Shelly Suarez is CEO of Learn Now Music, Inc. a professional on-site music education service supplying MD, DC, VA, CA and FL with in-home private music lessons and on-site group music instruction at public and private schools, pre-schools, and other facilities.
The Music Momma blog is interactive. Please feel free to ask her ANY music or educational questions you may have and she will do her best to guide you through!
Learn more about Learn Now Music @ LearnNowMusic.com or 1-800-399-6414
OK - you got an extra day. What are you doing with it?
Organizing a closet? Getting a jump on spring cleaning? Catching up on all the New Years' resolutions that went south on Jan. 2?
Are you being "productive"?
Forget it! How about take this day and just enjoy. Enjoy the extra day with your family, your friends, your co-workers, your pets, yourself! Enjoy being alive for an extra day before we churn into the next "productive" month, year, millennium of tasks to do and things to tackle. Enjoy your leap year!
Leap Year Explained -
A leap year (or intercalary or bissextile year) is a year containing one additional day (or, in the case of lunisolar calendars, a month) in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, a calendar that had the same number of days in each year would, over time, drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting (or intercalating) an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected. A year that is not a leap year is called a common year.
For example, in the Gregorian calendar (a common solar calendar), February in a leap year has 29 days instead of the usual 28, so the year lasts 366 days instead of the usual 365. Similarly, in the Hebrew calendar (a lunisolar calendar), a 13th lunar month is added seven times every 19 years to the twelve lunar months in its common years to keep its calendar year from drifting through the seasons too rapidly.
How many lessons do I start with?
Another question we get here at LNM quite often. Here is the thing. Music is a life-long pursuit. Does this mean you have music lessons your whole life? Well, you certainly could as the potential for learning is never capped. You never reach the end, so to speak. So, when starting music lessons you want to see this as a process, a long term one. Music is a journey that takes time and experiences. Of course, there are always restrictions in time and cost that are understandable. Not with-standing these restraints, you will want to start the process and allow it to unfold at its own time and pace. Each student learns at a different speed and has different goals. Keep in mind, music can be a wonderful exploratory educational experience and putting a limitation on its timing can put undue pressure on the student and may impede the progress and enjoyment that you sought to gain by starting the process in the first place.
Keep sending in your education questions!
The Music Momma
The importance of music education in schools
Editor's note: Vince DiFiore plays trumpet in the band CAKE, which is currently touring the U.S. and Europe. The band has teamed up with the US Scholastic Band Association (USSBA) for "The Federal Funding March," a nationwide contest for high school and college marching bands.
(CNN) -- During high school, I was a consistent member of the symphonic band. The band director regularly called on me to sight-read daily rhythm exercises for the rest of the class and, more significantly, gave me the honor of conducting one of our compositions for the annual fall concert.
That leadership experience was a milestone and will stay with me for a lifetime.
Still, I fell short of joining the marching band.
When a trumpeter friend from middle school invited me to be a guest player in a pep band for a basketball game at a nearby high school where most of my classmates from eighth grade had attended, I realized the excitement involved in that music.
This scaled-down version of the marching band was loud and impactful in the reverberating gym, and at that moment, it was clear what I had been missing out on.The camaraderie alone was incredibly uplifting.
My high school band teacher's name was John McRae. Now, as the trumpeter for the band CAKE, I work with songwriter John McCrea. Parallels can be constructed beyond the similar names.
Certainly, it could be said that the world of rock shares many of the same elements as the high school society: cliques, direct attention to individual issues of attitude adjustment and, most importantly, the frequent notion of liberating oneself.
Basically, both realms share themes that are recurrent throughout an entire lifetime. During high school, however, these issues face our promising citizens in an abrupt and acute way.
That sense of belonging, having a healthy perspective on weighty issues and the ability to self-individuate may be never fully realized, even in a lifetime. What is necessary in the microsociety of high school is a sturdy vessel in which to navigate a safe and fulfilling journey to the next transition.
In high school, music programs are that vehicle.
Our drummer, Paulo Baldi, for instance, lived in three states as a teenager (Colorado, New Mexico and Washington) while attending four different high schools. Joining the marching band in each unfamiliar place helped to connect his high school experience. He made friends through each transition, and it made comfortable what could have otherwise been an alienating experience.
Gabriel Nelson, the bassist for CAKE, was in jazz ensemble at Sacramento High School. He learned a great deal there, at a critical time in his life.
After excelling at music theory in a piano class, he was recruited into the school's accomplished jazz band, as it needed a competent bass player. Gabriel and his friends in that group later went on to form bands together outside of school.
Paulo Baldi testifies that, "Marching band in particular is the savior for people who may or may not be athletic. Marching band is music, memorization, eye-hand coordination and good for your posture. It may hurt to be told your paradiddles suck, but it builds character. It's a team sport. You create friendships that become your buddies for life. High school music is something focused to do. You don't have to be great to belong, and members immediately have something in common."
Aside from the social benefits, students in high school music programs have higher test scores and cognitive development. A U.S. Department of Education study found that those who reported consistent involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12. (This observation holds regardless of students' socioeconomic status.)
Additionally, students who learn to play an instrument develop a greater language capacity and a greater ability to learn a new language. In another context, it is invaluable to gain a wider perspective on cultural history by being exposed to centuries of our rich cultural heritage.
When the track "Federal Funding" (from CAKE's new album "Showroom of Compassion") was completed, there was something about it that made it sound like a ready-made marching band arrangement.
The topic of the song (the delicate issue of applying for federal grants and receiving favors from friends in high places), in the hands of CAKE, became a romp that was full of syncopation, melodies and counterparts, with a mean and bouncy rhythm section.
At our studio in Sacramento, California, as the dust hadn't quite settled after completing our album, I returned to remove all the electric instruments and the drum kit from the session, then recorded my friends in town who had played saxophone, tuba and drums in various marching bands around northern California. The result is the "Federal Funding March," an ode to the epic marching band sound.
On a fall weekend in junior high, my dad took me to see a marching band parade in Long Beach, California. We sat in the VIP grandstand, shoulder to shoulder, with Iron Eyes Cody, the actor who portrayed the tearful witness to roadside littering in the public service announcement from the '70s. All the marching bands were playing "Star Wars" that year.
It is our hope that every band will be playing the "Federal Funding March" next year. Band directors, we're offering the charts for free, and we guarantee that you, and your players, will gladly accept it into your repertoire.
Best wishes for an exceptional marching band season next year.
The Importance of Starting Out Right
We get the call often, "My child knows how to play a little song they figured out on the piano, guitar, etc." What do I do next?
It's a great sign of interest and talent when kids start plunking out songs on their own. It's great ear training but now's the time to get started the right way.
Unfortunately, what happens sometimes is that the interest and natural ability is not professionally guided until they have already developed many bad learning habits.
Music is like math. You may be drawn to numbers and have a natural talent with them but that alone will not take you very far. You need to continue to build upon your talents with professional and sequential instruction. When children play "by ear" for too long they get a satisfaction by figuring out the latest song on the radio but sometimes that's as far as it goes and they are limiting their future repertoire to potentially one of two songs. They have not learned the building blocks that will open up the entire musical world to them. Mainly, notation. Starting at the age of 2, children begin to recognize and put meaning to symbols. This is prime time to introduce professional instruction and guided experimentation utilizing musical symbols and note reading. Now, we are not saying to discourage their ear training efforts - far from it! Any quality educational program will have a healthy emphasis on ear training but it will be hand-in-hand with those important reading building blocks.
For more info on professional music instruction in your own home - contact LNM today!
The Music Momma
LNM Summer Vocal Performance Camp
July and August 2012
Join us for July, August or Both months!
Available for Boys and Girls Ages 4 – 15
Monthly Program includes:
- 2 private music lessons weekly (30 min lessons – 8 total per month – lessons scheduled based on your availability)
- 4 x 2 Hour Weekly Group Rehearsals (4 total per month – Day/time TBA)
- 1 public performance at the end of the month (Day/time/location TBA)
- LNM Performance T-shirt
- Materials and rehearsal packet
Contact us today for pricing and more details!