February 20, 2013
Many of you probably remember the previous posts that discussed the situation with Sibelius and its continued development or lack thereof. There is now an update to that story: the fired Sibelius development team has been hired by Steinberg (makers of Cubase) to develop a new software notation environment. The complete story can be found here:
January 14, 2013
This article comes from my former flute professor, Dr. Roger Martin, the Professor of Flute at Tennessee Techonological Unviersity in Cookeville, Tennessee, where I got my Bachelor’s in Flute Performance. During my last few years there, we knew he had started to develop a strange problem – his fingers wouldn’t do what he “told” them to do. We knew he was immensely frustrated with this and I am so glad he has written about his experiences. Focal Dystonia is a mysterious and much misunderstood problem and I reprint his article here with his permission. You can find out more about the TTU Flute Studio by going to their website: ttuflutestudio.yolasite.com
October 6, 2012
Having just moved to a new area, I now have a studio of about 24 students and growing – come from an area where getting students was like pulling teeth, being inundated with this many students is not only wonderful but can also be a little overwhelming with trying to keep track of all the finances. To any other music teacher who understands the frustration and confusion of having a large studio (or heck, of having a studio period) keeping track of student’s information, their payment status, who owes what when, who’s working on what, what school is out for fall or spring break at what time, etc. can be exhausting work.
I have found a lifesaving solution. Seriously,it’s taken the hassle out of running a studio and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a look over. It even comes with a 30 day Free trial! After one week I was sold, you just might be, too.
The site is called Music Teacher’s Helper.com
The site seriously does it all…
December 16, 2011
Crisis or Opportunity:
Tales from a Music Educator in the Trenches
“A man has no more character
than he can command in a time of crisis.”
— Ralph W. Sockman
My allotted teaching space from 11:15-11:55 am was a brightly-lit, yet bare and uninspiring, second-floor multi-purpose room of a 98% minority public middle school in downtown Augusta, Georgia. I smiled at the boy opposite me, a stoic seventh grader named Christopher Quiller, whose solemn eyes only rarely connected with mine. I could hear the rowdy noise of his classmates in the hallway as he approached this room, and as he sank into the deeply scooping plastic chair, he seemed conflicted. The way his jaw was set told me he didn’t want to be here. The way he cradled his viola suggested exactly the opposite. His reputation, as supplied to me by his string teacher of the previous year, supported both of my observations.
This was my first teaching day in the fall of 2006. I taught chorus and general music classes at another Augusta area middle school for the two previous years, but there was an opening in the Richmond County Orchestra (RCO) faculty and I was finally able to get into my chosen musical field, being a violinist myself. Chris, on the other hand, had spent the last couple of years getting detention or in-school suspension for the occasional scuffle with his classmates while proving to be something of a natural on the viola. Due to a perfect storm of circumstances, he and I began our year of one-on-one lessons. Read the rest of this entry »
December 1, 2011
Alex Ross’s Listen to This is a collection of essays that examines music across multiple genres and seeks to escape the confines of the “classical music” label. The first chapter crosses the border from classical to pop – factors that affect this crossing include societal traditions, values and education. Going from classical to pop is the direction the author took; however, this essay can resonate with anyone that loves music and came to classical music via a different path.
Composers are always paving the path for the future even if they don’t realize it. Beethoven could not have known that his Eroica symphony would still be performed some 200 years later and as we cycle through the stages evident in all musical genres, from youthful rebellion to retrenchment (an excellent point made in this chapter), we can argue the same for popular music and all its sub-genres.
In reading this chapter, I became curious about the cultural values that have encouraged or discouraged the creation of classical music. Mr. Ross states that he feels he would be more at home in the 1930s and 40s, since his listening patterns matched that time more than his own coming of age in the 70s and 80s. So why is there a difference? I feel that our education system and its emphasis on standardization play a large role in answering this question. Read the rest of this entry »
November 4, 2011
I recently subscribed to an excellent magazine called “Making Music“. The magazine is geared towards all musicians, from classically trained to rock bands and everyone in between. They have several features in their current issue I found to be very helpful – an article about Operation Happy Note, which is a program sending musical instruments to troops overseas, an overuse injury prevention article by Janet Horvath and this little blurb regarding tips for recreational musicians:
Recreational musicians will often comment that playing an instrument keeps them active. However, this is not as healthy as it sounds Most adults need more – moderate physical activity every day. And, it may even improve your playing and protect you from injury.
According to the National Institute for Health, regular exercise is a critical part of staying healthy. People who are active live longer and feel better. Most adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.
While this may not be ground-breaking, earth shattering news, it does highlight the importance of more strenuous activity being important for overall health, in addition to what most musicians already know: that playing an instrument can be a sport in and of itself. Playing an instrument demands a lot of the body and if you are using your instrument for exercise to “keep you active” you may be doing yourself more harm than good. With musicians having the highest rate of work related injuries, picking up an instrument and getting serious about it as a hobby is not necessarily a well-balanced activity diet. It’s like someone who works at a desk hunched over a computer all day collapsing in front of the TV on the couch for several hours for “recreation and relaxation” ; it’s counterproductive and actually harmful.
If you are a recreational musician, and a “desk jockey” to boot, make sure you include regular activity in your DAILY life. Yes, I said daily. Playing ultimate frisbee once a week is not healthy, just as it is not healthy to work at your desk all week and then spend 3 hours practicing guitar. The 30 minutes 5x’s a week guideline is a good place to start; running, walking, hiking, biking, weight lifting, anything that has you moving your body in multiple planes of motion.
If you do nothing else to combat your lifestyle, grab a foam roller and roll yourself out once or twice a day, incorporate some stretches and THEN go play your instrument or jam with your band. Just be aware of the balance in the rest of your life. Just like 1 hour in the gym cannot overcome the other 23 hours a day of overeating and bad postural habits, once or twice a day of foam rolling and instrument playing cannot countact the 23 hours a day that you spend in other bad positions.
- Movement Quality = Performance Quality (innovativeperformanceandpedagogy.wordpress.com)
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announces two day “Community Engagement through Music Education Workshop”, November 2011
October 7, 2011
Over the past five years, the El Sistema movement in the United States has grown significantly, with a promise and excitement of changing the lives of young people most in need through music education and music making. Under the leadership of Maestra Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), the OrchKids program, now in its fourth year, has been a model for other orchestras, school systems and organizations providing assistance to their representatives one by one as they visit the BSO’s four inner city OrchKids sites in the most challenged communities of West and East Baltimore. In an effort to encourage new “nucleos,” new music making centers throughout the country and provide necessary information for success in the implementation of El Sistema based music programs, the BSO will once again present, “Community Engagement through Music Education,” (CEME) a two day workshop on Thursday, November 10 – 11, 2011 in Baltimore. Maryland.
The workshop will offer a comprehensive view of El Sistema and how it’s currently realized in the US, as well as information and presentations on developing one’s own program and vision, program management and sustainability, and cultivating community support and partnerships. The event will include an address by Maestra Marin Alsop as well as onsite visits to OrchKids sites where workshop participants will see the program at work, interact with faculty and the Pre K – fourth graders currently enrolled and be actively involved in preparations for a public performance by the young musicians.
CEME is designed specifically for those passionate individuals and supportive organizations searching for ways to be relevant and effective in their own communities using music education. This workshop is geared to those looking for insight into starting an El Sistema based program. In its fourth successful; year, the BSO’s OrchKids program welcomes the opportunity to share information and inspiration.
For additional details on workshop itinerary, costs, hotel accommodations, etc., contact Cheryl T. Goodman, OrchKids Director of Administration for registration information:
Or visit them at their website at: