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.
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.
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.
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."Continue reading
So what does it mean, now, for a musician to become ‘famous’? We talked to seven artists about how they measure and experience fame. Turns out social media is a pretty big deal, and that having a big personality is just as important as making great songs.
Meghan Trainor, 20, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart with “All About That Bass”
I have 20,000 followers on Instagram, but that ain’t nothin’ nowadays. [Ed.: Trainor now has almost 100,000 Instagram followers.] So I don’t consider myself famous at all. But I mean, T-Pain called me? I was like, “You know who I am?” So that was a pretty big step up. I got to talk to John Legend too. That makes you feel a little cooler. And all this glam squad team stuff? These cars that pick you up and your name’s on them? Definitely makes you feel like a baller.
I got a fan group now, called Megatrons. Me and my friends were struggling, thinking, like, “Should we call my fans Trainors, or Trainees?” I was like, “That sounds awful?” Then my friend looked at me and said, “Let’s just do Megatrons.” And I was like, “Yeah, badass.” My mom hates it. You know, the other day, she said to me, “I can’t keep up with all the famous people following you on Twitter.”
Tinashe, 21, singer and producer, will release debut album in October
The biggest [mark of success for a musician] is being able to sell out shows, to play venues and have people come to you to see you. Getting a song to top the charts. Maybe winning a Grammy.
For a ‘famous’ person, when they leave their personal space, people recognize them. They can’t go anywhere by themselves. The way people treat you starts to change. People can become fake and less genuine. When you’re a famous musician people are much more fanatical about you. They get really, really invested in you.
Paparazzi don’t stalk me everywhere I go. For the most part, I feel like I can be relatively normal.
Ray J, singer, star of VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood
People think they’re famous because they got a million Twitter followers. People think they’re famous if they have 800,000 Instagram followers. People think they’re famous ‘cause they made it on Bossip or WorldStar — people’s lives change when they’re on WorldStar, for that one day! There’s so many ways to be famous, so I can’t call it. I just know that whatever you’re doing and whatever fame you get — bottle it up and sell it. ‘Cause a lot of people get into the fame but they don’t find a way to put it in a bag and put it on some kind of platform and get some money off of it.
If you can crack the code of television, that’s a good way to get people’s attention. Everybody wants to get on TV — there are billionaires who want to have a television show. But you can’t buy yourself into a TV show. It’s gotta be dope and it’s gotta be authentic. It’s gotta be something people want to gravitate to. If you have a dope product and you’re a talented person, get people’s attention so they want you. Make people want you.
Mary Lambert, 25, singer-songwriter and author, co-wrote Mackelmore’s hit Same Love”
I’m not famous. I’m quasi-famous. At least I don’t think I’m famous. If I’m famous, will someone let me know? I’ve been waiting for a royal scroll from Kim Kardashian or the Scientologists or something. The bottom line is, I am always me. I still lay around naked, eating Cheez-Its while watching The Colbert Report on Hulu which is precisely what I did before “Same Love.”
My perception of fame is mostly media saturation resulting in recognition from strangers. I tend to see those interactions [with strangers] in a myriad of ways: “You are so excited to meet me! That is so cool!” to “Please don’t ask for a photo, this is a funeral,” or “This was so cool until you told me to follow you on Instagram!” I really crave honest connections with people, but sometimes [these meetings] end in me feeling invaded or less like a human and more like a commodity. (Hopefully this doesn’t come across as a complaint, more of an observation; I’m way better off now than when I was sleeping on all my friend’s couches).
We are now in an era where it’s expected of artists to have not only their music be consumed, but their actual personhood. The product of music is not what is solely consumed anymore — you as a person are now a commodity. We’re also in a time when so many different people are getting recognized for things that they do well. There’s also no longer a formula for any of it. So many of the No. 1 songs this summer (“Stay With Me,” “Rude,” “Am I Wrong,” “All About That Bass”) were sung by newcomers who didn’t seem to fit a major label calculation. I think that reflects our culture’s hunger for authenticity.
I can’t really fathom what it’s like to be Harry Styles or Katy Perry. Your entire life is under a microscope. An interaction with you wins the ultimate trophy of bragging rights forever. How many truly genuine conversations can you have with a human being when you are commodified like that?
Fame freaks me out in a lot of ways. It’s a double-edged sword I guess. I feel like there is this thing inside of me — these stories, lessons in healing, answers for trauma, a hunger to dismantle stigma, an invitation for vulnerability, a quest for subversive social justice within pop music — that could potentially reach millions of people. That would make me happy. And I’d love to buy my mom a beach house. It would be so fucking cool if I could have all of these awesome perks without sacrificing beautiful human connection. Maybe I can have it all — I don’t know. Or maybe the next time you talk to me, I’ll be wearing my sunglasses indoors, and writing songs about all five of my Subaru Outbacks. (The life!)
Bobby Shmurda, 20, rapper, signed a deal after his song “Hot N****” went viral on Vine
I didn’t want this. It happened. All the stuff that happened in my life? I didn’t call it, it just happened. But I’m glad I’m in this life. I don’t wanna sleep in a house with crackheads all day for money, going to jail if someone tells on me. I wanna make money and lay on the beach somewhere. And smile up in shows.
I seen Beyonce doing the Shmoney Dance. My mom was going crazy. And they pay me to go to parties now. It’s crazy. I love parties. If I can get paid and go to parties? Why not? I love parties.
Metro Boomin, 21, producer, go-to collaborator for rap stars like Future, Wiz Khalifa, and Migos
I have a lot of hit songs out and I got a lot of shit I’m proud of, but none of it makes me feel like I’m famous. I don’t know what that feels like. Maybe when I got some millions saved up, I’ll at least feel famous to myself. But I’m not famous till I’m walking around in New York, right out here outside of BuzzFeed, and everybody knows who I am like they do in Atlanta.
I think I [promote myself] just as much as I make music. Automatically, people don’t take producers as seriously as artists. So you’ve gotta make your own identity and your own sense of stardom, so everything you do comes off as if you were rapping.
I go a lot of places with Future, and things are different for him. A lot of people always want to take a picture. He’s not rude, he’ll do it sometimes, but sometimes you can’t take a picture. You’ll take one, and then you gotta take a picture with everybody.
Niykee Heaton, 19, YouTube cover song performer turned major label singer
In today’s society, “fame” is something much different than what it used to be. Now, 13-year-old kids punching one another in the face on Vine are considered celebrities. I feel famous sort of, I guess in a way. I feel famous when random teenage girls and boys come up to me in the mall, shaking with tears in their eyes, asking for a photo. But then again, when I consider myself on the larger scale, next to Rihanna and Lady Gaga, I still feel small. I feel like a nobody. I still have a lot to prove, so I guess I would consider myself semi-famous. And I’m fine with that for now.
To most, fame is having a song in the top five on the iTunes charts, being voted Best New Artist at the VMAs, or reaching 10 million followers on Instagram. But I don’t consider that fame, or at least it’s not the kind of fame that I want. Reaching fame for me, is having your 4-year-old nephew singing the words to your song at the same time your grandma is bobbing her head to it on the radio. It’s having fans that look up to me so much that they are willing to tattoo my lyrics on their skin. It’s having my song listed on the top 100 Best Songs of All Time 30 years from now. For me, to be regarded as a “famous musician,” it is imperative that I create real music that makes an impact. Maybe it only affects a single life, or perhaps it sparks a global movement, but as a musician, I feel it is my duty and role to create something bigger than me, not just wear the term “celebrity.”
Embarking on a career in popular music is in many ways like starting a business. You develop a brand, a distinct identity in the marketplace, and try to get people excited about it. What can entrepreneurs learn from musicians about getting a new business off the ground?
The 10-Year Journey to Overnight Success
Any musician you’ve ever heard of has worked countless hours to master his or her instrument and has endured humiliation after humiliation in the form of small and apathetic audiences, discouraging label executives, and dismissive incumbents. It takes hard work, commitment and determination to succeed as a musician.
The same goes for people who want to start a business. Entrepreneurs can get impatient when all they hear about are overnight successes and young self-made billionaires. Overnight success stories make for good headlines. But they are misleading.
In both music and entrepreneurship you need to commit fully and decisively, and then stick it out through the long haul. You have to be willing to make personal sacrifices, and you have to be persistent in your pursuit of excellence.
When I interviewed super-producer Rick Rubin for an article about meditation, I asked him why so many musicians meditate. He told me meditation is good for musicians because it reinforces the lifestyle of consistent practice and discipline. People tend to focus on the inspiration aspects of the arts (and the inspiration aspect of entrepreneurship). What we don’t see is the tedious disciplined practice involved in translating that inspiration into a success in the marketplace.
Persistence means overcoming the deeply personal pain of failures. We all know that you need to fail to learn. But what rockers can teach entrepreneurs is that failing is like mourning the death of a loved one. Your business, like your art, is your baby. You are personally attached to it. You love it. It is part of who you are and its success is tied into your feelings of self-worth. How must Robin Thicke feel around now that his deeply personal album about his failed relationship with his wife sold only 530 copies in the UK in its first week? That’s how entrepreneurs feel every time they fail.
Musicians have been told their entire career that their babies are ugly, stupid, and boring. Jimi Hendrix was kicked out of every band he played in until he started his own. Which doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It just means that it’s part of the deal.
The same goes in business. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz was passionate about his vision of bringing Italian coffee bar culture to the US. He approached 242 investors. 217 said, “No.” That’s 217 times that his baby was insulted. Then he couldn’t show a profit for three years. That’s rock star persistence.
Charles Darwin said that it is not the strongest or the most intelligent who survive, but those who can best manage change.
Rockers are masters of change, flexibility, and adaptability. Madonna, one of the only women in popular music to have a consistently successful career into her fifties, has done it by constantly changing and adapting. She didn’t lose her brand of empowered sexuality, but she changed with the times. In fact, she sometimes changed ahead of the times. Now making her thirteenth album, she’s getting today’s hottest producers to give her their most exciting tracks.
When U2 transitioned from their signature sound, epitomized on The Joshua Tree, to the dark electronic sound of Achtung Baby, they proved that they were agile. Likewise, Radiohead transitioned away from guitar-based songs after their hit album OK Computer to a more electronic sound for its follow-up, Kid A. It wasn’t easy to make the changes, but it paid off. Achtung Baby was a commercial smash for U2, selling 18 million copies, while Radiohead’s Kid A topped the Billboard chart, won the Grammy award for best alternative album, and went platinum.
Any team should be wary of abandoning its core strength to superficially adopt a trend. But that wasn’t the case with U2 and Radiohead. What they were doing was growing together. They were able to interrupt their habits of thought and their habits of action. They were innovating.
It’s not the strongest or most intelligent that survives but the one that is most adaptable to change. Startups need to keep changing if they are going to hold their customers’ interest, adapt to changing market, and outperform competitors.
Everyone is a Rapper
In both music and entrepreneurship you need powers of persuasion. You need to get people excited about what you’re doing so that they can give you money to keep doing it. You need to rap.
The original meaning of the word rap was talking. But it was more than that. It was your ability to talk smoothly, to talk yourself out of trouble, to use talking to get your way. It was a smart way of talking, a way of talking that impressed other people. Rapping was selling. That’s why rappers are such good entrepreneurs.
When rap started, there was no institutional support for the genre. So rappers learned salesmanship. Rap culture was about proving you were better than the rest. It was about distinguishing yourself and your originality above the crowd.
Startups need to do that. Just like rappers, they need to convince people that they are better and bolder than the rest. That they can rise to any challenge and circumstances. Entrepreneurs can learn from rappers that stepping up to the mic with confidence can go a long way.
Entrepreneurs can also learn from rockers to make an emotional connection to their audience through body language and stories. As I’ve written before, you can learn techniques that will strengthen the effectiveness of your communication.
But most importantly, rockers teach entrepreneurs the importance of finding your unique voice and expressing it. As an artist, you have to differentiate yourself from others. Doing well in business requires the same thing. To stand out, you need to put yourself on the line and express yourself with confidence and passion.
Nurture the Team
A startup company I once interviewed faced a situation where one partner wanted the company to always be small enough to all fit in an elevator. But the other partner wanted world domination. One wanted to be Zuckerburg, the other wanted to be Zingerman’s. It collapsed. Another company had a partner who didn’t feel like he got a fare share of the equity split. So he split, right as they were about to be approved for a grant on which he was the primary investigator. The grant fell through.
Partners are a major source of uncertainty. They are also the most important factor for your startup’s success. What can we learn from rockers about minimizing partner risk? Invest in the connection with your partners.
In 1995 Anthony Kiedis, singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was in rehab for heroin addiction. He was the singer of one of the biggest bands in the world, with a new album coming out and a tour to embark on. His band mates needed Kiedis to do his job.
Part of the rehab center’s recovery process was to invite friends and family for a group session. Flea, The Chili Peppers’ bassist, showed up. When the group session began, the therapist asked Flea, “How does it make you feel when Anthony’s out there using drugs and you have no idea where he is or if he’s ever going to come back?” Kiedis cringed in his seat. He figured Flea was going to rant about how mad he is that Kiedis is ruining all of their hard work. And he would be right.
But Flea burst into tears. “I’m afraid he’s going to die on me,” he sobbed. “I don’t want him to die.” Flea cared about Kiedis as more than a means to an end.
Truly great bands such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers treat each other like family. That’s where their resilience comes from. Flea wasn’t happy about what Kiedis’s behavior was doing for the band. But first and foremost he was worried about him as his friend.
The same goes for startups. Other people are not just there to get the work done. They are not disposable parts. If they are, the team will have zero resilience for when times get tough. Without a strong relational fabric, the team will collapse at the first bump in the road.
Why does caring matter so much? Because it brings out the best in others. It facilitates others by giving them the support they need so that they can contribute at their highest level. It also creates a safe environment for making mistakes and experimenting.
Caring comes with playfulness, which helps with burnout and also opens up the team’s resources and creativity. And caring increases loyalty. When band members look out for each other, they build a reservoir of goodwill that they tap into when times get tough.
Opening in the beautiful church, with Mark Alan Filbert, Organist led the way in a nuance filled evening with Dielterich Buxtehude’s Praeludium in C.
The other performers were Catherine Rands on harp and Fran Piazza on flute. While the music selection was smart and interesting and Catherine and Mark were excellent players and delivered their parts well, Fran Piazza pulled sounds out of the flute that were beyond comprehension. I watched as the other audience members were in awe at the sheer beauty of her sounds, her imagination was intriguing to us as she floated a note, turned it upside down, inside out and backwards and forwards, loud soft, piercing, warm rich… all these sounds were heard last night. What control she showed and on top of that, it all looked completely effortless like she was a child playing a tune for the fun of it!
Fran teaches flute at Golden Music and at The Music Lesson Place in Aurora. She performs regularly around Denver and is producing and performing on a Children’s CD. She performed the Five Hymn Settings for Flute and Organ by Robert Powell, Elegy for Flute, Harp and Organ, Harold Friedell, Image for solo flute, Eugene Bozza, Six Short Italian Classics for Flute and Harp, Light Eternal: Meditations for Flute and Organ.
Two comments from audience members; “She is one with the flute” and “She is a Master of her instrument.”Continue reading