Learn Now Music, Inc.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Advantages of Public Schools

Advantages of Public Schools

When comparing homeschools, private schools, and public schools, it is important to look at the pros and cons of all of them. This article reviews the advantages of public schools compared to private schools or homeschools.
When talking about the advantages of private schools, it is important to know what the public schools are being compared to. In this article, we will look at the advantages of public schools compared to homeschools and private schools, both sectarian and secular. Of course, it is possible to also look at things the other way and consider the advantages of homeschools or private schools.

Advantages of Public Schools Compared to Homeschools

•Public schools generally have a range of children from the whole gamut of socioeconomic classes and a wide variety of backgrounds. This is the type of community that most people occupy as adults, and public school is an opportunity to meet it and learn to negotiate with other points of view an understand people with diverse backgrounds and values.
•Public schools generally have students with a range of abilities and disabilities. As with ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds, the diversity introduces students to the communication issues and interpersonal issues that rubbing elbows with people who are different from oneself provides.
•The number of students in a public school classroom provides opportunities that don’t exist in most homeschools, from large-cale projects to team sports.
•The number of students and funding allows public schools to have facilities (such as a skating rink or pool) and/or purchase equipment, such as laboratory equipment and technology that would be prohibitive for most homesechool families.
•The number of students and funding often allows public schools, particularly at the high school level, to offer an array of advanced classes in the arts, technology studies, and the sciences, any and all of which might be difficult to conduct for homeschooling parents who do not happen to have specialized training.
•Public schools expose students to a variety of teachers: even in situations with one main classroom teacher, students may have additional instructors for foreign language, home economics, shop, physical education, drama, music, art, etc. This gives them an opportunity to learn with diverse pedagogies.
•Public schools often offer a wide variety of extracurricular activities, ranging from intramural sports to a range of clubs and other opportunities.

Advantages of Public Schools Compared to Private Schools

•Public schools don’t charge tuition, while private schools do. Even scholarships an other aid may not cover the difference.
•Public schools usually provide transportation for students who live more than a few blocks away, whereas private schools usually do not.
•With ninety percent of all American children in public school, public education is a uniting element and can be seen as an important factor in our democratic way of life.
•Because public school education now includes magnet schools and charter schools, as well as traditional public schools, there are - right within the public education system - choices that have many of the features of education that used only to be attainable in private schools.
•As a result of receiving Federal funds, public schools must follow strict teacher certification rules, which do not apply in many private schools. As a result, public school teachers may, in some cases, be better qualified than private school teachers.
•Researchers at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana found, when examining data from a standardized math exam taken by fourth and eighth graders, that if they excluded the influence of family background and socioeconomic factors, public school students did slightly better than private school students.
•Public schools often have more robust services than generalist private schools (i.e., those that are not focused on a specialty population with a particular disability) for assisting students with disabilities, both in terms of staff and funding.
•Pay for public school teachers is overall better than pay for private school teachers, though this differs by school.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is it OK to switch instrument mid-stream???

We get this question a lot!

Is it OK to switch instruments after they have been taking another for 6 months to 18 months?

The answer - of course! It all depends on what your goal and expectations are how you look at this. Is your overall goal that of musical enjoyment? Then the exploration of more than one instrument is completely understandable. Many times parents and the students themselves sometimes, place unrealistic expectations upon themselves as to where they should be and at what time, what the lessons "should be like" or how they "should go". These are usually based on minimal information and a lot of what they have created in their heads. Lessons should be enjoyable and can take many forms. The days of the piano teacher slapping your wrists when you make a mistake are gone. Here are the days of the modern music educator which teaches to the strengths and desires of each individual student.

Often, when choosing an instrument for their child to start, accessibility to an instrument plays a larger part than possibly necessary sometimes. Specifically, siblings want to differentiate themselves from their peers so it is very common after all 4 children have been playing piano for 6 months there are a few defectors saying, "...I want to try drums...I want to try guitar...etc." What they are really saying is I want to be different from my brother's a sister's and have my "own thing". Not that the cost factor of already having a piano sitting in the living room, or Uncle Joey's Guitar in the closet isn't important, etc. but it may not be the proper fit for each child in the family and may not be, in the case of the guitar, the proper size even.

When it comes to music education, be flexible. The student should be enjoying themselves in the lessons and if that takes exploration of a secondary instrument so they can find their "voice" than explore on!

Happy Practicing!

The Music Momma

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Biography of Dan Fogelberg


By Paul Zollo
From "Portrait - The Music of Dan Fogelberg from 1972-1997" (4 CD box set)

It's one of his earliest memories: He's four years old, standing up on a box in front of his father's big band, baton in hand, conducting. Though his dad stood behind him, doing the real work, for Dan it was a foreshadowing of what his life would be -- following in his father's footsteps to become the leader of the band. "It was an amazing feeling," he declared decades later during a series of discussions for these notes. "To be immersed in music. It felt both very magical and powerful. And I was fearless."

That fearlessness has led him far, as he developed into one of popular music's most gifted and successful singer-songwriters. With an early genius for both melody and harmony, a soulfully angelic singing voice, and a natural gift for romantic expression, Dan Fogelberg has created songs that have become so embedded in our collective consciousness that they still resound with authentic magic and beauty years after they first emerged.

I was raised by a river
Weaned upon the sky
And in the mirror of the waters
I saw myself learn to cry

from The River

His story starts in Illinois. In Peoria, specifically, a little town that in the words of Charles Kurault, is in the middle of the state, in the middle of the country, in the middle of the world. Born the youngest of three sons, he was raised in a musical home. His father, Lawrence Fogelberg, was a "legitimate musician" as Dan refers to him, a bandleader who led the big bands long before Dan was born. His mother, Margaret Irvine, was born in Scotland and came to Illinois with her parents at the age of three. A gifted singer, she studied operatic singing throughout college, and it's she who Dan points to as the source of his innate vocal prowess.

Daniel Grayling Fogelberg was born in Peoria on August 13, 1951. His father taught music in local high schools and colleges, gave private lessons, and conducted school bands. Dan's early creativity surfaced in imaginative ways to avoid piano practice. " I used to fake injuries," he said proudly, "even taping up my finger and saying I jammed it playing baseball. But it wasn't a trick you could use a lot." Though he didn't like lessons, he loved the instrument itself, and would spend endless happy hours at the keys, sounding out the hits of the day.

In church, he loved the music but grew restless during the sermons. To keep him occupied, his folks provided pen and paper, thus fueling his love for drawing and painting that has extended throughout his life. He was a constructive kid quick to create his own fun -- At a cub scout jamboree where boys hurled baseballs at old records as a kind of carnival sport, he collected all the unbroken ones, a great bounty of old obscure fifties pop and college fight songs.

His maternal grandfather, a steelworker from Scotland who worked at a foundry in Peoria, gave him an old Hawaiian slide guitar. It had pictures of dancing hula girls engraved on it, as well as steel strings about a half-inch from the neck, tough for anyone, but nearly impossible for an eleven year old beginner. Yet he took to it naturally, forcing him to acquire a strong left hand as he taught himself chords from his Mel Bay guitar book.

In 1963, he heard the Beatles for the first time, triggering the realization that songs are written, they don't simply just exist. He started writing his own then, entirely in the Beatles' pervasive thrall, while also assimilating the rock and roll riffs of Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins, as well as the delicate melodic leads of George Harrison. He started performing by lip-synching with friends to Beatles records at a variety show before forming his first real band, the Clan, who played all Beatles songs at backyard parties and street dances. Their reign extended through Dan's junior year in high school, when the others fell away from music to get involved in the social matrix of school. While their connection with music diminished, his became more intense than ever, as did his need to express himself in other ways, from drawing and painting to acting.

By now the music that inspired him the most was the West Coast rock of bands such as the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield, as well as the contemporary folk of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Having abandoned the matching black velour pullovers favored by the Clan, his attire now included moccasins, fringe and silver in the style of Neil Young. When he joined a new band, the Coachmen, he did so only on the condition that they abandon the Paul Revere & the Raiders outfits they still wore. He was a valuable asset to the group, bringing his repertoire of folk-rock to their mix of R & B and soul standards, as well as possessing a great ear, a miraculous voice, and like his father, an impressive versatility on a variety of instruments. "We would be doing 'Bluebird' by Stephen Stills," he remembered, "and I'd play 12-string for the whole song until the end and then launch into banjo. Pretty adventurous for kids from Illinois."

These were his river years, as he withdrew daily to a sacred spot between two ancient pines overlooking the Illinois River. "I was not feeling like a part of Peoria anymore. I was off in my own trip, deep inside myself. At the same time, I was terribly excited because I was discovering this whole person I never knew could exist, and this music and this creativity. It was an incredible awakening, the beginning of a great journey. And I knew the river was a conscious metaphor for my escape from Peoria. I was just waiting to leap on its back and ride it, down to St. Louis and New Orleans and out to the Gulf and on to the world." A Leo with Cancer rising, he understood even then the opposing astrological forces at work that left him feeling conflicted -- the extroverted entertainer who exists to perform, and the introverted artist who requires solitude.

After graduation, he felt he could have gone in many directions, and eventually decided to pursue acting at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Finding the college acting scene to be more political than theatrical, he switched majors to study art, with aspirations of becoming a serious painter.

Yet music kept calling, this time in the form of a kindred soul, musician Peter Berkow, who ran a little folk music club called The Red Herring. Berkow invited him to perform, and before long Fogelberg was a cherished part of the burgeoning coffee house scene. "I started meeting like-minded people, musicians who were bright and well read, and I realized that I was finally free of the provincialism of high school." He started playing his own songs, and the spirit of the scene shifted from politics to music: "The Red Herring went from being a hide-out for pinko leftists who were plotting the overthrow of the government to a really creative musical scene. And it started packing people in."

Anyone back then who heard the sophistication of his songs, and the power with which they were rendered, knew that it was only a matter of time before his break would come. That break arrived late one night when a former high school sweetheart knocked on his door, urgently awakening him from a sound sleep to say that an important music agent wanted to hear him play. Though half-asleep, Dan followed her to a frat party at a funky little bar to meet Irving Azoff, a U. of I. grad now running a local booking agency. Azoff, who had already landed the regional band REO Speedwagon a record deal with Epic, was on the look-out for new artists. Onstage was a raucous rock band playing to a mostly drunken crowd, their songs punctuated by the rhythm of beer bottles crashing against the back wall. Azoff ignored the clamor which continued when Dan took the stage alone. Though the bar brawls failed to subside, in the soulful beauty of Fogelberg's songs, Azoff saw his own future. "Yeah," Irving said to him after his set. "You're the one. I'm ready for the big time. And I think you're ready for the big time, too."

Dan dropped out of school. Shocking his parents by showing up at home at midday in mid-semester, he told them his plans. His father, silent for a long time, finally said quietly, "Okay, I don't agree with this, but if this is really what you want, you go try it for a year. If it doesn't work out, you come back and go back to school." This support was the greatest gift his father could give him, inspiring Dan years later to write "Thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go" in his famous tribute to his father, "Leader Of The Band".

Azoff moved to Hollywood, setting up an office on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood directly across the street from David Geffen, who was in the first stages of establishing his own Asylum Records, and signing singer-songwriters such as Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell.

Receiving $200 in traveling money from Irving, Dan rented a pickup truck in Chicago, and headed west. Running out of money in Estes Park, Colorado, he found what he felt was the most stunning place in the world. Remaining happily stranded there for a week, he befriended a local hotel owner who gave him free lodging. He spent his days hiking in the mountains, and writing such songs as the beautiful "Song From Half Mountain". Azoff soon wired him enough money to move on, but he never forgot the spirit of pure inspiration he felt in those mountains, touching him as deeply as his connection with the Illinois River.

Arriving in L.A., a few days later, Dan headed directly to Sunset Boulevard to meet Azoff in front of the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go, where his idols from Buffalo Springfield first met. Azoff drove him to a little San Fernando Valley apartment dubbed "The Alley in the Valley" because of its alley entrance. They lived there together for months as Azoff shopped his tape around town. As Dan recalled, "Irving would come home one day and say 'Okay, the deal's done -- we're signing with Asylum!' Then three days later he'd come back and say, 'It's A & M. I got a better deal.' This went on for months. Then he'd come home and say, 'No, it's Capitol!" They eventually signed with Columbia Records, persuaded by Clive Davis in a Hollywood ritual held at a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel: "Clive had everything laid out --caviar, canap├ęs, the whole deal. He played me Paul Simon's first solo record, which had yet to come out, and kept talking about a kid named Springsteen and a guy named Billy Joel who he had signed. Clive said, 'I'm signing singer-songwriters, and I think you belong here too.' He talked us into it, gave us a nice check and we signed with Columbia." It was 1971.

With his career now soundly on track, Dan got his first advance check and moved to Lookout Mountain, in the heart of Laurel Canyon, where his neighbors included the Eagles, and Mark Volman of the Turtles. He lived there for a year and a half, during which time the sunny inspiration that had touched so many of his fellow canyon dwellers began to bring forth a torrent of beautiful new songs in him. He rented a grand piano and entranced nearby neighbors, such a famed photographer Henry Diltz, who heard Dan playing til dawn. " I remember hearing this incredibly beautiful music echoing through the trees," Henry recalled, "and I said to my wife, 'Who is this guy?'" They all soon became fast friends, with Henry taking famous portraits of Dan for many of his album covers.

Now it was time to record his debut album, and Azoff went off in search of the perfect producer for the project. They found him in Nashville. Norbert Putnam was the force behind Area Code 615, a group Dan loved. With Azoff, Dan flew to Nashville to meet Norbert, and instantly fell in love with the town itself: its green trees, lakes and river, and what was then a peaceful laid-back music community, worlds away from the showbiz glitz of Hollywood.

It was one of the happiest times in his life. Norbert found him a place to stay in town "up in the trees," and the future looked bright. Thanks to Norbert, he got a profusion of session work as a guitarist and singer, perfection then the dazzling studio chops which he's brought to all his albums since. "I was only 21 years old and I was part of the band, these maniacs who were amazingly good players. These guys were much better than me, and they pulled me up to their level." Often working from nine a.m. to midnight, four sessions a day, he acquired a fast and comprehensive foundation in the art of record making. "I learned that it's not what you play, it's what you don't play. That has formed the core of my guitar playing ever since. It's melodic, it's sparse."

The recording of Home Free for him was an easy, non-pressurized time. He and Norbert met every day at the studio, cut all the tracks live, and overdubbed the vocals. "It was great fun. There was no pressure. It wasn't New York or L.A." The resulting album was stunningly beautiful, opening with the now classic "To The Morning", a paean to nature that still stands as one of the most timelessly inspirational songs ever written. The album immediately established that he was not only a master tunesmith, but also a purveyor of harmonies so sweetly conveyed that they seemed miraculous, a soulful blend of perfectly tuned, heartfelt vocal harmonies.

Despite its abundant appeal, Home Free failed to generate any hit singles, a setback that Clive attributed to Norbert's Nashville production job, which he deemed "too country" for Dan's music. So for the next album, Joe Walsh, the hard-rocking guitar slinger from the James Gang, was enlisted. Though feeling initially that Walsh was the wrong man for the job, Dan was eventually convinced when he heard a solo album Walsh had recently recorded at Caribou Ranch in Colorado with members of Stephen Stills' band Manassas.

Dan came to Walsh with a handful of songs he'd written in Los Angeles, as well as a new one that emerged in Nashville called "Part Of The Plan". To choose players for the album, Walsh told him to write down a wish list of dream musicians. The first name he wrote down was that of the legendary Russ Kunkel, whose drumming he'd heard on James Taylor's records. When Walsh quickly enlisted Kunkel as well as other luminaries including percussionist Joe Lala, bassist Kenny Passarelli, the Eagles' Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner, and Graham Nash, Dan knew he'd arrived.

The making of Souvenirs in Hollywood was unrestrained fun as the spirit of sunny California combined with Dan's natural Leo radiance left him feeling fearless. In the studio he always felt at home, rising easily to the level of the L.A. studio cats as he did with the pickers in Nashville. Even when Walsh was on the road, Dan continued to craft the record, adding the guitar solo on "Part Of The Plan" on his own. When Joe heard what Dan had done, he loved it, and quickly convinced Graham Nash to drive over and sing harmonies. The resulting record went to the top of the charts. "That broke the whole thing open. In an instant I went from being an opening act to being a headliner." Souvenirs, with Walsh at the helm, radiated with Dan's melodic brilliance as well as proving, on burning tracks like "As The Raven Flies", that the man also knows how to rock.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Music Education Improves Academic Performance

Music Education Improves Academic Performance

Music educators have always believed that a child’s cognitive, motivational, and communication skills are more highly developed when exposed to music training. Now, study after study proves that music instruction is essential to children’s overall education because it improves their academic performance. The positive effects of music education are finally being recognized by science, verifying what music teachers have always suspected.

Music enters the brain through the ears. Pitch, melody, and intensity of notes are processed in several areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the frontal lobes. Both the right-brain and left-brain auditory cortex interprets sound. Feza Sancar (1999) writes that the right-brain auditory cortex specializes in determining hierarchies of harmonic relations and rich overtones and the left-brain auditory cortex deciphers the sequencing of sound and perception of rhythm.

Many studies have been performed to examine the affect of musical instruction on the brain. For example, researchers at the University of Munster, Germany, (1998) reported that music lessons in childhood actually enlarge the brain. The auditory cortex is enlarged by 25% in musicians compared to those who have never played an instrument. According to the study by Frances Rauscher of the University of California, Irvine, (1997) links between neurons in the brain are strengthened with music lessons. Dr. Frank Wilson’s study (1989) involving instrumental music instruction and the brain reveal that learning to play an instrument refines the development of the brain and the entire neurological system.

Curriculum areas that music instruction affects most include language development, reading, mathematics, and science. Music itself is a kind of language full of patterns that can be used to form notes, chords, and rhythms. Exposure to music helps a child analyze the harmonic vowel sounds of language as well as sequence words and ideas. Another curriculum area enhanced by music participation is reading. A child who participates in music activities experiences sensory integration, a crucial factor in reading readiness. Wilson’s study (1989) reveals that music instruction enhances a student’s ability to perform skills necessary for reading including listening, anticipating, forecasting, memory training, recall skills, and concentration techniques.

Mathematics is the academic subject most closely connected with music. Music helps students count, recognize geometric shapes, understand ratios and proportions, and the frameworks of time. Researcher Gordon Shaw (1993) found that piano instruction enhances the brain’s ability for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize and transform objects in space and time. This translates into a student’s heightened ability to understand fractions, geometric puzzles, math problems, and math puzzles. T. Armstrong (1988) reports that music educator, Grace Nash, found that by incorporating music into her math lessons, her students were able to learn multiplication tables and math formulas more easily. Teacher Eli Moar (1999) believes that arithmetic progressions in music correspond to geometric progressions in mathematics and that the relation between the two subjects is logarithmic.

At every age, exposure to music training effects academic performance. Susan Black (1997) reports that newborn babies have mechanisms in their brains devoted exclusively to music. These mechanisms help the newborns organize and develop their brains. Rauscher’s study (1997) indicates that just fifteen minutes a week of keyboard instruction, along with group singing, dramatically improved the kind of intelligence that is needed for pre-school students to understand higher levels of math and science. Her test results showed a 46% improvement in the spatial IQs for the young musician compared to only 6% for non-musicians.

Grade school music students also show increased learning in math and reading. The Public Schools of Albuquerque, NM, conducted a study (n.d.) which found that instrumental music students, with two or more years of study, scored significantly higher in the California Test of Basic Skills, (CTBS), than did non-music students. High school students also achieve greater academic excellence when exposed to music training. A study by Mission Veijo High School in Southern California (1981) shows that the overall grade point average of music students is consistently higher than the grade point average of their non-music peers. The music students achieved a 3.59 average while the non-music students achieved a lower 2.91 average.

Almost every college bound high school student must take the SAT college entrance exam. The College Entrance Examination Board at Princeton, NJ, (1999) reports that music students continue to out perform their non-arts peers on the SAT. The students with coursework in music study or music appreciation scored 61 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 42 points higher on the math portion than students with no reported music coursework. Additionally, music majors have the highest SAT scores in all areas.

High SAT scores are necessary for acceptance into college, but according to Nancy Biernat’s study (1989), those scores do not necessarily predict collegiate success. Success in college can be more accurately predicted by individual levels of achievement in student activities such as drama, debate, and music. Also, the students with the least amount of participation in school activities such as music have the highest drop out rates.

The scientific evidence is abundant, obvious, and compelling; there are strong connections between music instruction and greater student achievement. Regardless of age, exposure to music helps to develop and fine-tune the workings of the brain. Music training, whether instrumental, vocal, or music appreciation, helps develop a child’s cognitive and communication skills. Music education is linked to higher test scores, grade point averages, and success in college. Franz Roehman (1988) tells of one researcher, Dr. Jean Houston, who goes so far as to say that children without access to arts programs, such as music education, are actually damaging their brains. After reviewing the scientific evidence, it is clear that music instruction is essential to children’s education because it improves their academic performance.


Monday, October 10, 2011

John Lennon biography

John Lennon biography


Pop star, composer, and songwriter John Lennon was born October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England. Lennon met McCartney in 1957 and invited Paul to join his music group. They eventually formed the most successful songwriting partnership in musical history. Lennon left The Beatles in 1969 and later released albums with his wife Yoko Ono, and others. In 1980 he was killed by a crazed fan.


"The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility."

– John Lennon

Early Life

Pop star, composer, songwriter, and recording artist. John Winston Lennon was born October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, Merseyside, NW England, UK, during a German air raid in World War II.

When he was four years old, Lennon's parents separated and he ended up living with his Aunt Mimi. John's father was a merchant seaman. He was not present at his son's birth and did not see a lot of his son when he was small.

Lennon's mother, Julia, remarried, but visited John and Mimi regularly. She taught John how to play the banjo and the piano and purchased his first guitar. John was devastated when Julia was fatally struck by a car driven by an off-duty police officer in July 1958. Her death was one of the most traumatic events in his life.

As a child, John was a prankster and he enjoyed getting in trouble. As a boy and young adult, John enjoyed drawing grotesque figures and cripples. John's school master thought that he could go to an art school for college, since he did not get good grades in school, but had artistic talent.

Forming the Beatles

At sixteen, Elvis Presley's explosion onto the rock music scene inspired John to create the skiffle band called the "Quarry Men," named after his school. Lennon met Paul McCartney at a church fete on July 6, 1957. John soon invited Paul to join the group and they eventually formed the most successful songwriting partnership in musical history.

McCartney introduced George Harrison to Lennon the following year and he and art college buddy Stuart Sutcliffe also joined Lennon's band. Always in need of a drummer, the group finally settled on Pete Best in 1960.

The first recording they made was Buddy Holly's That'll be the Day in mid-1958. In fact, it was Holly's group, the Crickets, that inspired the band to change its name. John would later joke that he had a vision when he was 12 years old—a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them "from this day on you are Beatles with an 'A.'"

The Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein in 1961 at the Cavern Club, where they were performing on a regular basis. As their new manager, Epstein secured a record contract with EMI. With a new drummer, Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), and George Martin as producer, the group released their first single, Love Me Do in October 1962. It peaked on the British charts at number 17.

Lennon wrote the group's follow-up single, Please Please Me, inspired primarily by Roy Orbison but also fed by John's infatuation with the pun in Bing Crosby's famous "Please, lend your little ears to my please." The song topped the charts in Britain. The Beatles went on to become the most popular band in Britain with the release mega-hits like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand.


In 1964, The Beatles became the first band to break out big in the United States, beginning with their appearance on TV's The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Beatlemania launched a "British Invasion"' of rock bands into the U.S., which included The Rolling Stones and The Kinks. After 'Sullivan,' The Beatles returned to Britain to film their first movie, A Hard Day's Night and prepare for their first world tour.

The Beatles followed up with their second movie Help! in 1965. In June, the Queen of England had announced that the Beatles would be awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire). In August, they performed to 55,600 fans at New York's Shea Stadium, setting a record for largest concert audience. When they returned to England, they recorded the breakthrough album Rubber Soul, which extended beyond love songs and pop formulas.

The magic of Beatlemania had started to lose its appeal by 1966. The group's lives were put in danger when they were accused of snubbing the presidential family in the Philippines. Then, Lennon's remark that "we're more popular than Jesus now" incited denunciations and Beatles record bonfires in the U.S. bible belt. The Beatles gave up touring after an August 29, 1966, concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

After an extended break, the band returned to the studio to expand their experimental with drug-influenced exotic instrumentation/lyrics and tape abstractions. The first sample was the single Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever, followed up by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, still considered by many to be the greatest rock album ever.

The Band Breaks Up

The Beatles then suffered a huge blow when Epstein died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills on August 27, 1967. Shaken by Epstein's death, the Beatles retrenched under McCartney's leadership in the fall and filmed Magical Mystery Tour. While the film was panned by critics, the soundtrack album contained Lennon's I Am The Walrus, their most cryptic work yet.

After the Magical Mystery Tour film failed, the Beatles retreated into Transcendental Meditation and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which took them to India for two months in early 1968. Their next effort, Apple Corps Ltd. was plagued by mismanagement. In July, the group faced its last hysterical crowds at the premiere of their film Yellow Submarine. In November, their double-album The Beatles (frequently called the White Album) showed their divergent directions.

Lennon had married Cynthia Powell in August 1962 and they had a son together who they called Julian, named after John's mother. Cynthia had to keep a very low profile during Beatlemania. They divorced in 1968 and he re-married Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono, whom he had met at the Indica Gallery in November 1966.

John and Yoko's artist partnership began to cause further tensions within the group. Together they invented a form of peace protest by staying in bed while being filmed and interviewed, and the single recorded under the name of The Plastic Ono Band, Give Peace a Chance (1969), became the national anthem for pacifists.

Lennon left The Beatles in September 1969, just after the group completed recording Abbey Road. The news of the breakup was kept secret until McCartney announced his departure in April 1970, a month before the band released Let It Be, recorded just before Abbey Road.

Solo Career

After the Beatles broke up, Lennon released Plastic Ono Band, with a raw, minimalist sound that followed "primal-scream" therapy. In 1971, he followed up with Imagine, the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed of all John Lennon's post-Beatles efforts. The title track was later listed as the third all-time best song by Rolling Stone magazine.

Peace and love, however, was not always on Lennon's agenda. Imagine also included the track How Do You Sleep?, a nasty response to veiled messages at Lennon in some of McCartney's solo recordings. Later, the former songwriting duo buried the hatchet, but never formally worked together again.

Lennon and Ono moved to the U.S. in September 1971, but were constantly threatened with deportation by the Nixon administration. Lennon was told he was being kicked out of the country because of his 1968 marijuana conviction in Britain. But Lennon believed the true reason was his activism against the unpopular Vietnam War. Documents later proved him correct. Two years after Nixon resigned, Lennon was granted permanent U.S. residency in 1976.

In 1972, Lennon performed at Madison Square Garden to benefit mentally handicapped children and continued to promote peace while battling to stay in the U.S. That immigration battle took a toll on the Lennon's marriage and in the fall of 1973, they separated. John went to Los Angeles, where he partied and took a mistress, May Pang. He still managed to release hit albums, such as Mind Games, Walls and Bridges and Rock and Roll and collaborate with David Bowie and Elton John.

In the end, Lennon realized he really loved Yoko and he could not live without her. They reconciled and she gave birth to their only child, Sean, on Lennon's 35th birthday. John decided to leave the music business to raise his son


Saturday, October 8, 2011

The History of Funk Music

What is Funk?

Along with R&B/Soul and Rap/Hip-Hop, Funk is one of the most enduring popular music forms to emerge out of the American black community. Although Funk predated the Disco revolution, Funk began to have a major impact on club music as Disco began to fade. Funk evolved from R&B but grew more earthy and rhythmic. A distinguishing feature is the beat emphasis of Funk. The primary accents are on the 1 and 3 counts (of 4). The guitar and horns often are used as primarily rhythmic and percussive instruments in Funk. As the rhythm became more prominent it also became more complex with extensive use of syncopation.
James Brown is the undisputed "Godfather of Funk." The "Hardest Working Man in Show Business" demonstrated the use of syncopation and scratching rhythm guitar on the influential hit Papa's Got a Brand New Bag. Over the years James continued to produce more rhythmically sophisticated Funk recordings, and he spread the gospel of Funk in his wild stage shows. In the 1970's, George Clinton and "Bootsy" Collins, a former member of James Brown's band, emerged as the leaders of the Parliament-Funkadelic conglomeration of bands. They brought Funk forward as a powerful force in popular music. Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk) and Flashlight brought Funk to the attention of mainstream audiences. Through most of the 1970's, Funk was rarely heard in discos. Parliament-Funkadelic concert events drew huge crowds that gyrated and danced for hours, but their audience was not a Disco audience. Disco presented a sound in which all four beats tend to be equal in accent. Some of the most intense examples of the disco beat are evident in the pounding bass beats of the work of Giorgio Moroder on hits such as Donna Summer's I Feel Love.
In 1978, Rick James laced his brand of Funk with a touch of Disco and produced the smash album Come Get It! featuring a brand of Funk that was palatable to dance audiences. He continued to have moderate success on the Disco chart until 1981's party anthem Give It To Me Baby became a #1 dance smash. Other performers helped bring the sound of Funk onto the dancefloor. The Gap Band's aggressive, bass heavy sound found a receptive audience. Songs such as Burn Rubber and Humpin' featured a sexual grind with a bit of bluesy attitude. Cameo carried the Funk standard onto dancefloors of the mid-1980's with the synthesizer-based beats of She's Strange and Word Up! Bootsy Collins - Ah...The Name is Bootsy, Baby! The Funk influence can be seen later in the 1980's in the work of superstars such as Michael Jackson and Prince. Billie Jean's heavy beat on the one is a testament to Funk's lasting influence. Wendy Melvoin's scratching guitar, the fuzzy bass, and vocals punctuated by grunts and moans on Prince's Kiss come together for a picture-perfect piece of Pop-Funk. The golden era of Funk is long gone, but the various elements introduced by seminal performers such as James Brown, George Clinton, and "Bootsy" Collins continue to be influential. Rap and Hip-Hop performers continue to sample pieces of Funk classics and celebrate the accent "on the one."


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Music Thought To Enhance Intelligence, Mental Health And Immune System

Music Thought To Enhance Intelligence, Mental Health And Immune System

ScienceDaily (June 22, 2006) — A recent volume of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences takes a closer look at how music evolved and how we respond to it. Contributors to the volume believe that animals such as birds, dolphins and whales make sounds analogous to music out of a desire to imitate each other. This ability to learn and imitate sounds is a trait necessary to acquire language and scientists feel that many of the sounds animals make may be precursors to human music.

Another study in the volume looks at whether music training can make individuals smarter. Scientists found more grey matter in the auditory cortex of the right hemisphere in musicians compared to nonmusicians. They feel these differences are probably not genetic, but instead due to use and practice.

Listening to classical music, particularly Mozart, has recently been thought to enhance performance on cognitive tests. Contributors to this volume take a closer look at this assertion and their findings indicate that listening to any music that is personally enjoyable has positive effects on cognition. In addition, the use of music to enhance memory is explored and research suggests that musical recitation enhances the coding of information by activating neural networks in a more united and thus more optimal fashion.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Evolution of Jazz


Jazz is an American musical art form which originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions. The style's West African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note. From its early development until the present, jazz has also incorporated music from 19th and 20th century American popular music. The word jazz began as a West Coast slang term of uncertain derivation and was first used to refer to music in Chicago in about 1915; for the origin and history. Jazz has, from its early 20th century inception, spawned a variety of subgenres, from New Orleans Dixieland dating from the early 1910s, big band-style swing from the 1930s and 1940s, bebop from the mid-1940s, a variety of Latin jazz fusions such as Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz from the 1950s and 1960s, jazz-rock fusion from the 1970s and late 1980s developments such as acid jazz, which blended jazz influences into funk and hip-hop.


Jazz can be hard to define because it spans from Ragtime waltzes to 2000s-era fusion. While many attempts have been made to define jazz from points of view outside jazz, such as using European music history or African music, jazz critic Joachim Berendt argues that all such attempts are unsatisfactory. One way to get around the definitional problems is to define the term "jazz" more broadly. Berendt defines jazz as a "form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music"; he argues that jazz differs from European music in that jazz has a "special relationship to time, defined as 'swing'", "a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role"; and "sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician". Travis Jackson has also proposed a broader definition of jazz which is able to encompass all of the radically different eras: he states that it is music that includes qualities such as "swinging', improvising, group interaction, developing an 'individual voice', and being 'open' to different musical possibilities". Krin Gabbard claims that "jazz is a construct" or category that, while artificial, still is useful to designate "a number of musics with enough in common to be understood as part of a coherent tradition". While jazz may be difficult to define, improvisation is clearly one of its key elements. Early blues was commonly structured around a repetitive call-and-response pattern, a common element in the African American oral tradition. A form of folk music which rose in part from work songs and field hollers of rural Blacks, early blues was also highly improvisational. These features are fundamental to the nature of jazz. While in European classical music elements of interpretation, ornamentation and accompaniment are sometimes left to the performer's discretion, the performer's primary goal is to play a composition as it was written. In jazz, however, the skilled performer will interpret a tune in very individual ways, never playing the same composition exactly the same way twice. Depending upon the performer's mood and personal experience, interactions with fellow musicians, or even members of the audience, a jazz musician/performer may alter melodies, harmonies or time signature at will. European classical music has been said to be a composer's medium. Jazz, however, is often characterized as the product of democratic creativity, interaction and collaboration, placing equal value on the contributions of composer and performer, 'adroitly weigh[ing] the respective claims of the composer and the improviser'. In New Orleans and Dixieland jazz, performers took turns playing the melody, while others improvised countermelodies. By the swing era, big bands were coming to rely more on arranged music: arrangements were either written or learned by ear and memorized - many early jazz performers could not read music. Individual soloists would improvise within these arrangements. Later, in bebop the focus shifted back towards small groups and minimal arrangements; the melody (known as the "head") would be stated briefly at the start and end of a piece but the core of the performance would be the series of improvisations in the middle. Later styles of jazz such as modal jazz abandoned the strict notion of a chord progression, allowing the individual musicians to improvise even more freely within the context of a given scale or mode. The avant-garde and free jazz idioms permit, even call for, abandoning chords, scales, and rhythmic meters.


There have long been debates in the jazz community over the definition and the boundaries of "jazz." Although alteration or transformation of jazz by new influences has often been initially criticized as a "debasement," Andrew Gilbert argues that jazz has the "ability to absorb and transform influences" from diverse musical styles. While some enthusiasts of certain types of jazz have argued for narrower definitions which exclude many other types of music also commonly known as "jazz", jazz musicians themselves are often reluctant to define the music they play. Duke Ellington summed it up by saying, "It's all music." Some critics have even stated that Ellington's music was not jazz because it was arranged and orchestrated. On the other hand Ellington's friend Earl Hines's twenty solo "transformative versions" of Ellington compositions were described by Ben Ratliff, the New York Times jazz critic, as "as good an example of the jazz process as anything out there." Commercially-oriented or popular music-influenced forms of jazz have both long been criticized, at least since the emergence of Bop. Traditional jazz enthusiasts have dismissed Bop, the 1970s jazz fusion era as a period of commercial debasement of the music. According to Bruce Johnson, jazz music has always had a "tension between jazz as a commercial music and an art form". Gilbert notes that as the notion of a canon of jazz is developing, the "achievements of the past" may be become "...privileged over the idiosyncratic creativity..." and innovation of current artists. Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins argues that as the creation and dissemination of jazz is becoming increasingly institutionalized and dominated by major entertainment firms, jazz is facing a "...perilous future of respectability and disinterested acceptance." David Ake warns that the creation of "norms" in jazz and the establishment of a "jazz tradition" may exclude or sideline other newer, avant-garde forms of jazz.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

An Intelligence View of Music Education

An Intelligence View of Music Education

Dr. Arthur Harvey
University of Hawaii (Manoa)

This article is used with permission from the Hawaiian Music Educators Association editor, and was published in the February 1997 issue of Leka Nu Hou, the Hawaiian Music Educators Association Bulletin.

As music educators we ought to be grateful for, and knowledgeable about, three major developments in recent years that have strengthened our position in promoting music as a significant and research supported discipline that ought to be at the core of the curriculum. They are: (1) The extensive amount of Brain Research, much of it using music to understand the human brain, encouraged by the 1990's being proclaimed “The Decade of the Brain”; (2) Howard Gardner’s development of the “Theory of Multiple Intelligences”, providing a model of human intelligence for educational reform that gives music a significant place in the development of educational programs; and (3) the highly publicized research of Frances Rauscher, Gordon Shaw and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine on “The Mozart Effect”, research that showed a causal relationship between music and aspects of intelligence.

As music educators we received a powerful emotional boost for music education in recent years as a result of the release of the film, Mr. Holland’s Opus. Building on this momentum, it is important to know where rational and scientific research data may be found to support our beliefs that music is indeed important in the education of all children. Having produced a 7 part video series in the 1980's on MUSIC AND THE BRAIN, it is exciting to see the current and expanding interest in music and the brain from a variety of perspectives as represented in the following selected publications:

...June 11, 1990 U.S. News and World Report “The Musical Brain”.
...May 16, 1995 The New York Times: Science Times “The Mystery of Music: How IT Works in the Brain”.
...February 19, 1996 Newsweek “Your Child’s BRAIN: How Kids are Wired for Music, Math & Emotions.
...March/April 1996 Learning “Music: Exercise for the Brain.”
...August 1996 Parents Magazine “Does Music Make Babies Smart?”.
...September 17, 1996 Family Circle “5 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR MUSIC IQ.”
...October 1996 Discover “Music of the Hemispheres.”
...January 1997 The American School Board Journal “The Musical Mind”.

A significant number of neurologists are studying the relationship between music and brain development. One such study published in Science in 1995 reported that musicians who learned to play string or keyboard instruments before adolescence appear to have larger areas of the brain devoted to touch perception of the fingers. In the journal Neuropsychologia it was reported that musicians who started keyboard training before the age of seven had 12% thicker nerve fibers in the corpus callosum, that part of the brain that carries signals between the two hemispheres. Sharon Begley’s article, “Your Child’s Brain...” in Newsweek reported that researchers at the University of Konstanz in Germany had evidence that exposure to music rewires neural circuits.

At a January 1997, International Alliance for Learning Conference called “Unleashing the Brain’s Potential” in San Antonio, Texas, the majority of the presentations focused on the use of music to accelerate learning, as initially developed by Dr. Georgi Lazanov, and now used throughout the world as an important educational methodology, to optimize memory and other cognitive processes. Educational Listening Centers around the United States utilizing the research of Dr. Alfred Tomatis, use the music of Mozart as a vehicle for remediating audiological and neurological dysfunctions and facilitating higher levels of brain function. Even the popular press and recording companies are advertising that “Mozart Makes You Smarter”.

To assist me in the process of writing this article, while I’m reading and typing I am listening to “Classical Rhythms” from Relax With the Classics produced by LIND Institute, for which I served as consultant. The program notes read, “The exceptional beauty of Baroque Music, combined with its power to enliven the brain, is the hallmark of these Baroque allegro selections, which will energize you both physically and mentally. In contrast to the slower tempos of other RELAX WITH CLASSICS recordings, these faster allegro tempo pieces activate the most alert brain state--the beta brain wave state, enabling you to work, to study, to think, and to exercise with optimal energy and productivity. The bright tempos and tonal qualities of the instrumentation have been selected to help maintain a positive mental attitude.

An awareness of the breadth and depth of resources and approaches to the relationship of music to brain function and development has been the purpose of the preceding section. Of related interest, and of equal importance in understanding the necessary role that music can play in education is the work of Howard Gardner, a cognitive psychologist from Harvard University, who developed a Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In his Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, published in 1983, he first challenged the commonly held practice of categorizing people by single measures of intelligence and proposed that there are seven basic intelligences.

In 1991, Gardner published To Open Minds and in 1993 Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice, updating the theory to reflect developments in his thinking. In Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, Thomas Armstrong describes Gardner’s seven basic intelligences as a framework for educational practice. In a recent September 16, 1996 Business Week article, “How Many Smarts Do You Have” and in a Spring, 1996 Scholastic Parent and Child article, “Your Child’s Intelligence(s)” an eighth intelligence--Naturalist: The ability to recognize species of plants or animals in one’s environment, was added. For our purposes, we will limit discussion to the following seven intelligences.

In the January 1997 article, “The Musical Mind”, Gardner was quoted as saying that music might be a special intelligence which should be viewed differently from other intelligences. He stated that musical intelligence probably carries more emotional, spiritual and cultural weight than the other intelligences. But perhaps most important, Gardner says, is that music helps some people organize the way they think and work by helping them develop in other areas, such as math, language, and spatial reasoning. In a January 1997 publication, Gardner states that school districts that “lop off” music in a child’s education are simply “arrogant” and unmindful of how humans have evolved with music brains and intelligences. Students are entitled to all the artistic and cultural riches the human species has created.

While it is understood that music education can have an important impact on musical intelligence, there is accumulating a significant amount of research supporting the impact of music education on all seven intelligences. This article will provide a few recent selected examples for the purpose illustration. An important recent 1995 publication, Spin-Offs: The Extra-Musical Advantages of a Musical Education reviews the research literature from 1970 to 1992 and should be consulted for additional research.


A study by Hall in 1952, reported that when examining 278 eighth and ninth graders, the use of background music in study halls resulted in substantially more improvement of reading comprehension than those that studied without music.

In a study by Ramey and Frances Campbell of the University of North Carolina (as reported in “You Can Raise Your Child’s IQ” in Readers Digest October 1996) preschool children taught with games and songs showed an IQ advantage for 10 to 20 points over those without the songs, and at age 15 had higher reading and math scores.


The Council on Basic Education conducted a study comparing the amount of time spent on the arts by schools in Germany, Japan, England and the United States, and found that not only did the U.S. trail the other countries in time devoted and percentage of time devoted to arts instruction, but that the U.S. trailed countries in math and science scores.

A study in Rhode Island published in the May 23, 1996 issue of Nature reported that first-graders who participated in special music classes as part of an arts study saw their reading skills and math proficiency increase dramatically. Students who studied music appreciation scored 46 points higher on the math portion of the SAT in 1995, and 39 points higher if they had music performance experiences, than those without music education.


In a study by Frances Rauscher and Gordon Shaw at the University of California, Irvine, that was presented in 1994 at the American Psychological Association, they reported that pre-schoolers who took daily 30 minute group singing lessons and a weekly 10-15 minute private keyboard lesson scored 80 percent higher in object-assembly skills than students who did not have the music lessons.


In a report of the significance of singing in MUSICA Research Notes in Fall 1996 Weinberger cites research of Kalmar dealing with the positive effects of singing in normal children in a long term study, as she studied the effects of the Kodaly method of instruction, and found significant effects on motor development and cognitive development of those participating in the music program.


A report in The New York Times International in May 1996 indicated that in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China music is a more significant part of education for children than in the U.S.A., and the children in those countries are far more likely to have what some regard as one of the most striking signals of a musical mind, absolute pitch. As reported in “The Musical Mind” by Susan Black, neuromusical investigations are producing evidence that infants are born with neural mechanisms devoted exclusively to music. And perhaps, even more importantly, studies show that early and ongoing musical training helps organize and develop children’s brains.

A report by John Langstaff and Elizabeth Mayer in Learning, March/April 1996, presented a rationale for the importance of music education in early childhood. By approximately age 11, neuron circuits that permit all kinds of perceptual and sensory discrimination, such as identifying pitch and rhythm, become closed off. Not using them dooms the child to be forever tone deaf and offbeat.


A study done in 1978 by McCarty, McElfresh, Risce and Wilson, reported that a pattern of inappropriate student behavior on a school bus was changed by playing music. Research at the Harvard Project Zero as reported by Colwell and Davidson, suggests that arts activities for all students on Fridays and Mondays reduces the absentee rate on those days.


Martha Mead Giles found in a study reported in the Journal of Music Therapy that music and art instruction may be an important link to children’s emotional well-being. In an Update: Applications of Research in Music Education report, Fall/Winter 1994, research was cited that in addition to an enhancement of self-concept as an outcome of music education, trust and cooperation, empathy, and social skills were also shown to be benefits of a music education.

Historically music education and music therapy researchers have provided a clear evidence that music and music education does have a measurable impact on individuals. However, it was the research efforts of Frances Rauscher (now at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh), Gordon Shaw and colleagues, at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California at Irvine dealing with the causal relationship between music and spatial task performance that resulted in the creation of the term “The Mozart Effect” and the proclamation that music can and does indeed make you smarter. A new book, The Mozart Effect, by Don Campbell, is to be released later this year.

The October 1993 issue of Nature included the report of a study done by Rauscher, Shaw and Ky that found that listening to 10 minutes of Mozart’s piano Sonata K.448 over a period of time increased spatial IQ scores in college students. A further study on spatial performance and music found that the spatial reasoning skills of 19 preschool children who were given 8 months of music lessons far exceeded the spatial reasoning performance of 15 children who had no musical training. Whereas the effect of listening to Mozart lasted only a short time (about 15 minutes), the results of the study with preschool children suggested to the researchers that music can improve intelligence for long periods of time, maybe even permanently.

In 1995, Rauscher and other researchers replicated and extended their findings concerning the Mozart effect and reported the results in Neuroscience Letters. In the most recent study, they used the same task as in their first experiment but extended the types of listening experienced. Seventy-nine college students were divided into three groups: silence, the same Mozart as used in the 1993 study, and a work by Philip Glass. Only the Mozart group showed a significant increase in spatial IQ score.

Rauscher and Shaw developed their research based on a neurobiological model that posits that music will enhance higher brain functions. There are certain synaptic connections being made through music training that are similar to those required for abstract and spatial reasoning.

What we as musicians knew experientially and intuitively, scientific studies on the brain, intelligence and music are confirming that we hold in our hands as music educators a powerful tool, a key that may unlock the door to developing the great potential residing in the human brain. May this sampler whet your appetite to taste more from this table of knowledge.