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Musical Resources
Gregory Walker Guest Conductor works with our Chamber Orchestra

Since his 2009 Philadelphia Orchestra debut, praised by the American Record Guide as a performance of “precision and rapturous immediacy,” Gregory Walker has gained international recognition for his "beautifully calibrated phrasing," “ravishingly beautiful” tone, and the “sheer virtuoso force”of his delivery. While developing unique collaborations with the Poland's SinfoniaVarsovia, Filharmonia Sudecka and the Encuentro Musical de los Americas in Havana, Cuba, as well as the Detroit Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Breckenridge Festival Orchestra, the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra, Ft. Collins Symphony, Yaquina Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and the Bavarian Youth Orchestra in Germany, he has been engaged at Norway's Tromsø Cathedral Series, the Gateways Music Festival in Rochester, New York, the Centro Mexicano para la Musica y las Artes Sonoras, Cork Orchestral Society Concert Series in Ireland, and at the U.S. Library of Congress.


Profiled in the internationally-distributed 2012 Chuck Fryberger documentary, Song of the Untouchable, Walker's discography includes critically-acclaimed releases from the Newport Classic, CRI, Orion, Centaur, and Leonarda record labels. He has performed with pop star Lyle Lovett and, as past concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, appeared with Mstislav Rostropovich and Itzhak Perlman, as well as Doc Severinsen and the Marcus Roberts Trio. Walker has been featured on National Public Radio, in Strings magazine, and on the cover of the April 2007 International Musician. He can be heard on Albany Records' 2014 recording of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Walker’s Violin Sonata No. 2.

A Musical Fix for American Schools

Research shows that music training boosts IQ, focus and persistence
Instruction in music literally expanded students’ brains. ENLARGE
Instruction in music literally expanded students’ brains. DENVER POST/GETTY IMAGES
By JOANNE LIPMAN
Oct. 10, 2014 11:24 a.m. ET
75 COMMENTS
American education is in perpetual crisis. Our students are falling ever farther behind their peers in the rest of the world. Learning disabilities have reached epidemic proportions, affecting as many as one in five of our children. Illiteracy costs American businesses $80 billion a year.

Many solutions have been tried, but few have succeeded. So I propose a different approach: music training. A growing body of evidence suggests that music could trump many of the much more expensive “fixes” that we have thrown at the education system.

Plenty of outstanding achievers have attributed at least some of their success to music study. Stanford University’s Thomas Sudhof, who won the Nobel Prize in medicine last year, gave credit to his bassoon teacher. Albert Einstein, who began playing the violin at age 6, said his discovery of the theory of relativity was “the result of musical perception.”

Until recently, though, it has been a chicken-and-egg question: Are smart, ambitious people naturally attracted to music? Or does music make them smart and ambitious? And do musically trained students fare better academically because they tend to come from more affluent, better educated families?

New research provides some intriguing answers. Music is no cure-all, nor is it likely to turn your child into a Nobel Prize winner. But there is compelling evidence that it can boost children’s academic performance and help fix some of our schools’ most intractable problems.

Grammy Award-winning composer and violinist Mark O'Connor discusses the importance of teaching classical music to children on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero. Photo: YouTube/Mark O'Connor
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Music raises your IQ.

E. Glenn Schellenberg, a University of Toronto psychology professor, was skeptical about claims that music makes you smarter when he devised a 2004 study to assess its impact on IQ scores. He randomly assigned 132 first-graders to keyboard, singing or drama lessons, or no lessons at all. He figured that at the end of the school year, both music and drama students would show bumps in IQ scores, just because of “that experience of getting them out of the house.” But something unexpected happened. The IQ scores of the music students increased more than those of the other groups.

Another Canadian study, this one of 48 preschoolers and published in 2011, found that verbal IQ increased after only 20 days of music training. In fact, the increase was five times that of a control group of preschoolers, who were given visual art lessons, says lead researcher Sylvain Moreno, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He found that music training enhanced the children’s “executive function”—that is, their brains’ ability to plan, organize, strategize and solve problems. And he found the effect in 90% of the children, an unusually high rate.

Music training can reduce the academic gap between rich and poor districts.

The Harmony Project in Los Angeles gives free instrument lessons to children in impoverished neighborhoods. Margaret Martin, who founded the program in 2001, noticed that the program’s students not only did better in school but also were more likely to graduate and to attend college.

To understand why, Northwestern University neurobiologist Nina Kraus spent two years tracking 44 6-to-9-year-olds in the program and then measured their brain activity. She found a significant increase in the music students’ ability to process sounds, which is key to language, reading and focus in the classroom. Academic results bore that out: While the music students’ reading scores held steady, scores for a control group that didn’t receive lessons declined.

Prof. Kraus found similar results in a 2013 study published in Frontiers in Educational Psychology of 43 high-school students from impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago. Students randomly assigned to band or choir lessons showed significant increases in their ability to process sounds, while those in a control group, who were enrolled in a junior ROTC program, didn’t. “A musician has to make sense of a complicated soundscape,” Prof. Kraus says, which translates into an ability to understand language and to focus, for example, on what a teacher is saying in a noisy classroom.

Music training does more than sports, theater or dance to improve key academic skills.

Last year, the German Institute for Economic Research compared music training with sports, theater and dance in a study of 17-year-olds. The research, based on a survey of more than 3,000 teens, found that those who had taken music lessons outside school scored significantly higher in terms of cognitive skills, had better grades and were more conscientious and ambitious than their peers. The impact of music was more than twice that of the other activities—and held true regardless of the students’ socioeconomic background.

To be sure, the other activities also had benefits. Kids in sports also showed increased ambition, while those in theater and dance expressed more optimism. But when it came to core academic skills, the study’s authors found, the impact of music training was much stronger.

Music can be an inexpensive early screening tool for reading disabilities.

Brazilian music teacher Paulo Estevao Andrade noticed that his second-grade students who struggled with rhythm and pitch often went on to have reading problems. So he invented a “game” in which he played a series of chords on a guitar and asked his students to write symbols representing high and low notes. Those who performed poorly on the exercise, he found, typically developed severe reading problems down the line.

Intrigued, he joined with Nadine Gaab, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, to follow 43 students over three years, and they found that the test predicted general learning disabilities as well. Why? Mr. Andrade notes that the brain processes used in the music test—such as auditory sequencing abilities, necessary to hear syllables, words and sentences in order—are the same as those needed to learn to read. Prof. Gaab says the test, which is simple and inexpensive to administer, has great potential as a tool for early intervention.

Music literally expands your brain.

In a 2009 study in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers used an MRI to study the brains of 31 6-year-old children, before and after they took lessons on musical instrument for 15 months. They found that the music students’ brains grew larger in the areas that control fine motor skills and hearing—and that students’ abilities in both those areas also improved. The corpus callosum, which connects the left and right sides of the brain, grew as well.

Ellen Winner, a Boston College psychology professor and co-author of the study, notes that the study doesn’t show a rise in cognitive abilities. But she argues that music shouldn’t have to justify itself as an academic booster. “If we are going to look for effects outside of music, I would look at things like persistence and discipline, because this is what’s required to play an instrument,” she says.

Yet music programs continue to be viewed as expendable. A 2011 analysis in the Journal of Economic Finance calculated that a K-12 school music program in a large suburban district cost $187 per student a year, or just 1.6% of the total education budget. That seems a reasonable price to pay for fixing some of the thorniest and most expensive problems facing American education. Music programs shouldn’t have to sing for their supper.

7 Year Old Sanford Girls Plays Violin to Stop Violence

SANFORD, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - At the young age of 7 years old, Leah Flynn is a disciplined violinist.

"I like practice because it makes me get better and better and better each day," said Flynn.

 

The Sanford 2nd grader has performed as a soloist at numerous concerts and venues. She started playing at just 5 years old, and ever since she's been taking lessons and practicing daily with her father.

 

"I'm extremely proud and I tell her it's a God given talent that God gave her and she should use her talent wisely," said Paula Flynn, Leah's mother

 

And that exactly what Leah wants to do, her mom says when she saw the unrest and rioting in Ferguson, MO in the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, she wanted to do something.

 

"She said to me 'mom what's going on?' and I explained to her because I have to, I told her what's going on and she said 'but it's not right these people look so sad maybe I could do something for them,'" Flynn said.

 

So, her father taught her the song "Let there be peace."

 

"There's a lot of scariness there and violence and fighting so I really just want them to have peaceful and happiness," said Leah.

 

Now Leah hopes to be able to travel to Ferguson to play her song of peace to the community.

 

"In her eyes she believes that she can create some sort of change in the atmosphere down there," Flynn said.

 

 

You can view some of Leah Flynn's videos on her YouTube channel

Announcing our new Guitar Teacher - AMAZING!!! Open House 11/17 6-6:30

Pete Pigeon - Guitar Songwriting Didgeridoo

Pete recently moved here from the East coast where he taught private lessons for 19 years.  He has developed a customized approach to help each student achieve their potential.  Pete excels at developing an accessible personable report and adapts his curriculum to suit each student’s independent needs and desires.  He has extreme patience and a good-humored nature.  This has yielded powerful results with students from age 5 to adult.  His personal endeavors include spiritual growth and travel.  He holds a degree in Jazz Guitar from the State University of New York.  He is versatile in Jazz, Funk, Rock, Hip Hop, Alternative Country, Groove, Fusion, Experimental, Acoustic, World Music and more.

We will have an open house at the Lakewood location on Monday 11/17 from 6-6:30.  You can meet Pete, hear him play, and learn about his teaching style.  Refreshments will be served.

Pete has shared the stage with some of the best musicians across the country from Oregon to New York City.  He has been a working musicians since before he was old enough to drive to his own gigs.  He worked in the bands as guitars and singer.  He has had press describe him as:  plays guitar like a roadhouse Pat Metheny and has the easy touch of George Benson...has a knack for digging into the soul of a song...and more...  He was nominated for a Grammy for his music in 2012...  

 

Here's a Vimeo video of a Grammy interview:  http://vimeo.com/68186101

Should Your Beginning School Band Student Take Private Lessons?

The quick answer is YES! Private instruction is when a student is able to work one-on-one with a professional musician, the private teacher is able to work more in depth with the student on their instrument. Students will get help with developing a more professional tone on the instrument, fundamentals of playing their instrument correctly with better technique and help with a set of goals that will help your student excel on their instrument. Of course, the student must do their part and practice the lessons and assignments that the private teacher assigns to the student. Over the years, we know that when a student studies privately, they will improve as a musician. We have never witnessed a student become a worse musician when studying privately. What could be easier to help your student improve on their instrument by taking lessons?

Arvada Center Picks the Colorado Chamber Orchestra to be the Orchestra in Residence - First Concert This Weekend

Many of you know the thoughtful and fascinating programming at the Arvada Center.  After careful deliberation, they've picked the Colorado Chamber Orchestra to be their orchestra in residence!   Their first concert there is this Saturday and Sunday.  

 

Golden Music Chamber Orchestra First Week... A Resounding Success!!!

 

Our first meeting...  anticipating...  not sure which room, which door...  It all came together in a great way!  We have a YouTube video that sounds pretty good for a first rehearsal and lots of smiles.  We have an orchestra room set-up now on the second floor of the new building.  You come into the North door and go up the back stairs.

We played for about an hour and a half, tried out many selections. We had a lot of fun.  Word is that ten students from Mountain Phoenix will be joining us next Monday!

 

We welcome all who are interested.  You can just show up or give us an email or call at 303-888-6690.

 

5 Intrinsic Perks of Music

From Psychology Today online

There is mounting evidence that music training benefits skills and areas that are non-musical in nature. Musicians tend to score higher on verbal and math tests. There are differences in the motor and sensory processing areas of a musician's brain. Musicians also have greater aural acuity, meaning they can more accurately process pitch. Plus the earlier you start in your music training, the greater the benefits.

Intuitively none of this is surprising given the overlapping skills involved in certain musical and non-musical tasks (e.g. you use your fine motor skills when learning the piano and when typing on a computer), and the concept of use-dependent development. This concept refers to the role experiences have in helping to sculpt the developing brain. The areas and networks that activated more frequently (i.e., those that are used more often) are larger and more robust than those not activated as frequently.

These, though, are the extrinsic benefits of being an active learner of music. Extrinsic referring to, of course, those non-musical perks of being a musician. And although there is value to the extrinsic benefits—including some important enrichment-based opportunities for children with access to fewer resources—it begs the question…what about the intrinsic benefits?

The intrinsic benefits are a little harder to define (at least for this musician). But they are there. These are the benefits that are more self-gratifying. They are generally emotionally- or psychologically-based. And although there may be some commonalities among musicians in the intrinsic benefits they feel, it’s generally a more personal, individualized experience. The intrinsic benefits felt by one musician may not be the same as those felt by another.

As for this musician, here are 5 intrinsic benefits I have gained:

#1: Immense Emotional Pleasure

As with most people, listening to music elicits a variety of emotions—happiness, tenderness, sadness, nostalgia. Know what’s better than listening to beautiful music? Playing it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s felt while playing piano alone in my house or from performing in front of a crowd, the happiness—elation even—that follows playing a beautiful piece of music is almost addictive.

#2: An Insta-Social Network

I’ve often felt that being a music major in college helped ease any anxiety I may have felt during this major life change. It didn’t matter that I now lived 1500 miles away from home, being in the marching band gave me an instant social network that began before school even started. And I’ve carried that benefit to multiple schools and internships in multiple states—a connection to a group of people with similar interests and experiences as me.

#3: Laughter

There are times that the music I am listening to causes me to laugh. It’s generally not the words that elicits this reaction, but some a little less tangible—it’s how the composer structured the music or the musical nuance a performer added that causes the chuckle. Better yet, I've found that this happens more frequently the more experienced I become as a musician. I laugh more at—and with—the music.

#4: Challenging Growth

Being a musician makes you work. You work your fine and gross motor skills, you work your analytical skills, you work to be emotional and to connect with an audience. You persist and practice over and over again. You perform and make mistakes, then go back to the practice room. It challenges multiple intellectual and emotional areas, but if you love learning like me—that challenge is priceless.

#5: Gratifying Accomplishment

The other side of the challenge coin is the gratifying feeling you get when you finally make it. When you have a great music therapy session. When you nail a particular piece of music. That feeling may not last long—you may be back at that practice room the next morning—but it’s yours to carry and hold.

 

 

Why Teaching Music Matters - The Harmony Project Los Angeles

NPR's Cory Turner writes:

I went to Los Angeles to report a story on brain science. A new study had just been released, exploring how music instruction helps kids process language. The children the researchers studied were all participants in a community music program run by the nonprofit Harmony Project.

But after an hour talking with passionate staffers at the group's office in Hollywood — and then recording an hour of music lessons there — I knew I had a compelling second story, that of Harmony Project and the woman who created it.

“You teach music because the lessons that you learn serve you in your life and make you live a better, more functional life the same way the lessons you learn in math help you live a better, more functional life."

The group provides instruments (trombones, trumpets, oboes, flutes, strings, drums, you name it) and free lessons to kids in many of LA's toughest neighborhoods. It also sends teachers into the schools for onsite after-school lessons twice a week. Throw in a rehearsal each Saturday, and you have a program that gives much and asks much in return — which is one reason its students keep signing up.

And then there's Margaret Martin, who founded Harmony Project in 2001 after a tumultuous early life. At 17, she gave birth to her first child; she later spent a year homeless on the streets of Los Angeles while parenting two kids. A survivor of domestic violence, Martin eventually earned a doctorate in public health from UCLA.

Here are selected excerpts from our conversation, on the beginnings of Harmony Project and why it matters.

Why did you found Harmony Project?

I was inspired. A group of hardcore Los Angeles gang members walked through a farmers market on a Sunday morning: teardrop tattoos, oversized clothing, attitude. They stopped to listen to a little kid playing Brahms on a tiny violin. After five or six minutes without saying a word to one another, I watched those gang members pull out their own money and lay it gently in the child's case. [Turns out that "little kid" was Martin's son Max.]

Amir Pinkney-Jengkens, 8, is learning trombone through Harmony Project, a nonprofit that provides musical instruments and instruction to children in low-income communities. Recent research suggests that such musical education may help improve kids' ability to process speech.  I was at UCLA at the time finishing a doctorate in public health focused on what it takes to make a healthy community, and those gang members taught me that they would rather be doing what that child was doing than what they were doing. But they never had the chance. So I dove into the research literature and discovered that music learning was linked to improvements in language, cognition, music, brain development and behavior.

How would you describe the neighborhoods where Harmony Project is working?

They are the highest crime neighborhoods in Los Angeles. [The city] designate[s] gang-reduction zones for rates of violent gang crime that are at least 400 percent greater than anywhere else in the city. Something you don't always hear about: These are also the neighborhoods with the highest fertility rates, so they have also got the highest number of little kids and really nothing much for the kids to do after school hours. ...

With public schools across the country cutting music instruction to save money, the Harmony Project in Los Angeles is trying to make up the difference.

So I founded Harmony Project to help keep disadvantaged kids safe, in school and out of trouble. It was basically a public health approach. If they were in music classes or rehearsals or practicing their instruments at home, it would reduce their exposure to negative influences in their environment and it would increase their exposure to the positive influences of music teachers and conductors.

One thing we know for sure, and that is that if we want to get serious about closing the achievement gap for disadvantaged kids, we should provide five days a week of music instruction in every Title 1 inner-city school in the country, from K through grade five. If you do that, you could save a whole lot of money on remediation, and you'd save a whole lot more money on juvenile incarceration because ... we don't have behavior problems with our students. They learn how to work together from an early age, and those are lessons that they never lose.

And yet you and I both know that music programs are the first thing on the chopping block in district after district these days.

It's been going on for decades like that. You know, we talk about, "Oh, music programs are getting chopped," but it's been a death by a thousand cuts, because you used to have five-day-a-week programs. Kids could really thrive that way. And then you said, "Well, you know, why don't we just give them one lesson a week?" So then you had the music specialist go around to three or four schools.

When my son was in public elementary school there was a music teacher trying to teach six instruments to 40 kids one hour a week. And kids think that they couldn't learn; what they don't realize is that they were in a program where nobody could learn. It was sort of designed to fail, so it's just not fair.

“We need these things. We need to learn how to be precise, how to listen carefully, how to collaborate closely, how to express ourselves whether we're in the depths of despair or whether we feel joyful.

I was speaking to one curriculum specialist at a school district. She said, "Oh, all of our kids get music. The second-graders get music for eight weeks. The third-graders get music for eight weeks. The fourth-graders get music for eight weeks. The fifth-graders and so forth."

I mean, that would be like saying, "Oh, everyone gets math. The second-graders get math for eight weeks. The third-graders get math for eight weeks. The fourth-graders get math for eight weeks." And, like math, you don't teach music in order to make musicians, and you don't teach math in order to make mathematicians.

You teach music because the lessons that you learn serve you in your life and make you live a better, more functional life the same way the lessons you learn in math help you live a better, more functional life.

I mean, we need these things. We need to learn how to be precise, how to listen carefully, how to collaborate closely, how to express ourselves whether we're in the depths of despair or whether we feel joyful. ...

It's ... music, it's an authentic good. So, for all of those policy wonks out there who think music is just some enrichment tool, I'm sorry. Music is now permanently off the shelf with the warm fuzzies, and it's on the shelf with the rigorous, scientifically proven, evidence-based interventions that close the achievement gap for poor kids.

What do you see among the kids who either seek you out or that Harmony Project finds: Are these overachievers, or are they truly a cross-section of every neighborhood in which you work?

Let me tell you this. So, a dad walks up to me after a recital. And he says, "I didn't know what to do. I was losing my son. He was going with the wrong crowd. And then Harmony Project showed up. For the last three years he's been playing with a Harmony Project orchestra. He's a smiling, responsible kid." Tears filled that dad's eyes, and he said, "Thank you for my son."

Over and over, I'll have a student say, "You know, Harmony Project has really helped me. I have friends that are into a lot of bad stuff, and they say, 'Come with us.' And I say, 'I have to go to rehearsal.' " And then they say, "So it really helps me."

It gives them something else to do, something else that they're about. Something that's about achievement. They set different goals. They actually say, "I'm thinking about possibilities I never would have imagined."

Helping Your Child Choose the Right Instrument

From PBS

Here are some components to consider when helping your child choose the right instrument.

The first thing to consider is your child’s age. If your child is younger than six, make sure you understand the purpose behind playing an instrument at such a young age and acknowledge the physical limitations of a child that young. Piano and violin are the most popular instruments for children under six because they help build a foundation for your child to choose a different instrument at a later age, should they want to do so.

The violin is a smart choice because the instrument can be manufactured in particularly small sizes, making it easier for younger children to handle. Although instruments like the guitar are also available in smaller sizes, the violin is advantageous in its lack of frets or keys, allowing your child to focus solely on the sounds produced. In addition, this helps kids learn to play in tune, and the bowing of the right hand teaches the concept of musical phrasing. Both of these skills are the foundation for playing most other instruments.

Although a child doesn’t control the tune or pitch of the keys on a piano and there is no “bowing” skill necessary, the piano has its own advantages. For example, playing the piano allows musicians to play both the melody and harmony simultaneously, thus teaching important perceptual and musical skills. The piano also provides a visual representation of music that is essential to understanding music theory. In summary, choosing either of these introductory instruments is a wise decision for young children.

 

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