Learn Now Music, Inc.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cost per use

A friend of mine was looking online at accessories one day – handbags, I believe. She wasn’t looking at anything ultra designer fancy – just a standard department store selection. Her husband saw the average prices, and couldn’t keep from commenting on how expensive that $200 handbag seemed.

My friend started off by pointing out that not only did the handbag represent a cost for raw materials, labor, shipping and storage, but it was a purchase that would last for many months, if not years, of use. What if the bag was used five days a week for a year? The cost per use would then be very low. What if it was used for only two or three days a week, but for a number of years? The cost becomes even lower, and therefore an even better deal.

For a handbag, this is all well and good. How would the cost for a musical instrument stack up to something like that oh-so-necessary handbag?

Now, there are certainly very good, affordable student instruments that every beginning musician should start with (and that many professionals perform with). But, just to make a point, let’s look at another friend’s purchase – a professional level instrument. As professional model instruments go, it was relatively inexpensive at $7000. But $7000 is certainly a lot of money. How does the cost per use, and cost per day, stack up against something as common as a handbag?

Well, my friend’s estimated use out of the instrument to date is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 hours. That puts the cost per hour use at under $.50, and the cost per day at about $1.25 per day. The news gets even better when we know that instruments can last a really long time - Stradivarius violins, for instance, are still in use hundreds of years after their creation!

So, the instrument cost per use is great, and the cost per day is, likewise, very good. Like the handbag, we should see musical instruments as part of our daily lives. Unlike that handbag, though, having (and using, of course) our instruments makes us more analytical, creative, empathetic people. Oh, and it makes us happier, too!

Get started on your musical journey today! The Music Momma

Friday, July 11, 2014

Noticing the music around you

I can’t remember who said it, but someone was making the argument that it’s virtually impossible to go a whole day without hearing music. In our modern lives, this seems essentially true. Between the commute, television, any retail store, maybe some loud neighbors, music is everywhere. Most of the time, we tune it out – it’s just ambient white noise.

It can be an exercise to tune back in, though – what do you hear at the gym? What’s playing in the produce section when you’re picking out strawberries for your fruit salad? How about the dreaded elevator and its oft-maligned, watered-down instrumental versions of our once-favorite pop songs?

This week I’ve heard ‘Pump up the Jam’, ‘What’s love got to do with it’, ‘Love me tender’, and the themes from 2 or 3 video games (not heard while playing those video games), just to name a few. And that’s music that I have happened upon, not the selections I have actively sought.

So, what music has found you this week?

A song you are sick and tired of hearing?

Anything you really, truly loved? (a couple years ago, I heard the Cardigan’s Love Me when out with a friend, and we simultaneously admitted what a guilty pleasure song it was for us)

Was there anything you didn’t recognize, or would want to hear again?

There is always great music out there for us to discover, if we listen in the right places!

Get started making your own music today! Have a musical day! The Music Momma

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Right Kind of Criticism is a Good Thing!

We often see criticism as a negative act or response, and oftentimes, unfortunately, that is the case. Analyzing and commenting on someone’s performance, regardless of subject, is an endeavor best approached with care.

Constructive criticism is a term used to describe criticism that should aid in solving problems, and this is a good start. Constructive criticism is generally interpreted as a work-based, rather than personality/individual-based criticism. In other words, constructive criticism focuses on what someone does, not who they are.

The field of constructive criticism tries to get at a very important idea: timing and delivery are just as important as content. And the only way to get a true sense of the best timing and delivery as the ‘criticizer’ is to understand at a very deep level the individual needing the criticism. How will that person react to a more direct comment? How will they react to a softer touch? What is a good time to bring up which subjects? How can this information be presented as a stepping stone to a goal, rather than what might be interpreted as an absolute definition of that person?

We have all said things that hurt someone else’s feelings. Sometimes, we don’t even know that we have done this until it’s too late, and a degree of damage has already been done.

Constructive criticism isn’t just about the big, important, well-defined ‘talks’. The everyday little stuff counts, too. Whether we are parents, teachers, role models, or passersby on the street, we could all do with a little less out-and-out criticism, and a little more of the constructive variety!

Get started on your musical journey today! The Music Momma

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Teacher/Student Relationship

I remember a student (very talented) who told me she wasn’t sure if she wanted to perform in front of people. She had the opportunity to do so, and was very uncertain about committing.

Now, there can be a lot of reasons that a student might prefer not to perform. Some have legitimate fears of being in front of people, or might just prefer to keep their musical experience purely experimental and personal.

This student had not been with me long, but in the few months I had spent with her, my impression was that she was a driven, motivated, extroverted girl. I was aware, however, that her previous music lessons were somewhat traumatic (I’m not exaggerating), and that the relationship she had with her previous teacher was rather damaging.

So, I started asking questions. I never make any judgments one way or the other when it comes to performing or public shows – the choice that the student makes is the one that I support. I do, however, like to make sure that the student is making the choice for the right reasons, and that they understand those reasons.

Are you uncomfortable in front of people?

No, she said.

Are you worried about what the audience might think?

Not really, unless I might make a mistake, she said slowly.

How would they know? I asked.

Well, they might not, but you might yell at me, she told me.

Aha. The fear of performing had nothing to do with the audience, or being uncomfortable on stage. It didn’t really even have anything to do with her making a mistake. She was afraid of what I might say or do because of a potential mistake.

Have I ever yelled at you? I asked, knowingly perfectly well this fear had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her previous music lesson experiences.

No, but you might if I made a mistake in a performance, she said matter-of-factly.

Do you know why I’ve never yelled at you? I asked.

No, she said.

Because this is music we’re talking about. When you come in for your lesson, you’re taking everything you’ve practiced and learned in the past week, and you’re sharing that with me. And I consider that a very special thing. When you go and perform in front of an audience, you’re doing the same thing. If you get up there, and you share your music with the audience the best you can, then you’ve done it - you’ve accomplished your goal. And it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, as long as you’re trying – you’ve succeeded. And I would never yell at you for that.

What if I fell, or forgot all my notes and had to start over?

What if you did? I responded with a smile.

What if – she started.

I won’t ever yell at you, for anything, I said. If you were mean or lazy or didn’t try, then we would have a discussion about it, certainly. And even if you do an amazing job and your very best, we’ll talk about how you can be even better next time. But there isn’t a scenario under the sun that would make me yell at you.



Okay, then I’ll do it, she said.

And that’s all it took – she just needed assurances from her teacher.

Educators hold an incredible amount of influence over their students, and we must be incredibly careful to always use that influence in positive, constructive ways. These experiences stay with a student forever, and that is something that we have to remember forever, too.

Start a new relationship today! The Music Momma

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Learning Loss

It has been unquestionably documented that those lazy summer months result in an unfortunate effect known as Summer Learning Loss. The name is fairly self-explanatory: Every summer, our students lose some of the knowledge they gained over the previous school year. This happens in mathematics and reading for all students, though evidence suggests reading losses are greater for students who come from lower income homes.

Summer is a great time to relax, recharge, prepare for the coming year (mentally and emotionally), and to just enjoy being a kid. That there is a tradeoff to what is often no more than three months of extended playtime is not surprising.

What if there was an incredibly simple way to keep our students’ brains active and engaged during the long videogames-and-summersports months? The answer should come as little surprise - it’s music! Let’s think about this discussion in terms of math/reading and analytical/emotional aspects.

The magic lies in how much interdisciplinary and cross-functionality music requires of our brains:

There are countless symbols to interpret (that sure sounds like reading), not to mention the fact that there are almost always written instructions on the page that have a very direct impact on the performance of the music.

All musical symbols are placed in very specific spatial relations to each other, and often invoke mathematical concepts. There are time signatures and beats and subdivisions (think fractions and counting), which may require anything from simple addition to analyzing subdivisions of subdivisions (how long do we play 5 notes that are supposed to take the time that 4 notes usually do? What if we then have to play 3 of those notes as a triplet over 2 of the 5??).

To our analytical/emotional brains, we can look at an entire piece of music, and ALL of the symbols combine to create one cohesive work. These need to be analyzed and performed together at precisely the right time, in precisely the right way. And yet, this needs to be done in such a way that the student not only feels the music personally, but works to convey those emotions - through the performance - to the audience.

This analysis does not even touch on the mental-to-physical connections and coordination required to perform an instrument at its fullest potential!

Music has a wealth of material to mull over - more than enough to occupy our students’ brains for a lifetime. There is no reason why we couldn’t use music to help alleviate a little Summer Learning Loss, too!

Set up your Summer Music Lessons Today! The Music Momma

Monday, May 26, 2014

Music that Makes Us Feel

Everyone likes different kinds of music, therefore:

Not everyone likes every kind of music, therefore:

Not everyone likes the kinds of music everyone else does.

I know this seems obvious in some ways. But often, because music is near and dear to most people’s hearts, there is a very personal reaction to music, even when it comes to what others are listening to.

The emotion that we feel, but don’t always articulate, is that there are often non-musical reasons why music is so important to us. How many times has a song taken you back to a time or place or idea that was especially poignant in your personal timeline? Sometimes I hear a song, and a whole scenario pops into my head – where I was when I heard the song, who was there, what the lighting was like, what temperature it was, and on and on. Other times a song just makes me feel bummed out (or really happy) and it’s not even a particularly sad (or joyful) tune.

When other people tell us what kinds of music they like, often our gut instinct is to go, ‘oh, I love that too!’ or to head in the opposite direction – ‘Ugh. Really? You listen to that?’ We might not verbalize those opinions so powerfully, but when it comes to music, most of us will feel them at one time or another.

Since most of us think it’s a good thing to make the world a better place (discounting those intent on world domination a la Pinky and the Brain), let’s do our family, friends, neighbors and strangers a good deed by really listening to the music they like (especially if we don’t), and maybe even doing some gentle sleuthing:

What do they like about the music?

What does it make them think about?

When did they first (or last) hear it?

Was the song special for someone close to them?

The name of the game here is empathy, understanding, and feeling, and that’s kind of the whole musical point, isn’t it? Instead of going with our gut, let’s take a moment to find out what makes the people around us tick, via their musical choices. We could end up learning a lot more about them then we ever thought possible.

Start feeling today! The Music Momma

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).