Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The perennial discussion to cut school music in BC

Updated April 17
It seems that every few years in this province of BC we encounter a movement that wishes to cut the "frills" from education in order to balance the books at local school boards. The latest is the City of Vancouver, you know that town here on the west coast that hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics just a few short years ago. It seems that Vancouverites can'f afford to pay for the "frills" otherwise known as those arts, music and library programs that essentially are what distinguish humans from primates.

But from this morning's Vancouver Sun it looks like Vancouver's difficulties are just the beginning tell-tale signs of the massive underfunding of our provincial education system by our provincial government.

But is the province entirely to blame? Juxtapose this with the costs of administration at VSB, look at the number of employees making more than $150,000 per year.  Actually there are 174 people at VSB making more than $100,000 per year. You can look up this information by going here.

If one looks through the contents of this blog one will find much compelling evidence as to the importance of music education and the arts in general.

But if anyone still needs convincing, here is yet another article that deals with the current crisis created by chronic underfunding by our Provincial Government and a lack of cognitive ability at the VSB.

Anyway, just so we can remind ourselves, here are some reasons why music education is an important component of every child's development.

From   here is some more scientific rational as to why we need music in our schools.

Benefits of Musical Training on Cognitive Function and Emotional Well-Being

Musical training enhances auditory processing, leading to better verbal skills and increased reading ability:

  • Musical training enhances brainstem auditory responses to both speech and music.  Musicians have better encoding of pitch information in speech, which is important for understanding what is being said, as well as the emotional content of speech. (Musacchia et al.,2007; Strait et al., 2009)
  • Musicians are better able to filter away background noise, and so can better encode and understand speech in the presence of background noise (Parbery-Clark et al., 2009)
  • Adults who had musical training as a child (but did not necessarily continue playing music as an adult) still have better brainstem responses to sound.  This indicates that changes in the brain in response to early musical training are long-lasting.(Skoe and Kraus, 2012)
  • Musical training protects against the normal age-related decline in auditory processing.  Older musicians show the same accurate processing of sounds as young people.  This effect of musical training is not limited to professional or life-long-musicians.  Even a few years of musical training during childhood had a protective effect on auditory processing in seniors, even 50 years later.  (Parbery-Clark et al., 2012; White-Schwoch et al., 2013)
  • University students with musical training before the age of 12 had better verbal memory  than people with no musical training (Chan et al., 1998)
  • Children  with at least 3 years of musical training performed better on vocabulary tests than children with no musical training.There was a positive correlation between duration of musical study and performance on test; in other words, the longer the child had studied music, the more likely she was to do well on the vocabulary test. (Forgeard et al., 2008)

There is much more folks, follow the link here.... to find the rest of this article

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Here is a video from the Piano Guys.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Truth About Piano Lessons

A piano teacher looks at what it takes to succeed in music, why parents should care, and what they can do to help their kids. (This article applies to much more than just the piano...) 

Dear Piano Parents:
You're probably getting mailings right now about fall activities for your kids. The soccer coach wants to know if you're doing travelling team, the Little League coach is scheduling practices, the dance teacher is putting her classes together. And you're wondering about piano lessons for little Johnny or Suzie.

You want to know how much Johnny will be expected to practice. You want to know if Suzie can just "try it out" and see if it's "fun." You need to know what kind of instrument I expect you to have. You want to know if you can come whenever it's convenient, and whether I'll be flexible regarding hockey games, ski Fridays, school dances, ice-skating parties, holidays, and play dates.You want to know if I'm "reasonable" by which I think you mean: Can I change my schedule to suit yours, and am I a stickler for daily practice because Suzie has so much else on her plate and  "things are crazy around here." 

It doesn't usually occur to you to ask what you can do as a parent to help your child with music lessons, but that's something you're going to have to know, too.
I'm in a difficult position as a piano teacher because I'm afraid of telling you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I'm afraid because the unvarnished truth is not what you are probably going to want to hear if you are like the majority of my piano parents, and when people don't like what they hear, they tend to bail out. You may go to another teacher (which is fine: Everyone deserves the teacher they are most compatible with). But I'm afraid you may bail on music lessons all together.

Because the truth about learning to play the piano scares people. That's the last thing I want to do.

read the article here

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fraser MacPherson Jazz Workshop - Dec. 7

December 7, 1-3pm, a free workshop by legendary jazz drummer Louis Hayes at Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club (3611 W. Broadway).
* All workshops are free of charge and open to the public. Students wishing to perform in the workshop must complete and submit all required material listed below by November 1, 2013.
Application for Louis Hayes Workshop
The workshop will be held 1:00-3:00pm, Saturday, December 7, 2013, at the Cellar Jazz Club, 3611 W. Broadway, Vancouver.
Individual drummers or bass players are invited to apply. Small groups of 2-5 players, containing bass and drums, are welcome to apply. Applicants must be BC residents aged 25 and under as of Dec. 31, 2013.
The workshop will be in a masterclass format and each person or group is expected to come to the workshop with instruments, rehearsed and prepared to play music for Mr. Hayes. A bass amp, piano, and drum kit will be available on stage. Drummers should bring their own cymbals.
Please send the following information in an email to with “Louis Hayes Application” in the subject line. Application deadline is November 1, 2013.
Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Metro Vancouver presents "Survivor 101" workshops

Following on the success and feedback of the inaugural “Survivor 101” workshop in November 2012, the Regional Cultural Development Advisory Committee, through Metro Vancouver, has partnered with 4 municipalities throughout Metro to present SURVIVOR 101 THE NEXT GENERATION. This series will focus on funding, audience development, marketing and board development - key areas that participants expressed an interest in learning more about.

If you are a staff member, board member, volunteer, performer, artist, start-up visionary, or tenaciously holding on to a community arts organization in the terminal stages of decline, these workshops are for you!

Check the website for more details.

October 29 - Getting your funding ducks in a row
November 21 - audience development
February 2014 - Marketing 101
March 6, 2014 - Board development

Musicians may be most creative 'when not actually playing instrument'

New research into how and when the muse strikes finds that even fairly mundane activities can feed in to new insights
For a musician, it's an elusive question: where to find your muse? How to unlock your creative voice? Well, putting down the instrument and just tapping the furniture or singing badly in the shower might help.
New research suggests that musicians may be at their most creative when they are not playing their instrument or singing. By studying musicians and asking them when inspiration struck them, researchers found that breakthrough moments often happened when players were humming to themselves or tapping out rhythms on the table or imagining dance moves inspired by the music.
"What we are finding is that even fairly mundane activities can feed in to the discovery of new insight, new knowledge and new means of expressing ideas in all sorts of ways," said John Rink, professor of musical performance studies at Cambridge University. "The potential is infinite."
Rink led a team of researchers who carried out field work at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music, using interviews, questionnaires, focus groups and filming one-to-one lessons.
They talked to students about when they felt particularly creative or when something new emerged about their understanding of a piece – described by the team as creative episodes.
One horn player was filmed undertaking private practice. Watching it back he identified 34 creative episodes, 23 of which took place when he was not using his instrument – it was when he was humming, tapping on a table, gesturing, whistling and conducting himself. "All of this helps to embed the music in one's mind," said Rink.
He said creativity was important even if you were following a score.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is Music the Key to Success?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.
Anna Parini
Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

To read more go to the New York Times Article until Oct.19