Oh, my Simply Music piano families are just going to love this medley! I am so excited to post this to my blog where everyone can start practicing these songs now. Any student who has completed levels 1 - 4 can play this medley. if you are not quite this far - try making up some of your OWN medley's and see what you come up with! Musically, your teacher, Ms. Melinda
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Research Encourages Focus on Music and the Arts to Enhance Early Childhood Development
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, states, "Studying music encourages self discipline and diligence traits that carry over into mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography." Research supports that music helps prepare the mind for specific disciplines of learning; skills learned through music carry over into study skills, communications skills, cognitive skills and abstract reasoning skills useful to all parts of life, according to a 1997 article in Neurological Research.
Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect, traced neurological development during childhood and found prior to a major spurt of neural integration in the brain during the elementary school years, learning occurs through movement and quick emotional associations. For example, by age two, the brain has begun to fuse with the body via marching, dancing, and developing a sense of physical rhythm. The more music children are exposed to before they enter school, the more deeply this stage of neural coding will assist them throughout their lives.
Findings from a study conducted by three researchers at Sam Houston State University in Texas reports that early music training can improve intelligence, and the amount of parental involvement in the music training can greatly affect the amount of improvement. Strong correlations were found between musical abilities in young children, particularly the ability to match vocal pitches and reproduce rhythmic patterns and abstract reasoning abilities.
The study also showed that parental time spent with a child is a more important factor in predicting intelligence test success than such factors as single-parent households, poverty, low parental education levels and ethnic minority status.
Arts education makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries, states the Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School, James S. Catterall, The UCLA Imagination Project, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA, Americans for the Arts Monograph, January 1998.
Arts education has a measurable impact on youth at risk in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention, according to the YouthARTS Development Project, 1996, U.S. Department of Justice, National Endowment for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Dr. Jose Abreu of Venezuela, a 70-year-old retired economist, trained musician, and social reformer who founded “the system” (El Sistema) in 1975 and has built it with religious zeal, based on his belief that what poor Venezuelan kids needed was classical music.
Abreu’s wish? To take El Sistema to other nations, including the United States.
El Sistema is all about children, many from neighborhoods which are so poor, desperate and crime-ridden, that hope is often extinguished in children at an early age, living in areas where residents don’t walk alone day or night. And it’s focus is about saving them - hundreds of thousands of children - through music.
According to Dr. Abreu, music is a social system that fights poverty and overcomes it by the spiritual richness that music provides, becoming a vehicle of social change.
Each day, children from some of the poorest of the poor slums in Venezuela line up for free lessons at their local branch of El Sistema. Beginning as early as two years of age, they start learning the basics, like rhythm, and the language of music. (Sounds like Kindermusik!)
By the time they’re four, they’re being taught how to play an instrument. By the time they’re six or seven-year-old veterans, they’re playing in orchestras.
Through hard work and the assistance of fifteen thousand trained musicians as well as gifted kids who teach other kids, the system uses classical music to instill in the kids self-esteem and confidence.
In the thirty-four years since El Sistema was first founded, over eight hundredthousand children have passed through the organization. While the majority of them do not continue on to be professional musicians, all of them are changed.
Dr. Abreu is quoted as saying,
“Music produces an irreversible transformation in a child. This doesn’t mean he’ll end up as a professional musician. He may become a doctor, or study law, or teach literature. What music gives him remains indelibly part of who he is forever.”
When asked if he thinks the system could work in the United States, one Sistema branch manager said:
“Yeah. But I mean, kids are kids. It doesn’t matter where they come from. And if you can help a poor kid in here, you can help a poor kid everywhere. It doesn’t matter the culture, it doesn’t matter the race. I mean, it’s music. Everybody love music.”
Make sure your computer is hooked up to a good set of speakers, turn up the sound, sit back, and prepare to be completely blown away by the power and beauty of theTeresa Carreño Youth Orchestra (Sinfónica Juvenil Teresa Carreño), the national high-school-age youth orchestra of El Sistema, directed by Gustavo Dudamel, newly named musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and product of El Sistema himself. The two selections are Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, 2nd movement, and Mexican composer Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2. Thanks to Merri from Masterworks Studios in Decatur for sharing this wonderful story. Ms. Melinda actually played the Danzon, the last piece performed, with the cool clarinet solos - except nobody was filming me!!! That piece was great!!!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Please Read!!! This is wonderful, inspirational, noteworthy, and worth the time to read.
One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, nd they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer I might be more appreciated than would be as a musician. I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school she said, "you're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.
The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works. One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940.
Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp. He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.
Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture why would anyone bother with music? And yet from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning. "
On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless.
Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.
And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day. At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn't play cards to pass the time, we didn't watch TV, we didn't shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang We Shall Overcome. Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.
From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of "arts and entertainment" as the newspaper section would have us believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.
Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heart wrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us the way a good therapist does. I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there's some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn't happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects. I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago.
I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.
Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier even in his 70's; it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert, and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.
When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.
What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute cords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?" Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.
What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:
If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft. You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevys. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor or physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.
Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should it together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.
" I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing, therefore,
that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let
me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way
again." --Stephen Grellet
This speech is by the man who was the Keynote Speaker at the MMC this year!!! (Whose speech I was raving about the next day!!!!) This speech is a variation of the speech he gave that night- Isn't it amazing!?!?!?!? -I just got this in an email today!!!
I liked the MMC speech better, he expanded a lot of the points that he only mentioned in this speech... It was actually more inspirational (if that's possible...) It was directed toward music educators, and was absolutely incredible... His delivery and genuineness and passion was so apparent- there were points where I teared up! I haven’t been able to get some of the things he said out of my head since!
-At MMC he also spoke about how music was never meant to be competitive (ie- American Idol, winning seats in major symphonies...) -It was meant to bring people together! -Singing on the neighbor’s front porch on a summer afternoon, etc... -Not to market, for $, etc...
-Besides mentioning 9/11 and Messian's Quartet for the End of Time, he also talked about the musicians on the deck of Titanic.
-He mentioned the music at the Presidential Inaugruation and asked if any of us could imagine that ceremony minus the music...
-He called music an ‘inner chiropractor’ that helped us re-align, etc...
-He did not share the nursing home story...
-At Boston Conservatory, he said that when a student came to him about whether or not they should major in music, he’d ask them if they would be happy doing something else... If they could live a fulfilled, purposeful life while following a different career path... If their answer was that yes, they could-- He’d tell them not to major in music. Music is hard! To pursue it, we give up other things... We make sacrifices, but it is worth it!!!
-He talked about how music = a matter of life and death! If there was a horrific nuclear explosion and we were all going to die from radiation poisoning within 42 hours, the last thing we would hear before we died would be music...
-He talked about how music is timeless... Homo sapiens have been making music in some form for over 5000 years, but society (as we know it today with commercialism, etc...) has only existed for about the last 200 years...
-People worry about where the arts are going... Will the society of today support the arts? (Funding, ticket sales, etc?) The point he made was that society does not support the arts, but MUSIC SUPPORTS SOCIETY!!! The arts are indestructible and inextinguishable!
-He said that music and the arts are not just the ‘icing on the cake’ or the dessert we get (after the meat and potatoes- which apparently to school administrators= math, science, and English...) Music, he said, is the plate that holds all the dessert, meat, potatoes, and whatever else we consume, digest, and need to survive... Without the plate, we can’t survive. Without music we can’t survive. Music gives us the CAPACITY TO FEEL and to express what cannot be said in words. Music gives us the chance to experience and feel emotions that we couldn’t contain within ourselves/our bodies. Without music, we would emotionally explode! Music gives us the ‘capacity to contain life’, our emotions, and our expressions...
-He expanded on the idea of the musician’s job being similar to that of firefighter or rescue worker... We can’t wait for people to appreciate us as musicians and music educators. Firefighters don’t sit around pondering whether they are appreciated by society before they go rescue people!! -They break down the door and go and get them!!! Dragging them if they have to! -And that is what WE need to do!!!!!!!!!!
-He talked about saving, expanding, and re-claiming music in the schools, how we have to fight for our programs, the kids, and how important it really is...
It really was an incredible, inspiring, amazing speech!!!!