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    Sharing a Love of Music, Thanks to John Lennon

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    If there was anything that would make the most recalcitrant music student excited about practicing, we think the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus would be it.

    Children who visit the bus have an opportunity to write, compose, record and sound engineer original songs as well as shoot and edit an accompanying music video and documentary — all in one day! The bus houses more than $3 million in state-of-the art equipment and is staffed with engineers who are more than happy to educate students. Every song is posted on the tour bus’ website and we were particularly impressed with a group of kids from Milwaukee who seamlessly intertwined English and Spanish lyrics while others played the trumpet, violin, drums and more. It’s definitely worth watching!

    As adults, we wish we could have access to the instruments, technology and knowledge that the tour bus provides. It makes us wish we were in grade school again!

    The bus visits approximately 250,000 children a year and worked with Pomona elementary school children a few months ago. It doesn’t look like there will be another California stop for the remainder for 2014, but the tour bus accepts visit requests on its website.

    The tours bus has been in existence since 1998 with the blessing of Yoko Ono, the widow of music legend and Beatle John Lennon.  CBS News recently interviewed Ono about the tour bus and we were struck by one part of the conversation:

    “CBS asked Ono: ‘You probably get asked all the time to lend your support and your name and John’s name to all kinds of projects. Why did you decide to support this one?’

    ‘I think this is one of the most important ones, because the educational situation is not so good and all that,” said Ono. “So, we have to add something that’s really positive.’”

    We agree.

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    Inspiring A Love of Classical Music

    The British Broadcasting Corporation is concerned that children do not know enough about classical music. Now, they’re trying to fix that problem with a massive outreach program.

    The program, referred to as Ten Pieces, focuses on 10 classical works that range from Beethoven to Handel to Stravinsky. To add a modern touch, John Williams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” and Anna Meredith’s edgier “Connect It” are also among the Ten Pieces.

    “Historically there has been this whole issue around classical music being elite and our role is to break down that barrier,” says Suzanne Hay, head of partnerships and learning at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

    BBC created a 50-minute film and attempts to explain the music through visuals. From sophisticated digital effects to scenes from outer space, there is a serious attempt to engage children. Fortunately, schools seem to be embracing the project. In one week, 100,00 students visited the movie theater to watch the BBC film.

    Once children leave the theater there are many ways to continue fostering a love of classical music. For example, brief videos on the Ten Pieces website explains the meaning of the music composition as well as provide facts about the composer. Children are also encouraged to respond to the music through art, dance, poetry and their own music making.

    Although the Ten Pieces website is accessible throughout the world, the videos on BBC iPlayer are not. BBC uses geo-IP technology to limit users outside of the BBC viewing area, which is disappointing. We think children around the world would benefit learning more about classical music.

    What do you think of the project? Could Ten Pieces be brought to the United States?

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    Music is a Gift

    So much discussion about music today is focused on how it benefits the individual. Music makes us smarter. Music makes us less stressed.

    Yet, music is also a gift.

    We were touched to read a story in the Boston Globe of two 13-year-old middle school students who teach homeless girls how to play the violin. The teens — Sophia Spungen and Emily Swearingen — visit the shelter once a week and give one-hour lessons to three young girls who range in age from 8 to 10. The older girls plan the lessons themselves and successfully raised money to buy their students starter violins.

    The collaboration began in June and Spungen and Swearengin show no signs of stopping their outreach. The girls, who have been playing the violin for several years, try to engage their students by picking popular songs including a tune from “Frozen”  as well as standards such as “Bile ’Em Cabbage Down.” Every lesson ends in a compliment from the teachers.

    Giving the gift of music is something the mothers of the young students appreciate.

    “Our kids need more than food; they need music, they need art, they need to be kids for a while,” one mother told the Boston Globe.

    We couldn’t agree more.

    The next time you’re thinking about giving back to your community, consider your music education as a gift. Helping others learn to play the piano or singing to them could brighten their day.

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

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