Sunday, November 23, 2014

Don't be Afraid to Advocate for the Arts - Should YOU Help??

Many of us absolutely believe that including the arts in education is a good thing. We know from decades of research that requiring the arts in education helps lead to students becoming more well rounded and better at traditional subjects like math, english, science and history. Students who have music and art courses go on to valuable and important non-arts careers like doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and more. However, despite the majority of us believing this is a good thing, not many are willing to advocate for the arts to be required or even included in elementary and secondary education. Even more surprising, is that many music and art teachers themselves don't appear to be openly rallying for this cause.

I came across an article published recently where the author, Stephanie Milling, does an excellent job of analyzing this situation and helping us understand some of the misconceptions that often deter us from fully advocating for the arts. Stephanie is the Assistant Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University where she teaches Dance, Women’s Studies, and Honors coursework. Ms. Milling's list of possible reasons for our hesitancy to act includes the issue being seen as too political, or not wise to pursue being a state-employed teacher, or simply appearing as too big or too daunting a task. The responses that Stephanie gives for each of the reasons that hold people back are quite convincing. I believe if more teachers and non-teachers learned more about them they would be more likely to actively help promote the cause.

If you believe that our schools should at a minimum offer music and art education as an elective, then I urge you to check out this brief article and see if afterwards you don't want to jump in and help: Developing Arts Advocates - The Future of the Arts

Speaking of helping out, our "Keep Music Alive" Mission is looking for volunteers to help with research for our upcoming book "88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life" and to help promote the cause both online and offline. Even if you can offer just a few hours a week either long term or short term your efforts would be really important. Any help you can offer would be absolutely appreciated PLUS you'll get your name in the book along with a complimentary copy once the book is released. Post a comment here or simply message us on Facebook over at www.facebook.com/KeepMusicAliveMission

That's all for today folks - Stop back in a days for another post and to keep up to date with "Keep Music Alive" please visit us on Facebook. Thanks and have a great Sundayyyy!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Academy of Music for the Blind - Amazing Musicians!

We recently came across a very special music school from the Los Angeles area - All of the students share two things in common: The first is that they are all blind, and the second and most important thing is they all have a passion for music and have demonstrated an amazing musical talent at a young age.

The Academy of Music for the Blind was founded 11 years ago by Executive Director David Pinto who saw a void that needed to be filled. There are numerous music schools for children with sight, and extremely limited options for children who cannot see. David was fortunate to work with Ray Charles during the last two years of his life, and knows how important this mission was to Ray and wants to see it continue and grow.

A recent video released by the school features 9 year old Dorothy Cho performing the very popular "Let It Go" from the movie Frozen. It's clear from the first musical phrase she sings that her vocal ability and confidence while performing are well beyond her young years. I definitely look forward to hearing how her musical and vocal abilities grow over the next 5-10 years and seeing where her music career can take her.

About a year ago, 60 Minutes on CBS did an update on the school, reaching out to revisit 13 year old Rex Lewis whom they had featured 5 years earlier when he was just 8 years old. Despite being blind and having additional disabilities, Rex showed tremendous musical talent at that age and to see and hear him play now at 13 is utterly amazing.

The concept of a Music Academy for Blind children is soooo wonderful to me and I only wish there were more schools like it through out the US and world. Watching the 60 Minutes video featuring Rex, you can see where music being part of his life has made a tremendous difference in how far he has come with all his disabilities. If you would like to learn more and possibly donate to this cause, please visit the school @ Academy of Music for the Blind

Please enjoy the rest of your weekend and if you got hit with that early cold icy blast this week don't fret, spring will officially be here in just over 4 months :)

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Post: WHY ARTS EDUCATION IS KEY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

This is a guest post from Peter Carli, who is a Music Producer from Goldsboro, PA. Originally written to Dr. Todd Stoltz, who is the superintendent of the West Shore School District Cumberland and York Counties PA, this piece makes an incredibly clear and compelling case why arts education needs to remain in our schools. You can find Peter online at his website www.RadiationRoom.com with the originally article posted at www.radiationroom.com/articles/education.htm

Dear Dr. Stoltz,

As a resident of the West Shore School District, I am writing to you to voice my support for comprehensive arts education in our public schools.

The arts are vital to our lives and our nation and the reasons why are seemingly endless. Visual arts, music, theater, dance, creative writing, handicrafts, and other forms of creative expression enrich our lives. The arts also enlighten us as people and add vibrance and dynamics to our society. To understand and appreciate the arts is to understand and appreciate our culture. Poetry, painting, music and other art forms are important because they are a reflection of the lives we lead.

For example: Knowing the arts are key to understanding our country's history and what makes America "America". This is especially true of creative writing and music which tell stories that get passed from one generation to the next. A prime example of this is "The Star Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key. Not only is it our national anthem, it is also a living document and testimonial about a pivotal piece of American history and the resolve of the American people.

Investment in arts education benefits far more people than just visual art and music students. Studies have proven that professional fields of all types are enhanced from a well rounded education. The arts excel in teaching innovation, context, and excellence and strengthens a person's ability to think critically and "outside the box." Learning to draw helps in the development of fine eye-hand coordination and learning to play a musical instrument at a young age aids the development of a child's cognitive function. Other research reveals a strong link between music and visual arts education and higher achievement, both academically and in adulthood. The arts also teach how collaboration and independent thought work together and how to create original ideas that fit within existing frameworks, abilities that are vital in today's technological world.

Investment in the arts generates billions of dollars in economic activity which translates directly into jobs and influence, both at home and around the globe. America's top export is not technology, automotive, agriculture or weapons. It's music, book publishing, cinematography and fine arts. What America creates has a global market and the arts are a key component in the USA's status as the dominant world superpower.

As Americans, we should realize this better than anyone. It is America that created the concepts of free markets and mass distribution, which empowers creators and entrepreneurs by rewarding them. It is America that created the worldwide distribution framework that delivers information and entertainment to a global audience. We created the Walt Disneys and the Warner Brothers of the world, the tastemakers of art as entertainment. The film and TV studios of Hollywood are billion dollar enterprises selling fantasy and adventure to an eager audience. Visual artists such as Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth are known throughout the world; their works serving as a window into American life. And it was America who created the modern record company and the soundtrack of our lives. And these businesses need an educated workforce.

Despite all the evidence of the benefits that comprehensive arts education provides our youngsters and society, there are a sub-set of people on the political right who fail to understand the need for the arts as part of our public school curricula. Some conservatives are outright hostile to the arts both in school and the community at large, and as America looses it's competitive edge and it's status as the dominant world superpower, I find their opposition quite disturbing. The role of the arts in society is of no less consequence than the roles of industry, science, health care, or banking.

Now think about what our lives would be like without our great American musicians, poets, visual artists and architects. How about our writers, photographers, filmmakers, and actors? Our country would lose its edge in a multitude of ways.

Visual arts, music, cinema, radio/TV, book publishing and other art forms create jobs and fills our tax coffers while promoting international good will and enriches our cultural identity and understanding. It's time that those with an axe to grind stop using public school arts programs as political chess pieces. By refusing to invest in arts education, we are in danger of creating a culturally stagnent society, robbing our communities of what makes them vibrant and unique, and creating disincentives towards investing in both our young people and our businesses here at home. And history will judge us harshly for it.

These are just some of many reasons why I encourage you to support music and art education in our public schools.

Best regards - Peter P. Carli II (Goldsboro/Etters PA)
RadiationRoom.com

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stubhub Helps Raise $ 300,000+ for Music Education

We all know StubKub as that event ticket company helping us to buy or sell tickets to our favorite sporting events, concerts and pretty much any event you can think of. StubHub has become so popular in fact that even my Mom who is in her 80's uses it to sell tickets. I was surprised and pleased to learn that Stubhub's Next Stage Concert Series is also helping to raise money for the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation which in turn purchases musical instruments for under-funded schools all over the United States. To date, this concert series has raised over $ 300,000 (this year alone I believe) with the total instrument value reaching almost $ 600,000 (double your money which is pretty good, perhaps they are getting good discounts from instrument manufacturers we'll have to check that out).

Featuring bands like GroupLove, Trombone Shorty, Walk the Moon and more, these concert events help raise money and exposure for this very important cause. Giving kids an opportunity to learn how to play a musical instrument early in life. All in all this program has helped 16,000 students start to learn an instrument who otherwise might not have. This opportunity will have a great impact on these kids both now and in their future.

I was first introduced to the Next Stage Concert Series by this Mashable article http://mashable.com/2014/11/07/stubhub-next-stage-concert-series/

To learn about StubHub's Next Stage Concert Series please visit them online at StubHub Next Stage Concert Series. To learn more about the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and the great work they do please visit them at Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation . I was very impressed to see how many schools that they donate music instruments to all over the country every year. I'll leave you with a very inspirational video that shows the impact of what this foundation does:

Have a great weekend and we'll be back to you soon!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Sunday, November 2, 2014

500,000 Australian students sing "Paint You a Song"!

Last Thursday, October 30th, was a pretty awesome today for music education in Australia. At exactly 12:30 EDT, over 500,000 school students sang "Paint You a Song" in unison to support Music Education in Schools.

This event was created by an organization called Music: Count Us In which is a non-profit run by the Music Council of Australia with backing also from the Australian government. A review of Music Education in Australia completed in 2005 demonstrated the lack of meaningful music education in too many of the countries schools. Music: Count Us In was created to help push back the other way, offering resources to teachers, schools and communities to help offer better music training across the board to Australian students.

Music: Count Us In has been holding these events now for 7 years with each year getting bigger and stronger. This year over 500,000 (that's a half a Million) school students from 2100 schools in Australia will participate in the event. The song chosen to be sung is "Paint You a Song" which was written by 5 high school students from across Australia working with music industry mentor Harry James Angus, and Program Ambassador, John Foreman.

For more information on this excellent organization please visit www.MusicCountUsIn.org.au. Here are a couple of press articles from Australia about the event including some video clips from the event itself:

It so wonderful and amazing to see this type of support form music in the land down under. We'll definitely be in contact with Music: Count Us In in the near future to see how we might learn from their successes to help improve music education here in the US.

That's all for today folks - hope you had a great Halloween weekend (twick or tweet) and don't eat too much candyyyyyy!

Music, Love & Laughter

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Music to Scare Your Night Away

Other than Christmas, Halloween is the one holiday that has the most songs and music soundtracks associated it. I'm sure we can all name 4 or 5 "Halloween" related songs off the top of our head starting with "Thriller" (Michael Jackson), "Monster Mash" (Boris Pickett), "Werewolves of London" (Warren Zevon) and "Ghostbusters" (Ray Parker Jr) to name just a few.

Then we also have a multitude of scary movie soundtracks that will get stuck in our head as we attempt to peacefully drift off to sleep. The two that haunt my sub-conscious are "Tubular Bells" from The Exorcist and the original "Halloween" Movie Soundtrack. There is of course another movie soundtrack that brings fear into the hearts and minds of almost anyone listening and that is the "Jaws" music. That, of course, is more of a summer beach thing then a Halloween related soundtrack, unless you want to associate it with Land Shark character knocking on your door from the old Saturday Night Live Days :)

Lists of favorite Halloween songs and soundtracks have probably been made for the last 40-50 years. Here's a list of great 31 tunes that would be perfect for any Halloween party, brought to us by Mashable.com: Mashable.com: Halloween Music Spotify Playlist

Then here's a list that the Pittsburgh Post Gazette compiled by asking local area musicians about their favorite - You'll note that this list leaves out all of the obvious favorites and delves deeper (and sometimes darker) into the musical archives: Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Some Scary Suggestions for Halloween Listening

Finally here is a list of the top 10 horror movie soundtracks brought to us by the Dallas Observer: Dallas Observer: Top 10 Horror Movie Soundtracks

What we learn from all of this of course, is that music has always been used to help set the mood in whatever setting we're going for. No where is that more apparent then in a movie where we're hoping to get the wits scared out of us :)

I'll leave you with 3 of my favorite Halloween related songs and soundtracks - Enjoy and don't close your eyes too soon tonight ha ha ha

"Thriller": (Original 13 minute mini-movie & music video:

"Werewolves of London":

"Halloween Movie Soundtrack": (Michael Myers Lives Forever)

That's all for today boys and girls - Be sure to dress up and go out for some treats tooooonight!

Music, Love & Laughter

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Monday, October 27, 2014

Turn up the BASS If you Wanna Get More Done

It has been said that music is a powerful motivator, and research has once again proved this theory. Researcher Dennis Hsu did a recent study at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, and the results demonstrated that by listening to powerful music, we become more motivated and confident both in work and social situations. The study took a group of undergraduate students and had them listen to a pre-selected group of music clips that included a multitude of styles including pop, heavy Metal, Reggae and Hip Hop. The students rated each music clip for how powerful and determined it made them feel. The study then used each students own top 3 "powerful" music choices for the next phase of the study. What the study found was that the students top 3 powerful music choices helped them see the bigger picture when completing a task. When working in a group, their "power music" enabled them to speak up and contribute sooner to what the group was trying to accomplish. The "power music" had the effect of making each student more sure of themselves, more sure of their own skills and opinions and more in control of the outcome of future events.

The study also revealed that its often the energy of the bass in the music that helps make a song feel more powerful to the listener. So it appears that singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor really knew what she was talking about when she sings

"Its all about that bass, 'bout the bass, no treble
all about that bass, 'bout that bass no treble"
.

If you've been living on another star system and haven't yet heard this catchy little ditty from Ms. Trainor here is your chance with a video clip that's been watched by almost 200 million people to date:

Here's a link to the full article where I first read about the "power music" study KDVR - Turn up the Bass Music to Make You Feel More Powerful

We all know that many world-class athletes pump themselves up prior to their performance by listening to their own power music. One of my favorites has always been "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor. I'll leave you with the video clip that that power nugget and will be back to you in a few days with another fun & informative post.

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com