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Reminder a la star_barnkitty

Courtesy a la star_barnkitty (Who's blogging for an awesome facility, btw...go check her out if you're interested)


Right now I want to remind readers that there's a grace period of 48 hours to donate to Blogathon after [8:00 am Central Time.]



Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
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Total so far: $80

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Music and Community: Band Boosters

The concept of community support for music was ingrained early on...specifically at the middle school level for me. Yes, I was in band in the elementary school level in NJ, but it wasn't until I was in middle school in CA that the concept that community support was critical to the future of music in the schools even became an issue.

To me, at the ripe old age of 8-10, in NJ, music and schools just happened. The string program started in the 4th grade, and the rest of the instrumental program started in the 5th grade. There was semi-private (4 students) half hour pull out lessons weekly and then weekly band rehearsals.

In CA that wasn't necessarily the case. In the Las Virgenes Unified School District, a small school district on the outskirts of the behemoth that is the Los Angeles Unified School District, instrumental music did not begin until the middle school. I don't remember if there was a choral program at the other middle school, but our middle school did not have a choral program at that time (I culminated from middle school in 1987).

Prop 13 was largely bandied at the time as being the reason why there weren't enough funds in the schools for $INSERT_ITEM_HERE. I don't remember enough about California politics to know if that was the actual full scenario, or if there was more going on. I'm always inclined to believe there's more than meets the eye to a story. In any case, funds were short for the music program, and in order to go to band competitions, etc., we needed to do fund raising.

This is where my father, and a number of parents one year, came together. They formed the Band Boosters, and put together a fundraising scheme to put advertisements in our band program flyers. The size of your ad corresponded with a medal a la Olympics style. My father led the Band Boosters for a while - as did Mr. Odello...and a few others over the years. All of them my friends' parents. Why did they do this? Because without doing that, our program was in danger of failing to provide the things that they had intended to do. It was another instance of the community coming together to support the arts...and it wasn't just about money either, there was a certain amount of pride in being able to support a program that went out to band competitions that did well (and not so well at times).

Southern California Schools Band and Orchestra Association. SCSBOA. They were the organization behind the vast majority of competitions that our school band and orchestra competed in at the middle school and high school levels in the concert hall, on the football field, and on the parade route.

I wonder - does MN have anything like that? They certainly don't at the middle school level, and I know there isn't a parent support organization like the Band Boosters that my parents were involved in. Or if there is, I haven't been able to find it.


Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
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Total so far: $80

Last but not least: Kritter

Kritter is the oldest of the 4 of the kids in this house. She was the first to teach us patience with regards to learning music. Having a musician for a parent, she definitely had toddler toys available. "My First Music" kits and such. She had a toy accordion, triangle, drum, etc....

But she started asking about the violin when she was 3 or so (I first received my first violin when she was 2). She officially started asking if she could start learning to play when she was 5. I was afraid she was just asking because Mommy played, and frankly, a) didn't want to be the type of parent who let their child do whatever they wanted and drop it on a whim, and b) wasn't sure if she really wanted to play or if she was saying it because she thought I would be happy at the idea of her daughter playing violin and because Mommy played violin.

After somewhere between 6 months and a year, we relented and got her started with violin. She started with the Suzuki method. She loved it, and she hated it. Her instructor spent a lot of time teaching her songs about how to use the bow and the parts of the instrument, and spent very little time having her actually play. So she got bored, and her attention waned. We made her stick with it though, because that whole, didn't want her dropping it quickly.

When we moved to the South Metro area, we had to find a new teacher. He was pretty good and caught her attention quickly. He moved faster than the other teacher, which was good, and she progressed quickly up until a point...and hit a road block.

She struggled and struggled, and eventually we stopped fighting with her to practice and not move forward, and let her drop it. Her teacher was getting frustrated, we were getting frustrated, Kritter was getting frustrated, and we were afraid that her love of music was dangerously close to going away.

More than a year later, we found out that her road block was likely ADHD. We worked with her to address that, and when she eventually hit middle school, she announced that she wanted to play clarinet. She missed elementary school band, because her class was the first set of 5th graders to graduate, and they hadn't yet instituted a 5th grade band...that would come the following year, in time for Bri. We let her play clarinet (thanks to lexiphanic, she even had an easily accessible clarinet!!!), and since then the difference between her early music experience and now is amazing. She's just flown through learning clarinet. Getting her to practice is a chore, and so her band grade suffers, but she plays beautifully.

So it means that as a parent and musician, we have LOTS of discussions about musicianship and respecting fellow musicians by practicing. Of course, that particular lesson would *probably* go over better if I would practice more *cough*.


Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
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Total so far: $80

Courage set

solcita, my brain is fried and not firing with connections right now. I have several pieces put together sans notes, but you deserve better. I will be posting my post for you tomorrow afternoon after the Blogathon is over and I've had some sleep, but I'm still working on it this evening :D

You know? I'm actually pretty glad that this year there was only one respondant to this particular audience participation option! *chuckle* Wow. I was excited about it ahead of time, and still am, but wow definitely intense.

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Non-performance music education

While I was napping songwind initiated discussion about a topic I've definitely been intending to write about this evening, and that is non-performance music education.

In my Lakeville Music for All post, I mentioned that there are currently no non-performance music education classes (at the middle school level) available for students. *ALL* students are required to take a performance music course.

As a musician, you might think I'd be happy about this, but I'm actually not on several levels.

1) Music is a two way communication between music producers and music consumers. The more educated both sides are, the more enjoyable for everyone.
2) Not every child is interested in performance. I'm not really interested in forcing a child into being on stage. Period. Encouraging a child to take on new challenges is good, but I can't imagine that all kids are comfortable with being out there, and to me that's just not ok.
3) The kids that don't actually want to perform and learn music are not going to put as much into rehearsing and practicing as the kids who do want to. This drags down the experience for everyone.

That being said - the music program in the Lakeville School District is incredible compared to what I was involved in growing up. Though I suspect that has more to do with when music was introduced into the schools and the support within the community.

I'm with songwind, though. The closest I ever came to any kind of music appreciation class was my ethnomusicology class at CSUN. I *loved* that class, and wish I remembered more of it! I never actually learned much in the way of formal music theory, and this is another thing I'm very impressed with coming out of the Lakeville School District music program....Kritter and Bri already know more theory in their 1-2 years of music instruction than I was ever officially taught.


Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
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Total so far: $80
This is the first in what was initially 2, but then turned into many books. Elves, magic, mayhem, a bard, Renaissance Faires....and for this book all set in Southern California? What more could a Rennie music geek ask for?

It's been a long time since I've read this one, but suffice to say music is the not tangential to this book. The main character is a True Bard, though he doesn't know it (yet). He's a classically trained floutist who turned his back on Juliard, and left to become a street musician, eventually donning the floofy sleeves and long hair of the life of a Renaissance Faire bard. He lands himself into a world he didn't expect, though, and the book winds its readers around the Southern California Faire site (old Agoura site), around the San Fernando Valley (ah home), and up into Griffith Observatory.

Heh...I can't remember if it was this book or the next book, Summoned to Tourney, but watch for references to They Might Be Giants lyrics from the album Flood...and if you're a Mercedes Lackey fan, she has a number of in references to her other books, which are definitely fun to read.


Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
Sponsor this blog
Total so far: $80

Harry and the Potters

I wonder why there aren't more references to music in speculative fiction? Pseudo-medieval fantasy I can understand, because the technology for easy access doesn't exist.

But how about Harry Potter? She took the time to come up with a sport, including teams for the characters to admire. So where are the bands? Bubblegum pop boy-band "Patronus"? Parentally hated Death-Eater-Metal group "Muggleblood"? Old timey folk artists "Merlin and the Lake Ladies"?

Future sci-fi makes even less sense. If you believe references from SF, everyone lives on classical music in the future. Possible, I suppose, but improbable. Even Growing Up Weightless, with its many references to composing, never mentioned what music Matt and his friends liked. Given the father vs. son tension, I can't imagine the subject of music not being a loaded one in the Ronay household.

I have read a few good SF stories where the place of music in the fabric of life was touched upon. Even without belaboring the point, it made the view of life in that time and place seem more complete, and the characters more real.


Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
Sponsor this blog
Total so far: $80

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The mother-and-son duo's first offering, Pay the Piper, was every bit as good as Troll Bridge.

PTP is a riff on the Pied Piper of Hamelin story, as the name suggests. In this instance, the piper and his companions come in the form of the popular musical group Brass Rat. The piper, who it turns out is a Fey prince exiled for a crime committed long ago, must gather gold or steal children to be taken Under the Hill to be the blood money, every seven years.

After Brass Rat plays Callie's town, they don't get their pay and come up short of treasure and have to gather souls to pay the tiend. Callie is listening to her headphones, and doesn't hear the Piper's tune. Her brother and other friends are taken, however, and she has to find a way to get them back.

Adam Stemple is a local musician himself. If you get a chance, go out to see his band, the Tim Malloys. And if you get a chance to sit down across from him at a poker table... well, maybe you should call the brush and ask for a new table. :)


Blogathon 2007
For Dakota Valley Symphony
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Total so far: $80

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Learning to listen

"Music appreciation is an easy A"
"I took m.a. so I could take a nap in the middle of my class day."
"It's just listening to music. What could be hard about it."

I heard sentiments like that all over the place when I was in college. (I also heard them about art appreciation and film appreciation, for that matter.) I think that's sad.

There is a lot to music. I think there is more to it than most people bother considering. Most listeners seem to take the classic stance, "I don't know about art, but I know what I like!" It's too bad, because in a lot of instances they are missing out on subtext, history, and even the chance to appreciate a work for how difficult it may have been to produce.

I myself never took a class like that, and I regret it. There are whole ranks of composers and modern artists that I would love whom I may never know about, just because my ear is not refined enough to recognize a school of composition or an instrumentalist's musical tradition. The ability to recognize it, and seek out similar works would be very valuable.

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Uh oh

This one sneaked up on me, I am completely flat-footed.

This one is mostly for the local people. If you are in the Twin Cities general area and interested in coming into contact with new musical ideas and groups, I can't recommend The Curren (89.3) enough. It is a Minneapolis Public Radio channel, dedicated to contemporary music rather than your standard "all classical" NPR music station.

You know what? Even if you aren't local you can check them out online. The live broadcasts are available for streaming from the website!

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