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Music Schools BC

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The official blog of the British Columbia Association of Community Music Schools

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Students decide about higher education earlier than thought, study shows

Many young teenagers set their sights on university or college earlier than once believed – before they arrive in Grade 9 – raising questions about whether governments and educators are focusing on the right years of schooling.

New research shows that almost half of low-income students make their decision about postsecondary education before they even set foot in high school, regardless of the financial burden. This presents a unique challenge for governments, in that early attitudes about higher education are just as important as access.

For governments looking to strengthen Canada’s work force, it will mean redirecting some of their efforts from making education affordable to reaching out earlier than previously realized was necessary to those at risk of not advancing.

Read the article at the Globe and Mail

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Interview with Stop BC Arts Cuts' Lindsay Brown

Lindsay Brown is the founder of Stop BC Arts Cuts

Q. The Chair of the BC Arts Council recently resigned. What was your reaction?

Jane Danzo's resignation broke the logjam we've been stuck in for a year, so I was hugely relieved. She was a government appointee and she knows the premier personally, so her public stand against the Arts ministry was fairly explosive. It certainly won her the admiration of thousands of British Columbians concerned about arts and culture. Her letter of resignation protested two things: the government's unreasonably devastating cuts to the B.C. Arts Council, and its political interference in B.C. arts and culture.

It's worth mentioning here that on both points, B.C. is quite unique in Canada. No other province has made arts cuts like these, and many provinces have in fact increased funding. And compared to other provinces, the B.C. Arts Council has only ever had a weak version of a proper "arm's-length" relationship with government. Some have jokingly called it "wrist's-length." When the government eroded the last of the Council's independence, Danzo of course had little choice but to quit in protest. About two weeks after her resignation, undoubtedly partly the result of her resignation, the government reversed its cuts somewhat by re-allocating $7 million back into the Council. This is an inadequate amount, but at least it will help the Council save a number of organizations from collapse. The Council must now pressure government for a proper arm's-length relationship, and they need to get it in writing.

Q. Small arts and cultural organizations that have an incredible amount of institutional memory, 30 or 40 year histories, are facing a deep crisis with these funding cuts. What are some of the impacts that you are hearing about?

These small B.C. organizations are effectively the cultural archives of the province. They preserve B.C.'s cultural history and allow successive generations to build on it. We're not just talking about galleries and theatres but a wide diversity of community and regional institutions, including such things as small local museums. Cutting all of these community assets will have a devastating impact on B.C.'s self-image and cultural vibrancy. It's quite surprising that the government is so willing to jeopardize organizations which, despite their small size and overly lean budgets, have put B.C. on the map, held communities together, and attracted tourism.

As for current impacts, right now of course some organizations are closing their doors and many others are on the verge of closing. The survivors just shrink, producing less and less programming. Often the first things to be cut are those that produce the greatest benefits -- innovative and experimental programming, community outreach programs, free and affordable public programming, and cultural exchanges with regions beyond B.C. I hardly need to explain the importance of these things for B.C.'s cultural health. We are seeing the beginning stages of a cultural stagnation, and we know from history that this will have a stagnating effect on the social life and economy of the province.

Read the rest of this interview here:

B.C. art attack: Interview with Stop BC Arts Cuts' Lindsay Brown | rabble.ca

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Playing Music During Exercise

For a study published last year, British researchers asked 12 healthy male college students to ride stationary bicycles while listening to music that, as the researchers primly wrote, “reflected current popular taste among the undergraduate population.” Each of the six songs chosen differed somewhat in tempo from the others.

The volunteers were told to ride the bicycles at a pace that they comfortably could maintain for 30 minutes. Then each rode in three separate trials, wearing headphones tuned to their preferred volume. Each had his heart rate, power output, pedal cadence, enjoyment of the music and feelings of how hard the riding felt monitored throughout each session. During one of the rides, the six songs ran at their normal tempos. During the other rides, the tempo of the tracks was slowed by 10 percent or increased by 10 percent. The riders were not informed about the tempo manipulations.

But their riding changed significantly in response. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell. Their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences. Their heart rates rose. They reported enjoying the music — the same music — about 36 percent more than when it was slowed. But, paradoxically, they did not find the workout easier. Their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent. The up-tempo music didn’t mask the discomfort of the exercise. But it seemed to motivate them to push themselves. As the researchers wrote, when “the music was played faster, the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.

Read more »


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4 reasons your Executive Director should be on Twitter

Four reasons executive directors should be on Twitter
  • Executives can understand the community better through unfiltered direct access.
  • They can create greater trust within that community by demonstrating the organization’s commitment to engage.
  • They can respond faster to the community by eliminating the time it takes to play the telephone game.
  • They can anticipate needs that less experienced staff members might miss.

But what if our exec team members are too busy?
Too busy? If they aren’t willing to make an effort to hear firsthand from the people they serve, maybe they aren’t the right leaders for the organization. Maybe their heart’s not in it?

What do you think?

Read the Article - from SocialBrite


How Arts Training Improves Attention and Cognition

Does education in the arts transfer to seemingly unrelated cognitive abilities? Researchers are finding evidence that it does. Michael Posner argues that when children find an art form that sustains their interest, the subsequent strengthening of their brains’ attention networks can improve cognition more broadly.

If there were a surefire way to improve your brain, would you try it? Judging by the abundance of products, programs and pills that claim to offer “cognitive enhancement,” many people are lining up for just such quick brain fixes. Recent research offers a possibility with much better, science-based support: that focused training in any of the arts—such as music, dance or theater—strengthens the brain’s attention system, which in turn can improve cognition more generally. Furthermore, this strengthening likely helps explain the effects of arts training on the brain and cognitive performance that have been reported in several scientific studies, such as those presented in May 2009 at a neuroeducation summit at Johns Hopkins University (co-sponsored by the Dana Foundation).

We know that the brain has a system of neural pathways dedicated to attention. We know that training these attention networks improves general measures of intelligence. And we can be fairly sure that focusing our attention on learning and performing an art—if we practice frequently and are truly engaged—activates these same attention networks. We therefore would expect focused training in the arts to improve cognition generally.

Some may construe this argument as a bold associative leap, but it’s grounded in solid science. The linchpin in this equation is the attention system. Attention plays a crucial role in learning and memory, and its importance in cognitive performance is undisputed. If you really want to learn something, pay attention! We all know this intuitively, and plenty of strong scientific data back it up.

Read the article from the Dana Foundation

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

what I am dancing sundays

Please watch, and circulate, this video documentation of Ziyian Kwan's 'what i am dancing sundays', created by Filmmaker Peg Campbell. Peg captures the performance advocacy of her colleagues in music and dance during a summer of protest against arts cuts in BC.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Robert Dick’s Glissando Headjoint and Other Inventions

At this summer’s classical music concerts, you could of course find a healthy array of violins, trumpets and cellos. But amid the familiar strings and brass have sprouted some odd instruments and strange adaptations of standard ones.
Works by the quirky composer Harry Partch call for homemade percussion instruments that blend Asian and Western materials and designs.
Marc Ponthus attached a two-by-four to two pianos, allowing him to work both sustain pedals.
To create the required resonance for a Boulez sonata, for example, the pianist Marc Ponthus connected two grand pianos with a two-by-four, allowing him to work the sustain pedal of the second from his seat at the first.

Read more »

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Evelyn Glennie show us how to listen.

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts

From Arts Research Monitor, August 2010.

Since 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts (USA) has conducted a benchmark survey of Americans’ involvement in arts activities. In keeping with the theme of this issue of the Arts Research Monitor, the survey’s findings regarding arts learning are summarized here.

Respondents were asked whether they had taken an arts lesson or class at any time in their lives, including classes in school or private lessons. While the “lifetime participation rates” of all respondents decreased somewhat between 1982 and 2008, there was a substantial decrease in most arts learning activities among 18 to 24-year-olds:

  • Music (voice or instrument): In the 2008 survey, 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported taking music lessons at some point in their lives, compared with 61% in 1982.

Read more »

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