Activist Music LLC (ASCAP).


Grade 3 and beyond.




score cover




Click to listen to a rough simulation
of the fast version!
Scroll down this page
to watch a performance!



KITCHEN SYNC is available as a
digital set of .pdf score and parts,
plus audio download.

Full set: $50.





Click here to order from Activist Music:




The print version of KITCHEN SYNC, included with the four additional pieces from composers Brian Balmages, Jennifer Jolley, Pete Meechan, and Frank Ticheli comprising the adaptable music set SUITE TREATS, is available for sale from The FJH Music Company, Inc. Click HERE for more information!

The FJH Music Company, Inc.










The Flex Five

Pictured above, clockwise: the "Flex Five" composers of the Creative Repertoire Adaptable Music Suite: Pete Meechan, Alex Shapiro, Brian Balmages, Frank Ticheli and Jennifer Jolley.


For Lisa Oman, with compliments to the commissioning chefs at Composers & Schools, and appreciation for line cook Tony Spano Jr. and his musical sous chefs of the Culver City High School Concert Band.


KITCHEN SYNC was composed as a stand-alone piece that is also one fifth of a collective offering of similarly micro-length pieces titled SUITE TREATS. Composers & Schools Executive Director Lisa Oman and conductor and Creative Repertoire Initiative co-founder Robert Ambrose invited five founding members of CRI to add their voices to a compilation of brief, medium difficulty ensemble works designed to be highly adaptable. Alex, along with composers Brian Balmages (Focal Point), Jennifer Jolley (Neoncore), Pete Meechan (Lullaby), and Frank Ticheli (Moving On), were each paired with high school wind band directors in different parts of the U.S., and engaged with the students online to come up with a fresh take on what can be accomplished musically-- in only about a minute.


Pictured below: the members of the Creative Repertoire Adaptable Music Suite: top row, L-R: Lisa Oman, Robert Ambrose, Jennifer Jolley; second row: Alex Shapiro, Frank Ticheli, Pete Meechan; third row: Mitch Evett, Josh Murray, Jordan Beckman; fourth row: Kevin Rhodes, Tony Spano, Matthew Rome.



KITCHEN SYNC instrumentation




(email Alex for code access)

PERUSAL ONLY; not for performance or duplication.



8 1/2 x 11; 14 pages including cover and notes.

score, 8 1/2 x 11-single-side








Enjoy this video of an April 2022 performance by the University of Wisconsin-River Falls New Music Ensemble, Dr. Patti Cudd, conductor (note: every ensemble's instrumentalists will determine their own pitch group for the drone, so this is just one example):







Ingredient food groups, organized by taste:


KITCHEN SYNC has only one required instrument: a food blender, with an electric extension cord for it to operate from the stage. The larger and louder the blender, the better the effect; handheld blenders and mixers may not be loud enough to cause the utterly annoying interruption of the playing. Putting dry beans or rice in the blender will increase the volume! Please note that if the piece is performed without the track, one player MUST trigger an egg timer to ding on the fifth beat of bar 35.


Musicians are invited to order from the suggested percussion instruments du jour (* indicates idea suggested by the students in the Culver City High School Concert Band):


Clicked Menu (items that can be struck against each other or other objects):
2 Metal spoons or spatulas
2 Wooden spoons or spatulas
2 Metal whisks
2 Chopsticks *
Nutcracker as castanets
Tongs as castanets *
Garlic press as castanets
Metal or plastic shellfish crackers as castanets
Metal garlic press *
Wooden rolling pin, struck with any utensil *


Textured Menu: (items that rip, snap, crinkle or shake):
Aluminum foil sheet, ripped from container, tapped, ripped, snapped, and crinkled
Wax or parchment paper, ripped from container, tapped, ripped, snapped, and crinkled
Empty bag of chips, used creatively *
Metal or plastic measuring spoons, shaken *
Cereal box, shaken *
Bag of chips, shaken *
Metal utensils hanging from a rack, used like a mark tree *


Scraped Menu: (items that can be scraped with fingernails or utensils):
Metal sieve, scraped and played with fingernails, wooden spoon, metal spoon
Plastic sieve, scraped and played with fingernails, wooden spoon, metal spoon
Cheese grater, scraped with wooden or metal spoon
Something strummed against a whisk, like a metal spoon or a small hard plastic spatula *
Something strummed against a fork, like metal spoon or a small hard plastic spatula *
Open-rod style knife sharpener, scraped *


Lunch Bowl Menu: (bowls and pots struck with fingers, fingernails, hands, wooden spoon, metal spoon):
Plastic mixing bowl, played with fingers, fingernails, hands, wooden spoon, metal spoon
Glass mixing bowl, played with wooden spoon, metal spoon
Ceramic bowl, played with wooden spoon, metal spoon *
Metal mixing bowl, played with fingers, fingernails, hands, wooden spoon, metal spoon
Metal pot with handle, played with fingernails, hands, wooden spoon, metal spoon
Metal pot with lid used like a hihat *


Additional ideas for instruments are welcome, and the sound they make can be matched with any of the sound group staves of the four Chef Teams. The sole requirement is that, per the music in KITCHEN SYNC, the item(s) should be rhythmically playable at a fast tempo.


The chef accepts substitutions, but due to the exorbitant cost of liability insurance the restaurant cannot allow the use of knives or other notably sharp utensils, nor sources of flame!


Thanks to the students in the Culver City High School Concert Band for their creative ideas during their first Zoom session with Alex Shapiro— it was fun to brainstorm! Here are some of their additional concepts:


Pouring a glass of water
Plastic ziplock bags that are opened, tapped, etc.
Wooden cutting board with spoon chopping against it
Two glasses clinking (or ceramic mugs, plastic glasses)
An object clinking inside a glass
A wine glass filled with water to create a ringing sound
Fill a drawer with objects and jostle them (junk drawer or silverware)
Use a can opener for clicking
Interrupt the piece with loud blender or coffee grinder or hand mixer
Have an egg timer go off at the end









I'm not an inspired cook, but I do enjoy the meditative groove of cleaning up after a meal— and listening to the pitches and rhythms barked from bowls, dishes, and cookware that form a chorus of multi-registered clanking in the sink. To me, everything in life has the potential to be a musical instrument! For instance, it was this very household task that resulted in my use of resonant metal mixing bowls filled with a little water, to create an otherworldly live sound effect in my 2014 electroacoustic tone poem for wind ensemble LIQUID COMPASS.


The short, percussive blast that is KITCHEN SYNC lands squarely on the other end of the musical spectrum. When I told my husband Dan what the title of this little piece was going to be, and how the musicians will rely solely on lots of related utensils and tools as their instruments, he enthusiastically replied, "you should have them PLAY a kitchen sink, too!". I loved the idea, but explained that it might be logistically difficult for ensembles to lug a big appliance to the band room or the stage.


Scrolling through Facebook a day later, I stumbled upon a post from my friend Jennifer Jolley, one of the five co-conspirators of SUITE TREATS, a collection of miniature, highly adaptable, fun-to-play pieces for which KITCHEN SYNC was composed. She mentioned something about her piece sporting a prerecorded accompaniment track. My brain lit up. I had designed my little rhythmic offering to work purely acoustically, but suddenly the prospect of an additional version became too tempting to ignore: now I could include everything AND the kitchen sink! Mine and Dan's, in this case, as can be heard in the accompaniment track.



PROGRAM BIO for Alex Shapiro Photo and bio

Alex Shapiro bio and photos








The accompaniment track is optional, but encouraged: it's recorded at two tempos: quarter = 135, and a more daring quarter = 175. If an ensemble wishes to play the piece at a slower or faster tempo, they can easily do so without the track, which mostly contains a few fun percussive sounds from the composer's kitchen sink as well as a ticking metronomic egg timer with an all-important ding at the very end. Without the track, one musician can be tasked with triggering the timer bell.


Given the brevity of the piece, one effective concert suggestion is to have the ensemble first perform the slow version, immediately followed by the more exciting faster version!


The parts are divided into four "Chef Teams" playing from one-line percussion staves, plus "Higher Register Cooks" and "Lower Register Cooks" who are instructed to play a shifting drone or rhythm of any pitch or pitches of their Cook team's collective choice, in the lower register of their instrument (whether piccolo, viola, euphonium, or string bass).


Visual props-- like chefs' hats (known as toques), dish towels, oven mitts, and other kitchen-related tools, make the performance even more engaging!


Each of the four percussive parts includes a couple of measures in which the player is instructed, "like any good cook: IMPROVISE!". The pitched parts invite improvisation throughout the piece. They include straight tones, undulating pitch bending, vocalizations, and any tonguing techniques the player wishes, all intended to create an interesting and ever-changing texture.


Please note: remind the musicians playing the improvised pitched parts that they should choose any ONE note, and STAY on that pitch, in any registration, along with the indicated vocal and articulation effects (which will add texture and variation to that pitch). This is important in order to create a drone pad, as opposed to a random set of pitches that sound too busy/chaotic against the percussion. Alternately, the musicians playing that part may opt to agree among themselves which two or three pitches they will stick to: for instance, a modal 1, 4, 5.


Any student can play any of the six parts! That way, all instrumentalists get to play percussion. And, players are invited to use a variety of kitchen items throughout their part if they desire.


With the exception of the electric blender, which will require a small stool or table and an extension cord to plug it in to an available outlet, all items are handheld and can be performed from a seat with no need for a table.


The piece may be looped and repeated as desired from bar 1 through bar 18, and finally on through to the end.











All of the accompaniment tracks are aligned. The music uses stereo panning and imaging, so please ensure that the P/A setup in your venue is stereo, not mono.

The track volume MUST be set to be as loud as the band. The track is a crucial, equal element in the music.

The track without ANY audible clicks, to be routed to the stage monitors heard by the band, and to the house speakers heard by the audience, begins with a silent eight beat count-off.

Please avoid converting the audio file to a lower quality MP3 file.

A multitrack sequencing/playback application, and a small audio interface, are needed. If you would like software and hardware suggestions for your particular setup, please drop Alex an email, and she will do her very best to help. Or, to at least make you laugh.




Here's something VERY helpful: a complete guide to the software and hardware setup for your ensemble room and performance venue.



pdf of tech guide








Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc. are wonderful tools for affordably bringing Alex into your rehearsal, without having to book a plane flight! She has a great time coaching students, and the difference between their musicianship at the beginning of the session and by the time it ends, is remarkable.

Alex can tell the ensemble about how the piece was created and engage them in conversation, and even show them how her digital project studio works! It's also easy to arrange to have her say hello to the audience during a concert, via a custom video. Webhearsals connect musicians to the real person-- and the stories-- behind the notes on the music stands. Get in touch with Alex-- her contact info is at the bottom of this page.

To see some examples of webhearsals, and the view Alex loves to share from her desk, click here.



Alex was an early adopter of online "webhearsals"! Here's one from December 2012 with Alex in her studio on Washington's San Juan Island, and band director Mary Bauer and the Mt. Mansfield Union High School Band far across the continent in Vermont.








Alex has written an extensive two-part article about electroacoustic band music and the uses of multimedia in the concert world. The essay, titled The e-Frontier: Music, Multimedia, Education, and Audiences in the Digital World echoes multimedia presentations she has given at The 2013 Midwest Clinic, the 2014 TMEA convention, and countless other seminars. It appears in the June and September 2014 issues of the magazine of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, WASBE World, and the .pdf is offered here with the very kind permission of the organization.

Click here for the full .pdf file readThe e-Frontier



Teaching Music Through Performance


Alex's unique electroacoustic wind band pieces for high school musicians, TIGHT SQUEEZE, and PAPER CUT, are featured in the field's best known book/CD series, Teaching Music Through Performance in Band, Volume 10, edited by Eugene Migliaro Corporon and released by GIA Publications December 2014.







Alexwith some of her music at the Hal Leonard rack at the Midwest Clinic, 2014.

Alex loves writing for band! You can listen to any of her other pieces by clicking here Alex's wind band catalog







The VERY best way to reach Alex is through email, by clicking here Email Alex!


Email Alex!



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