Friday, May 27, 2011

Music Talent Competitions

Due to the recent success of vocal talent shows on TV I have wondered if there might be a market for additional musical talent competitions on TV. Granted there is something special about singers and singing groups but what about a show which features other instruments. Could there be one that focused on a certain instrument like the piano or guitar. I wondered if they have thrown around the idea of having a rock band competition with America voting for their favorite new band in the end. These type of shows enable new performers to have instant access to a large crowd and I would bet that there are enough garage bands out there to find enough talent for a show.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Concert Choir Robes

It is traditional for many choirs to wear choir robes when they perform. This tradition is rather interesting. Having worn quite a few myself I find them usually to be uncomfortable and rather silly looking. I'm not sure where the tradition started but I am guessing it is from the religious tradition of robes in church. I would be happy to see this tradition replaced with another. Wouldn't it be simpler for shirt and ties for guys and skirts and blouses for girls? Or for more casual performances even personalized choir t-shirts . I think it would save a lot of the hassle of dry cleaning the robes, matching sizes and keeping a constant inventory of robes and making sure that you get them back from the students or choir performers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Live Music Festivals

There is nothing better than live music. True one can sit back and listen to volumes of music and performances on CD, but there is still something enlivening about hearing a live performance. Maybe its being able to not only hear but feel the crash of the cymbals or see the emotion on the faces of the performers. Across the country there has been an increase in music festivals, everything from bluegrass and country to Mozart Festivals. These festivals bring to a community added exposure and a chance for residents of these communities to embrace and host visitors from outside of their community. If you are wondering if there is a music festival you are missing out on check out this music festival finder to find local music festivals. For example we live in Pennsylvania, and I recently found out that Gettysburg hosts a bluegrass festival in May and August. What a fun weekend excursion to hear live music and visit historic Gettysburg and of course dine out at the local establishments. So if you are looking for a great weekend out or looking for a great gift idea for a musician , look for a local music festival and explore a new part of your community while at the same time experiencing live music.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Broadway Spectacles

The much anticipated Broadwayshow "Spiderman The Musical" is supposed to premiere this summer. Much of the publicity surrounding this such has been on its extravagance as well as the injuries involved with the stunts performed. Broadway shows and musicals in general have to find ways to compete and draw viewers to see them. In my opinion ,not matter how amazing the spectacle musicals are driven by the story they tell and music which helps tell that story.
Looking at recent successes like "Wicked" or even classics like "The Phantom of the Opera" they both have tremendous scores and compelling stories and characters. True there are breath-taking and memorable scenes performed on stage an (like seeing the Wicked Witch "defy gravity")which add to the splendor of the event. However Broadway musicals which become "classics" generally have solid characters and sweeping and memorable lyrics and scores.
Now don't get me wrong, the creative and ingenious minds which have continually recreated and pushed the bounds of what can be done on stage should be encouraged and applauded. I love to see the creativity involved in sets, lighting, special effects as well as the other technical aspects which help shows come alive.
However strong shows also help support local theater companies and high school music programs. These less technically dependent musicals can be performed on a local level and enjoyed by both amateurs and professionals.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Metropolitan Opera Live Broadcasts

Over the last year the New York Metropolitan Opera has been showing live HD broadcasts of their opera productions in various movie theaters around the country. Their recent production of Rossini's Le Comte Ory was seen on April 9, 2011 in theaters around the US. This year they have slated several more live broadcasts of their productions. This new venue should be applauded by opera fans and music lovers as it makes Live Opera performances available to people who might not be able to attend the opera in person. There are few opera companies around the country and most are centered in large metropolitan areas. However there are many opera fans all over the country. These type of productions allow many smaller locations to see opera live. This could be seen as a great gift idea for music teachers around the country who are now able to take their students to see opera live as opposed to being limited by resources. True there probably is no substitute for the beauty and majesty of being at the Met. to see these performances; however this is one way for us to experience such tremendous talent and productions in our own communities. So check out the rest of the 2011 schedule and find a theater near you who is streaming these live performances. Could we start to see other venues such as Broadway or Music Festivals use this model to reach a wider audience?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Music and Technology

My son serves in the US Army and is part of the US Army bands. He performs on a constant basis for military ceremonies or concerts for the public and community. There is a continual struggle to make sure they have all the right music for the right ceremony or performance. Instead of carrying around fat and cluttered binders and music tote bags filled with music, many musicians are taking a digital approach to organize their music and schedule for the performances. There are plenty of options for hand held displays. You could look at the IPAD or MusicPad pro as potential devices to use. There are also companies which offer electronic stands which display digital sheet music though a little expensive. It is fairly easy to scan sheet music into a digital format and plenty of websites are now offering sheet music in a PDF or other digital format. You can organize your music all in one place and have access to other music in case there is a need for a longer performance. So look at these items as a potential musical gifts for your musicians family members or friends.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Music Is A Valueable Part of Public Education?

Local school districts are trying to make tough decisions regarding funding of various programs within their schools. Unfortunately, there is not a limitless amount of funding for such a vital part of our nation's future which is our children's education. Many times when I was in school we would challenge the teacher with this question "Will I ever use this again in "real life"?". Now my ability to effectively diagram a sentence or to solve for x may not have been used post high school but there is great value in a broad range of subjects or general education.
This being said general education can very expensive...the more subjects you have the greater the amount of teachers, staff and material that are required. This brings us to our original dilemma of facing tough economic decisions regarding funding and potentially cutting of programs.
It is not my endeavor in this post to give some type of breakdown in the cost and benefits of each and every subject that a school can teach nor to give a list of most important to least important. It is my goal to show that music education should be considered as a vital part of public education.
Music has been referred to as the "Universal Language". It is inspiring to see how across many cultures music can be appreciated and arouse similar feelings with the tones and sounds which they hear. Music transcends both culture and generations. New listeners each day are learning to appreciate everything from Mozart to Aerosmith to Johnny Cash. This medium speaks to our hearts which is a place that few other subjects are as effective at reaching. Education is not only about reaching the minds of students but reaching their hearts as well.
Music education provides the ground work for teamwork and creativity. Within these classrooms students work on interpretation of music, and expression. Choirs learn to harmonize with individuals around them and to think objectively about how their individual performance affects the whole. These type of lessons or education are invaluable experiences to learn while in school. In a time where there is a great focus on the individual performance on a system of standardized tests where there is always a "right" answer, there also needs to be a balance of learning how to participate in a group setting, and how to learn judgment when there really is no "right" answer to fill in the bubble. The "real world" is filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, and it is important to foster challenges that can lead students to face this "what do you think we should do?" scenarios. By allowing them to participate in music, there is a real sense of creation and creativity. They are allowed to take an idea and explore it and polish it in their own way.
Music requires discipline. Few individuals can sit down with an instrument or sing perfectly right away. It requires ardent practice and diligence to perfect or improve the students performance.
There is also multiple studies which have linked achievement in school with participation in music education. Though there is never conclusive proof, these studies do paint a picture of how music education adds development in other important aspects of education.

I have talked about 4 reasons why music education should be part of a public school curriculum:
1.Music is the Universal Language
2.Music fosters teamwork and creativity
3.Music speaks to the heart not only the head
4.Music helps improve other academic achievements

Show you support for your local school district's school music program.

If you have a student involved in music check out these great musical t shirts, school marching band t shirts, and orchestra t shirts.