Jacobs Music is pleased to host the PIANO TEACHERS FORUM at our Lawrenceville location and to share the following article from the LAWRENCEVILLE PATCH…

Learn Piano Technique In Lawrenceville On Friday

LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ — Christie Peery-Skousen will discuss technique during the Piano Teachers Forum’s monthly meeting on Friday, Dec. 1. The meeting begins at 9:45 a.m., preceded by coffee at 9:15 a.m., at Jacobs Music, 2540 Brunswick Pike in Lawrenceville.

In “Technique: Right from the Start,” Peery-Skousen will uncover the 10 most important techniques that when taught and mastered from the very beginning, will unlock a student’s technical and musical future.
Peery-Skousen is the Master Teacher and founder of Peery Piano Academy, and is the author of the Peery Piano Habits Program, a conservatory style teaching and certification system based on the teachings of Dr. Irene Peery-Fox.

She serves on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory where she is head of the First Steps at the Keyboard program. Her students are frequent prize winners in local and national competitions and perform as soloists and with orchestras throughout the Bay Area.

The Piano Teachers Forum is an active professional association that has served piano teachers in Central New Jersey since 1981. The goal of the forum is to provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere that allows for an open exchange of ideas and the development of valuable relationships among colleagues.

On the first Friday of each month, it looks to continue to educate and stimulate professional development through its workshops and programs. Visitors are invited to attend the programs for a $20 guest fee at the door.

For this year’s full program calendar, and other information about the Piano Teachers Forum, visit www.pianoteachersforum.org, or email ptfannouncements@gmail.com.

Image via Shutterstock

If you missed the November broadcast of KIDS ON KEYS on WWFM – The Classical Network earlier this month, we invite you to click the link below. Enjoy!

WWFM Kids on Keys host Jed Distler
WWFM Kids on Keys host Jed Distler

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This monthly broadcast series, proudly sponsored by Jacobs Music Company, spotlights some of the best young piano talent in The Classical Network’s immediate broadcast region of Central and Southern New Jersey. Kids on Keys is hosted by Steinway Artist, composer, critic and author Jed Distler, The Classical Network’s Artist-in-Residence. The program airs on the first Saturday of each month at 1 pm. Each Kids on Keys program features performances given by young artists in recital at the Lawrenceville location of Jacobs Music Company and other regional venues.

Featured on Saturday November 4th were pianists Nicholas Gritz, Raymond Xu, LiYuan Byrne, Jason Liang, Grace Xiong and Max Wang who were heard in selections by Haydn, Kuhlau, Toch, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Childhood recordings by future adult luminaries Shura Cherkassky and Glenn Gould were also featured, along with a rare 1931 disc by the 14-year-old British child prodigy Wilfred Worden.

 

The Philadelphia Inquirer shares a novel and wonderful way to support music in our Philadelphia public schools!

Playing for a Musical Fix

Broken instruments in concert

Sunny Lee Mowery photographs broken instruments from Phila. public schools. STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

Dawn Webster

with the cornet she will use in “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra,” a composition for 400 musicians using broken instruments from the Philadelphia public schools.

Quynh Nguyen with her violin at Temple University, where musicians were picking up instruments they will use in “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

Broken tubas, a violin, and an autoharp at Tyler School of Art. CLEM MURRAY / Staff

Zack McKenna hands down a sousaphone from a wall to Anna Drozdowski, project manager for “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer

Su Spina normally plays kettledrums. But when she went to pick up the instrument she’d be playing in the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra — a new composition for 400 amateur and professional musicians, all playing broken instruments from the Philadelphia public schools — her options were limited.

“Would you prefer a violin without strings? Or an auto-harp?” Andy Theirauf asked her.

Spina, 22, a recent college graduate who studied music at Franklin and Marshall College, said if knocking on a broken violin for 40 minutes is what it takes to get these instruments fixed, she’s in.

“I started music when I was in elementary school,” she said. “So, knowing a whole bunch of students in the Philadelphia School District don’t even have access to instruments, I wanted to be a part of anything that helps.”

The project —conceived by Robert Blackson, director of the Temple University Contemporary art gallery — is part crowdfunding campaign to fix the instruments (adopt one at symphonyforabrokenorchestra.org) and part avant-garde music experiment, with a score from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang.

Its world premiere is Dec. 3 at the 23rd Street Armory. It is a one-night-only event: After that, the instruments will be repaired and returned to schools.

But it may be the start of something even bigger.

“We’ve gotten many, many, many requests from school districts all around the country,” Lang said. They want to perform his symphony with their own broken orchestras. “To me, that’s a really beautiful thing — that it has given other people the opportunity to imagine how they can help to fix their own instruments.”

We’ve gotten many, many, many requests from school districts all around the country.
Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang

The Inquirer and Daily News first covered the launch of the project in February. The work started with collecting the instruments, and cataloging the special way in which each one is broken: horns with stuck valves and long-lost mouthpieces; violins and cellos missing bridges, let alone strings.

Now, Lang’s score is written, the musicians are hired, and rehearsals are underway.

Lang said that as he began listening to the recordings, what became clear is that the instruments were unreliable. A broken trumpet couldn’t be counted on to make trumpetish sounds.

“I wouldn’t be able to write a beautiful melody where every instrument plays the melody and you hear them blend,” he said. “So I designed a piece of music where the individual characteristics would come out and there’s a lot of independence in what they do”

The score is a mix of musical notation and written English — a solution he devised when he was writing Crowd Out, his composition for a thousand community members who yell, sing, whisper and clap. Symphony for a Broken Orchestra is divided into 10 sections with headers like “punching chords” and “mysterious again, for a short while.”

Altogether, it’s an exploration of the capabilities of the instruments — and of the performers.

“Oftentimes, when you see a musical performance, it seems to happen effortlessly,” Blackson said. “Here, the audience can connect to musicians because they can see that it’s a struggle to play, and that struggle is part of the humanity of the piece.”

The struggle got real for Kat Paffett, 39, during instrument distribution. She received a stand-up bass with no fingerboard, bridge, or case in which to bring it home.

Ben Mulholland, 35, was pleased with the French horn he received in a disintegrating case. “It’s broken in interesting ways. You can make it into a weird, farty whistle.”

As for Aidan Peterson, 11, a six-year veteran on the trumpet, he was confident.

“I know all I need to do is try my hardest and it will end up good,” he said.

At rehearsals, though, the effort was evident.

Natalie Martin led a group of about 20 musicians through a call-and-response section of the symphony, her broken cello croaking and rasping like a singer who’s long since worn out his vocal chords. Midway through the movement, half of someone’s clarinet clattered to the floor.

Martin gave directions like: “Whatever the person next to you is doing, try not to start at the same time as them. It’ll be like a real middle-school orchestra rehearsal.”

Then, Evan Kassof took the musicians through a percussion movement, bows tapping on wood and keys clacking open and shut, but with variations in volume and tempo.

“Loud! Angry! You want your instrument fixed!” he told the group. “There’s pain in here. We’re the voice of these broken instruments.”

Kassof, who has a doctorate in composition from Temple, started playing cello in his middle-school orchestra. He believes this work is important, even in a school district with many other financial pressures.

“Just fix the damn instruments, and they’ll fix the kids. A working cello will do a lot more than some new policy,” he said.

Then, Anna Drozdowski, the project manager, sent the musicians home with brief instructions: “Please, don’t try to fix your instruments at home. I know it’s tempting, but we will engage professionals to handle that. Also: Please don’t break them any more than they are already broken.”

So, what will 400 broken instruments sound like?

“Mysterious,” said Lang. “Powerful.”

“A beautiful mess,” said Drozdowski. “There are people as young as 9 and as old as 84 that are playing and there are people from almost every zip code in the city. That’s a testament to Philadelphia’s ability to come together around this issue.”

Owen Brown, band leader of Urban Classical and a former member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, had a different take: “I think it’s going to sounds like a desperate cry for help — which is exactly what’s going on.”

SMelamed@philly.com

215-854-5053

@samanthamelamed

A child is never too young for classical music. We’re pleased to share this article from HuffPost…

In The Digital Age, Young Kids Need Classical Music More Than Ever

And maybe the rest of us do, too.

M-IMAGEPHOTOGRAPHY VIA GETTY IMAGES

There’s a sticker on the plastic-wrapped CD I’m holding that reads, “Produced by Phil Ramone.” The late, great producer, who died in 2013, has a name brand that few other music producers can rival: He worked with Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Madonna and Sinéad O’Connor. This album, though, is a little different. It’s classical music, curated for children.

“He actually started as a child prodigy violinist,” said Marc Neikrug, a renowned classical composer who collaborated with Ramone on the album, “Sunken Cathedrals,” after being introduced by Dr. Rock Positano, a podiatrist with a special interest in music’s value to medicine. “The three of us were all very, very interested in promoting classical music to children, for many reasons.”

Parents have heard about the specific benefits of classical music for developing minds and calming babies for decades — imagine a mother playing Mozart through headphones stretched over her pregnant belly — but the scientific debate has continued to rage.

In an age when children develop surrounded by constant stimulation and distraction, however, Neikrug sees a very particular value in classical music. “I’m concerned about a world in which there is an almost corporate, aggressive move to lower people’s attention spans, so that your brain actually can’t focus for more than half a minute on anything without needing some other stimulus,” he told me. “That’s terrifying. How do you even absorb and learn things? How do you expect kids to do well in school?” With TV viewing consistently on the rise, including among very young children, some studies have suggested that frequently watching television as a small children or infant can harm attention spans later in childhood.

Where does classical music fit into this landscape? “I think it’s really important to let kids, at the earliest age, build some kind of ability to focus,” Neikrug said. “Great music can do that, because you’re drawn into what you’re listening to.” A two- or three-minute waltz may not seem so long to concentrate on, but it’s “a good attention span, for kids,” he said. “We picked the pieces very deliberately to be not too long.”

The pieces are calm, beautiful, and simple, the sort of music that won’t rile a kid up or throw up constant distractions. Much like reading aloud to a child, calm classical compositions engage a child in a form of entertainment that’s low-stimulus and substantive.

“I think it’s really important to let kids, at the earliest age, build some kind of ability to focus.”Marc Neikrug

All of the pieces on the two-part album are unadapted, complete works of classical music, either solo piano or piano with violin, from Schubert to Schumann, Mozart to Debussy. “Both Phil and I, and Dr. Rock, were completely convinced that we need little, short, beautiful pieces for kids. They happen to be really good for adults, also,” he points out, though the words “Classics for Kids” on the cover might scare some grown people off.

The ability to fully enjoy classical music later in life, Neikrug argued, is one of the potential benefits of playing classical music for a child. “If you listen to classical music at an early age, even if at the age of say, eight or nine to 20, they go off into that world [of popular music] […] if you come back to it, it’s the same as learning another language early,” he said.“They come back to it.”

This doesn’t mean you should toss all of your Raffi albums or trash all the screen devices in your home. “I’m not an advocate for disregarding the reality of living in this world,” Neikrug said. “I just don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. I would say someone who grows up able to focus for an hour […] and equally able to text under the table with one hand, is fine.”

So how does one get modern adults to pick up an album of classical tunes that might benefit their kids? “In the end, I think it’s the people,” said Neikrug. “Phil Ramone was one of the great record producers, and it’s two very respected people in the classical music world. It’s not Yanni. It’s not ‘Sesame Street.’” Parents who grew up on Ramone’s music — from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga — can let their babies do the same, even from infancy. Maybe, along the way, those babies will fall in love with the quiet joys of classical music.

We’re all aware of the many positive effects of music on learning and the brain, but what about classical music vs. jazz? An interesting article found on PsyPost…

Classical and Jazz musicians show different brain responses to unexpected events, study finds

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Scientists at Wesleyan University have used electroencephalography to uncover differences in how the brains of Classical and Jazz musicians react to an unexpected chord progression.

Their new study, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, sheds new light on the nature of the creative process.

“I have been a classical musician for many years, and have always been inspired by the great jazz masters who can improvise beautiful performances on the spot,” explained study author Psyche Loui. “Whenever I tried to improvise I always felt inhibited and self-conscious, and this spurred my questions about jazz improvisation as a model for creativity more generally: What makes people creative improvisers, and what can this tell us about how we can all learn to be more creative?”

The researchers used EEG to compare the electrical brain activity of 12 Jazz musicians (with improvisation training), 12 Classical musicians (without improvisation training), and 12 non-musicians while they listened to a series of chord progressions. Some of the chords followed a progression that was typical of Western music, while others had an unexpected progression.

Louie and her colleagues found that Jazz musicians had a significantly different electrophysiological response to the unexpected progression, which indicated they had an increased perceptual sensitivity to unexpected stimuli along with an increased engagement with unexpected events.

“Creativity is about how our brains treat the unexpected,” Loui told PsyPost. “Everyone (regardless of how creative) knows when they encounter something unexpected. But people who are more creative are more perceptually sensitive and more cognitively engaged with unexpectedness. They also more readily accept this unexpectedness as being part of the vocabulary.

“This three-stage process: sensitivity, engagement, and acceptance, occurs very rapidly, within a second of our brains encountering the unexpected event. With our design we can resolve these differences and relate them to creative behavior, and I think that’s very cool.”

Previous research has found that Jazz improvisers and other creative individuals show higher levels of openness to experience and divergent thinking — meaning the ability to “think outside the box.”

But without additional research it is unclear if the new findings apply to other creative individuals who are not musicians.

“We looked at three groups of subjects: jazz musicians, classical musicians, and people with no musical training other than normal schooling, so the results are most closely tied to musical training. It remains to be seen whether other types of creative groups, e.g. slam poets, cartoonists, interpretive dancers, etc. might show the same results,” Loui explained.

“It would also be important to find out whether these differences emerge as a result of training, or whether they reflect pre-existing differences between people who choose to pursue training in different styles. We are currently conducting a longitudinal study to get at that question.”

“This is the first paper of a string of research coming from our lab that use different methodologies to understand jazz improvisation,” Loui added. “We are also doing structural and functional MRI, as well as more behavioral testing, including psychophysical listening tests and also production tests, where we have people play music in our lab.”

The study, “Jazz musicians reveal role of expectancy in human creativity“, was also co-authored by Emily Przysinda, Tima Zeng, Kellyn Maves, and Cameron Arkin.

A LESSON FROM TED-Ed on how how playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Lesson by Anita Collins, animation by Sharon Colman Graham.

View full lesson: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-playing…

ACADEMIC SUCCESS COULD INVOLVE MUSIC TO YOUR EARS

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Here’s an idea many families may be wise to note: Research shows letting your kids learn music can help them do better in other subjects and enhances skills they’ll need in other areas.

LEND AN EAR TO EXPERT ADVICE

“The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” explains Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.” What’s more, a study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in Psychological Science, found an increase in the IQs of 6-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons.

Another study, led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found children who had just 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks.

According to many music teachers, the piano can be a great first instrument. There are several reasons. First, pianos are simple to play; children can begin their music studies as soon as their fingers can reach all the keys. In addition, a piano can help students learn to read music because it’s easy to see the relationships between pitches in both melodies and chords and the way they look written out on the staff.

Regular piano playing sharpens fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination in the young. Plus, studying piano has been shown to improve memory and build good habits such as focus and perseverance, diligence and creativity.

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A TEACHER FOR YOUR CHILD OR YOURSELF? Contact us at Jacobs Music and we will be happy to help you find the perfect piano teacher to guide your musical journey.

 

Children-Helping-Children at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts with a Perform-a-Thon for the Love Orphanage in Haiti…

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We at Jacobs Music were very happy to present forty-six talented young pianists on a unique Steinway Piano at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on October 14th. The children participated in a Perform-a-thon which raised much needed funds for the Love Orphanage in Haiti.

The orphanage was founded by Haitian native Gabriel Fedulis in 2011 in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. In natural disasters, children often face the most severe suffering. Some of the children were orphaned or abandoned as a result of the earthquake; others have almost always lived in homeless poverty. They faced life-threatening conditions – lacking basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and sanitation. Through consistent love and attention, all have been nurtured back to stable health. The continuing mission of Love Orphanage is “to change the lives of impoverished children in Haiti by providing a stable and safe home that nurtures the whole child – mental, emotional, and physical well-being.”

BRAVO to all!

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