Learn Now Music, Inc.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



Family Days, Genealogy Camp, Constitution-themed Workshops, and Sleepovers

Washington, DC. . . The National Archives presents special family programming including exhibit-themed Family Days, “Constitution in Action” interactive workshops, the first-ever Archives Genealogy Camp, and two Rotunda sleepovers! These events are free and open to the public, with the exception of the sleepovers, and will be held at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW. Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

Constitution-in-Action Family Learning Labs

Boeing Learning Center

Dates: April 15, July 10, July 23, and July 29

Times: 10 am –noon, or 2-4 pm

Explore history, learn about the National Archives, and discover the Constitution’s impact on our daily lives in this fast-paced, exciting two-hour simulation. Participants will become researchers and archivists tasked with a special mission: to assist the President and his Communications Director in preparing for a very special press conference. Families will work together to locate and analyze documents and their connections to the Constitution. This activity is free, but reservations are required and must be made at least 24 hours before each Lab. Register online

Jazz Family Day

Boeing Learning Center

Date: June 7

Family-focused Jazz activities, including an instrument “petting zoo.”

Making Their Mark Family Days

Boeing Learning Center

Dates: Friday, July 18, and Tuesday, December 30

Time: 10 am – 4 pm

Discover your Signature Style and explore our newest exhibit with family friendly, hands-on activities. “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” features original signatures of many remarkable men and women. It illustrates the many ways people have placed their signatures on history, from developing a signature style to signing groundbreaking policy into law. The stories in these records, of famous and infamous, known and unknown individuals are all part of our nation’s history, all making their marks on the American narrative. The exhibit runs in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery through January 5, 2015. Exhibit highlights include:

A gift of thanks: Iraq’s national football (soccer) team, formerly coached by a relative of Saddam Hussein, signed a team jersey after winning the Asian Cup. This jersey was presented to President Obama in 2009.

A surprising Super Bowl win: The New York Giants gave this autographed football to President Obama in 2012, following the team’s fourth Super Bowl win.

Showtime: This signed L.A. Lakers jersey was given to President Reagan in 1988, when the Lakers had the best NBA record for the 1987-1988 season.

Letter from Frederick Douglass to President Lincoln asking the President to discharge his son, Lewis, from the Army because of illness. Lincoln responded: “Let this boy be discharged.”

Letter from pilot Amelia Earhart: Earhart wrote President Roosevelt in 1936 about her preparations for a flight circumnavigating the globe.

Jackie’s pillbox hat: This pillbox hat worn during her husband’s 1960 campaign for President was one of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s signature looks.

The Autopen: The autopen machine, a modern duplicating device, was developed in the 1930s. The autopen produces a duplicate signature that is almost impossible to distinguish from the original. Visitors can try out the machine and receive their own John Hancock autograph! “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures" is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives with the generous support of Lead Sponsor AT&T. Major additional support provided by the Lawrence F. O'Brien Family and members of the Board of the Foundation for the National Archives. Family and educational programming related to "Making Their Mark" is sponsored in part by Fahrney's Pens and Newell Rubbermaid - Parker Pen Company.

First-ever National Archives Genealogy Camp for Kids

Boeing Learning Center

Dates: July 21—25, 2014

Time: 9 am--noon

Ever wondered about your family’s roots and who is on your family tree? Budding genealogists will join our Education Team for five exciting days of Genealogy Camp! Campers will use ship manifests and census records to trace an immigrant family’s arrival in the United States in the early 20th century. Hands-on and interactive experiences each day. The camp is open to kids age 12-16. The camp, which is limited to 15 participants, is free of charge, but registration is required. Please email education@nara.gov for more information and to request the camp application.

Back By Popular Demand – New Dates for National Archives’ Sleepovers!

Dates: Saturday, August 2 and October 18, 2014

Given the huge success of the first-ever Rotunda sleepover earlier this year, the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives are partnering to host two additional overnight events for children ages 8 to 12 in the home of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Participants will engage with National Archives documents in fun and exciting ways before rolling out their sleeping bags to spend the night in the historic National Archives Rotunda.

Guests also will be treated to movies in the Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater before turning in for the night, and will enjoy breakfast and more activities the next morning. Registration for both of the ticketed sleepovers will begin later this spring. For more information, visit here. Watch a video from the January 25 sleepover! View photos here. This program is supported by the Foundation for the National Archives.

The National Archives is fully accessible, and Assisted Listening Devices are available in the McGowan Theater upon request. To request a sign language interpreter for a public program, please send an email or call 202-357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event. To verify dates and times of the programs, call 202-357-5000 or view the Calendar of Events online. To contact the National Archives, call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD 301-837-0482).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I like all kinds of music

Oh boy, am I tired of this one. I have heard it a million times, and absolutely zero times have I believed it. Zero. I have even gone so far as to find kinds of music that the person wouldn’t like, and it rarely takes 20 questions to succeed in my goal.

Now, I love music, and I do love many different kinds of music, but this statement – ‘I like all kinds of music’ is in answer to a question. And that question is, ‘What kind of music do you like?’

Arguably, the question could be phrased more succinctly, because when we ask someone this, what we really want to know is, ‘What kind of music is the most important to you?’ But we all understand what people are asking when they query us on the ‘music we like’.

I also understand that when we say ‘I like all kinds of music’ that we’re doing a couple things. In no particular order, what we’re really saying is ‘Please don’t judge the music I like’ and ‘I don’t want to offend your musical opinions if they happen to be different from mine’.

This is really a shame, because there is a lot of great music out there that most of us haven’t heard. Especially in this age of inexpensive digital production, really good music can be made without the backing of a large studio, and we lose the chance to hear about it from the people around us when we don’t ask the right question. On the flipside, when we don’t answer that question as truthfully as possible, maybe we’re keeping a gem hidden that should be shown to the world!

Now, I will say that I suggest a lot of music to my family, especially. And they tell that most of the time, they could take it or leave it. But, every once in a while, they let me know that the suggestion was a huge hit, and they can’t believe they’d never heard it before.

So let’s ask the right question – What kind of music is most important to you?

And then let’s give the best answer we can, instead of the one that feels the safest.

Try something new and learn today! The Music Momma

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Event - Coffee with the Curator of the National Archives

Coffee with the Curator of the National Archives

Saturday, March 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Boeing Learning Center

Discover Your Signature Style: Making Their Mark Family Day

Come and bring your family to explore the many ways people have placed their signature on history, from developing a signature style to signing groundbreaking policy into law. The day will feature family fun with hands-on activities.

More information on the exhibit

Take the family out to see these historical treats as seen above - "The Real John Hancock" - "Michael Jackson's Patent Application" - and "An Exclusive picture of LBJ in action"

Have a great weekend! The Music Momma

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The power of an apology

I remember pretty much every teacher I’ve ever had. And long before I became a full-time educator, I knew what I thought of every single teacher I studied under. Some of them I liked a lot, some I didn’t like at all, and most of them fell somewhere in the middle, human beings with a hodgepodge of insights and foibles alike.

I’d like to contrast two different conductors I worked with as a student, and the rather disparate approaches each took in regards to that most human of conditions – making a mistake.

Everyone makes mistakes. In theory, no one likes making mistakes, and we all do our best to guard against repeating them – there are enough new mistakes to find, after all! What we do with our mistakes is what defines us as people, as contributors to society. I could come up with a laundry list of great and famous people who have made their share of mistakes and learned from them (or not), but I’m sure that’s not very necessary here.

Instead, I’d like to focus on two conductors, and how each handled personal error.

The first considered himself a conductor of the highest class, and he carried himself with a knowing, omniscient poise. He spoke and conducted with absolute authority, because he was THE CONDUCTOR. As such, he had to be right, because so many people depended on him. Even if something seemed amiss in his performance, surely the percussonists caused some stir-up, or maybe the oboes entered two measures two early. No matter what the case or situation, his imperial authority extended so far that he never allowed a single mistake to be attributed to him, no matter how grave or ridiculous the misstep might have been.

The second conductor I’ll talk about certainly carried himself with less, self-importance, shall we say. He was no less knowledgeable or capable than the first conductor (nor was his professional position any less, though that is rarely the sole arbiter of one’s abilities). His rehearsals were incredibly efficient, and he got the best out of every one of his students - far more, in my opinion, than the first conductor. A large part of his success, I believe, lies in the fact that he was perfectly willing to admit when he made a mistake. It could be as simple as, ‘Let’s start that over, so that I can give you a better entrance.’ Or, ‘Let’s try that again, for me.’

I remember very distinctly the effect that his comments had on me. They did not make me think that he was weak or incapable simply because he owned up to his mistakes (they happened quite rarely, to be sure). Instead, they gave him real credibility. We knew that if he heard something that needed to be fixed, he would be completely, wholeheartedly honest about it. We could trust his judgment, because he was as objective as he could possibly be.

The other advantage his honesty conferred was that mistakes were not a personal matter. There was no blame or emotional ‘baggage’ associated with his pronouncements; what he commented on was simply what he heard, and we would try to fix it because it needed fixing. We wouldn’t be badgered into fixing a mistake because we were guilted into it, or bludgeoned (figuratively) to DO BETTER NOW.

I have long employed this philosophy in my own life – not just as an educator, but as an everyday human being in the world. We don’t all need to be perfect, we just need to try our best, and be honest when that doesn’t quite happen. It’s not only children who can be taken aback by honesty – in this age of take-no-blame attitudes, our peers can be pleasantly surprised as well!

The Music Momma

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The conundrum of the Adult Student - Part 3 of 3

Beyond the obvious ‘prepare for a long slog, be patient, and appreciate baby-steps’, what can help us to learn a musical instrument after we have passed through the magical childhood years, where learning anything seems so simple?

The easiest hurdle to tackle is time. While everyone has a different scheduling strategy that works for them, try for a certain amount of time each day and a certain number of days each week to practice. Practicing on more days for less time is much preferable to practicing once a week for three hours. Break it up! Play for a few minutes in the morning and then again for a few minutes at night, right before bed.

The difficulty of learning an instrument and our personal expectations really go hand in hand, so come up with goals that take into account current ability, available time to practice, and desired results (as in, where do you want to be in one, two, five years). It might be helpful to say, ‘I will finish this introductory method book in one year’. Another goal might be to perform a simple holiday tune at the family get-together in a few months.

Don’t be afraid to adjust goals as necessary! If finishing that method book in a year becomes impossible, plan to finish in two. If that holiday tune turns out to be too easy, pick a more difficult one. Remember, music is supposed to be fun and rewarding! Creating circumstances to keep it that way is paramount.

It can be extremely difficult not to judge ourselves too harshly, especially when we have an idea of how we want something to sound, and we can’t quite make it happen. Ever heard, ‘patience is a virtue’? Of course – now repeat that as many times as it takes to be okay with your progress, even if it seems much, much slower than you imagined when you first embarked on your musical adventure.

One final tip for those wanting to improve their musical playing abilities: listen to music. Lots and lots of it! The more music we listen to, the smarter our ears become. The smarter our ears become, the easier it is for us to play our instruments. If you have just picked up the tuba, listen to a lot of tuba music. Try and find the pieces that you are working on, too – this can help greatly, particularly with a brand new piece of music. As you get more comfortable playing your current piece, switch it up and go listen to something else - maybe you’ll find the perfect piece for your next musical adventure!

Get started on your musical journey today!

Monday, January 20, 2014

The conundrum of the ‘Adult Student’ - Part 2 of 3

There are three main hurdles that adult students face when embarking on their musical journey. We laid these out in the previous post, and now we’ll go through some analogies and discuss ideas for mentally dealing with these issues in a healthy way.

Let’s start with difficulty. While listening to a guitarist rock out on his solo, or watching a concert pianist float her fingers effortlessly over the keys, the layperson might be fooled into thinking that music is simple, and as effortless to perform as it can be to watch. When Roger Federer gracefully swings a tennis racket, no one says to themselves, ‘yeah, I could probably do that’. It would be silly to make that kind of assumption, and music is much the same. All of those physical, musical actions have been performed hundreds of thousands of times, which is why they look so simple even when they are incredibly complex.

Those hundreds of thousands of repetitions take TIME. Of course they do! Making anything appear effortless and easy is the result of a ‘rinse and repeat’ model, and the more complex the task, the more repetitions are needed. Adults do have responsibilities that take up much of their time, and often hobbies are lucky to get half an hour a day. That is all right – music is not an all-or-nothing game. Learning slowly is better than not learning at all, because this is not a race. Music is a journey. There is no finish line. Just ask Pierre Boulez, who is still conducting at 88!

Finally, we come to the toughest challenge of all: expectations. It is relatively easy to wrap our heads around the idea that music is difficult – it’s demanding mentally, emotionally, and physically (if I gave you a trombone, do you think you could comfortably hold it upright for six hours a day, much less operate it dextrously?). It makes sense that time would be a factor in learning to play an instrument. But expectations are the trickiest, simply because we are adults, and that means we have been listening to music for a long, long time. We understand music – we sense how sounds are put together in complex, intricate ways that school-age kids mostly do not. We know when a song is good and when it’s bad. We know when a song makes sense and when it doesn’t. We might not be able to analyze what we are hearing in technical terms, but our impressions still inform the way we approach learning to play a piece of music that we have heard before (or even pieces we haven’t heard, but still share a set of familiar musical elements).

When we try to learn a new piece of music, we try to recreate the sounds that we have already heard. Even with a piece that we haven’t listened to before, we have expectations that the sounds coming from our piano or guitar (or what have you) will be as rich and full and impressive as that recording we just heard on the stereo. It is very difficult to reconcile the huge distance between what we hear and what our amateur technical skills are able to produce; usually the only thing that fills the void is frustration, and frustration is the number-one vanquisher of well-meaning adult students.

Understanding the serious time involvement, the technical and mental challenges, and seeing our expectations for what they are is a great step towards being devoted, happy amateur musicians. In the next post, we’ll look at some ‘best practices’ for the adult student, and how these can help put into context the great adventure of musical learning for a lifetime!

Looking to get started - Contact LNM today!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The conundrum of the ‘Adult Student’

Part 1 of 3

I have had a number of exceptional adult students over the years. They have been thoughtful, engaging, dedicated people who took music and learning seriously, and made incredible progress towards their artistic goals. What makes this group of successful ‘adult students’ all the more special is that they either did not fall into, or worked their way out of, challenging traps that many of our adults encounter when they try and pick up an instrument as an adult, either for the first time or as a way to hearken back to their elementary school days of musical exploration.

This first installment will address the main pitfalls associated with learning music as an adult.

Time: adults do not have the flexible schedules that children do (although, these days, children don’t even have the flexible schedules that children do!) Learning an instrument takes time, and adults don’t often have a lot of that laying around.

Difficulty: learning an instrument is challenging, and it’s not guaranteed that the skills learned on the way to adulthood will in any way transfer to easily and quickly learning music. Every instrument has its own unique physical requirements, and these skills can take a while to develop.

Expectations: if an adult hasn’t been a musician before, or maybe only played a few years as a youngster, we need to be clear: the life of a professional musician is probably not on the horizon. No one deciding to pick up chess in their thirties or forties expects to become a grandmaster in 18 months – dusting off that cello and rosin-ing up a new bow is not going to put anyone in league with Yo-Yo Ma by their next birthday, as nice as that idea might be. A fair level of musical proficiency is always possible, but it is important to realize that the greatest musicians not only play for hours a day now, they have done so for most of their lives. Read: they have a 20,000 hour (that’s a really low estimate) ‘head start’ on the aspiring amateur beginning in adulthood.

That was all the sobering, ‘bad’ news. The good news is this: each of these issues can be dealt with once they are understood, and adult students can gain a true love and enjoyment out of their musical experiences, just as much (and maybe more!) than any youngster. We’ll address these in the next post!

Looking for fun lessons @ home to fit into your busy schedule? Check out these great music educators!