Monday, July 14, 2014

Ed Sheeran & BBC/1XTRA - is it time to drop the "Urban" label for music?

1XTRA, a BBC radio station that describes itself as the new black music network, recently named its top 20 most important artists in the UK over the last 12 months. The big "surprise" of course is that there are several non-black artists throughout the list including a very talented Ed Sheeran holding down the #1 spot. This of course has many in the black music community up in arms with many black artists were left off the list in favor of Sheeran and several others including Jessie J, Disclosure, DJ Fresh and Rita Ora.

Personally I think the real problem is that we still find it necessary to give color labels to music at all. In the USA, do we call basketball and football urban sports just because they appear to be dominated by black players? And if we did what would we label hockey and baseball, the later which of course has many black players.

My point is why do we let music still be defined by labels such as urban that suggest skin color? There are so many other words that can be used to describe music, many themselves that often lend themselves to one color or another (country, rap, R&B). But thes "music style" labels can appropriately be tagged to music that is that style. Labels like Urban no longer make sense to be used in my opinion, no more than we should call it "black music" or "white music". Music is music people and yes there are many styles and all of those styles are played by people of all different colors. If we really want to end prejudice in our world someday, we're going to have to stop calling music black or white and simply call it by the style it is.

If you'd like to take a peek at the 1Xtra list yourself here ya go: 1XTRA Power List - Most important UK Artists

This next article by The Guardiangives its own take on the list and how it believes having Ed Sheeran top the list is not the lists biggest problem. In there opinion the list shouldn't be limited to artists because there are too many in the music business world that would be perceived by many as "more important" or "more influential" than the artists. I see where they are coming from, but hey its supposed to be a list about artists - Consumers don't generally care about the people behind the scenes, no matter how important or influential they may be. We want to talk about the artists themselves and that's what the list is about.

While we're on the topic of Ed Sheeran, here is the video for his latest song "Sing". As a lover of pop music its a really good song but not something that makes me want to jump up and down (and definitely not something I can sing along too). He did take "Sing" all the way to #13 on the Billboard chart and to #1 in the UK and Australia AND Sheeran demonstrates some crazy awesome vocal skills on the track.

That's all she wrote for today - will be back tomorrow with another view on our favorite topic: MUSIC!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #14 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hits and Misses on the Radio - July 2014

For today's post, we're gonna talk about some of our favorite songs currently on the radio and a few tunes that in our opinion miss the mark. First up on the recommended is list is "Am I Wrong" by the Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz - great melody with an intriguing underbeat that keeps pulling you in. It also has one of my favorite new lyric lines

"I ain't tryna do what everybody else doing
Just cause everybody doing what they all doing"

Making your own path and not apologizing for it - that's something we all should a little more of in our lives. Nico & Vinz took this cool song with an original feel all the way to #4 on the Billboard charts.

Next up is "Me and My Broken Heart" by the 4 piece band from the UK known as Rixton . This song has a monster hook

"All I need's a little love in my life
All I need's a little love in the dark
A little but I'm hoping it might kick start
Me and my broken heart"

"Broken Heart" starts off with this crazy catchy hook and never lets go after that. You will be singing along after just hearing this one time I promise. Rixton made it all the way to #6 on the Billboard 100 chart with this hook-laden gem, yet another great tune by a another new act imported from across the pond.

Last up in our trilogy of featured radio hits is another seemingly new artist at least when talking about this level of chart success. Ingrid Michaelson has been releasing singles to radio for several years, but her last big radio hit was with her debut CD and the song "The Way I Am". Fast forward 7 years and when I first heard "Girls Chase Boys" by Ingrid I thought it was kind of a silly song. The video homage to Robert Palmers "Simply Irresistible" was absolutely cut and fun to watch but I'm a song guy. However, after hearing "Girls Chase Boys" several times I began to hear it in a new light - the beautiful pop melodies and whimsical feel of the music really began to draw me in and I've been hooked ever since. Give it just a couple listens and I think you'll see what I mean if you don't already.

In addition to the three songs above there are some other holdouts still on the chart after weeks because well they are just great great songs. These include "All of Me" by John Legend, "Dark Horse" by Katy Perry and "Rude" by newcomer MAGIC!. We've talked about all three of these great tunes in earlier posts over the last month.

Misses on the radio today

This next group of tunes were recently released by established artists and unlike many of their earlier hits, they don't quite catch our attention. Songs like these usually make it on the chart because of the artists popularity and some good will from their earlier hits. In the artists defense, its quite possible they never intended for these songs to be released as a single. However they lose that control to record companies who will often try to put out as many "singles" as possible over the life of a full CD in order to keep the attention on their artist. Personally I think the labels do the artist a dis-service by doing that. If its not a song with hit potential - don't push it down radios throat and then make us listen to it and wonder if the artist's creativity has dried up.

Current examples of this are "Love Runs Out" by One Republic, "Birthday" by Katy Perry, "Map" by Maroon 5 and "Angel in Blue Jeans" by Train. All great song titles but the greatness stops there and we'd all be better off if radio was instead playing a much better song by a completely unknown artist. Once again my apologies to the artist as these decisions are usually completely out of their control.

That's all for this weekend - we'll be back tomorrow with some more good news about music changing someone's life. Until then please have a great nite!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #13 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vinyl Records are making a comeback - say WHAT???

I recently heard that vinyl records were making a comeback. I thought, okay so maybe they are selling a little more then they used to for nostalgic sake. Then I dug a little deeper and was amazed to see that in the first half of 2014, vinyl record sales have increased 40% over last year. They are currently on track to sell at least 8 Million units for the year. This is even after selling 6 million units last year which itself was a sizeable increase over the year before. If you look at the numbers, vinyl albums are now selling 10X more units then they were selling 20 years ago. What the heck is going on here?

Like many I was a big "record" buyer back in the day, amassing a decent collection of records from artists like The Carpenters, Elton John, Barry Manilow, Air Supply, Kiss, Led Zeppelinand more. Yes you heard right, I said Kiss & Led Zeppelin in the same sentence as Barry Manilow, Air Supply & The Carpenters. While growing up, I LOVED so many different styles of music and still do today. If a song has a great melody or hook, then I don't really care what style it is, I wanna hear it!

Still, it is amazing that vinyl record sales are increasing at such a high rate, and at the same time sales of CDs and even MP3 downloads are decreasing. If you look behind the numbersm you'll see that some of this phenomena is due to the nostalgic buyers picking up a newly printed version of masterpieces from the past (aka. The Beatles Abbey Road). However even more of the trend is coming from newer artists like Jack White, the Artic Monkeys and Beck, each of who are releasing their music on the vinyl format in addition to CDs and online. We've always known that the quality of vinyl records far surpasses the CD and online MP3s. When you listen to digital music you just can't hear the warmth and all instrumentation nuances when you've cut out part of the audio spectrum in order to get it down to less "bits".

Buying your music on vinyl also gives you much larger artwork (remember album covers) that you can admire for years to come. Inside the album or on the back cover you'll also find a myriad of information about the artists, songwriters, producers and anyone else involved in making the record. So if you don't mind the occasionally scratched record or having to pick up the needle and put it back on the song you want, then vinyl record sales may continue to increase at least for a little while.

For some background info on this phenomena I recommend this article at (Quartz) entitled Quartz: The Music Industrys New Fangled Growth Business - Vinyl Records. In addition to some interesting details it also offers some great statistics on what's going on. I also managed to come across two very good short documentaries on YouTubeon why vinyl records are making a comeback. If you remember albums and want to reminisce or if you've heard about records and want to learn more I highly recommend you check these both out:

That's all she wrote for today folks - I'll be back tomorrow for Sunday hits, where we talk about some of our favorite songs on the radio (and online) today. Until then have yourself a grrreat Saturday nite!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #12 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Friday, July 11, 2014

Calling all Music Teachers - New and Experienced!

Are you a music teacher? Are you studying to be a music teacher? Do you know someone who is a music teacher or is studying to be one? Now we've got more hands up :) As we all know, the teaching profession in general has been hit very hard over the last few years with too many new graduating candidates and not nearly enough positions open (I've heard the ratio of applications per job opening is 200-300 to 1 in some instances). If you are a music teacher, I think the odds may even be more difficult when trying to land your first traditional teaching job. If that's the case you'll want to prepare early while going to school if you can to help better your chances of getting that first job. And then if you don't land that first traditional teaching job, being prepared will help you create your own job in the field that you love. That's right create your own job. Sometimes you do what you gotta do :)

I found this article today with called - 7 Things Music Education Majors can do to Make themselves more employable . Written by Dr. Deborah Sheldon, Music Education chair at Temple University Boyer College of Music and Dance, it does a really good job of laying out a framework of things to consider as you move from your first years of college as a music major to your graduation. Some of the tips may seem obvious ("Be a great musician"), but you would be surprised at how many musicians aren't really at the level that will get kids and their parents to really notice. Another tip is "learn how to improvise". I can tell you first hand that I've met a lot of musicians over the years who can't play unless that have a piece of music in front of them. Not being able to improvise or play by ear will definitely limit your opportunities both in teaching and in the performing world. 5 more tips follow and perhaps the most important beyond thes efirst two is "learn to be entrepreneurial". That is learn to treat what your doing as a business (anybody ever hear of the music business?). Just like other trades, the better you are at handling the business aspects and the more creative you are at making your own opportunities, the more successful you will be hands down.

Perhaps the best part about this particular article is the comments and feedback left by readers mostly made up of other music educators. The breadth and depth of their experiences really help them to offer a multitude of pros and cons about their career and different scenarios of how to make it as a music teacher. If you teach music or you're going to school to teach music or you're just thinking about it, I encouragte you to read the article and comments right here - - 7 Things Music Education Majors can do to Make themselves more employable .

We'll definitely be exploring the subject of teaching music and careers in music much more as we expand our mission. If we're gonna get more kids and adults playing music we're absolutely gonna need more music teachers.

That's all for this week kiddies - have a great weekend and stop back tomorrow for the weekend edition of the Love Songs Blog - Part 1 :)

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #11 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to have a Songversation with your Child

Music teacher, author and New York native Kia Portafekas has written a book about how to really connect children with music. Entitled "Making Music With Your Child", the book delves into non-traditional ways of sharing the gift of music with children. Now living in sunny California, Kia makes a really good point, saying that while regular music lessons are great, often times children start to pull away from music after a little while. To them, it can easily start seeming like just another school class with homework that they have to do. I myself have heard from countless adults over the years who were "forced" to take music lessons as a child, eventually rebelled away from it and later in life wished they hadn't. But as a child it was their natural reaction to something they weren't doing of their own choosing.

One of the techniques Kia talks about is having songversations with your child. In her words:

"Express your love for music by having a "songversation." Sing everything you want to say! You can try this with words, first, and then have a "songversation" using no words, only sounds"

Kia also says to talk to your children about the kinds of music they like and ask them what images they see when listening to it. I'd also say to ask them how different pieces of music make them feel. A primary purpose of music is to help others feel what you were feeling when you wrote the song or piece. Take a moment yourself to really listen to a few songs on the radio or YouTube and think about how each song makes you feel. If the songs really resonates with you and makes you feel something, then the songwriter, artist and producer have really accomplished their mission.

I came across Kia and her book in an article published by the Johns Hopkins School of Education - Making Music With Your Child . If you'd like to learn more about how to share the gift of music with your children or other children you teach definitely check it out. Then once you're done you should hop over to Kia's website at where you can learn more about her and purchase her book Making Music With Your Child

Can't believe its Thursday and the week is almost over - Well don't fret we'll be back again tomorrow with another fun musical nugget for you!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #10 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Michael Buble sings special YouTube tribute for young fan with Autism

For today's good news story, we travel to the land of Canada and into the musical world of Michael Buble. Turns out 6 year old Griffin from Calgary is a big Michael Buble fan and has often listened to his music and watched his videos, many times as part of his treatment. Music can be a powerful force in getting youngsters with Autism to open up.

Griffin's parents really wanted to take him to the recent Buble concert in Calgary, but like many autistic children, he does not fare well with large crowds. So instead they sent a message to Michael's reps explaining how big a fan their son was of his music. Knowing that Michael must get numerous letters like this they really didn't expect to get a response. They were however thrilled when a package came with a CD and autographed poster. Little did they know the biggest surprise was yet to come. A short time later Michael posted a one minute YouTube video where he sings an adorably cute melody and lyric directly to his young fan.

Here's the video of Michael singing the little "Griffin" ditty:

Original credit for turning me on to this heart-warming story was the Calgary Sun with this article Calgary Sun: Nice Guy That Buble - Crafts Musical Message for Autistic Fan . If you read through the article you'll see how Griffin responded when he realized Michael was singing directly to him.

Michael Buble first made a name for himself singing covers of standards and other popular songs from years gone by. Since then he has also hit the current pop charts with some pretty awesome tunes. My two favorites would have to be the beautiful ballad "Home" from 2005 making it up #72 on the Pop chart and much higher on the Adult Contemporary chart. That was followed up four years later with the smash hit "Haven't Met You Yet" which is a great great upbeat pop song. If you play this a few times you will not get it out of your head I promise. We'll start you off with "Home":

And then here's a great live performance of "Just Haven't Met You Yet" recorded as part of the 96.5 TIC.FM Acoustic Café in Connecticut.

We'll keep coming at you with new stories every day so please stop back - Stories that will make you feel good about music and how much it does for all of us. Have a great nite and see you soooooooon!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #9 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Taylor Swift proclaims the Music Industry is alive and well??

An op-ed opinion article written by Taylor Swift and published by the Wall Street Journal this week proclaims that the music industry is in fact not dying. Instead she believes that the business of selling music is actually thriving, which pretty much goes against what has become common knowledge to the rest of the planet. Now I'm not saying Taylor Swift is completely wrong here, but I'm betting she's a much better songwriter and artist then she is a predictor of our musical future.

One of the main points of the article is that she believes music has value, and that artists should recognize that value and "ask" for it in the marketplace instead of giving (or almost giving) the music away. Unfortunatly this is like expecting something to be a certain way just because you want it to be. I'm a firm believer of positive affirmation but it will only get you so far in the real world. The reality is and always has been that the marketplace, the consumers (ie. you and I) will always be the deciding factor as to how goods are purchased and consumed. People want convenience and cheap so they have already voted wholeheartedly that music streaming is what they want.

Now Ms. Swift makes many valid points in her article, one where she talks about how artists need to be more inventive both when recording and creating live shows in order to hold the attention of their audience. She also makes the comment that she is almost never ever asked for an autograph any more. Can you imagine meeting Taylor Swift and not asking for an autograph?? Well since the "selfie" picture has taken over consumers have jumped to this as their preferred way of remembering their personal encounter with an artist. Besides, who wants a scribbled signature when you can have an everlasting image of you with the star :)

Despite not agreeing with some of her points, her article is definitely an interesting read and I'd recommend you check it out here: Wall Street Journal: Taylor Swift and the Future of Music.

What actually caught my eye first was this very good response to Taylor's Op-Ed piece by Nilay Patel at VOX: Taylor Swift doesn't understand supply and demand . He makes some excellent points and backs up with data that really drives the points home.

One of Taylor's early hits and one of my favorites "You Belong To Me" in 2009. Listening back to again now and I still think its a great pop song which will always win me over as a fan. Note this video has been viewed over 321 million times since its release - pretty amazing for a 3 minute pop song.

That's all for today kiddies - be back tomorrow with some more musical nuggets for you!

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #8 - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Monday, July 7, 2014

Opening up Music Making to People with Learning Disabilities

Music technology is usually created for the mass markets and rarely caters to the multitude of smaller markets. There is however, an organization based out of the UK called Make Your Sound Lab that is helping people with learning disabilities express themselves musically and collaborate with other musicians using available technologies. I thought this was a fascinating concept so I had to dig a little deeper to see what they were doing.

Make Your Sound Lab began in 2013 as a smaller project initially using Ipad apps to see what might be possible and has since expanded into using things like the Microsoft Kinnect, and the Leap Motion controller. The idea of course is to find different ways of creating music through hand motions, finger gestures and other non-traditional means. The organization is really just at the beginning stages of learning how to run "experiments" with different user groups including people with and without learning disabilities. Two different experiments were run this year starting with a smaller group and then following up with a larger session group. If you have a friend or family member with a learning disability, or maybe you're just a curious musician, I encourage you to check this out.

The article that first turned me onto this was Created Digital Music: New Laboratory Opens Music Making to People with Learning Disabilities . This will give you a good background on some of the work they are doing. After that you may want to check out the "Make Your Sound Lab" website found at

One product currently available that utilizes the Leap Motion controller to make music "out of thin air" as they say is GECO. This is pretty neat to watch check out one of their demonstration videos and if you like that hop on over to their website at GECO - Music out of Thin Air/

That's all for today news - pretty neat stuff and we'll definitely be looking at this closer in the future. Have a great nite and stop back tomorrow to see we discover next!

Music, Love & Laughter

~Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #7 - Whewww we made it blogging 7 days straight - Definitely more fun and educational than I thought it would be with much more to come - Please visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Musical Therapy is One of the Worlds Oldest Professions

While many of us think of musical therapy as a recent development, the truth is that society has been music to help heal others for thousands of years. It is reported that as early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates played music for mental patients. In the thirteenth century, Arab hospitals contained music rooms for the benefit of the patients. In the United States, Native American medicine men often employed chants and dances as a method of healing patients. Musical therapy as we know it in the modern world began when musicians began to visit injured soldiers in hospitals to help them in the healing process both physically and emotionally.

Music therapy today is an established health care profession and the practitioners (ie. musicians) must be certified in order to best serve their patients. This article from Vanderbilt Children's Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee provides some insight into the profession and the different types of musical therapy that are utilized.

I also came across a very interesting piece about a 67 year old Ormond Beach, Florida man who walked away from music for 40 years then came back to it in his sixties and became a certified Music Therapist. After seeing how his Dad responded to music being played for him while I hospice, he felt drawn back to the piano and now helps patients of all ages in various stages of their recovery. For more on this please read: Hospital Music Man Back on the Piano after 40 years

Right now we're only scratching the surface on what music therapy is all about. As we at dive deeper into our mission we'll be bringing more news about how musical therapy is changing people's lives, both the patients and the musicians, one story at a time. Look for us to devote at least one post per week to this important topic and for us to be sharing new research and experiences from all over the world.

Nico & Vinz - "Am I Wrong" proves it ain't wrong to go your own way

Once or twice a week we like to feature a new song that really gets our attention. Nico & Vinz is a Norwegian musical duo out of Oslo and have taken American pop radio by storm with their song "Am I Wrong". After having some success in Norway, Sweden and Denmark they signed with Warner Brothers music and crossed over the Atlantic. The duo originally went by the name Envy, however this was changed over to "Nico & Vinz" when being launched in America due to trademark concerns (apparently there are some musical Envy's stateside :). "Am I Wrong" first hit US radio in April 2014 and quickly rocketed up to #4 on the Billboard chart and cracked the ITunes Top 10 as well. This uptempo pop gem with some very creative melodies is matched by equally refreshing lyrics:

I ain't trying to do what everybody else doing, just cause every doing what they all doin' ..

Basically says what we all should be doing - don't follow the crowd instead make your own way - then they hit you with this chorus to drive home their message:

"So am I wrong?
For thinking that we could be something for real?
Now am I wrong?
For trying to reach the things that I can't see?
But that's just how I feel,
That's just how I feel
That's just how I feel
Trying to reach the things that I can't see"

That's all for today, the end of our July 4th holiday weekend. We'll be back tomorrow with another post about how music is changing our world.

Music, Love & Laughter

~Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #6 – Visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Precious Memories - 4 Golden Couples share their song and story

This morning I happened upon a beautifully touching video created by CDZA Music, a company that creates musical video experiments. CDZA actually stands for Collective Cadenza and was formed in New York City in 2012 and features over 150 talented musicians who together create and launch a new YouTube music video every other week.

The first video that brought them to my attention featured 4 Golden Couples and having them dance to their wedding songs from long ago (in most cases long ago, please read on). 3 of the couples have been married/together for over 50 years including Mike and Frances who were married in 1942 and first danced to "I'm Glad There Was You" by Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Mertz and first published in 1941. Another couple celebrating are in their 80's and both widowed - they were looking for someone to share the rest of their golden years together and found each other on . One very special couple had been together for 57 years but were only able to be officially married recently when the Gay marriage bans began to be overturned. I absolutely urge you to listen and watch these 4 couples as they dance to their special song and talk about how they met and what there lives were like together. I honestly got chills several times while watching as there stories and songs really touched me.

I have a feeling we'll be talking a lot more about CDZA Music in the future. I've only begun to scratch the surface for all the fun, entertaining and touching musical videos they have created. Some of the titles that have caught my eye include "Fresh Prince: Google Translation", "History of Wooing Men (and Woman)", "The Human Jukebox" and "History of Misheard Lyrics" - Many of these videos have already received 2-3 million views so there is definitely something happening here at the CDZA YouTube Channel

I hope everyone in the USA had a safe, fun and entertaining 4th of July - for our British friends across the pond we're hoping that after almost two and a half centuries there are no hard feelings :)

Music, Love & Laughter,

~Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #5 – Visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Friday, July 4, 2014

Musical Freedom on Independence Day???

Since paid music downloads first came on the scene with ITunes in 2003, the sales of these downloads has increased every year helping to offset the decline in physical CD sales. Last year in 2013, marked the first year that paid download sales decreased and by a full six percent. Fast forward to this year 2014 and already paid downloads have decreased another 15 percent from January to June from last years first half. Its clear to see this trend is beginning to rapidly accelerate.

The decline in CD sales and paid MP3 downloads has begun to be somewhat replaced by the multitude of music streaming services now available, with everything from YouTube, Pandora, Spotify and of course Beats the recent Apple acquisition. Studies have been done analyzing the income that artists and songwriters receive from these streaming services and it certainly appears they don't make up for what is being lost. While this downward trend in revenue for artists and songwriters may be temporary, when you combine it with the fact that music and arts programs continue to be cut from schools it is a troubling trend.

We're on a new music at to raise the awareness of just how important music is to all of us. For more information please click on "Keep Music Alive" at and check out this New York Times Article that tells the story in detail:

NY Times: Sharp Rise in Music Streaming while CD and Download Sales Plummet

MAGIC! seeks freedom from oppressive Dad :

Four lads from Toronto Canada recently hit #2 on the USA Billboard chart with a fun reggae-beat song entitled "Rude". This little pop-ditty tells the story of a young man who wants to marry this mans daughter, but apparently his musician-persona isn't good enough. Instead he has his sights set on his daughter marrying someone who on the surface appears to be more educated and refined (ouch, I'm a musician too :)). Great great pop hook and love the verse melodies and story too - One of the best songs on the radio right now and a cute video too:

"Why you gotta be so rudeeee...
Don't you know I'm human too
Why you gotta be so rude....
I'm gonna marry her anyway

Check out the video, I swear that the guy the Dad wants his daughter to marry is actually the bass player in the band - What's he got against singers anyway haaa

Music, Love & Laughter,

~Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #4 - Visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What happens when 350 Musicians meet for the very first time?

Even better: What happens when 350 Musicians meet for the first time and play a new song that's just been written? That's exactly what happened last month as part of Make Music New York.

Held every year on the Summer Solstice June 21st, The Make Music New York event was held this year for the 8th time and National Public Radio (NPR) has a really cool twist to it. This year and two years ago they commissioned a new musical piece to be written and invited any musician brave enough to learn the piece and try it out in public together with hundreds of musicians for the first time together to come and join in. Come and join in they did, over 350 strong. Marching bands, student musicians, Brazilian and African ensembles and even drum lines from professional sports teams. There were even a few violin players in the crowd who after hearing this majestic piece may have struggled to hear their instrument.

Here's the preview video of "100+ BPM" posted right after the event:

To get the full effect and learn more about the composer and volunteers you need to visit the NPR page here AND also see and hear the complete song & video of all the different participants. Its just amazing how strong, triumphant and crisp the performance is considering these guys and gals have never all performed together and its a NEW song - Simply amazing - Please check it out here: "100+ BPM - Full song & video by Field Recordings @"

Make Music History

The Make Music yearly events in America are based on France’s “Fête de la Musique”, a national musical holiday inaugurated in 1982. Ever since, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in more than 726 cities in 108 countries, including Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Australia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

In North America, June 21st celebrations now include Make Music Chicago, Make Music Denver, Make Music Los Angeles, Make Music Madison (WI), Make Music New York, Make Music Philly, Make Music Portland (ME), and Make Music Vancouver.

Music, Love & Laughter,

~Vincent James @
p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #2 - Visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Creating a Children's Musical Paradise out of Trash

You may already be familiar with this story but I just heard about it last week. It was discovered in 2010 that there was a very poor community in Paraguay that has its own childrens orchestra. That's not even the most amazing part. ALL of the instruments being used in the Orchestra are being made out of recycled materials: TRASH, GARBAGE as in all the stuff you and I throw away. Apparently this little town in Paraguay mostly exists because it has been chosen as the landfill location for all the surrounding areas. So trucks and trucks of trash come in every week and many residents and children earn there poverty level wages by walking through the huge mounds and picking through the trash. Along the way someone got the beautiful idea of creating musical instruments out of these materials AND then to start teaching the children of the community how to play them. Trust me when I tell you that you will not believe the sound of this orchestra when you see and hear them.


Originally dubbed "The Recycled Orchestra", this amazing band of musicians plays violins, violas, cellos, basses, percussion, clarinets, flutes, almost every instrument imaginable in an orchestra (I'm looking for the brass instruments now, I'm sure they are there). I just can't believe how good this children's orchestra sounds and to think they are making this beautiful music with what was once someone else's trash is just incredible. The very best part of this is how learning and playing music has made these children so much happier, more relaxed and more self-confident in their lives. They will be forever changed because of what music has given to them.

A documentary entitled "Landfill Harmonic" is currently being filmed and the story has been featured on many major news outlet including CNN, CBS, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, New York Magazine, Oprah Magazine and NPR. The children and their instruments have also begun to take trips to other countries where they perform and are very well received. Here is the news story by CBS that first brought this amazing phenomenon to my attention: CBS News: The-Recyclers-From-Trash-Triumph There was also a Kickstarter campaign that ended about a year ago that helped raise funds for finishing the documentary. This page has a lot of very useful and interesting information about the orchestra and the people that originally and continue to make it possible: Landfill Harmonic Kickstarter - Campaign has ended but excellent info on the project And here is a link to their documentary which hopefully we'll be coming out soon: Landfill Harmonic The Movie

Lastly here's a YouTube clip showing the orchestra and a little more background information:

So lets ask ourselves: If children from one of the poorest area's of the world can create beautiful music out of nothing more than other people's trash, then we all can do incredibly amazing things using nothing more than the power of music.

Please share your comments and feedback below - Would love to know your thoughts on this wonderful story.

Music, Love & Laughter,

~Vincent James @

p.s. KEEP MUSIC ALIVE Day #2 - Visit our first post from Tuesday July 1st for more information about our mission

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our MISSION- Lets "Keep MUSIC Alive!"

Well music's not exactly dead or on its last legs, but I am very concerned about the current state of music in our society. Year after year we see more and more school systems cutting Music and Arts programs for our kids. Adding to that, the general public (that's you and me) are no longer buying CDs or even MP3 downloads. CD sales have been declining for years and last year for the first time the number of paid MP3 downloads declined from the previous year (yes ITunes was getting nervous which explains the Beats acquisition).

I know there are certainly reasons behind these trends. The recent recession hit states and school systems very hard and tough choices have to be made. However, I don't think the decision makers realize just how important the music and arts programs are AND how much they contribute to the success of their students in their traditional subjects including Math, Science, English and History. As for CD and MP3 download sales, that fate was sealed when kids discovered they could play any song they wanted over and over (and over and over) again on YouTube. I mean I love Katy Perry's hit songs but I don't really need to hear the same Katy Perry song 30x in a row (I'm thinking of my daughters as I type this :)). Add to this the multitude of music streaming services now available Pandora, Spotify and Beats to name a few), and it pretty much assures the sales of prerecorded music has been forever changed. Although artists and writers are compensated for these streaming plays, the rate at which they are paid is not anywhere near what they used to be able to earn with actual sales.

The reason for my concern is that I believe these trends will ultimately lead to less and less kids taking up music and reaping the multitude of benefits that playing an instrument brings, especially when doing it as part of a group, band or ensemble. Less kids playing music will lead to less adults playing music and eventually lead to the decline of quality new music being available for everyone's benefit.

Beginning today, we at are making it our mission to get at least 10 Million More Kids AND Adults playing Music. Why adults too you may ask? Because adults also receive many benefits when playing music and every adult that plays music will help inspire children around them to play music as well. Music is the gift that absolutely keeps on giving. How are we going to COUNT how many new adults and kids start playing music because of us - Don't worry I've got our expert statistician working on an equation to help us figure it out :) Seriously though, according to the US Census about 8% of US adults play a musical instrument . This adds up to about 18 Million adults out of 230 Million adults in the US. Our goal is to make certain we don't lose any ground on this as less kids potentially start playing music.

To start us off, I'd like to share with you the "Legends of Liverpool"and their own "Help Keep Music Alive" cause they are helping with. Hand picked by the late George Harrison's sister Louise, these 4 lads are one of the finest tributes to a band that will forever live in our musical memories. Please listen and enjoy and I'll be back again tomorrow with a new post!

Music, Love & Laughter,

~Vincent James @

p.s. I invite you to stop back daily as I began to share stories of music empowerment and inspiration from all over the world.