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Music Schools BC

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Peter Cook & Dudley More - Music Lesson

A funny video with the late Dudley More.and Peter Cook.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Perhaps we need to rethink which nonprofit arts groups are considered leaders in their fields?

Diane Ragsdale who was here in Vancouver two years ago as the keynote speaker for the Arts Alliance conference now has her own blog where she comments on her own research and on the state of the current arts scene in the US, and I believe is trying to find a balanced perspective as to what is really happening here in the arts scene in Canada and the US.  The blog post I have reprinted below is worthy of a read through, we have been experiencing similar funding battles on this side of the 49th parrallel and many of the points she makes are quite valid here as well. To highlight her points that I think are valid for us in BC I have used italic coloured text (this is not in the original)

from Diane Ragsdale:
Many have written in the past week on the pending and proposed eliminations of the Kansas, Texas, and South Carolina state arts agencies (among others). For a roundup of the news on this front I recommend this post on Createquity. Some see these attacks as yet another sign that the country is filled with philistines, some see them as symbolic or purely political, and others as the reasonable end of decades of disregard by arts organizations of their communities-at-large.

The arts (which in the minds of most people equates with ‘the fine arts’) are clearly not everyone’s cup of tea (and no amount of rhetoric will probably change this); having said this, it would be shortsighted to dismiss current attacks as being driven primarily by barbarians. Many politicians evidently perceive that they can safely target the arts for cuts on the basis of their being exclusive, elitist, extravagant, or wealthy (and suggest that taxes and subsidies would be better directed elsewhere) because the arts often serve and are defended by a relatively small percentage of their constituencies. Furthermore, and rather unfortunately,these arguments against the arts are not just political rhethoric; they are reasonable accusations that can be plausibly lobbed at more than a few so-called ‘flagship’ nonprofit arts groups.

Candidly, I find it increasingly difficult to defend why a nonprofit theater company (even, and especially, outside of NYC) needs to charge $100+ for its tickets, or why a nonprofit opera company needs to charge nearly twice as much, if not more. I’ll save for another day my thoughts on the downsides of coupling the price of admission and the value of the arts experience in the minds of consumers, but for now suffice it to say I agree with those who have expressed the opinion that lowering ticket prices (or otherwise reducing financial barriers) is the number one change that many flagship, fine arts groups need to make–both to demonstrate that they are earnest about being ‘inclusive’ and to increase attendance

Secondly, for decade upon decade, many arts organizations have essentially paid lipservice to their educational missions, despite the fact that many people do not have meaningful exposure to the arts growing up and there is research that suggests that such exposure is linked to adult participation. (It seems that it would be in the best interest of arts groups to take their educational missions more seriously.) Nonetheless, I recognize that, in particular, hands-on participation activities are not (today) a core competency of many arts groups (although one might posit that over the next 10 years they will need to become so).
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Social media & customer engagement

This recent article on BC Business magazine explores how to use social media, and gives a great example of why you don't want a junior employee in charge of it. The article sites how a small business owner has used twitter to personalize his business and respond to customer tweets about the experience at his small fitness club, probably not unlike the size and scope of a small music school.

Question for our readers, how many of you use Twitter? My suspicion is that if I were ask people to rank the methods of communication most used I would get this order:
  1. email
  2. text messaging 
  3. old fashioned phone call
  4. facebook
  5. twitter
For those under 25 years of age, my guess is that this would be true:
  1. SMS or text messaging
  2. facebook
  3. email
  4. old fashioned phone call
  5. twitter
I have twitter is last spot here on both of my lists... So for users in the province of BC, do you think I am correct with this notion, or behind the times as they say? 

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Cutting Arts Funding Is Not a Good Idea

From Psychology Today Feb. 14, 2011

Congress is once again making plans to gut the National Endowment for the Arts, so it is time for us to post more data supporting the arts. In previous posts, we've argued that the arts are essential for the development of scientific imagination. (See A Missing Piece in the Economic Stimulus; Arts and Crafts: Keys to Scientific Creativity; Arts at the Center of Creative Education). Here we argue that the arts stimulate economic development by fostering scientific and technological innovation.

Let's start with a few inspiring quotes about the value of arts from CEOs of major technological companies:
"At Boeing, innovation is our lifeblood. The arts inspire innovation by leading us to open our minds and think in new ways about our lives - including the work we do, the way we work, and the customers we serve," writes W. James McNerney, Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Boeing Company. (1)

"We are a company founded on innovation and believe the arts, like science and engineering, both inspire us and challenge our notions of impossibility," says George David, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, United Technologies Corporation (1)

"The arts foster creativity, and creativity is central to our business strategy," comments Randall L. Tobias, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Eli Lilly and Company. "Indeed, we believe there is a strong link between the creativity nurtured by the arts and scientific creativity. If our scientists are stimulated through their involvement with the arts, then it's ultimately good for our business -- and our community." (2)

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Tiger Moms and other curiosities

The Elephant Mom in The Room
from the Globe and Mail.   Feb.14, 2011

Many years ago, my wife and I were driving somewhere with our three young daughters when one of them suddenly asked: “Would you rather that we were clever or that we were happy?”

I was reminded of that moment last month when I read Amy Chua’s Wall Street Journal article Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, a promotional piece for her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Her thesis is that, when compared to Americans, Chinese children tend to be successful because they have “tiger mothers,” whereas Western mothers are pussycats, or worse. Ms. Chua’s daughters were never allowed to watch television, play computer games, sleep over at a friend’s home or be in a school play. They had to spend hours every day practising the piano or violin. They were expected to be the top student in every subject except gym and drama.

Chinese mothers, Ms. Chua says, believe that children, once they get past the toddler stage, need to be told, in no uncertain terms, when they haven’t met the standards their parents expect of them. Their egos should be strong enough to take it.

But Ms. Chua, a professor at Yale Law School (as is her husband), lives in a culture in which a child’s self-esteem is considered so fragile that children’s sports teams give “most valuable player” awards to every member. So it’s not surprising that many Americans reacted with horror to her style of parenting.

One problem in assessing the Tiger Mother approach is that we can’t separate its impact from that of the genes parents pass on to their children. If you want your children to be at the top of their class, it helps if you and your partner have the brains to become professors at elite universities. No matter how hard a Tiger Mother pushes, not every student can finish first (unless, of course, we make everyone “top of the class”).
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What is Wrong with the Arts?

A very interesting discussion is taking place here about this article which appeared yesterday. Here is the article, and follow the link below to the orginal site.

from Michael Kaiser.President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

It is no surprise to most of us that the arts are in a parlous state. But contrary to popular belief, it isn't the fault of unions, the absence of arts education in our schools, the lack of involvement by boards, or even a dearth of arts management training.

The arts are in trouble because there is simply not enough excellent art being created.

I know that I am risking the wrath of the entire arts community, and I know I am also at risk of sounding like the classic old-timer ("When I was a young man... "). But when I was a young man we had Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey and George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. And I am just mentioning a few of the astonishing dance artists working in the 1950s and 1960s. We also had Bernstein and Rodgers and Stravinsky and Rubinstein and Horowitz and Tennessee Williams and...

Today, far more inventiveness can be found in popular entertainment than can be found in the classic arts. The embracing of new technologies and the willingness to try new things seems to have become more the province of rock music and movies than of opera, ballet and theater. We are losing the attention of Americans because we are not producing work that is new, fresh and daring. No wonder so many newspapers are no longer covering the serious arts.

The classical arts have simply not kept up. There is so little work that is new and daring. In an effort to build our audience base we have tried to substitute celebrity for excellence and bigger sets and costumes for insight and true beauty. Stunt casting may increase earned revenue but it doesn't help create a masterpiece. And a $60 million musical, with whiz bang sets, is not necessarily better than a $10 million musical with more modest sets and costumes.

True, we still have among us a few of the greats -- Paul Taylor, Stephen Sondheim, etc. -- who have been producing great art for many decades. But these geniuses cannot be the vanguard for a still young century. And while we do have some amazing younger talents -- Mark Morris, Yo-Yo Ma and Alexei Ratmansky among them -- we need more. Where are the new brilliant voices that astonish, educate and entertain us?

Have we created and documented all we need of art? I don't think so. Is the world short on talent? No, again.

But the institutional nature of our arts ecology, a relatively recent phenomenon, means that groups of people are now more responsible for arts making than the individual. Boards, managers and producing consortia are overly-involved.

And these groups are misbehaving. They are overly-conservative, subject to "group think" and so worried about budgets that they forget that bad art hurts budgets far more than risk-taking does.

It is popular to bemoan the fact that young people spend too much time communicating vapid thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. I think this is unfair to younger people. We in responsible arts positions must give them something to talk about.

from the Huntington Post - Feb. 14th

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

South Delta Jazz Festival 2011

Delta Community Music School will once again be hosting the annual South Delta Jazz Festival and Workshop. Our annual summer jazz workshop will run this year from July 5th - 9th at the Delta Community Music School and Ladner Community Centre.
Our workshop faculty this year will include Dr. Jared Burrows (guitar -Capilano University) Dr. Edward Orgill (saxophone- Westfield State College), Bill Clark (trumpet), Rob Kohler (bass),  Stan Taylor (drums), Brad Muirhead (trombone) and Stephen Robb (clarinet / saxophone).
The program welcomes students of all ages including adults. More information can be found on our website