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    New Film Promotes Music Education

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    We have been fortunate lately to have so many new releases of music-related movies and documentaries. We were completely inspired by Alive Inside and were of intrigued by William H. Macy’s Rudderless. Now there’s a new documentary that shows the value of music education.

    Some Kind of Spark by Ben Niles follows five kids living in some of New York City’s poorest communities who receive special instruction from Julliard’s Music Advancement Program. The renowned program provides Saturday instruction to students ages 8 to 14. The program is free and gives students unique access to Julliard’s instructors yet demands a lot of them, even the beginners. The film follows the students for two years in the classroom, at recitals and at home and shows their commitment to becoming better musicians (they can spend hours in rain, sleet and snow just commuting to Julliard) as well as their struggles with family issues and stage fright.

    Niles is clearly a music fan (he made Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L103) and the film is meant to be uplifting and be a rallying cry for more music instruction for children. Yet, as one critic noted, the film can be frustrating for highlighting such a unique program.

    Firedoglake writer noted: “It’s a reminder of how much the lives of children are enriched by a musical education — and sadly an implicit lament about how children are increasingly being robbed of such opportunities.”

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    A New Movie Shows How We Use Music To Deal With Grief

    A new film that explores the role music plays in dealing with grief, gives us a reason to visit the movie theater this weekend.

    “Rudderless” is the directorial debut of William H. Macy (of “Fargo” and, most recently, “Shameless”) and tells the story of a father named Sam who loses his son in a tragic school shooting. The father quits his executive job in an attempt to forget his past, moves and becomes a house painter who drinks too much. Two years after his son’s death, Sam’s ex-wife delivers a box with their son’s personal belongings, which includes CDs of original music. Over time, Sam learns to play the guitar in order to perform his son’s music. Sam soon finds himself performing his son’s music at an open mic and creates an unlikely band with other male musicians who are closer in age to his deceased son than to himself.

    Although the reviews we’ve read have been good and bad, we like the important role music  plays in the movie. The songs — and their lyrics — are an important part of the movie and some critics have referred to “Rudderless” as a musical. All of the songs are original indie-style music created by Simon Steadman and Charlton Pettus and we’ve included one track in this post.

    Personally, we turn to music to lift our moods and deal with grief and it’s refreshing to see a movie that shows what many of us already do.

    What do you think? Will you see Rudderless?

     

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