John Cage – Sept. 5

Born Sept. 5, 1912 in Los Angeles, California Died Aug. 11, 1992 in Manhattan, New York “There are two things that don’t have to mean anything; one is music, and the other is laughter.” – John Cage, paraphrasing Immanuel Kant. (Cage agreed with Kant that music and laughter don’t have to mean anything in order… Continue Reading

Opera for Kids: Free Resources from the Met

 Educator Guides to the Operas Plan an opera study unit for your students based on one of the operas in the 2010-11 Metropolitan Opera season, climaxing with a Night at the Opera in a local movie theater or at your school. The Met Live in HD series offers free opera-specific educational guides you can use… Continue Reading

Catch the Met’s 2010-11 Operas in Movie Theaters

The fifth season of the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series is coming to a movie theater near you! Enjoy front row seats at these live opening night productions. It is so easy to feel more engaged with opera on a large screen, where you can see everything “up close and personal.”  Feel the pre-performance… Continue Reading

World Cup Music: Shostakovich’s Soccer Match

Don’t underestimate the power of either sports or music when it comes to exciting a crowd. Even as a tormented composer writing under the harsh restrictions and demands of Communism, in his 1929 ballet  The Golden Age big-time soccer fan and sometime soccer referee Shostakovich recreated a soccer match. In this ballet, a communist soccer team… Continue Reading

Hidden Musical Code in Plato’s Writings

A scholar in England just announced his discovery of a secret music code in the writings of Plato.  As a closeted follower of Pythagoras, whose heretical beliefs threatened traditional religion, Plato believed that music and mathematics were closely related, and that music was a reflection of the mathematical principles that governed the universe. Pythagoras codified… Continue Reading

Copyright Laws vs. Teens: The Battle Rages

When famed Broadway songwriter Jason Bert Brown discovered his songs were being “traded” freely online by those who had never purchased a legal copy, he thoughtfully requested that the traders stop the illegal trading. Read this fascinating exchange with a recalcitrant yet extremely bright and articulate teenager. Eleanor’s teenage sense of entitlement is absolutely breathtaking.… Continue Reading

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra: Veggies Never Sounded So Good

Since 1998, the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra has performed on musical instruments they make from fresh vegetables. (I couldn’t make this up.) They shop for veggies at the local produce market, spend a few hours making their vegetable instruments, then after their concert, they throw them into the pot and serve up vegetable soup. Contrary to… Continue Reading

The Met Brings Opera into the Classroom

Bring full-scale Metropolitan Opera productions into your classroom! The free Live in HD school program from the Met is now available in some school districts around the country, and online educational guides put the icing on the cake.  Teaching guides for each Metropolitan opera production include classroom activities, musical highlights, story synopses, accompanying audio clips,… Continue Reading

The Fine Art of Listening: for Musicians & Audiences

Listening skills should be stock in trade for musicians, but experienced musicians face the same challenges of concentration and active listening that audiences do.  Timothy Walker’s keynote speech at Great Britain’s ISM (Incorporated Society of Musicians) hopefully didn’t fall on tin ears. Walker, Chief Executive of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, realistically addresses the difficulties musicians… Continue Reading

Arts & Language Requirement for High School Graduation at Risk in California: Fight Back!

These are hard times, especially in nearly bankrupt California. But are we content to see the California legislature gut the heart (i.e., the arts) out of education? The arts and foreign languages are fundamental to education, especially in the world we live in today. If creative thinking and global communications were ever needed in this… Continue Reading

Boomwhackers on Steroids: Plastik Musik

If you thought boomwhackers were just for kids, think again. Better still, listen to the percussion group Plastik Musik in their astounding Boomwhacker performance: The first time I met Craig Ramsell, creator of the Boomwhackers, was  in Phoenix, Arizona, about 15 years ago at a music education conference.  At the time, I knew his newly… Continue Reading

Should School Kids Sing Praise Songs to the Prez?

  There are a few lines that should never be crossed in a democracy. One of those is the line separating church and state. For very good reasons, our founding fathers (while most of them shared the same basic Christian faith) had seen what happened in Europe when religion and politics got mixed. Heads rolled… Continue Reading

Picasso and Music

Three Musicians by Picasso  After a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, mostly spent in the special Picasso exhibit (the largest ever), I was virtually blinded by “the embarrassment of riches” he left to the world. The chronological exhibit of his works gave cohesion to his life and his many artistic… Continue Reading

Music from a Bonsai

How musical is a bonsai? Let me count the ways. . . In the words of the composer/performer Diego Stocco: “I always liked bonsai trees, and I was curious to try the approach I used for "Music from a Tree" on a smaller scale, so I bought a bonsai and recorded this little experimental piece.… Continue Reading