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    Good News For Travelling Musicians

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    In a time when seats are getting smaller, we’re getting charged more for checking in our baggage and meals are no longer offered, it seems like travellers can never gain a victory with the airline industry.

     

    Now, we—especially musicians—finally have a reason to celebrate! The U.S. Department of Transportation recently ruled that musical instruments are considered carry-on luggage, which means that they can be stored in the overhead bin. Those who play a large instrument, such as a cello, now have the option of storing it in the seat next to them if they are willing to pay for the second seat.

     

    The policy change—which takes effect on March 6—means a lot to musicians who previously had to check-in their instruments. Given the throwing and banging that happens to all luggage, using the check-in option seemed like a risky proposition. Just ask musician Dave Carroll whose guitar was broken after a United Airlines flight in 2009. He spent a year without success trying to get reimbursed for his damaged instrument.  Carroll was finally compensated after his viral music video called “United breaks guitars” became popular and embarrassed United Airlines.

     

    More information can be found on here. Happy travels!

     

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    Make A Dream Come True

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    Savannah Wheeler is one of our favorite music artists at The Music Junction. She is a talented folk artist with a beautiful singing voice who has the ability to make us feel peaceful and at ease. And she also happens to be the sister of Music Junction owner Charissa Vaughan-Wheeler (Really, they look so much alike you would know they were sisters right away!).

     

    Savannah recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund her first professionally recorded EP of original music. For the last six years, she has pushed her talents and tapped into her raw emotions to come up with a collection of songs she calls “Annie’s Dream.”

     

    Savannah writes on her Kickstarter page: “Annie is my alter-ego.  She embraces her emotions.  She feels it, she shows it, she shares it, she let’s it fuel beautiful music and soul-bearing lyrics.  Please help me to share these songs with the world.  YOU are the main ingredient in making this project successful. Thank you for your support!”

     

    Savannah wants to raise $6,000 by March 5. If she doesn’t meet her goal, she does not get any of the money. As an extra incentive, she also has a special promotion that lasts until Thursday, February 12: Los Angeles residents who donate at least $25 will receive homemade apple crisp, it’s a special recipe by Savannah and Charissa’s grandmother. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

     

    In a campaign like this any amount you can give matters. $25 matters. $10 matters. Yes, even $5 will make a difference! We hope you can find a way to give. Yes, we’re biased and want to see Savannah’s dream come true.  But we’re also biased in that we love really good music and want great talent to find a larger audience.

     

    You can listen to Savannah’s impressive SoundCloud page and can like her Facebook page.

     

    Thanks for helping!

     

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    Everything Is Awesome

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    It turns out that singing your favorite song and going to a concert and may help you live a longer, healthier and happier life.

     

    A research team from UC Berkeley found that people who reported a sense of awe had lower levels of cytokines, or less inflammation in their body. High doses of cytokines can cause several health problems such as heart disease, depression and autoimmune diseases.

     

    While music is one of the major contributing factors to creating a sense of awe, other experiences can also help stir that emotion such as listening to religious sermons, walking in nature and looking at a beautiful work of art.

     

    The study confirms something we know intuitively; positive emotions are good for our health. Add in a nutritious diet and lots of sleep and you’ll feel like a superhero!

     

    Jennifer Stellar, on of the study’s co-authors says that finding time to participate in awesome experiences is important.

     

    “Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kind of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind,” Stellar said. “Folding these kinds of positive experiences into your daily routine may be more important for health than we previously realized.”

     

    We couldn’t agree 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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    Grammy Facts and Figures

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    The Grammy Awards are Sunday (8 p.m. on CBS) and you can look forward to performances by Chris Martin, AC/DC, and Pharrell Williams as well as see if Kanye West and U2 take home an award. Yet, most of the reports leading up to this big music event seems to be data-driven—we blame you Nate Silver for starting this trend—filling our brains with facts and figures. We thought we should share some of the most interesting stories with you.

     

    Numbers

    If you have ever wanted to know the length of the red carpet, the total number of nominees up for an award, and if the Latin Grammy’s Twitter account attracts more fans than the English language version, this story is for you.  While we won’t give away the answers we will say that we were sad to learn that both Snoop Dogg and Brian McKnight have been nominated for a Grammy 16 times and have never won!

     

    More Numbers

    If you are a fan of alternative/indie music we have some bad news for you. Its hey-day has long past—in fact it began its descent in 2002 thanks to Nickelback. Right now, country music is outshining every music genre, a resurgence that began in the mid-1990s and, despite a few hiccups, has only increased in popularity. Pop and R&B are also currently popular. How do we know this? Voactiv tracked Billboard Hot 100 songs dating back to 1965 in an attempt to “measure the public appetite for various genres through the years.”

     

    Still More Numbers

    When The Recording Academy revealed its nominees on Twitter, it provided a unique opportunity to see the type of music that is popular around the world. According to Time magazine: “In addition to identifying the most-tweeted about nominees in some of the major categories, Twitter has also looked at which music genres were the most-talked about, and where they’re talked about.” Using that information, an interactive map was produced that dissects music preferences around the world, even down to your neighborhood.  It’s interesting, if a little unsettling (we’ll have to remember to remove the geotagging feature from our cell phones) but definitely worth a look.

     

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    Creating Music From The Sounds of Our Galaxy

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    Regular readers of our blog will know that we love science almost as much as we like music. Whether we’re seeing singing and dancing NASA interns or learning about earthquake music, we love it!

     

    In late 2014, NASA released its vast sound library on SoundCloud that includes various noises from outer space to the ear-shattering sounds of liftoff to the historic communications that occurred from mission control—yes, “Houston, we have a problem” is included in the archive. Musicians are already having a field day with the free music samples including Davide Cairo and Giacomo Muzzacato.

     

    They challenged themselves and their musician friends to create original music from these sounds. What resulted was a four-song EP that is now free to download. According to Rolling Stone: “The musicians were required to only use the NASA samples but could twist and contort them anyway they pleased. For instance, the noise of the Kepler space observatory spacecraft in orbit was turned into a powerful bass noise.”

     

    We listened to the songs and were really impressed with the music. It’s definitely worth checking out.

     

    Cairo and Muzzacato’s challenge also seems to have left an imprint with the friends.

     

    “To me, the most fascinating thing about this project is working with something so unknown and far away, wrote one of the contributors who simply goes by JWCM. “The mystery of these sound’s origins really fascinate me; the time and distance they have traveled, the hidden messages that they might carry with them. All this make these sounds really magical to me. Making music from the sounds of NASA was like creating color from black and white; taking these ‘noises’ and turning them into a language that speaks to us as emotional beings.”

     

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    The Science Behind Earworms

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    It happens when you least suspect it.

     

    Your child is a singing a song she learned at school. All of sudden you’re singing the song too, first with her and then through the rest of the day.

     

    You are bored at work. Then, you start singing a tune you don’t even like but you cannot stop singing it!

     

    The phenomenon, often called having an earworm (or scientifically known as involuntary musical imagery), is a real thing that affects up to 92 percent of people at least once a week. Online news site Mashable decided to delve into the subject and figure out the causes earworms and how to get rid of them.

     

    Causes:

    • As predicted, repeated exposure to a song will increase your chances of it being an earworm but the song still needs a trigger. One trigger could be your memory. Say, for instance, you sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” at a baseball game. The next time you step foot in the stadium you start humming the tune. Another trigger could be visual. As Mashable writes: “You see a kid with a red balloon, and maybe right that moment, maybe an hour later, maybe even the next day 99 Red Balloons is rattling around your skull.”

     

    • Also, never underestimate your brain’s need to be entertained. If you are doing something boring and repetitive, your brain may just try to liven things up by implanting an earworm.

     

     

    Cure:

    • Stimulate your mind with another activity.

     

    • Do a form of musical exorcism. Listen to the song in its entireity — even if you don’t like it — and and begin singing along to give your brain the closure it needs.

     

    • Find another song to replace your earworm. However, this is a tricky process because you don’t want to have the replacement song become your earworm.

     

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    Idina Menzel’s Super Bowl Performance

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    We started this blog nearly two years ago to show the value of music:  how it can bring joy to our lives, make our brains better “machines” and serve as a form of therapy for people with debilitating diseases.

     

    And yet, one of the most viewed pages on The Music Junction website is our post about Idina Menzel’s Oscar performance! Although we stated our admiration for the singer, the post mentioned the problems with tempo and pitch and anytime someone did an Internet search of the Broadway actress’ singing problems our website appeared.

     

    Eventually, passing judgment on Menzel became a thing.

     

    The harsh criticism Menzel faced was never warranted. Being a musical theater performer is vastly different than being a pop icon. In theater, acting is first and the voice serves the character. People are comparing her to those in the recording studio trying to be perfect.

     

    As gracious artist, Menzel responded to her critics quite tactfully: “There are about 3 million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical. … Performing isn’t only about the acrobatics and the high notes: It’s staying in the moment, connecting with the audience in an authentic way and making yourself real to them through the music. I am more than the notes I hit.”

     

    That’s why we were really looking forward to the Super Bowl. We so wanted to see Menzel ace her performance.

     

    So, did she hit the high note (an F for those who are curious)? No, she didn’t. She started off lower than expected. Did her notes go sharp at times? Well, yes. But she also sang beautifully and with such energy that we are glad she silenced many critics that night.

     

    Congratulations Idina, and thanks for the Web traffic!

     

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    Getting A Date May Be As Simple As Playing Music

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    If you’re looking for a love interest this Valentine’s Day, ditch the flowers and candy and crank up the music!

     

    Research conducted by Japanese scientists found that attraction and feelings of romantic interest between potential mates increased dramatically if their encounter included music playing in the background.

     

    The research, published in the Psychology of Music, evaluated 32 participants in their 20s. They sat at a table while strangers visited and talked to them, according the Wall Street Journal. After 20 minutes, the strangers would leave and another set of unknown people would enter. In some instances a wide variety of music would be playing, anything from rap to classical music to rock.

     

    Once the conversations ended, the young people were asked to rate the strangers based on 10 traits that varied from patience, confidence and interest in dating. The strangers who engaged in conversation while music was playing scored higher than those who talked without music.

     

    “Music affects neurochemical systems in the brain that may enhance the interpersonal impressions formed during those conversations …” according to the wall Street Journal that cited the research paper. “Potentially stronger effects might occur if subjects chose their own music, they said.”

     

    Is there anything music cannot do?

     

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    Snow Days Are About Making Your Own Music Video

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    While Southern California may never experience snowy weather, we’re certainly entertained in the fun and musical ways school principals let parents and children know that school is closed. It has become a trend to sing about school closure and record it for the YouTube world to enjoy.

     

    Given that a snowstorm is blanketing the Midwest as we type and set to hit the East Coast again, these videos are timely.

     

    They almost makes us wishes that we had snow days too. Well, not really. Enjoy!

     

    “School Is Closed”

    Principal Matt Glendinning of the Quaker Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island dons a snow hat and gloves and sings his version of Frozen’s “Let It Go.” With background images of snow and traffic he sings: “The snow glows white on Route 95, not a tire track to be seen. We could make you come to school but that would just be mean.”

     

    It turns out the school’s communications director, As Olenn, was behind this video. As a father whose children love “Let It Go, ” Olenn wrote the lyrics in 15 minutes and presented it to his boss.

     

    “Weather Announcement”

    When two school administrators in North Carolina received a phone call at 4:45 in the morning that school at Durham Academy would be closed. They decided to have a little fun with it and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby”

     

    Wearing their shirts and ties, they added ski goggles and sang: “Alright stop, collaborate and listen. Ice is back and the roads will glisten. Polar Vortex has a hold of us tightly.”

     

    Can you imagine your principal ever doing this?

     

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    Celebrate Chinese New Year

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    The Year of the Goat (or Ram or Sheep according to some websites) will soon be upon us — Feb. 19, to be exact. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time to reconnect with family, enjoy good food and celebrate with firecrackers, dancing and, of course, music.

     

    For your enjoyment, we’ve listed a few events that include music. Enjoy!

     

    Feb. 1 in Beverly Hills

    The Saban Theatre is hosting Beijing Performance & Arts Group that includes a  musical performance that is in the style of Peking Opera, acrobatics from the China National Acrobatic Troupe as well as exhibition of Chinese art. For more information, visit the Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau’s website.

     

    Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles

    The Los Angeles Philharmonic has invited prominent Chinese artists to perform Western music, such as Chopin and Tchaikovsky, as well as traditional and contemporary music from China. A special treat includes composer Tan Dun who is known here as the composer to the film “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.” He will also have his West Coast debut of “Triple Resurrection,” which is part of his concerto series inspired by his film scores. To buy tickets, visit the LA Phil’s website.

     

    Feb. 21 in Alhambra

    The Alhambra Chamber of Commerce is hosting a festival and carnival in celebration of the new year. The festival will offer an entertainment stage filled with traditional drumming, lion dances and kung fu demonstrations. For more information, visit the event website.

     

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

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