Music Advocacy

How Music Education Benefits the Brain

November 14, 2018

Processing sound is one of the human brain’s most difficult jobs. The task involves multiple brain systems that need to be able to respond in microseconds.  Over the history of human development, it has been important for survival to be able to instantly and precisely recognize the sound of a snapping twig or a crunching leaf when it’s dark.

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History

10 Ways World War I Changed Music

November 6, 2018

This month marks 100 years since the guns were silenced in Europe on “the 11th hour on the 11th day on the 11th month” in 1918, ending World War I.  Concerts are being held across the globe to commemorate how the war influenced the world of music. Here are ten ways the war had an impact on the arts and culture:

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The Inside Voice

An Interview with Choreographer John Jacobson

November 1, 2018

Music, for many, is about joy before anything else. Spend a few short minutes with conductor, composer, and choreographer John Jacobson, and it will quickly become evident that this is the case with him. His passion for music and education are written in his smile and the energy he exudes with each moment spent talking about it. That joy began at a young age.

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Culture

Creating Fear: How Horror Music Composers Make You Jump

October 23, 2018
Joseph Bishara recording horror movie music with a studio orchestra

Horror movies don’t just play on the minds of the audiences. They’re also a cerebral project for horror music composers like Joseph Bishara and Christopher Thomas. Bishara has composed music for the Insidious and The Conjuring franchises and Thomas for haunted amusement attractions and film productions. Both have spent hours, days, and months formulating ways to create unnerving sound tracks – a job that gives them a unique perspective on the world of fear.

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Culture

Roll Out the Accordion – Polka Music and Oktoberfest

October 17, 2018

Alex Meixner’s hands fly across his accordion when he plays crowd favorites at Oktoberfest celebrations across the country. The talented musician, who is known for the Hormel pepperoni commercials and his passion for the accordion, can play thousands of songs and has an encyclopedic knowledge about many styles of folk music. He began to learn how to play the accordion at age four; he now owns 14 accordions and travels with his band. Meixner says he loves how the accordion always gets a crowd reaction.

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Culture

Performing Social Justice Pieces: Considering Matthew Shepard

October 9, 2018

Composer Craig Hella Johnson calls it the “long sacred silence” – his way of describing a common audience reaction after choral performances of his recently published composition Considering Matthew Shepard.  In an age when hate crimes are on the rise and divisiveness is rampant, Johnson’s work raises deep questions about our humanity. It focuses on how people can learn to love those who are different from them. Audiences often pause in silence before applauding; such is its impact. During a performance at the University of Southern California this year, one student performer described the reaction this way:

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Directors' Toolbox

Vocal Health: How Choral Directors Can Help Students

October 2, 2018

One of the most important but sometimes overlooked jobs of a choral director is to help their students take care of their voices. With the stress of repertoire preparation and the other time-consuming aspects of our job, it can be something that we cognitively recognize but don’t necessarily have the time or energy to pursue. Our students, no matter the age, are going through critical times in their vocal development. We ask a lot of them vocally – range, projection, volume, facial expression, blend, tone, and many other skills – and we need to help them protect their voices and learn to care for them in a healthy way.

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Directors' Toolbox

How to Handle Easy Instrument Repairs

September 26, 2018

Now that the school year is well underway, instrument repairs are soon to be an unavoidable fact of life. The good news is many of the most common repairs can be done in the comfort of your own music room. To do so, however, you need the right tools. Here is a rundown of the most important tools you need for common musical repairs.

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The Inside Voice

An Interview with a Cappella Guru Deke Sharon

September 18, 2018

It was at a television station in San Francisco, California, where Deke Sharon realized how far his work in a cappella music had reached. He went to the station to complete a satellite interview for an Australian morning show when he struck up a conversation with a gentleman who was there to talk with the national media about military drone strikes. Sharon said the man, who was dressed up in an “FBI suit” and looked very serious, had an outburst of joy when Sharon said he was there to promote the movie Pitch Perfect 2.

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