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    Listen to Renowned LA Music Teacher, Rafe Esquith

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    This week, Terrence McNally interviewed a multi-award winning 29-year LA 5th grade Music teacher, Rafe Esquith.  This is a wonderful interview where we get to hear about Esquith’s views on teaching and how he has impacted the lives of so many LA kids in his years at Hobart Elementary.  He started a theatre troupe called the Hobart Shakespeareans, takes his students on yearly field trips, and finances it all through a variety of donors including Shakespearean actor Sir Ian McKellen. He has authored 4 books, his latest being Real Talk for Real Teachers, Advice for Teachers from Rookies to Veterans: “No Retreat, No Surrender!” Rafe has an enlightened view on how to reach kids, born out of his lifetime of teaching experiences, that gives parents and teachers alike a vision of how educational experience should be.  In this interview he shares his journey, what it has taught him, and what that means for all of us.

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    Free Sight Reading Game

    Teoria.com’s Clef Reading Game is a great free sight reading game that comes with options.  You can choose to name notes either by just clicking on the list of note names, or by using a virtual keyboard.  With the virtual keyboard, you actually click on the key on a piano keyboard that matches the note on the staff.  This is a great exercise for learning which octave a note is in.  Knowing that a note name is “G” does not necessarily mean that you know which G.  This is a little more advanced, so starting with just naming the note would be a good first step before moving on to the virtual keyboard.

    Teoria has many free online music games to help musicians with anything from ear training to music theory.  Teoria’s Clef Reading Game is not an “app,” just a computer game.  It’s an easy game that any parent can quickly set up for their child to get a short, note-reading practice session in during their piano practice.  There are many games like this one on your phone or tablet that you can play on the go.  Games like these are a useful tool to beef up on your note-reading abilities.  They can be used as a review for musicians who are out of practice, and as a supplement to a student’s music lessons.

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    Watch Carly Rose Sonenclar – 14 year-old pianist/vocalist

    Carly Rose Sonenclar, age 14, is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. In December 2012, she became the runner-up on the second season of the U.S.version of the The X Factor.

    Carly started singing at the age of two. Carly made her Broadway debut at the age of seven in Les Miserables as Young Cosette (singing “Castle on a Cloud”).  She made her television debut as Gilda Flip in Season three of The Electric Company.  Screen credits include Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and The Nanny Diaries.

    Carly is in the eighth grade in Westchester, NY.

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    Americans Want Music Education, Research Shows

    With the way that schools in California (and other states) have been gutting/removing their music programs, you would think that people didn’t care about music education.  This seems to not be true, according to a 2009 Gallup Poll of American attitudes toward music.

    According to the survey, the majority of Americans completely or mostly agree that benefits for children and teenagers playing musical instruments include:

    •    Helping a child develop creativity(97%)

    •    Helping develop teamwork skills from playing in a school band (96%)

    •    Helping a child’s overall intellectual development (94%)

    •    Relieving stress and providing relaxation, which is needed during these troubled economic times (94%)

    •    Helping make friends (93%)

    •    Helping prepare them to be creative and innovative in the workforce (91%)

    •    Yielding better grades, teaches discipline, motivates them to stay in school (88%)

    •    Making you smarter (83%)

    •    Most (92%) completely or mostly agree that schools should offer music as part of the regular curriculum

    •    Eight in ten completely or mostly agree that music education should be mandated by states

    •    Most (87%) completely or strongly agree that music is a very important part of their life

    (more…)

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    Preschool Piano Lessons Make Kids Smarter; Studies Show

    Studies are showing that preschoolers given weekly private piano lessons are out-performing others at school, after only 6 months!  The tests specifically measured improvement in “spatial abilities” – the capacity to understand and remember the spatial relations among objects.  Advanced spacial skills are used in Mathematics, Engineering, Architecture, Economic Forecasting and Natural Sciences.  Spatial abilities also help us in everyday situations like reading maps, navigating traffic, or orienting ourselves in a new environment like a new school.

    Education World reported that “78 preschoolers were given tests designed to measure spatial abilities. Then a fourth of those students then were given a 12-15 minute private piano lesson each week for six months. At the end of that period, the tests were administered again. The results confirmed the impact of music instruction on students’ spatial-reasoning skills. On one test that required students to assemble a puzzle of a camel, the students who received piano instruction show significantly more improvement than the other children did.”

    Resources: 1) Spacial Ability Information 2) Music Ed Research

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    6-year-old Tsung Tsung performs “Flight of the Bumblebee” as well as any concert pianist

    While some 6-year-olds struggle to learn how to use their fingers to pull the zipper up on their coats or blow their noses, a 6-year-old boy from Hong Kong somehow develops the finger dexterity of a concert pianist.  His level of playing matches the ability of a piano students after 15 years of dedicated study, or more.   After coming out with his debut home-made video showcasing his skills, this 6-year-old Internet sensation named Tsung Tsung shut down the conspiracy theorists of YouTube with a live performance of the fast-paced Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composition, “Flight Of The Bumblebee” on Ellen.

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    Child Prodigy: Pianist/Composer at 6 years-old!

    This video is a beautiful story of a 6-year-old pianist, Emily Bear, told by WGN.  A child playing as well as an adult level, who even composes her own music.   She performed at the White House in 2008.  When asked where her inspiration for the music she writes comes from she says “I don’t know…my heart.”  So adorable!  It does seem hard to imagine a child of that age being able to compose music in any other than an organic way.  They would have had so little time to absorb styles of music from our environment, you’d  have to assume that their choices would come from deep inside them – a pure form of human expression.  In that way, it’s a nice validation that music is a party of our humanity, not just our culture.

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    Why Piano Lessons?

    In today’s competitive society,children need every advantage to help them be successful.  Developing learning skills at the earliest possible age significantly increases a child’s advancement and success later in life.  Children who have achieved the discipline for self-correction, self-motivation and self-awareness are well prepared to be self-assured as they tackle their academic futures.

    In this era of limited funding for public access to the arts, it is our duty as parents to expose our children to as many art forms as possible.  Giving children the opportunity to participate fully in the creation of music will broaden their appreciation not only of music, but of all the arts that make up our world.


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    The Music Junction Introduction Video

    • Private, personalized piano and voice lessons for ages 4 and up
    • A friendly, warm, welcoming staff bringing excellence in service
    • Accredited teachers with varying, specialized degrees in music
    • 4 private, sound-treated, spacious teaching rooms
    • 4 authentic, upright, acoustic, tuned pianos for learning & playing
    • 2 electric pianos with headphones for practicing in the lobby
    • Lesson times available 7 days a week
    • Spacious, comfortable lobby with comfy seats for waiting, reading, computing, chatting or practicing piano
    • A safe, small-town-feel, artistic neighborhood, convenient stores
    • Free Wifi internet access to use while you wait
    • Easy-to-find street parking
    • Lots of reading material while you wait
    • Teacher fluent in Armenian & Russian available
    • Convenient secondary location in Hollywood


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