Browsing Tag



Shop With Pepper, Earn Crescendo Rewards

August 24, 2011

Always looking for ways to support music education and advancement, Pepper is proud to offer our new Crescendo Rewards program!  Parents, alumni and music lovers — you can now support your favorite music organization or school program by shopping with us!  Directors — you can register your school or organization for Crescendo Rewards and help people donate to your program every time they shop for music!  Here’s an overview of how it works:

Supporters — 5% of your qualified purchases at Pepper accumulate rewards on the organization’s account, which can be applied toward the purchase of essential music equipment and accessories.  The cost of items that performers and students use every day — folders, music stands, software, recordings, videos, posters, bulletin board materials and books — is then either reduced or eliminated altogether, depending upon total points earned.  Use our Rewards Search to see if your favorite organization is currently registered for the program.  If not, ask the director of the organization to visit to learn more about the program.

Directors — visit to register your school, church, studio or community music organization for the Crescendo Rewards program.  We even offer some convenient easy-to-use tools to help you spread the word to your supporters.  As supporters make qualifying purchases with Pepper and indicate your program should benefit, rewards will accumulate on your organization’s account, helping you reduce or eliminate the cost of future purchases of music equipment and accessories.   The best part ?  Participation in the program is absolutely free! 

Are you ready to get started?  Visit to learn more about participating in this valuable program.  Shopping for music has never been so rewarding!

Music Advocacy

Wired For Music

July 19, 2011
Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin

Music exists within us all.  You don’t have to play cello in the symphony, sing tenor in the choir, or shred a mean guitar in a metal band in order to find it.  The ability to understand and express ourselves through music is as intrinsic as our natural abilities to walk, speak and ride a bicycle.  Music is emotion in its purest form, yet more and more we are discovering the logical, scientific relevance it has in our everyday lives.  If you don’t believe me, then you should watch this short video from renowned vocalist and conductor Bobby McFerrin.  In this video, McFerrin cleverly utilizes the pentatonic scale to demonstrate the extent to which the human brain truly is wired for music.  If you are already a believer, well then, perhaps you will discover a new method of teaching music theory to your students.

Click here to watch the video.

Music Advocacy

Play Music, Age Well

June 10, 2011

There has been much research done on the cognitive benefits of musical activity during childhood;  a recent study conducted by the University of Kansas analyzes whether or not these benefits carry over into adulthood.  While more research is needed, the findings thus far are quite fascinating.

The study divided its participants, aged 60 to 83, into the following three groups:  those with no musical training;  with one to nine years of musical study;  and with at least ten years of musical training.  All of the participants had similar levels of education and were considered fit and healthy.  All of the musicians involved were amateurs who had begun playing around age 10.  The following is an excerpt from the article published on the American Psychological Association’s website:

“The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects, and cognitive flexibility, or the brain’s ability to adapt to new information.

“The brain functions measured by the tests typically decline as the body ages and more dramatically deteriorate in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.  The results ‘suggest a strong predictive effect of high musical activity throughout the lifespan on preserved cognitive functioning in advanced age,’ the study stated.

“Half of the high-level musicians still played an instrument at the time of the study, but they didn’t perform better on the cognitive tests than the other advanced musicians who had stopped playing years earlier. This suggests that the duration of musical study was more important than whether musicians continued playing at an advanced age, lead researcher Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD says.”

Interestingly enough, MENC’s 2011 slogan for Music in Our Schools Month was “Music Lasts a Lifetime.”  It would appear that they are onto something.

Click here to read the full article:


Wanna Play Music?

May 3, 2011

Have you ever wished that you could play an instrument, but just haven’t taken the time to learn?  Did you play as a child, but find that “life” somehow happened and took you away from playing music?  Well, then you should know that May 2-8 is National Wanna Play Music Week and we dare you to participate!  The  National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) has dedicated an entire website to the Wanna Play Music? cause, where you can learn about the scientifically-proven benefits of playing music, peruse the massive list of celebrities who engage in music activities, and best of all, learn how to get started (or re-started) with playing the instrument you’ve always wanted to play!

Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of this are the many pages of stories that participants have shared on the website, telling of their own experiences with learning a new instrument.  One of the more notable quotes comes from Breon Canady from Detroit, Michigan:

“I play music because its a unique joy. A joy you don’t get when playing sports, or getting an “A” on a chemistry test.
Music is what runs through our veins.
Music is not only fun, but exercise!
Conveying different moods and feelings with music is the best feeling ever.
Music is my language.  I speak it.  I breathe it.  I play it.  I bleed it.”

So we will ask you once again… Wanna Play Music? 

Click here to get started:


The Ahn Trio: A Powerful Force in the Music World

February 8, 2011

A few months ago I came across a program on PBS called On Canvas: The Ahn Trio which presented a live performance from Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  Three young ladies, Angella, Lucia, and Maria, are sisters who were born in Seoul, Korea and eventually moved to the United States.  They had the good fortune of being classically trained at The Julliard School of Music in New York City.  Angella is the violinist, Maria is the cellist, and Lucia plays piano within the trio.

Growing up, they learned to play and appreciate the classical compositions of Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, and Smetana.  But the Ahn Trio have also been performing commissioned pieces by modern-day composers such as Pat Metheny, Michael Nyman, Kenji Bunch, and Paul Schoenfield, just to name a few.  These young ladies are not afraid to think outside the box regarding the music that they play, exploring various forms of artistic expression by combining performances filled with other types of performing and visual artists.  The Ahn sisters have collaborated with painters, dancers, pop singers, DJs, photographers, and other artistic groups, adding even more energy and excitement to their shows while still displaying their classical prowess.

They are also making their presence known on the record charts, too.  They’ve recorded CDs such as Paris Rio; Dvorak, Suk, Shostakovich:  Piano Trios;  Ahn-Plugged;  Groovebox and Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac. They’ve even recorded a European version of Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac made exclusively for iTunes.  This was number eight on the Billboard Classical chart for 26 weeks.  The trio has been touring for the last ten years and are already scheduled to perform in 2011 at high schools, universities, and concert halls within the United States and around the globe.

The Ahn sisters don’t just play concerts, they’ve also been performing and teaching at musical workshops and master classes nationally and internationally.  Their success just doesn’t seem to stop. Their talent, flair and style are recognized by magazines like Time, GQ, People and Vogue.  Photographers such as Walter Chin and Ellen von Unwerth  have captured their young faces  and popular retailers like Anne Klein, Gap and The Bodyshop have featured the Ahn Trio in ad campaigns.  These young ladies will definitely make your ears perk up and take notice of their musical talents when you listen to them play.  Then you’ll truly understand why the Ahn Trio is a powerful force in the music world.

Music Advocacy

Creativity: Your Brain on Improv

January 20, 2011

I know what you’re thinking.  How can one scientifically analyze a concept that, by its very nature, is capricious and unpredictable?  Dr. Charles Limb, a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, has done a fascinating study on the activity of the brain when engaged in a musical activity.  Using a Functional MRI machine, which not only takes pictures but also monitors blood flow to the different areas of the brain, Dr. Limb put jazz musicians and rappers through a series of exercises to see what goes on neurologically when we play music.  From what he has found, our brains react very differently when performing a memorized piece of music versus improvising.  During improvisation, areas of our frontal lobe which are thought to be responsible for self-monitoring (self-reflection, introspection and memory) were turned off, while other areas that are thought to be responsible for self-expression turned on.  There seems to be an interesting shift in dynamic that occurs when your brain transitions from being inhibited and assigned limitations versus given the freedom to be creative.

Perhaps even more fascinating was Dr. Limb’s second experiment, during which he and renowned jazz musician and composer Mike Pope took turns improvising back and forth with one another.  Results show that areas of Mike’s brain which are thought to be responsible for language and expressive communication suddenly began lighting up on the FMRI monitor.  Similar results were found when rappers were monitored during freestyling.  Could it be that there is a neurological basis for the sentiment that music is indeed a language of its own?

To watch the presentation Dr. Limb introduced at the TED Conference this past November which details the process involved in obtaining these results, click here.

Music Advocacy

Music in the Water

October 21, 2010
If you read a previous Pepper blog entitled This is Your Brain on Music, then you already know about the effects music has on our bodies.  With the human body being composed of anywhere between 55% and 78% water, I wanted to explore the effects of musical vibrations (a.k.a. sound waves) on the body.

There is a very interesting book called Messages from Water by Dr. Masaru Emoto, which outlines and illustrates the results of experiments that were done to discover the effects of words (written and verbal), pictures, and music on the structuring of water.  The music experiment consisted of Dr. Emoto placing vials of distilled water between two speakers for several hours, only playing certain songs or styles of music for each one.  He then photographed the crystals that formed after the water was frozen.  Here are some of the results: 





Kawachi Folk Dance

Kawachi Folk Dance

Tibet Sutra

Tibet Sutra

Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal

Now before you go and start deleting all of your heavy metal music from your MP3 player, please note that this study was done for the sake of both art and science and Dr. Emoto did pick and choose which photographs were published.  More studies are being done on this subject, but considering what we already know about the scientifically proven benefits of music on mental and physical health, the concept of sound waves effecting all of the elements around and within us is not so far fetched.  So, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein, “Whistle a Happy Tune!”