MUSIC MEMORY CONTEST: A Four-Generation Texas Tradition

FOUR GENERATIONS OF MUSIC MEMORY When Mollie Tower-Gregory got the idea for a Music Memory Contest in Texas elementary schools in 1977, encouraged by her father’s elementary school music experiences, she never dreamed that it would one day involve thousands of students and spread across the country. The Music Memory program now encompasses thousands of … Read more

Do we really need the Arts?

To create, one must first imagine; to imagine, one must first learn to see, to listen, to feel, to perceive. Music and the arts are the cornerstone of education in the broadest sense. They open our eyes and ears, develop and transform us personally, connect us emotionally with others, and offer a universal bridge of … Read more

Christmas in the Trenches: The “Silent Night” Truce

After months of deadly trench warfare, on Dec. 24, 1914, German and British soldiers in Belgium suddenly ceased hostilities and, through the singing of carols, celebrated Christmas together. This film documents their spontaneous musical truce with eyewitness reports, proving that "people who make music together cannot be enemies, at least not while the music lasts" … Read more

Dmitri Shostakovich – Sept. 25

Born Sept. 25, 1906 in St. Petersburg, Russia Died Aug. 9, 1975 in Moscow, Russia A product of the Bolshevik Revolution, Shostakovich was the most famous of all  Soviet composers. He led a politically and personally troubled life, yet produced some of the century’s most celebrated and frequently performed works even today . Born into … Read more

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 … Read more

Jazz Festivals 2010

Here are links & dates for jazz festivals around the world, so plan a trip around an  enticing jazz venue that beckons you to kick back and enjoy live jazz at its convivial best. Jazz Festivals in USA Jazz Festivals in Canada UK Jazz Festivals European Jazz Festivals Worldwide jazz festivals are also listed geographically, … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

MAO’S LAST DANCER: Autobiography, Children’s Books, & Movie

11-yr.-old Li Cunxin is taken from his family to train at the Beijing Ballet Academy during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. He dances his way to freedom and international acclaim when he courageously defects to the USA. 3 versions of this incredible true story: for adults, young readers, and children.

Sister of The Soloist sets up Foundation for the Mentally Ill

Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, subject of the recent book and current movie The Soloist, suffered a mental breakdown while he was studying music at Juilliard. His sister Jennifer Ayers-Moore established a foundation to help him and others like him, the Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation.

naayersThe Nathanial Anthony Ayers Foundation

The following statement from their website relates the reason for the foundation and its laudable mission:

Read more

THE BACH PROJECT: Documentary Film by Michael Lawrence

Though it is now in post-production, you can preview some of the unedited film clips of musicians, scholars, writers and others involved in the project, including a research scientist involved in MRI  scans of  the active musical brain. Even Glenn Gould and Rosalyn Tureck take part in the project posthumously, thanks to their estates. Film should be available in Summer 2009.

Click to watch clips of the following:

Read more

Why Music and Musicians Matter

This post is one of several to come about how music transforms us, and why music is indispensable to the human spirit. It is a source of inspiration, communication and transcendence, crossing boundaries of time, space, language, and political differences. Yet how universal it is for music and the arts to receive lip service, while musicians and artists themselves  feel marginalized and on the fringe of usefulness to society. Likewise, music and the arts are sometimes considered “frills” in schools, either because schools and/or parents undervalue them or as an excuse to lower the budget ax when funds are short.  Karl Paulnack’s welcome address to incoming freshman at Boston Conservatory is a message that musicians need but almost never hear. He speaks eloquently on why music and musicians matter.

Welcome address to freshman at Boston Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory:

Read more

The Search for Music (and jobs) in a Downturned Economy

Musicians, take heart even in a downturned economy. Music has always been about social connections, and all musicians who have ever performed know about that intimate connection between themselves, their music, and their audience. Music creates a human bond of listening and connecting in a wordless conversation of the soul.

We fret and worry that support for music in the schools may diminish. We know in our gut that short-term illusory fixes like “bailouts” are all about political theatrics in a dance between power-hungry  politicians and Wall Street. The arts usually receive patronizing praise and the short stick at best, and are totally left out of the conversation at worst.

But music will never disappear from the scene. The ebb and flow of a Beethoven symphony has a spiritual meaning, a permanence and a reality that will always outperform the jagged lines of a Dow Jones stock chart that fluctuates daily with “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Read more