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    The History of Take Me Out to the Ballgame

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    It is October and we are lucky to have two Los Angeles-area teams in the playoffs this season — the Dodgers and Angels. If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to a game you’ll likely participate in some treasured traditions such as eating hot dogs, cheering for the home team and singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

    Just what is the story behind the song and why is it played in every Major League Baseball game in this country?

    According to Time, the song was written and composed approximately 105 years ago by two men who had never seen a baseball game. Writer Jack Norworth wrote about a girl named Katie Casey who wanted her boyfriend to take her to a baseball game instead of a show. It originally consisted of 32 lines but the most famous lyrics are those she told her boyfriend:

    Take me out to the ballgame,

    Take me out with the crowd.

    Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

    I don’t care if I ever get back, ’cause it’s root, root, root for the home team,

    if they don’t win it’s a shame.

    For it’s one , two, three strikes you’re out, at the old ballgame.

    Composer Albert von Tilzer set the poem to music and the duo set off promoting the song to vaudeville performers and it eventually became popular among entertainers instead of athletes. a

    All of that changed, however, in the 1980s with Chicago sports broadcaster Harry Caray.  He started a tradition of having guests sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” and when he begn to work for the Cubs his tradition was broadcasted to a national audience thanks to superstation WGN.

    “Other teams quickly followed the lead of the Cubs and White Sox, substituting or supplementing the ‘Mexican Hat Dance’ or ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ with ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ in the seventh,” reports ESPN. “And now, all 30 major league clubs play the song in the seventh inning, as do all minor league teams and many college and high school teams.”

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    The Music Behind Political Ads

    Midterm elections are a month away and it’s time to ready ourselves for a steady stream of television and radio ads by politicians and special interest groups. Whatever your political stripe, we can all agree that political ads, especially negatives ones, can be irritating. To make matters worse, this year’s political ads are already more negative than those that aired in 2012 and 2010.

    How will you survive this onslaught of ads?

    Next time try putting your music knowledge to the test.

    If you closed your eyes, how long would it take you to realize that the campaign was negative? Probably not long. The music would likely be slow, filled with low and repetitive notes. Sometimes the music is overpowered by snares drums, suggesting a militaristic tone. Other times, the music can be overly synthesized, a subliminal message of a dystopian future.

    Matthew Nicholl, a professor at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, knows about these tactics and power of music to persuade people. He composed music for several political campaigns including the presidential aspirations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole and says that despite the fact that music is considered background music, its role is vitally important.

    “And you can tell no matter who shows up on screen … we need an immediate cue that this is the bad guy, this is the Terminator,” Nicholl told radio station WBUR. “We see him on the screen, the music says, ‘Wait, this is not warm and fuzzy, this is stuff to worry about.’ ”

    Californians, however, can take comfort knowing that their state isn’t filled with the most negative ads. That dubious honor goes to Wisconsin. We’ve included a political ad from that state’s hotly contested gubernatorial race. What do you think of the music?

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    Why You Hate The Sound of Your Own Voice

    We recently learned that people are more forgiving of our out-of-tune singing that musicians who play other instruments. Now, science is proving again why we might the worst judge of our own voice.

    The truth is we hear our own voice differently from everyone else.

    Do you remember the first time you heard your own talking or singing voice in a recording? It could be a recital video or simply a voicemail message. Chances are you were surprised about how high it sounded and you didn’t like it. Also, there’s also a good possibility that no one else seemed surprised by your tone.

    A recent SciSchow segment on YouTube explains why. Host Hank Green says that when other people listen to us, our sound travels through air into the ear drums into the inner ear. However, when we talk we are hearing our sound from two sources – through our ears and in our head. When we talk, “the voice bounces and transmits vibrations directly into our inner ear.” These vibrations are conducted through — quite literally — our flesh and bones creating a lower frequency. That is why we are always astonished about the highness of our pitch.

    Eventually, we get used to the sound of our own voice if we hear it enough times so not every playback of audio will be cringe-inducing. With some voice lessons from The Music Junction you will learn not just how to tolerate your own voice but enjoy it!

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    Following the Ninth

    Few pieces of Western music have been as beloved as much as Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which first premiered in 1824.

    Yet, 190 years later we still debate its meaning.

    It is Beethoven’s only vocal symphony and it is also his last.  It is big and loud and “wildly unstable.”  It projects a sense of calm then turn recklessly loud, and yet make the audience feel triumphant at its closing. Some believe it was a political statement against European governments. Others think it is a statement about peace and unity. Still others, assert that both interpretations are correct.

    It is perfectly ambiguous writes Slate’s Jan Swafford: “As with the Mona Lisa, maybe its very ambiguity is part of its success. Paint it any color you like, and it remains its exalted and inexplicable self. If you want universality in a work of art, here you are.”

    Its universality cannot be denied.

    Chilean protestors living under Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship sang it. A student protesting the Chinese government played it in Tiananmen Square to drown out the government’s orders. It  is revered in Japan, where every December there are concerts and sing-a-longs devoted to this classical work.

    Filmmaker Kerry Candaele studied the Ninth Symphony’s global impact in his documentary “Following the Ninth.” He interviews people throughout the world to learn what the music means to them from the professional musician to the Chilean protestors.

    The movie debuted last year and is still appearing in small theaters throughout the country and we hope to get an opportunity to see it soon. If it stops by your city, try to see it too and become inspired by the power of music.

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    What To Do When Your Child Wants to Stop Taking Music Lessons

    For every child who begs his parents to stop taking music lessons there are just as many adults who, years later, regret that their parents let them quit.

    So, what do you do when your child wants to stop? How do you find the balance motivating them to learn something that they might appreciate later in life and not having them dread touching the keys on the piano?

    Like many other parenting issues, the answer is not easy.  Still, here are some tips to dealing with the issue:

     

    Have An Exit Strategy: Talk to any entrepreneur, and chances are she has carefully crafted her exit strategy just as much as she has spent time thinking about her company’s launch.

    Parents also need their own version of an exit strategy for music lessons and communicate it clearly with their young musician.

    When your child approaches you about quitting you should already have an idea about how long you want music lessons to last.  Some parents require a year’s worth of lessons, hoping that the child will understand the fun and benefits of music in that amount of time. Other parents stand firm that music lessons will last throughout high school. Find a length of time that works with your parenting philosophy, your child and your beliefs the power of music education.

     

    Communicate: Does your child want to genuinely end music lessons or is he currently struggling through some difficult passages and techniques? Talk to his educator at The Music Junction and ask about any issues occurring during instruction. Sometimes some extra encouragement or added patience can solve the problem.

     

    Be Honest: As adults, we know the numerous benefits of exercising but that doesn’t mean we’re on the treadmill every day and eagerly sweating it out. Sometimes it is hard to find motivation.

    Your children have the same feelings.

    Acknowledge that practicing can feel tedious and repetitive at times and it’s fine not to love it.  In fact, famed cellist Yo-Yo MA once told the Washington Post about his childhood:  “I hated practicing! I spent more time thinking about practicing and dreading it than actually practicing.”

    As adults we understand that practicing makes us better musicians but children do not intuitively comprehend this concept. Help them make the connection.

    Make Music Fun: At The Music Junction we offer recitals as a way to make music fun and a social experience. Find other ways to achieve this goal. For the young child, that could mean setting up music play dates with children who are also taking lessons. For older children, that may mean finding music summer camps where they can make friends and become better players.

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    Seeing the Colors of Sound

    When most of us describe color we talk about the green hue of the grass and the bright blue tint of the sky. But for a small portion of the population, they see color in letters of the alphabet, numbers and music. For some, the number seven will always be green and for others Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” will always be seen as yellow with accents of mustard and orange sherbet.

    The condition is known as synesthesia, which loosely translates in Greek to the “mingling of the senses,” and often provides multi-sensory experiences for people who live with this condition. Chromesthesia is specific type of synesthesia that is known as color hearing. For example, each octave has its own color and a fast chord progressions looks like an explosion of fireworks. The closest comparison we can think of is seeing multi-colored toy xylophone and associating each sound with the color on the panel.

    Some people who have synesthesia complain their multi-sensory perceptions become so intense that they lose their train of thought. Others find they have a hard time determining their left hand from their right and struggle with numbers. Still, they are many benefits including superior memory skills and the ability to be more creative and original that those who do not have synesthesia.

    It’s not surprising that many successful musicians have chromesthesia and synesthesia. You can discover some of the artists who have it here.

    Singer and producer Williams is another artist living with chromesthesia and cannot imagine creating music without this condition. He told Psychology Today:  “The ability to see and feel (this way) was a gift given to me that I did not have to have. And if it was taken from me suddenly I’m not sure that I could make music. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it. I wouldn’t have a measure to understand.”

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    An Increase in Music Prodigies

    It doesn’t seem possible to refer to musical prodigies as commonplace or 14-year-old virtuosos as over the hill but Newsweek provides some interesting insight about the increase in talented young musicians.

    In its article, “Musical Prodigies Find Plenty of Youthful Company,” Newsweek writes: “Conservatories in Europe and North America report an increasing number of pre-teens who turn up for auditions flawlessly performing repertoire previously considered the domain of 25 year olds.”

    The reason for this increase is uncertain. One person attributed the trend to the Olympic syndrome of wanting to break records and attain fame. Another mentioned the growing Chinese population that typically tends to value music education. It is estimated that there are 30 million young pianists in China.

    Music, however, is not just technical perfection — hitting the right notes and executing difficult passages. It’s also about artistry and creating an emotional connection with the music and to the audience.

    Just ask Gabriela Montero, a Venezuelan pianist and a former a child prodigy who made her musical debut when she was just 8 years old.  She stopped playing piano at 18 years old and lived life outside of the piano. She returned two years later and says the break added meaning to her work.

    “The danger is that we’re creating machines that can play any piece at any speed,” Montero told Newsweek. “As an artist you have to say something to say, but you don’t have anything to say if you’ve spent your life in a practice room.”

    What do you think? Is the increase in young music prodigies good or bad?

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    Using sound waves to levitate objects

    Think levitation is only a magician’s trick?

    Although you may not have learned this in your high school science class, the ability to make tiny particles float in the air is possible.

    The ability to rise in the air through the power of sound, also known as acoustic levitation, is not new. Scientists have been performing this act since the 1940s. However, a group of Japanese researchers have recently mastered three-dimensional levitation, making it possible to float an object up and down and side to side. You can see the levitation in action in the video above, which also provides a great tutorial on the science behind it.

    Scientists discovered that if they perfectly align ultrasonic sound speakers they can create sound waves that exert pressure. This pressure cancels out the effects of gravity. They can make the particles move in different directions by changing the strength of the sound waves. Fortunately for scientists, the sounds waves are slightly above the normal human hearing range, which is beneficial in applying this discovery to the real world. Unfortunately for musicians, we are unlikely to replicate levitation through our own music making.

    The advancement of 3D acoustic levitation provides many benefits beyond creating an intriguing YouTube video. Acoustic levitation could help scientists keep chemical mixtures pure in stem cell research and advance antigravity experiments in space.

     

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    50 Years of Batman Music

    The Batman franchise has entertained audiences over the years from the campy television show of the 1960s to the dark cinematic thrillers that garner Oscar nominations. Yet, the one element that remains constant is the iconic music.

    A new YouTube video condenses 50 years of Batman music into an entertaining 4-minute track, sampling “Batman Theme” by Neal Hefti, “The Batman Theme” by Danny Elfman, and “Like a Dog Chasing Cars” by Hans Zimmer. Each sample is performed on sets — or in one case, a rooftop — that mimics the look and feel of each movie. As an added bonus for movie fans, they include replica Batmobiles for each rendition.

    The video was created by The Piano Guys — a Utah-based group that oddly has only one piano player. It has become an Internet sensation and if you look at the video you’ll see why!

    The Piano guys have created several popular YouTube videos over the years including a classical version of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” and a pop version of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony thanks to a little help from OneRepublic.

    We also love how this video captures how much fun the musicians are having. They love playing music, which is something that can be inspiring for the young musician in your life.

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    4 Tips To Conquering Nerves At A Recital

    Anyone who has studied at The Music Junction for some length of time has performed at a recital. We think it’s a great way to apply skills learned in class and help our students realize that music-making should be a fun, social act.

    We also know that recitals can make some students — from the young to the old — nervous. We’re here to help!

    Here are 4 Ways to conquer nerves at a recital:

    1. Accept the Fear: The body manifests fear in very specific ways that can affect a musician’s performance. Increased air pressure under the vocal cords can pose a challenge for a singer and stiffening of the body can make a pianist’s fingers less agile. If the fear sets in just before a performance the worst thing to do is ignore the feelings, says Voice Council Magazine:

    “One has to accept the nerves and the physical repercussions, and work within this state rather than trying to push it away. The more you try to block the nerves, the more they will affect you.”

    2. Practice, Practice, Practice: Accepting nerves does not mean they cannot be overcome. Knowing the music goes a long way to feeling confident performing in front of others. In addition to consistent practicing at home, work with your instructor to ensure that the assigned piece is at an appropriate level — something that is challenging but not overly difficult.

    3. Dress Rehearsals are Key: Turn the living room into a performance space and invite mom, dad, sister and brother, even the beloved family pet, to a special performance.  Make the performance as real as possible, including walking on stage and bowing, even wearing the performance outfit, advises NPR.

    4. Wishing you Success: The Music Junction community, and many other music schools, offers a positive community. Realize that everyone in the room wants the best possible performance from every musician and everyone is rooting for each other.

    What do you think of our suggestions? Do you have any tips or routines that work for you?

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

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