Music education professor and dean at the University of London’s Insitute of Education discusses how important music is. Studying music can improve listening skills, which improves the way that people process language.
Music education professor and dean at the University of London’s Insitute of Education discusses how important music is. Studying music can improve listening skills, which improves the way that people process language.
Please visit the following website link where I retrieved this article:
October 15, 2013
Children may benefit from making music
Clap, dance, and sing! A recent study from the University of West London in the United Kingdom supports the idea that getting children involved in making music has the ability to improve their behaviour and problem solving skills.
Carried out by a team of researchers at the University of West London’s school of Psychology, the study randomly assigned 24 girls and 24 boys, all aged four, into two different groups, one featuring the use of music and one without any music. In the music group, children sang and played percussion, while their counter parts in the non-music group listened to a story. After these activities, both groups played two different games that emphasized the use of cooperation and the need to provide help to their group- mates. The results of this experiment showed that the children in the music group were 30 times more likely to help each other, and six times more likely to co-operate than the non-music group. Additionally, researchers found that in the music group alone, girls were much more likely than boys to provide help or be more cooperative after making music.
These findings echo an earlier 2010 German study that featured 96 four-year-old children from 16 different daycares. In this study, children were again divided into two different groups – one which featured a music-making activity and another which did not. After the groups finished their activity, two games were played that required the children to be helpful or cooperative with their peers. As seen in the UK study, children who had been in the music group were far more likely to help each other. Furthermore, children from the music group who did not display help were far more likely to provide an excuse as to why they were unable to help, showing greater empathy than their non-music peers. 
Some educators have also been enthusiastic about using music in the classroom. In Atlanta, kindergarten teacher Shelvia Ivey found that both shy, reserved students and active students are able to express themselves through making music and dance.  Outside of a school environment, music programs designed for toddlers and young children are available across North America through The Music Class, which advocates for early childhood music involvement.
Although these are only two studies that show the beneficial effects of making music, it demonstrates how influential music may be on human development. From making children more social, to helping adults relax after a long day at work, music may have more effects on us than we fully know.
 British Psychological Society (BPS) (2013, September 5). ‘Making music may improve young children’s behavior’. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130905202851.htm
 Kirschner, S., & Tomasello, M. (2010). Joint music making promotes prosocial behavior in 4-year-old children. Volution and Human Behaviour, 31, 354-364. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://www.eva.mpg.de/psycho/pdf/Publications_2010_PDF/Kirschner_Tomasello_2010.pdf
 Castro, C. (2012, February 7). Can music improve behavior?. Schools of Thought – CNN.com blogs. Retrieved September 19, 2013, from http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/07/can-music-improve-behavior
In the following article, Noa Kageyama explains the results of a study that looked at the most effective practice behaviours of university level piano major students. Be sure to check the very end of the article, for the paragraph titled “And one to rule them all.” The most beneficial practice habit is likely something you have heard before, but since it is shown to be so effective, music students will want to try this!
By Noa Kageyama, PH.D.
As my kids were (begrudgingly) practicing their Tae Kwon Do patterns the other night, I caught myself telling my oldest that he had to do his pattern five times before returning to his video game.
My goal, of course, was not for him to go through the motions of his pattern five times like a pouty zombie, but to do it one time with good form and authority. But the parent in me finds it very reassuring to know that a certain number of repetitions or time has gone into something. Beyond the (erroneous) assumption that this will automagically solidify his skills somehow, it feels like a path to greater discipline, and a way to instill within my kids some sort of work ethic that will serve them well in the future.
Some degree of time and repetition is necessary to develop and hone our skills, of course. But we also know on some intuitive level that to maximize gains, we ought to practice “smarter, not harder.”
But what the heck does that really mean anyway? What exactly do top practicers do differently?
A group of researchers led by Robert Duke of The University of Texas at Austin conducted a study several years ago to see if they could tease out the specific practice behaviors that distinguish the best players and most effective learners.
Seventeen piano and piano pedagogy majors agreed to learn a 3-measure passage fromShostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The passage had some tricky elements, making it too difficult to sight read well, but not so challenging that it couldn’t be learned in a single practice session.
The students were given two minutes to warm up, and then provided with the 3-measure excerpt, a metronome, and a pencil.
Participants were allowed to practice as long as they wanted, and were free to leave whenever they felt they were finished. Practice time varied quite a bit, ranging from 8 1/2 minutes to just under 57 minutes.
To ensure that the next day’s test would be fair, they were specifically told that they may NOT practice this passage, even from memory, in the next 24 hours.
When participants returned the following day for their test, they were given 2 minutes to warm up, and then asked to perform the complete 3-measure passage in its entirety without stopping, 15 times (with pauses between attempts, of course).
Each of the pianists’ performances were then evaluated on two levels. Getting the right notes with the right rhythm was the primary criteria, but the researchers also ranked each of the pianists’ performances from best to worst, based on tone, character, and expressiveness.
That led to a few interesting findings:
What did matter was:
Three pianists’ performances stood out from the rest, and were described as having “more consistently even tone, greater rhythmic precision, greater musical character (purposeful dynamic and rhythmic inflection), and a more fluid execution.”
Upon taking a closer look at the practice session videos, the researchers identified 8 distinct practice strategies that were common to the top pianists, but occurred less frequently in the practice sessions of the others:
- Playing was hands-together early in practice.
- Practice was with inflection early on; the initial conceptualization of the music was with inflection.
- Practice was thoughtful, as evidenced by silent pauses while looking at the music, singing/humming, making notes on the page, or expressing verbal “ah-ha”s.
- Errors were preempted by stopping in anticipation of mistakes.
- Errors were addressed immediately when they appeared.
- The precise location and source of each error was identified accurately, rehearsed, and corrected.
- Tempo of individual performance trials was varied systematically; logically understandable changes in tempo occurred between trials (e.g. slowed things down to get tricky sections correct).
- Target passages were repeated until the error was corrected and the passage was stabilized, as evidenced by the error’s absence in subsequent trials.
Of the eight strategies above, there were three that were used by all three top pianists, but rarely utilized by the others. In fact, only two other pianists (ranked #4 and #6) used more than one:
6. The precise location and source of each error was identified accurately, rehearsed, and corrected.
7. Tempo of individual performance trials was varied systematically; logically understandable changes in tempo occurred between trials (e.g. slowed things down to get tricky sections correct; or speeded things up to test themselves, but not too much).
8. Target passages were repeated until the error was corrected and the passage was stabilized, as evidenced by the error’s absence in subsequent trials.
What’s the common thread that ties these together?
The researchers note that the most striking difference between the top three pianists and the rest, was how they handled mistakes. It’s not that the top pianists made fewer mistakes in the beginning and simply had an easier time learning the passage.
The top pianists made mistakes too, but they managed to correct their errors in such a way that helped them avoid making the same mistakes over and over, leading to a higher proportion of correct trials overall.
The top performers utilized a variety of error-correction methods, such as playing with one hand alone, or playing just part of the excerpt, but there was one strategy that seemed to be the most impactful.
Slowing things down.
After making a mistake, the top performers would play the passage again, but slow down or hesitate – without stopping – right before the place where they made a mistake the previous time.
This seemed to allow them to play the challenging section more accurately, and presumably coordinate the correct motor movements at a tempo they could handle, rather than continuing to make mistakes and failing to identify the precise nature of the mistake, the underlying technical problem, and what they ought to do differently in the next trial.
And if this sounds vaguely familiar, you might recall that a basketball study found something very similar in the practice habits of top free throw shooters…
What is your number one takeaway? How might you integrate these findings not just in your own practicing, but in the practice habits of your students?
About Noa Kageyama, Ph.D.
On December 6, 2015 Tim Snyder and his great aunt Louise Clarke performed Christmas carols at a singalong at Hillary House in Aurora.
Tim performed on saxophone and piano, and Louise Clarke performed on piano. It was a fun afternoon shared with visitors at Hillary House! Now Tim is definitely in the Christmas spirit after performing all these wonderful carols!
Photo: courtesy of Melanie Bell, Snap’d Aurora
A Family Christmas
When: December 6, 2015 1pm to 4pm
Where: Hillary House National Historic Site, Aurora, Ontario
What: Enjoy live music, children’s activities, light refreshments, the gift shop for Christmas shopping, Art at the Manor 2015, AND a visit with Santa!
Photo below: courtesy of Aurora Historical Society
According to researchers at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, Illinois, there is exciting new research that shows how being a lifelong practicing musician can make the brain healthier. Nina Kraus, an auditory neuroscientist at the Northwestern University School of Communication, is the Principal Investigator for the evidence outlined below.
Buena Park, Calif. (PRWEB) October 31, 2013
The very idea of moving a grand piano and cello atop the Great Wall of China to shoot a music video sounds like an impossible feat, at best. For starters, the unprecedented special permission required from the Chinese government, along with daunting restrictions and logistics are enough to dissuade even the most determined musician.
And yet, a newly released video by The Piano Guys performing on the wall is a study in how to accomplish the impossible, with the help of a willing government, artistic determination and support organizations such as Yamaha Entertainment Group and Yamaha Artist Services Beijing.
The resulting video, “Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends,” (http://4wrd.it/KUNGFU_PIANO_VIDEO) captures this beautiful and historic performance, and has already garnered more than 3.6 million views since its release on October 9.
The Piano Guys, an immensely popular group that has made their name based on self-made videos of their pop classical music performances on YouTube and subsequent album releases, consists of pianist Jon Schmidt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, producer/videographer Paul Anderson and music producer Al van der Beek. Together, they have amassed more than 276 million views to date, and more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube.
“Since The Piano Guys began, it has been our impossible dream to put a grand piano on the Great Wall,” said Jon Schmidt. “People laughed at us when we said we were determined to do it. It is done. All of us at The Piano Guys would like to dedicate this music video to the visionary behind it all and the man whose dream this has always been: Paul Anderson.”
The behind-the-scenes action leading up to the video shoot was nearly as improbable and compelling as the finished video. While getting permission from the Chinese government was a great coup, the group soon discovered that they still faced real challenges.
To start, the permission they received only allowed them a limited 12-hour timeframe to shoot the music video. And while they were able to use a crane to get the 913-pound Yamaha C7X grand piano on the Great Wall of China, 20 local men were given the harrowing task of carrying the piano by hand up countless stone steps to where it appears in the video.
Additional hurdles included lighting, uninvited onlookers climbing the wall to get a glimpse of the performance and the limited equipment and crew that were allowed (and that could fit) atop the wall. This video chronicles the arduous preparations for this production (http://4wrd.it/MAKING_KUNGFU_VIDEO).
“It was an amazing feat and a life changing experience. We are very grateful for the opportunity and all the support we received from our support organizations, including Yamaha Entertainment Group and Yamaha Artist Services for providing and transporting the C7X piano to this lofty perch,” adds Paul Anderson.
“The Piano Guys are valued Yamaha Piano Artists and their series of YouTube videos are wildly popular, with hundreds of millions of hits. We jumped at the opportunity to support them in this ambitious project,” said Chris Gero, founder and VP, Yamaha Entertainment Group. “We are very proud to have our world-class pianos featured regularly in their sophisticated music videos. This one, of course, is particularly breathtaking.”
The Piano Guys started making music videos together for fun and their “hobby” turned into a worldwide phenomenon when their self-made YouTube videos resonated with a huge online audience. With the success of The Piano Guys’ first two major label releases, The Piano Guys and The Piano Guys 2, Portrait/Sony Masterworks has just released the classical-pop group’s new holiday album, A Family Christmas.
This is a quick checklist of things to do, buy, learn and decide before your child has their very first piano lesson.
Working your way through this checklist will speed up your child’s learning curve, possibly by months (maybe more!), and once you’ve covered every item below you will be a superbly equipped parent entering into the role of nurturing the growth of a new little (or not so little) pianist.
1. Buy a piano. This may or may not seem like a no-brainer to you. In case it’s not, let me explain. Your child will not make progress without a piano at home with which they can practice between lessons. So until you have a piano don’t bother organising to take piano lessons. Unless your goal is to pay forreally expensive babysitting.
Ideally you will buy a good quality acoustic piano, but there might be reasons why you would prefer a digital piano (usually issues related to living in an apartment or a very small house). You want an acoustic piano because it does cool stuff that digital pianos can’t do – things like capturing harmonics when you silently depress the keys and then play other keys – and because the ‘touch’ your child will develop when practicing on an acoustic piano will be a better touch than when they practice on a digital piano.
But if a digital piano is the best option for you you’ll discover that a digital piano offers some wonderful extras that acoustic pianos don’t deliver (things like recording your performance and a variety of sound options – how many extras, and how wonderful they are, will depend on the quality of the digital piano you buy). The thing is you need weighted keys, touch sensitivity, a fixed pedal, a music stand that is not flimsy, and a sound that really does match the sound of a piano (as compared to electric keyboard).
2. Put the piano in a part of the house that isn’t a. lonely and/or b. where the only TV is. Two of the biggest reasons children don’t end up practicing is because they’re either lonely in the glummest/most distant room of the house or because everyone else wants to watch the television and the piano is in the same room. Having the piano hidden away communicates that the piano is not something normal or useful; having the piano and tv competing for acoustic space is just asking for conflict in your family.
3. If you have an acoustic piano, keep it tuned! This is more of an adminstrative burden than it is a major expense (you need to find a piano tuner, book them up, and then be at the house while they tune the piano), but if your piano is out of tune your child(ren) will find playing the piano far less pleasant, and you won’t enjoy hearing the piano played all that much either.
4. Have the piano in your house for months – even years – before your child begins lessons. This is about developing a sense of the everyday about the instrument (the piano is a part of normal life) as well as allowing the child to explore the instrument quite thoroughly prior to lessons beginning. To which end….
5. Encourage your child to play around with the piano prior to beginning lessons. You can’t break a piano by playing it, and your child will develop a sense of familiarity with the layout of the keys (black notes in groups of 2 and 3 placed between white notes) and the way the keys make sounds (high sounds towards the right, low sounds towards the left) as well as different effects the piano can make (softer sounds when you press more gently, sustained sounds when you depress the pedal, etc.). This saves time in the first weeks of lessons and, more importantly, means that your child will have a confidence when being asked to try ‘new’ things on the piano in these first few weeks and months.
6. Purchase a chair/piano stool/piano bench that is height adjustable. Sitting at the right height is a huge part of what makes playing the piano comfortable and effortless, and sitting at the wrong height can prevent the pianist from creating beautiful sounds. Don’t make do with cushions – organise a permanently available means for your child to sit with maximum ease at the piano.
7. Notice what your child discovers at the piano, and (when the time is right) talk about their discoveries with them. Does your child play the same thing (or variations of the same thing) every time they get near the piano? Or do they experiment with one kind of sound for a few days and then move on? Do they try to pick out tunes, or are they more interested in piano role-playing? Do they play across the full length of the keyboard, or restrict themselves to one area?
Noticing the way your child experiments is an essential foundation to being able to talk about what they are doing. And talking about what your child does is an essential part of validating and consolidating the discoveries they are making.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure of the exact musical term, talk about the kinds of feelings the sounds reflect, what the sounds remind you of, and ask your child to talk about their intentions, ideas and reflections. Some pianist gestures are gentle, others are cheeky, while yet others can be very sad indeed. Starting out your child’s pianistic journey by talking about emotion, attitude and texture (smooth/spiky, for instance) puts your child at an enormous advantage in communicating with others about their playing.
8. Make sure your child knows the difference between their right and left sides. This is a bigger issue than simply knowing the right hand from the left; having your child be aware that they can create an action on one side of their body and then mirror that action on the other develops physical-spatial awareness that will be immensely beneficial when learning new skills at the keyboard. Which is to say: having a child practice jumping to the left or jumping to the right will help them be better pianists. Anything that asks a child to do things with their body in terms of left and right will lay the foundation for physical fluency at the keyboard.
9. Make sure your child knows their alphabet. From A to G. And maybe back again. This won’t be covered in the first lesson (normally), but if your child understands that the musical alphabet goes A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B, etc., they’ll save at least half a lesson. And if your child can think through those letters backwards you’ve probably saved two more whole lessons over the course of the first year.
10. Show your child a treble and bass clef. And explain that the treble is for high notes, the bass for low notes. If you have no idea what a treble clef is then google it. This is just a symbol, but the more familiar your child is with what these symbols look like these easier it will be for a teacher to introduce new ideas quickly during the first year or so of lessons. The treble clef in particular is an oft-used symbol to represent music – your child may well have already seen this symbol and just never quite understood what it meant (it just means the notes on it in the top half of the piano). Being confident distinguishing these two symbols could save half a lesson or so at least three times in the course of the first 12-18 months of lessons.
I’m sure readers of this post will be able to contribute more great ideas for things parents can do before their child begins piano lessons, but these are mytop 10. If every new student had these items covered … Well, I can dream, can’t I?!
Now a UC San Francisco research project is exploring whether singing in a community choir can provide tangible health advantages to older adults.
Over the next four years, a dozen choirs will be created at senior centers around San Francisco. The first group already has launched at the Mission Neighborhood Centers, and recruitment of choir members is underway in the Bayview and Western Addition neighborhoods.
To join Community of Voices, choir members must be 60 years of age or older – no prior choral experience is needed. Altogether, approximately 400 seniors will take part in weekly, 90-minute singing sessions over the course of a year.
The project will assess the impact on participants’ cognition, mobility and overall wellbeing during their choral year. The researchers also will examine whether singing in a community choir is a cost-effective way to promote health among culturally diverse older adults.
Community of Voices is a collaboration among UCSF, the nonprofit San Francisco Community Music Center, and the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services. The Community Music Center is providing choir directors and other professional music leadership.
“We evaluate a variety of health outcomes and try to measure the mechanism of health changes – we’ll look at mood, loneliness and memory,” said principal investigator Julene Johnson, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist and professor at the UCSF School of Nursing’s Institute for Health & Aging. Johnson, who studies mild cognitive impairment in older adults, also is an amateur musician who plays flute and has sung in community choirs.
“We’ll study whether the choir singing helps participants get stronger, fall less, and whether it improves their balance,” Johnson said.
“The goal is to provide scientific-based evidence that community arts programs can be used to promote health,” she added. “Everyone says ‘Yes, of course they must be good for us,’ but we don’t have enough evidence yet.”
Scientific study on the therapeutic impact of music is still somewhat in its infancy, but scientists have learned that music activates certain regions in the brain and can strengthen neural connections. Research has shown that people who participate in choral singing may have better health and stronger social ties than non-singers.
Johnson’s new study in San Francisco builds upon pioneering research that she conducted in Finland as a Fulbright Mid-Career scholar in 2010. Exploring the effect of musical arts upon aging in a country with a wide abundance of choral groups, she learned that singing in a choir is an important factor in keeping older Finns healthy.
Johnson is the lead author of a paper based on her Nordic research being published in the July 2013 issue ofInternational Psychogeriatrics.
In the San Francisco study, the first choir at the Mission Neighborhood Centers – led by conductor Martha Rodriguez-Salazar, a Community Music Center faculty member – has approximately 20 members who are singing in both English and Spanish. All participants underwent baseline health assessments prior to the start of the choir, and they will complete two other health evaluations midway and at the end of their singing year.
“You can see through the smiles of the singers how they feel about being in the choir,” said Maria Bermudez, operational director of the Mission Neighborhood Centers. “The choir helps people in so many ways. It helps them avoid isolation at home, it helps with mental retention, and it makes people feel like they are part of a team. This is a great project, and a great way for people to learn a new skill.”
Accomplished musician Maestro Curtis, a Grammy-nominated music producer, will lead the choirs at the Western Addition Senior Center and the Bayview Opera House with the Dr. George W. Davis Senior Center.
“Music is a universal language, it brings joy,” said Curtis, whose wife Nola will provide piano accompaniment to the singers. “It allows people to feel productive, to become a part of something. For older people, this is very valuable. Our senior citizens are a treasure, and I want to do what I can to help them enjoy the rest of their lives on this planet.”
The project is funded by the National Institute of Aging (R01AG042526).
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.
from an article titled “Piano Boosts Brain Power”
Published April 12, 2013 | By Kristin
Brain scans show that the brains of adult musicians are larger than those of non-musicians.
Research now shows that learning to play the piano actually causes parts of the brain to increase in size.
Kudos to all you parents who are helping your children learn to play! You’re making a real difference in your child’s development.
Read a Summary of the Research
Brain scans reveal clear differences: certain parts of the brain are larger in adult musicians as compared with nonmusicians. So are special brainy people genetically predisposed to music or is the process of learning an instrument responsible for the larger size? Researcher Gottfried Schlog and his colleagues developed experiments to investigate.
Schlog’s study demonstrates that learning to play an instrument does in fact cause structural changes in the brains of children, and that the amount of time spent practicing is important. Test children received lessons on piano or a string instrument for two years.
Brain scans performed at the beginning of the study revealed no significant differences between children in the test and control groups. Brain scans performed at the end of two years showed significantly increased size among children who were high practicers.
Parents Can Make a Difference
These results provide great news for parents! While nature helps determine your child’s potential, there are measures you can take to enrich your child’s developing mind, such as providing your child with piano instruction.
The other good news is that obtaining these positive effects is within your reach. High practicers were children who practiced 2-5 hours a week–this is doable!
Read the actual research publication:
PHILOSOPHY ”You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~C.S. Lewis
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” ~Jesse Owens
My philosophy is to create an environment in which students are free to express their emotions through their playing. I value each student as an individual, and work patiently to guide each student to fulfill his/her potential. I expect students to work hard, but find that encouragement goes a long way to help students realize their dreams.
I teach in the Aurora and Newmarket area from beginning up to Grade 8 Royal Conservatory level. For young beginning students (ages 4 and up) I use a variety of methods, such as Alfred, Music for Little Mozarts, Piano Adventures and Celebrate Piano. Then I encourage students to learn the Royal Conservatory Method when they are prepared for this next step in their progress. I prepare students for Royal Conservatory examinations when the student and parent are ready to commit to this program. This is an internationally recognized program of music study, which is quite highly regarded around the world.
I also encourage students of all ages to learn popular songs at an appropriate level of difficulty.
My saxophone program is geared for all ages as well. I recommend students start saxophone at age 10 and higher, but it depends on several physical factors, including whether the student can reach all the keys. I teach jazz, classical and popular saxophone, depending on the student’s interests. I also prepare saxophone students for University auditions and Royal Conservatory examinations. I teach improvisation in jazz and blues as well.
Lesson structure depends greatly on the student’s age and interest, but a sample lesson might start with sight reading (sight rhythm and sight melody), ear training (clapback rhythm and playback melody) and identifying intervals. Then I would review the student’s homework from last week. I will ask the student how their practicing went, and if there are any questions. I will ask which piece they want to begin with, especially if there’s a piece they can’t wait to play! Then I will teach part of another song or songs, depending on the level. Scales and technique would either be at the beginning or end of the lesson, depending on how long we spend on sight and ear at the beginning of the lesson. I enjoy playing duets with students, especially if we can record a student and teacher duet in the lesson!
from University of Toronto Faculty of Music Website
Article from Mount Allison University Department of Music
Tim Snyder says: “I was privileged to study saxophone at Wilfrid Laurier University with Dr. James Kalyn.”
James Kalyn was appointed Assistant Professor of single reeds and conducting at the Mount Allison University Music Department in 2011. Lauded by his colleagues and students as a “world-class doubler,” Dr. Kalyn has built a career over the past twenty-five years as a soloist and orchestral musician of the highest calibre on both saxophone and clarinet. Grand prize winner of the prestigious Canadian Music Competitions’ International Stepping Stone division, as well as one of the USA’s highest honours, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, James Kalyn has built an international career as a performer, conductor, and pedagogue.
As a concert saxophonist James Kalyn has performed throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Argentina, China, and Japan. As a clarinetist Kalyn won his first professional orchestra position while still an undergraduate student, and has played in orchestras continuously since that time, including the orchestras of Greensboro and Winston-Salem North Carolina, London and Windsor Ontario as well as RED in Cleveland and the Carolina Chamber Symphony. He plays saxophone in the Cleveland Orchestra – one of the “big five” American orchestras and one of the finest symphony orchestras in the world – and has also played bass clarinet with them. Proficient also on flute and bassoon, Kalyn has played for over 30 theatrical productions including the Toronto productions of Phantom of the Opera and Crazy for You, and touring Broadway productions such as Cabaret, Grand Hotel, and Guys and Dolls. About his musicianship, Napoleón Cabrera of Argentina’s CLARIN wrote: “James Kalyn deserves plenty of recognition for his pure technique, for his intelligence in displaying meaning, and for introducing that inner shade of abandon…without disturbing his execution” and Mark Carrington of THE WASHINGTON POST described his playing as “Carefully cultivated shades of haunting beauty and singing simplicity…”
Graduating with a DMA from the Eastman School of Music, James Kalyn studied classical and jazz saxophone and has played as a professional jazz musician on both clarinet and saxophone throughout his career with such luminaries as Ray Charles and The Manhattan Transfer. He teaches both classical and jazz styles and many of his students have gone on to careers as jazz musicians.
In addition to his performing career, James Kalyn brings to Mount Allison extensive experience as a conductor. During his tenure as Director of the Wind Ensemble and Professor of Saxophone at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Kalyn conducted hundreds of works from the wind repertoire, and promoted new works as well. He conducted a summer festival orchestra in North Carolina for many years, has guest conducted professional orchestras in China as well as the Oberlin Wind Ensemble, and is the conductor for the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra. As a teacher and conductor, he has taught at the University of Western Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ithaca College, Youngstown State University, and two of the most prestigious conservatories in North America, the Eastman School of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory. He has taught everything from applied music and musicianship to theory, jazz improvisation and conducting. Consistent with Mount Allison’s liberal arts philosophy, James Kalyn enjoys working with all ranges of musicians, from elite performers through beginning students. Kalyn was a founding faculty member of the New Horizons music program, a pioneering project to teach music to older adults. He directed his own group for years and helped to found three others.
As a scholar and pedagogue, Dr. Kalyn has published over a dozen articles and reviews, including three peer-reviewed pieces for Saxophone Journal, the saxophone world’s scholarly publication, and MLA Notes. Recently Kalyn has developed connections with China and has travelled to China over a dozen times to conduct, perform, teach, or, in his capacity as Program Director of the Oberlin Conservatory’s relationships in China, to administer programs and manage orchestra tours. Kalyn studies Mandarin and is working on projects to develop woodwind pedagogy and performance practices in China. He hopes to develop international exchange opportunities in China for Mount Allison students. He has made eight recordings as soloist, orchestral player and conductor and has been heard on CBC’s Disc Drive, Morningside, Gilmour’s albums, Gaberau, and NPR’s Performance Today.
In the winter of 2011 Kalyn was in residence in Miami with the Cleveland Orchestra. He also recorded Clear Sky for soprano saxophone and ensemble by American Joshua Levine, having performed the North American Premiere of the work in 2010 with the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. In the spring of 2011 he recorded one of the greatest works in the repertoire, Alexander Glazounov’s Concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra. Kalyn’s 2011 season also includes debut performances at Mount Allison on both clarinet and saxophone, and another extensive European Tour as a member of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Tim Snyder says, “I was privileged to take private saxophone lessons with Doug Pullen when I was in high school.”
Saxophonist Doug Pullen recently gave the students of Washington Elementary School in Lodi a musical history tour from Bach to Beatles.
Students clapped along as he played his rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” Symphony No. 9, at an assembly on May 2.
Pullen then shared the history of the saxophone and its inventor, Adolphe Sax.
“It was invented in Belgium in 1846,” Pullen told the children.
He told the students that the saxophone was a much more recent invention than most of the brass and woodwinds instruments that existed for hundreds of years before the birth of the saxophone.
Pullen explained that the saxophone was part woodwind and part brass. Sax had added a mouthpiece from a bass clarinet to a brass tube to create this combination instrument.
“Bach had used basically two scales, the major scale and the minor scale,” said Pullen.
Pullen played both of these scales for the students and then played the chromatic scale. Giving an example of chromatic scale in a musical piece, he then played a piece by Claude Debussy, along with some water and bird nature sounds from a CD.
Pullen shared several stories with the children about the accident-prone Adolphe Sax.
At 3 years old, Sax fell down a full flight of stairs and broke bones.
“I’ve been to that house,” said Pullen. “There’s about 30 of those steps with a rope on each side.”
At 7 years old, Sax accidentally swallowed acid for cleaning brass instruments, and at 14 years old, he accidentally swallowed a needle.
Pullen played a medley of 20th Century music for the children that included “In the Mood,” “Harlem Nocturne,” “Tequila,” Yakety Sax,” “Pink Panther” theme, “Baker Street,” “Careless Whisper” and “The Simpsons” theme.
In an interactive session, children showed that they recognized the themes for “Pink Panther” and “The Simpsons.”
“A lot of classical music they recognize, but they don’t know it,” commented Principal Emil Carafa.
Seven student volunteers played tambourines and maracas during Pullen’s Beatles medley. The medley included “Hard Day’s Night,” “Get Back,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “All My Lovin’,” “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude” and “Twist and Shout.”
Pullen then played Kenny G’s “Serenade” as children left the auditorium. He then gave an instrumental clinic to the fifth-grade band.
In a question and answer session with students, Pullen shared that he started piano lessons at 6 years old and saxophone lessons at 7.
“He just came back from Panama,” said Lou Ricco, music teacher, of Pullen. “He goes to schools and helps them better their programs.”
AP The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Feb. 27 2013, 12:56 PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 27 2013, 1:01 PM EST
Van Cliburn, the internationally celebrated pianist whose triumph at a 1958 Moscow competition helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular career that made him the rare classical musician to enjoy rock star status, has died. He was 78.
Cliburn died early Wednesday at his Fort Worth home surrounded by loved ones following a battle with bone cancer, said his publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone.
Cliburn made what would be his last public appearance in September at the 50th anniversary of the prestigious piano competition named for him. Speaking to the audience in Fort Worth, he saluted the many past contestants, the orchestra and the city.
“Never forget: I love you all from the bottom of my heart, forever,” he said to a roaring standing ovation.
Cliburn skyrocketed to fame when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at age 23 in 1958, six months after the Soviets’ launch of Sputnik embarrassed the U.S. and propelled the world into the space age. He triumphantly returned to a New York City ticker tape parade – the first ever for a classical musician – and a Time magazine cover proclaimed him “The Texan Who Conquered Russia.”
But the win also proved the power of the arts, bringing unity in the midst of strong rivalry. Despite the tension between the nations, Cliburn became a hero to music-loving Soviets who clamoured to see him perform and Premier Nikita Khrushchev reportedly gave the go-ahead for the judges to honour a foreigner: “Is Cliburn the best? Then give him first prize.”
In the years that followed, Cliburn’s popularity soared, and the young man from the small east Texas town of Kilgore sold out concerts, caused riots when spotted in public and even prompted an Elvis Presley fan club to change its name to his. His recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Russian conductor Kirill Kondrashin became the first classical album to reach platinum status.
Time magazine’s 1958 cover story quoted a friend as saying Cliburn could become “the first man in history to be a Horowitz, Liberace and Presley all rolled into one.”
Cliburn performed for royalty, heads of state in Europe, Asia and South America, and for every U.S. president since Harry Truman.
“Since we know that classical music is timeless and everlasting, it is precisely the eternal verities inherent in classical music that remain a spiritual beacon for people all over the world,” Cliburn once said.
But he also used his skill and fame to help other young musicians through the Van Cliburn International Music Competition.
Created by a group of Fort Worth teachers and citizens in 1962, the competition, held every four years, remains a pre-eminent showcase for the world’s top pianists. An amateur contest was added in 1999.
“It is a forum for young artists to celebrate the great works of the piano literature and an opportunity to expose their talents to a wide-ranging international audience,” Cliburn said during the 10th competition in 1997.
President George W. Bush presented Cliburn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the nation’s highest civilian honour – in 2003. In 2004, he received the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I still have lots of friends in Russia,” Cliburn said at the time. “It’s always a great pleasure to talk to older people in Russia, to hear their anecdotes.”
After the death of his father in 1974, Cliburn announced he would soon retire to spend more time with his ailing mother. He stopped touring in 1978.
He told The New York Times in 2008 that among other things, touring robbed him of the chance to enjoy opera and other musical performances. “I said to myself, ‘Life is too short.’ I was missing so much,” he said. After winning the competition, he added, “it was thrilling to be wanted. But it was pressure too.”
Cliburn emerged from his sabbatical in 1987, when he played at a state dinner at the White House during the historic visit to Washington of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev leapt from his seat to give the pianist a bear-hug and kisses on the cheeks.
The 13th Cliburn competition, held in 2009, made history when a blind pianist from Japan, Nobuyuki Tsujii, and a teenager from China, Haochen Zhang, both won gold medals. They were the first winners from any Asian country, and Tsujii was the first blind pianist to win. And it was only the second time there were dual first place winners.
Cliburn was born Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. on July 12, 1934, in Shreveport, La., the son of oilman Harvey Cliburn Sr. and Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn. At age 3, he began studying piano with his mother, herself an accomplished pianist who had studied with a pupil of the great 19th century Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt.
The family moved back to Kilgore, Texas, within a few years of his birth.
Cliburn won his first Texas competition when he was 12, and two years later he played in Carnegie Hall as the winner of the National Music Festival Award.
At 17, Cliburn attended the Juilliard School in New York, where fellow students marveled at his marathon practice sessions that stretched until 3 a.m. He studied under the famed Russian-born pianist Rosina Lhevinne.
Between 1952 and 1958, he won all but one competition he entered, including the G.B. Dealey Award from the Dallas Symphony, the Kosciusko Foundation Chopin Scholarship and the prestigious Leventritt. By age 20, he had played with the New York Philharmonic and the symphonies of most major cities.
Cliburn’s career seemed ready to take off until his name came up for the draft. Cliburn had to cancel all shows but was eventually excused from duty due to chronic nosebleeds.
Over the next few years, Cliburn’s international popularity continued as he recorded pieces ranging from Mozart to a concerto by American Edward McDowell. Still, having been trained by arguably the best Russian teachers in the world, Cliburn’s heart was Russian, with the Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff concertos.
After 1990, Cliburn toured Japan numerous times and performed throughout the United States. He was in the midst of a 16-city U.S. tour in 1994 when his mother died at age 97.
Cliburn made his home in Fort Worth, where in 1998 he appeared at the opening of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, both in recital and as soloist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. He endowed scholarships at many schools, including Juilliard, which gave him an honorary doctorate, and the Moscow and Leningrad Conservatories.
In December 2001, Cliburn was presented with the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors Medallion at the televised tribute held in Washington.
Until only recently, Cliburn practiced daily and performed limited engagements.
A 20 piece sax ensemble -also check out their version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody -Freddie Mercury would be amused I think!
Visit www.saxchoir.com to learn about the 9 different saxophones used in this ensemble: soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, tubax, contrabass
I think the following article, by Pedro Servin, dated Dec. 15, 2012 from the Ottawa Citizen, beautifully illustrates the creativity of the human spirit, in spite of tremendous adversity! Of course these children still live in extreme poverty beside a landfill in Paraguay, but hopefully enough international attention will cause people to make a lasting difference in these children’s lives. Tim
ATEURA, Paraguay – The sounds of a classical guitar come from two big jelly cans. Used X-rays serve as the skins of a thumping drum set. A battered aluminum salad bowl and strings tuned with forks from what must have been an elegant table make a violin. Bottle caps work perfectly well as keys for a saxophone.
A chamber orchestra of 20 children uses these and other instruments fashioned out of recycled materials from a landfill where their parents eke out livings as trash-pickers, regularly performing the music of Beethoven and Mozart, Henry Mancini and the Beatles. A concert they put on for The Associated Press also featured Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and some Paraguayan polkas.
Rocio Riveros, 15, said it took her a year to learn how to play her flute, which was made from tin cans. “Now I can’t live without this orchestra,” she said.
Word is spreading about these kids from Cateura, a vast landfill outside Paraguay’s capital where some 25,000 families live alongside reeking garbage in abject poverty.
The youngsters of “The Orchestra of Instruments Recycled From Cateura” performed in Brazil, Panama and Colombia this year, and hope to play at an exhibit opening next year in their honour at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
“We want to provide a way out of the landfill for these kids and their families. So we’re doing the impossible so that they can travel outside Paraguay, to become renowned and admired,” said Favio Chavez, a social worker and music teacher who started the orchestra.
The museum connection was made by a Paraguayan documentary filmmaker, Alejandra Amarilla Nash. She and film producer Juliana Penaranda-Loftus have followed the orchestra for years, joining Chavez in his social work while making their film “Landfill Harmonic” on a shoestring budget.
The documentary is far from complete. The kids still have much to prove. But last month, the filmmakers created a Facebook page and posted a short trailer on YouTube and Vimeo that has gone viral, quickly getting more than a million views altogether.
“It’s a beautiful story and also fits in very well with this theme of ingenuity of humans around the world using what they have at their disposal to create music,” said Daniel Piper, curator of the 5,000-instrument Arizona museum.
The community of Cateura could not be more marginalized. But the music coming from garbage has some families believing in a different future for their children.
“Thanks to the orchestra, we were in Rio de Janeiro! We bathed in the sea, on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. I never thought my dreams would become reality,” said Tania Vera, a 15-year-old violinist who lives in a wooden shack by a contaminated stream. Her mother has health problems, her father abandoned them, and her older sister left the orchestra after becoming pregnant. Tania, though, now wants to be a veterinarian, as well as a musician.
The orchestra was the brainchild of Chavez, 37. He had learned clarinet and guitar as a child, and had started a small music school in another town in Paraguay before he got a job with an environmental organization teaching trash-pickers in Cateura how to protect themselves.
Chavez opened a tiny music school at the landfill five years ago, hoping to keep youngsters out of trouble. But he had just five instruments to share, and the kids often grew restless, irritating Chavez’s boss.
So Chavez asked one of the trash-pickers, Nicolas Gomez, to make some instruments from recycled materials to keep the younger kids occupied.
“He found a drum and repaired it, and one thing led to another. Since he had been a carpenter, I asked him to make me a guitar. And so we just kept at it,” Chavez said.
Come April, the classical stringed instruments that Gomez has made in his workshop alongside his pigs and chickens will be on display in Phoenix alongside one of John Lennon’s pianos and Eric Clapton’s guitars.
“I only studied until the fifth grade because I had to go work breaking rocks in the quarries,” said Gomez, 48. But “if you give me the precise instructions, tomorrow I’ll make you a helicopter!”
The museum also will display wind instruments made by Tito Romero, who was repairing damaged trumpets in a shop outside Asuncion until Chavez came calling and asked him to turn galvanized pipe and other pieces of scavenged metal into flutes, clarinets and saxophones.
“It’s slow work, demanding precision, but it’s very gratifying,” Romero said. “Chavez is turning these kids of Cateura into people with a lot of self-esteem, giving them a shield against the vices.”
Ada Rios, a 14-year-old first violinist, greeted the AP with sleepy eyes and a wide smile at her family’s home on the banks of a sewage-filled creek that runs into the Paraguay River.
“The orchestra has given a new meaning to my life, because in Cateura, unfortunately, many young people don’t have opportunities to study, because they have to work or they’re addicted to alcohol and drugs,” she said.
Her little sister Noelia announced with the innocence of a 12-year-old that “I’m famous in my school thanks to being in the orchestra.”
Their 16-year-old aunt next door, Maria Rios, 16, also is a violinist.
“My mother signed me up in teacher Chavez’s school three years ago. I was really bothered that she hadn’t asked me first, but today I’m thankful because she put my name in as someone who wanted to learn violin,” Maria said.
Her mother, Miriam Rios, who has 14 children in all, said Maria was born when she was 45.
“My neighbours said she would be born with mental problems because I was so old, but an artist was born!” Rios said, her voice breaking with pride as she brushed away tears.
The children gathered in a schoolyard to perform for the AP, sharing their pride as they tuned their instruments.
Victor Caceres, playing a cello made from a red-and-white drum, said “this recycled instrument has no reason to envy those that are, apparently, more proper. It comes out with an impeccable sound.”
Standing beside him, 15-year-old Brandon Cobone supported a double bass violin made from a tall yellow barrel. He said the instrument always draws curious attention, “but it sounds marvelous.”
The kids played without complaint for 40 minutes in 100-degree (38-degree Celsius) heat and humidity. Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” and “New York, New York” led to Mozart’s “A Little Night Music” and some Paraguayan polkas.
Chavez’s kids will be performing at Asuncion’s shopping centres during the holidays.
“We’ll get some money, not very much, but it will help these families from Cateura,” he said. “They’ll be able to enjoy a good Christmas dinner.” ___
Associated Press writers Brian Skoloff in Phoenix, Arizona, and Michael Warren in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed to this report.
This post is based on the article, “El Sistema settles in, surprisingly, down east,” by William Littler, music critic for The Toronto Star (March 23, 2012). Littler recounts the amazing transformation of troubled Canadian children and youth through the El Sistema orchestra program, that began in Venezuela.
In Moncton, New Brunswick, the El Sistema centre provides an opportunity for economically challenged youth to “discover the human benefits of self-control and cooperation.”
The fantastic Venezuelan conductor Antonio Delgados, who himself was a product of El Sistema, settled in New Brunswick in 2010 to direct the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra and its Sistema project. Delgados impresses his audience and students alike with positive energy and his caring and patient nature. The free orchestra-based musical education system was founded in 1975 by the musician-economist Jose Antonio Abreu in the slums of Caracas, Venezuela. El Sistema has captivated the attention of some of the world’s foremost musicians. Sir Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, says of El Sistema, “if anyone asked me where there is something really important going on for the future of classical music, I would simply have to say -in Venezuela.”
Toronto now has its first El Sistema centre in Parkdale. And the Moncton and Saint John centres in New Brunswick are projects of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra.
The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra was honoured to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 2003. And in 2011 they came first in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Competition and played in the prestigious Musikverein Concert Hall in Vienna, Austria.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvY4VgCfdEk NBYO Vienna performance
http://www.nbyo-ojnb.ca/about/previous-tours NBYO website
http://www.toronto.com/article/719109 William Littler’s Toronto Star article
I recently read the pianist Lang Lang’s autobiography Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story, c. 2008 Spiegel & Grau.
I have heard some of Lang Lang’s recordings on CD, and watched him on YouTube, and one day hope to hear him live. He is a phenomenal performer, with so much passion for playing the piano.
I admire Lang Lang’s drive to succeed, despite growing up in Shenyang (an industrial city in northern China), with limited access to the great piano teachers of his country. His father sacrificed his career (he quit his job as a police officer) to be Lang Lang’s chaperone when he and Lang Lang moved to Beijing to study at the Conservatory.
To make a long story short, Lang Lang competed in many international competitions, and after winning was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, United States. He is now an international sensation, playing to sold out audiences around the world with world famous orchestras.