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    Watch 8-year-old prodigy play Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu

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    Though for many, Fantasie Impromptu is a college level piano piece, this student has learned it beautifully at age 8.  She has extremely developed finger dexterity and strength for someone her age.   A long hand span is also needed to reach the octave (8-note) stretches in this piece.  And the song definitely requires a sophisticated understanding of the subtle musical nuances in the dynamics and phrasing. Does that sound like a normal 8-year-old??!

    A neat example for beginning piano students to see what they can aspire to (though definitely not at age 8)!

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    Musician Jokes

    From OsbornMusic.com:

    A young child says to his mother, “Mom, when I grow up I’d like to be a musician.” She replies, “Well honey, you know you can’t do both.”

    Q: How do you make musicians complain?
    A: Pay them.

    Q: How many conductors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: No one knows, no one ever looks at him.

    Q: how many drummers does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: “oops, i broke it!”

    Q: What do you call a guitar player that only knows two chords?
    A: A music critic.

    Q: What’s the difference between an oboe and a bassoon?
    A: You can hit a baseball further with a bassoon.

    Q:How many Folk Singers does it take to change a light bulb?
    A:One to change it and 5 to sing about how good the old one was

    Q: What do you call a beautiful woman on a trombonist’s arm?
    A: A tattoo.

    Q: What’s the difference between a banjo and an onion?
    A: Nobody cries when you chop up a banjo.

    Q: What do you call a drummer in a three-piece suit?
    A: “The Defendant”

    Q: What did the drummer get on his I.Q. Test?
    A: Saliva.

    Q: What’s the similarity between a drummer and a philosopher?
    A: They both perceive time as an abstract concept.

    Q: What do you call a guitar player without a girlfriend?
    A: Homeless.

    Two brass players walked out of a bar…

    (more…)

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    Listen to “The Most Unwanted Song” (According to Scientific Research)

    “The Most Unwanted Song” is a song created by artists Komar and Melamid and composer Dave Soldier in 1997. The song was designed to incorporate lyrical and musical elements that were annoying to most people. These elements included bagpipes, cowboy music, an opera singer rapping, and a children’s choir that urged listeners to go shopping at Wal-Mart.

    Komar & Melamid and David Soldier‘s list of undesirable elements included holiday music, bagpipes, pipe organ, a children’s chorus and the concept of children in general (really?), Wal-Mart, cowboys, political jingoism, George Stephanopoulos, Coca Cola, bossanova synths, banjo ferocity, harp glissandos, oompah-ing tubas and much, much more.

    The vocals for “The Most Wanted Song” are provided by Ada Dyer and Ronnie Gent; Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid is featured on guitar.

    Source: Wikipedia; Wired.com

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    Watch French Pianist Helene Grimaud

    Los Angeles was recently introduced to French concert pianist Hélène Grimaud, when she graced the Hollywood Bowl stage in early August with two nights of piano music.  As an amazing pianist, and an activist, “she could be called a Renaissance woman for our times. Hélène Grimaud is not just a deeply passionate and committed musical artist whose pianistic accomplishments play a central role in her life. She is a woman with multiple talents that extend far beyond the instrument she plays with such poetic expression and peerless technical control. The French artist has established herself as a committed wildlife conservationist, a compassionate human rights activist and as a writer.”

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    How Does Music Therapy Help Autism?

    NaturalHealth365 reports:

    Many tasks such as verbal skills or visual skills are clearly ‘left’ brain or ‘right’ brain; however listening to or playing music requires the use of both sides of the brain. The right side of the brain is responsible for musical tone, natural rhythm and musical passion while the left side of the brain handles musical melody, musical rhythm and tempo as well as musical notes. So how does this help with autism?

    Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. Martha R. Herbert, states “Brain cells need to follow a regular rhythm to produce a response in the brain. For people with autism, there is less coordination of this rhythm from one point to another. Music helps by creating an organized and regular stimulus to the brain that helps the brain get organized to keep track of the rhythm.”

    Can music improve communication skills in children?

    According to Empirical Musicology Review which published a German paper that looked at the impact of music on children with autism, two major areas of improvement are noted when music therapy is started on children with autism. First, communication and language skills are improved in as few as ten music therapy sessions. They found a significant positive relationship between musical vocal skills and nonmusical speech production skills and researchers believe this is because music bypasses speech and language barriers in individuals with autism.

    Second, music therapy helps to improve socio-behavior skills – such as reducing off-task behaviors; problematic classroom behavior; emotion recognition; improving eye contact and increasing the initiation of interactions by children with autism. Researchers have found that rhythmic entrainment is the most helpful for improving social behavior because it helps the mind and body to relax and re-entrains the body to its natural rhythmic patterns.

    A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis states that music therapy can help dramatically reduce vocal stereotypy (repetitive singing, snorting, and slurring) in children with autism.

    (more…)

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    Watch “Waterfall” performed in front of an actual Waterfall! by The Piano Guys

    A piano goes where no piano has gone before!  This is a beautiful piece performed by pianist/songwriter John Schmidt.  How did they transport that grand piano to the middle of nowhere?  That’s part of their specialty.  The Piano Guys are a group of “guys” who put together beautiful videos like this one and live performances.  “What do you get when you mix up a marketing genius that does video, a studio engineer that writes music, a pianist that had a successful solo career, and a cellist that does pretty much everything? The Piano Guys: a miraculous meeting of “guys” with the same intrinsic purpose – to make a positive impact in the lives of people all over the world through music videos.” Their vision “is to create music and videos that inspire & uplift. Whatever we do, we put our heart and souls into every note and frame.”

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    Watch a Funny Classical Rendition of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” by Igudesman and Joo

    The hilarious classical comedy duo Igudesman and Joo perform a barely distinguishable version of Ticket to Ride in the guise of a silly soprano aria.  Hyung-ki Joo gives a wonderful performance as both the soprano voice and piano accompanist.   Their new show, “A Little Nightmare Music,” is on tour across the world this year, ending in the US this fall and winter.  For more information & videos in our previous blog entry about Igudesman and Joo, click here.

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    Create Your Own Music Awareness Campaign

    Are you a parent or concerned adult who feels passionate about the benefits of music education for our local kids?  If you’ve read through this blog and seen the enormous amount of research and studies showing all the ways music improves lives, I’m sure you are.  But many parents in our communities don’t realize what their children are being deprived of when our school systems slash their music education budgets, and programs disappear right underneath our noses.  DoSomething.Org gives great tips on how to spread awareness in your community:

    There are tons of people out there who don’t know much about music education and its benefits. Make some catchy flyers so people can be in the know and learn how they can make a difference too.

    Double Check

    • Are you allowed to post your signs around school or on telephone poles and community bulletin boards? If so, go for it! If not, see if you can pass out flyers at your town hall, public library, a local business or at school.

    Do Some Research

    Include Local Info

    • Find out about music education in your area. Are music programs offered in your school or community center? Is there a symphony or orchestra that offers classes to young people? Call and ask around. Include this local info on your posters.

    Include Testimonials

    • See if you can get a quote from an expert. Call your local university and track down a professor. Speak to a musician who can attest to how music helped him or her in school. Include it in your campaign. Real stories are powerful!

    Use Images

    • Pictures can add a personal connection between the viewer and the issue. Feature photos of students and local musicians or your musician role models.

    Power in People

    • Now that you’ve got all this info, get some friends together to help you design and complete the posters or flyers. They can help you put them up when you’re done.

    Variety is Key

    Keep in mind, that in order to make this campaign effective, you have to vary your strategy. So think about making a few different kinds of signs:

    • Small flyers to pass out to people
    • Big, colorful posters to post on telephone polls: you want these to stand out because people will be driving and/or walking by them so you want to grab their attention.
    • Informative flyers to post on cork boards or town message boards.

    Find a time when people will be most open to hearing about music education.

    • Consider the beginning of the school year, when everyone is deciding on what subjects they will take.
    • March is Music in our School Month!
    • If you’ve missed the best dates, don’t hesitant to get started right now.

    Be Bold

    • Think of strange places you can put up posters and see if you can get permission to post them there. Marketers have put ads up in odd places because it’s an effective tactic. Like the doors in bathroom stalls of restaurants, cafes, and/or even in restrooms of your local bus or train station. Try it out!

    Post and Repost

    • While going out one day and posting is great, keep in mind that weather may damage posters so you’ll want to go out periodically and repost your signs. You also won’t catch everyone in one day so schedule a few days to go out and distribute fliers.

    The Extra Mile

    You can also recruit speakers to come in and speak about music education at your:

    • school
    • church
    • community center

    Remember that musician you spoke to about how music changed their life? Invite them to speak and/or ask them to suggest someone.

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    Discover 11 Music Education Facts!

    DoSomething.org posted 11 Facts about Music Education:

    1. 1)Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.
    2. 2)Studying music primes the brain to comprehend speech in a noisy background.
      • Children with learning disabilities or dyslexia who tend to lose focus with more noise could benefit greatly from music lessons.
    3. 3)Research shows that music is to the brain as physical exercise is to the human body. Music tones the brain for auditory fitness and allows it to decipher between tone and pitch.
    4. 4)Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
    5. 5)In the past, secondary students who participated in a music group at school reported the lowest lifetime and current use of all substances (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).
    6. 6)Schools with music programs have an estimated 90.2 percent graduation rate and 93.9 percent attendance rate compared to schools without music education who average 72.9 percent graduation and 84.9 percent attendance.
    7. 7)Regardless of socioeconomic status or school district, students who participate in high-quality music programs score 22 percent better on English and 20 percent better on Math standardized exams.
    8. 8)Much like expert technical skills, mastery in arts and humanities is closely correlated to high earnings.
    9. 9)A study from Columbia University revealed that students who study arts are more cooperative with their teachers and peers, have higher levels self-confidence, and are more equipped to express themselves and their ideas.
    10. 10)Elementary age children who are involved  in music lessons show greater brain development and memory improvement within a year than children who receive no musical training.
    11. 11)Learning and mastering a musical instrument improves the way the brain breaks down and understands human language, making music students more apt to pick up a second language.

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    Watch 10-year-old Anna Christine – Semi-Finalist on The Voice this week

    This week, vocalist/pianist Anna Christine was the semi-finalist on The Voice.  At 10 years old, she possesses the vocal maturity of an adult that has been wowing audiences all summer.

    This video is of her performance in June, when the Daily Caller reported she “stunned viewers across the nation performing “The House of the Rising Sun,” on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” The talented 10-year-old from Henderson, Nevada, debuted a surprisingly rich, deep voice that left an expression of disbelief on the face of new judge Heidi Klum and veteran judge Howie Mandel”

    To sing with the strength and volume of Christine without creating vocal damage takes an advanced understanding of the voice that most wouldn’t be able to manage by age 10.  It’s evident in Christine’s tone that she is using the exact right vocal placement that can allow her vocal ease while producing such hearty sounds.  The placement can be taught to anyone over time and commitment to lessons, but then it needs to be exercised frequently to stay so strong and vibrant.  It’s a beautiful example, and also an amazing feat for her age.

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