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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

History of Bassooon

History of Bassooon Early Bassoon The modern day bassoon evolved from an instrument invented pre 16th century. This instrument was called the dulcian. It was a wooden instrument all in one piece. The dulcian was used to add a strong bass line in a wind ensemble that consisted of mostly recorders and shawms. There were 8 dulcians used during the 16th century, which included a soprano down to bass ranges. The dulcian also had a conical bore similar to the modern day bassoon. There were only 8 finger holes and 2 keys on the dulcian. Click Here to hear a sample of what a tenor dulcian sounds like. (Quicktime is needed) Modern Bassoon The 1800’s brought new demands on the bassoon and it had to be altered to meet the new needs of players, ensembles, and orchestral halls. Heckel System Carl Almenr├Ąder (a performer, teacher, and composer) and Gottfried Weber (acoustic researcher) designed a 17-key bassoon in 1823. The new design helped to improve intonation, improve response, and make playing easier for performers. J.A. Heckel (Almenr├Ąder’s partner) continued to make improvements on the bassoon along with 2 generations of his descendents. By the 1900’s Heckel was the main company producing bassoons with 4,000 bassoons produced by the turn of the century. The modern Heckel bassoon has between 24-27 keys and five open finger holes. Buffet System This system was stabilized before the Heckel system, but it was invented in a more conservative manner. The Buffet System mainly focused on improvements to the key work and not a complete overhaul of the instrument. This bassoon has a conical bore that is less in diameter than the Heckel bassoon. This system did not stay around because it wasn’t as consistent as the Heckel system and wasn’t as easy to play. READ MORE

Friday, April 13, 2012

Report warns US educational failures pose national security threat

Report warns US educational failures pose national security threat A new report finds that the United States' education system is putting the country's national security at risk. The independent study, sponsored by The Council on Foreign Relations, finds K-12 school systems across the country are failing to adequately prepare kids to grow up and protect the U.S. "For starters, we don't have nearly enough people who are capable in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math," said former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, a member of the council's task force that wrote the report, titled "U.S. Education Reform and National Security." "When we think about the modern world of defense," Spellings said, "the fact that we don't have people who are capable to do this work is scary." In addition to skills needed to defend ourselves in war, the study found American schools fail to teach students skills needed to avoid conflicts. "We don't have people who know and understand foreign languages and other cultures," said Spelling, pointing out that U.S. children are ranked No. 17 in the world for language skills. "On any given day, there are hundreds of (job) vacancies for people who speak Pashtu and Arabic, and Mandarin and on and on." The Council on Foreign Relations report was chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein. It states America's educational failures pose five distinct threats to national security: - Threats to economic growth and competitiveness - U.S. physical safety - Intellectual property - U.S. global awareness - U.S. unity and cohesion Klein, who now works for News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, said he believes the greatest threat to national security is the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots and the increasing belief that the American Dream could soon become nothing but a memory. "This sense that your kids lives won't be better than your lives. That, to me will erode America's confidence. That will make us more divided," Klein said. "A massively undereducated country is not going to be competitive. It's not going to be cohesive." However, there is no difference between black and white, rich and poor, when it comes to American schools' failure to teach skills that could eventually be life saving. "Disadvantaged kids are the most impacted. But even at the high end, we are sort of fat, dumb and happy," Spellings said. "Some new data out suggests that even in Beverly Hills and Princeton and Scarsdale, any affluent community you can think of, those kids don't perform very well compared to their peers around the world, either." So what can Americans do? The report recommends these three main concepts: - Expanding state standards to offer more lessons necessary for safeguarding national security, like science and language - Provide parents and students school choice - Conduct "national security readiness audits" of all schools and hold them accountable if they’re not meeting standards To spur these changes, Klein and Spellings are urging Americans, whether they have kids or not, to discuss education issues with their local legislators. "Don't talk about tax abatement. Don't talk about pollution. Talk first and foremost about transforming education," Klein said. "That's the only way I know to make the political processes change." Spellings suggests getting involved yourself. "We've got to get back to the day where people in this room will stand up and say: 'I'm going to run for the school board.' We have left that level of politics to self-interested political careerists who want to use it as a stepping stone or people who represent the system," Spellings said. "If we're not paying attention, then shame on us. That's what we get." READ MORE

Thursday, April 12, 2012


TIPS FOR TEACHING STUDENTS WITH ADD OR ADHD Many teachers recognize the signs of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD): an inability to maintain attention, impulsive behaviors, and/or motor restlessness. Students can have mild, moderate, or severe symptoms and can be found in both general education and special education classes. For those who need educational interventions, MENC member Elise S. Sobol recommends these strategies for students with ADD with or without hyperactivity. Coordinate these approaches with a special education student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Teach and consistently reinforce social skills. Mediate asking questions. Define and redefine expectations. Assess understanding of content. Define and redefine appropriateness and inappropriateness. Make connections explicitly clear. Take nothing for granted. Reinforce positive behavior. Define benefits of completing a task. Include 21st-century relevance. Clearly mark music scores with clues to recall rehearsal information. Establish support through creative seating to enhance student security. Post your rehearsal plan. Repeat realistic expectations each session. Choose repertoire that enhances character development and self-esteem. Use lots of rehearsals to embed information into short-term memory. Be informed if a student takes medication to help regulate impulsive responses. Plan student participation accordingly. Follow classroom and performance program structure strictly so students know the sequence “first,” “then.” Sobol subscribes to William Glasser’s Choice Theory: Students will do well if four basic needs are addressed in the educational classroom or performance setting. All students need to feel a sense of Belonging—feeling accepted and welcome. Gaining Power—growing in knowledge and skill and gaining self-esteem through successful mastery of an activity via realistic teacher direction. Having fun—improving health, building positive relationships, and enhancing thinking. Students need to be uplifted and spirited to add to the quality of their successful program. Being free—making good choices, expressing control over one’s life. Students need to be a part of their educational process. Each student gains importance and dignity to as he or she participates in teaching and learning to set goals, make plans, choose behaviors, evaluate results, and learn from each experience to do things better. ADD and ADHD are disabilities and fall under the designating category of “Other Health Impairment.” READ MORE

Monday, April 2, 2012

A History of Musical Theater

A History of Musical Theater The history of musical theater is an interesting one. From the earliest plays of Ancient Greece, music has been an important part of the theatrical experience. During ancient times, it was most often in the form of a short musical interlude. At the time of the Renaissance, it was popular to have a musical piece at the close of each act. But how did musical theater as we know it today begin, with music and dialogue telling a coherent story? Classical Roots Musicals as we know them today have their roots in opera. An opera is a dramatic presentation in which the story is told through music, similar to modern musicals. Opera got its start in Italy, around the turn of the 17th century. In opera, there is generally no spoken dialogue; sung passages and dramatic arias move the plot along. This is similar to popular sung-through musicals of today, such as Evita, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. Even more closely related to the modern musical were operettas; in particular, the English operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan produced during the Victorian era. The topics and themes of operettas, as well as their style, was generally much lighter than in traditional opera. Operettas did occasionally feature small bits of spoken dialogue. Musicals on Broadway Musicals on Broadway got their start in 1866, with the presentation of The Black Crook. This musical extravaganza came about when a fire destroyed the venue where a ballet troupe was scheduled to perform. The producer of The Black Crook struck a deal with the ballet troupe, and they joined the show, which now had songs and elaborate dance numbers incorporated into the production. After The Black Crook, many more Broadway shows, as well as off-Broadway plays were musical in nature. Many people consider the first true example of the modern musical to be Showboat, which premiered on Broadway in 1927. Showboat was unique, in that it featured the first-ever completely integrated book and score, the style that would become the standard form for musical theater. Early musicals were most often light, comedic diversions. But starting with Showboat, some playwrights chose to depart from this convention, and give audiences more dramatic, topical plots and themes. In musical theater today, anything goes. From frivolous musical comedies to serious, dramatic pieces, there is something for every taste to be seen. From London's West End to Broadway and across the world, musical theater continues to be a popular form of entertainment. READ MORE