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Archive for the ‘Musical Instruments’ Category

A friend and colleague of mine, Beth Magill,  posted this video on her Facebook page, and I couldn’t resist sharing it here.  Miri Ben-Ari is one talented artist!  It gives a whole new twist to the capabilities of the violin.  Enjoy!  😀

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I don’t honestly remember how I first found TED.com.  I guess it was a link sent by a friend or one of those days I was surfing the web, traveling from link to link, reading whatever caught my interest.  In any event,  I was so fascinated by the expansive offerings on TED that I subscribed to their newsletter.

This week’s e-newsletter shared one of the three winning TED wishes ($100K prize) this year  – that of 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 hundred thousand 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  the Teresa 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.

To learn more about Dr. Abreu, El Sistema, and making Dr. Abreu’s wish come true, please visit TED.com here.

To view the El Sistema segment by Bob Simon on 60 Minutes, please follow this link.

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A seemingly innocuous instrument in the hands of an artist can produce something that is truly magical.  James Hill performs Ave Maria by Franz Schubert on ukelele.

Enjoy!

Thanks, Fran!

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I was fortunate three years ago to attend the Kindermusik national convention held in Nashville, Tennessee.  I went, not really knowing many people, but content to sit and learn and absorb as much as possible of the Kindermusik experience.  What I didn’t realize was that it would be something totally new and different there that would shift my musical “paradigm” in ways I never could have anticipated.

I first met Lynn Frank and Karen Gibson, both Kindermusik educators, through our online KM Loop, made up of licensed Kindermusik educators.  When a question was posed on the loop about beginning piano methods, they both brought up Simply Music – a piano method that I had never heard of.  Having taught piano now for over 35 years, I’ve pretty much heard of most of them.  This was something new.

Developed by Australian-born Neil Moore and based in Sacramento, California, it was something that they raved about – as teachers, as musicians, as pianists.  They both mentioned how it freed not only their students from the written page, but also themselves.  Intrigued, I began to look into it and attended their information workshop in Nashville.

I was so impressed with not only what I saw, but also heard there, that I began checking into Simply Music more closely via the internet, spending hours pouring over the website, viewing their videos, and following links to licensed Simply Music instructors.  I also emailed these instructors, asking further questions about their decision to teach this method.  After a week of investigation, emails and conversations, I took the plunge and signed up for training.  I’ve never regretted it.

Simply Music is a revolutionary, Australian-developed piano and keyboard method that presents a breakthrough in music education.  Students of all ages are playing great-sounding blues, contemporary, classical and accompaniment pieces – immediately – from their very first lessons.  And they’re enjoying themselves tremendously in the process!

Simply Music sets a new standard in music education, and explores learning piano, playing piano, and teaching piano from a completely different perspective.  It presents the possibility of a new era in music education, learning, and self-expression. 

It is not the Suzuki method.  It is not rote memorization.  It is not a reading-based, traditional approach.  It is simply – music – taught in such a way that even teachers, long trained in traditional piano methods, find themselves transformed not only in how they teach piano, but also in playing and composing piano pieces for themselves. 

For your enjoyment, I present one of my beginning piano students, Alex, who is eight years old.  He has been studying piano with me since mid-March of 2008, just five (5) months ago, using Simply Music.  He has not had any previous formal piano or music study of any kind.  The piece he is playing is called “Alma Mater Blues” and is the final piece of the Level I Foundation book of Simply Music.  Enjoy! 🙂

There will be a *FREE* Information Session about Simply Music on Tuesday, August 26th, at Zion Baptist Church in Covington, Georgia, beginning at 7PM.  Interested in learning more about Simply Music and playing the piano?  Come join us!  Questions?  Email us at info at masterworks studio dot com or call 404-395-5247.

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Earlier this month we completed our Imagine That summer camp entitled “Drums, Drums, Drums” and had an absolute blast!  We learned about the djembe, the conga, steel drums, the sansa, and the shekere in our camp and enjoyed a visit with a real percussionist and her conga drum. 

When I ran across this clip on Musikandmotion’s blog , I couldn’t resist sharing it in honor of my Imagine That! students.  You will really enjoy the sounds of the didgeridoo from Australia that was also heard by our Zoo Train and Family Time families in the song “Drover’s Dream.”  Jono Callow is a-*mazing*!  Enjoy!

Thanks, Sunny!

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