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West Music’s Residency Sponsorship Shows The Power of Music Therapy
By West Music Company
3/10/2016 10:21:00 AM  

The music therapy discipline is a fundamental and highly respected element of care for people with dementia, developmental and learning disabilities, brain injuries, and many other conditions—and the University of Iowa School of Music has contributed in important ways to its growth, through training therapists and conducting foundational research.

Rhapsodie String Quartet
The Rhapsodie String Quartet of the Madison Symphony Orchestra

Later this month, the UI and eastern Iowa community will have a chance to learn  about a successful music therapy-informed program, when the UI and West Music team up to bring the Madison Symphony Orchestra's HeartStrings program—a community engagement initiative that serves children and adults with special needs—for a two-day residency.

The MSO's Rhapsodie String Quartet will host a free, public "Under the Hood" program in the University Capitol Centre Recital Hall from 12:30 p.m.-1:20 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. The event will feature the Rhapsodie String Quartet, MSO Director of Community Engagement Kathryn Schwarzmann, MSO music therapist Laurie Farnan, and UI music and music therapy educators.

"Anyone with an interest in music with special populations will find the Under the Hood event a fascinating exploration of the development of the MSO's HeartStrings program," said Mary Adamek, head of the Music Therapy Area of the UI School of Music.

During their residency, the Rhapsodie String Quartet will also perform in a specially designed HeartStrings program for residents of Iowa City's Oaknoll Retirement Residence and their families. The Oaknoll session will be closed to the public.

The residency is co-sponsored by the UI Music Therapy Program, the UI String Quartet Residency Program, the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and West Music.


About HeartStrings

HeartStrings is the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s award-winning, music therapy-informed community engagement program that serves children and adults with special needs, including developmental and physical disabilities, long-term illnesses, assisted living needs, and dementia.

The program aims to serve participants by enhancing their quality of life and overcoming the barrier presented by concert halls by bringing live, high-quality classical music to them through a series of highly participatory music sessions.

HeartStrings is presentedby the MSO’s Rhapsodie Quartet at community partner locations which include healthcare facilities, state institutions, and retirement communities.


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Tags: University of Iowa School of Music, Madison Symphony Orchestra, HeartStrings, Rhapsodie String Quartet, under the hood, Kathryn Schwarzmann, MSO, Laurie Farnan, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies
Categories: Music Therapy, Music Advocacy
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Sour note? How to encourage, not nag, a child to practice a musical instrument
By West Music Company
1/13/2016 10:00:00 AM  

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Tags: John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, practice, child, student, encourage, sour note,
Categories: Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Choose to Teach
By West Music Company
10/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Choose to TeachHow do you know if you want to become a music teacher? Some students just know, and others make that decision when considering career options. For many students, sharing the joy of music becomes their passion.

This tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Choose to Teach presents information that will assist you and your students in making an informed choice. Becoming a music teacher can be an extremely rewarding and challenging career. If you love to make music and enjoy working with others, there is no better way to convey that passion than by sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm as a professional music educator.

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Audience Guidelines
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Audience GuidelinesBecoming a discerning, supportive and knowledgeable audience member is an important part of a student’s education. Successful audience participation requires skill, discretion, common sense, discipline and a bit of knowledge.

Discover some great ways to set expectations for your audiences, in a variety of settings, in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Audience Guidelines

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Marion October 2015 Musician of the Month: Brady Diercks
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 8:00:00 AM  
Brady Diercks is an acoustic guitar student of Garth McMann. He has been taking lessons with Garth for 2 years. Brady is a home school student and is in the 5th grade. Garth nominated Brady because he has just finished book 1 of the Mel Bay Beginning Guitar Instruction. One of Brady’s musical goals is to complete all the Mel Bay guitar books. His advice to other musicians is to practice and work hard.

Brady says’”music is really fun to learn and you can make your own songs.” His favorite types of music include country and pop. Some of his other interests include football, baseball, and bowling. He participates in soccer and future problem solving. Something that might surprise you about Brady is that he goes by his middle name. His first name is Robert.

Congratulations Brady! Keep up the good work!

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Tags: Brady Diercks, Garth McMann, acoustic guitar,
Categories: West Music Marion, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Concert Thoughts
By West Music Company
9/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Concert ThoughtsToo many excellent presentations are tainted by failure to take care of the many details of a production. We must take full advantage of the opportunities awaiting our students. The concert is our students' opportunity to show their parents or community audiences what they can do.

See an organized approach to creating a smooth-running, successful presentation where the students, audience, administration and support staff all understand their roles and expectations in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Concert Thoughts

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Expanding the Learning Power of Music
By West Music Company
9/1/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Expanding the Learning Power of MusicThe contemporary student comes to the classroom with a sophisticated knowledge of computers. It is vital that we creatively approach and utilize the application of available technology to engage students and enhance learning. Multimedia learning provides teachers, including music teachers, the opportunity to be at the core of communications.

See an overview of how to apply current multimedia approaches to learning in the arts to attract and engage students and to enhance your program in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Expanding the Learning Power of Music

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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15 Reasons to Take Up The Drums
By West Music Company
8/28/2015 10:30:00 AM  
With a new school year beginning, now is the perfect time to learn a new instrument. Whether you’re starting school band or just want to develop a new skill, the best time to pick up a new instrument is always right now. Drums are a perfect choice for someone who wants to get involved in music without spending a lot of money, and most school band programs are always looking for additions to their percussion section.

Never been interested in the drums before today? Check out this article from Mamiverse.com: “15 Reasons to Take Up the Drums”. There are a lot of benefits beyond simply learning the drums that you may not have considered.

1. It’s a great time! Playing the drums is actually fun. Whether you do it like a pro or you just pound away on the bongo drum, it’s exciting and entertaining. You can be silly, you can be strong, you can play with different rhythms and you can collaborate with different instruments. And anyone can try it. Even an infant can create a beautiful sound using a drum.

2. You can improve your coordination. Some would argue that drumming requires more coordination than any other instrument because you are required to focus on one pattern with one hand and a different rhythm with your other hand. You create different sounds with different hands at the same time. Sounds difficult, right? Well, it is, but as you learn to use the drums and perfect your drumming skills you are also going to enhance your coordination overall.

 3. Drumming may give your immune system a boost. Drum circles have been used in healing rituals for centuries and in cultures around the globe. There is currently limited scientific data to support whether or not drumming actually can help heal, and it is still somewhat a mystery why it works. But studies have shown that drumming results in increased activity in natural killer cells. NK cells play a huge role in a healthy immune system by providing a rapid, innate response to infected cells in the body.

4. Drumming can make you smarter. Here’s some incentive to take up drumming—studies have shown that drumming may increase your IQ. Research also implies that drummers have an ability to tap into a natural rhythmic pattern found in elements throughout the earth. So basically, they are better at problem solving and more in tune with nature than the rest of us.

5. As a drummer you will feel like a rock star. Sure, the lead singer might be the most famous and the guitar player gets the most instrumental solos, but there is no denying that drummers are true rock stars with the ability to steal the show and truly capture the attention of millions. When you think about your favorite rock song, imagine it without the drum beat. Not so awesome, right?

6. Drumming helps to develop creative skills. If you learn to play drums, it encourages you to be creative with sounds, rhythm and movement. You have the freedom to see where the rhythm takes you when you move your body in a different way. And you can inspire creativity with kids as well but helping demonstrate different drumbeats and watching how they mimic you and then experiment on their own.

7. It can be helpful for learning social skills. Sure, you can practice musical skills solo, but typically when a child learns to play an instrument he is not only practicing with a teacher but also with other kids. Working in a group environment is an excellent opportunity to socialize and improve interpersonal skills as you learn to work well with others.

8. It’s a great workout. There’s a reason that PoundFit classes are dedicated to the motions used while drumming. Using your upper body and your lower body to create drum beats burns calories and a lot of energy. An hour-long drumming session can burn over 200 calories! It’s no wonder rock stars are in such good shape.

9. Playing drums can help relieve stress. It’s no coincidence that you feel your levels of stress and anxiety diminish when you hear or play certain music. Rhythm, and more specifically the act of drumming, has been shown to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol. Drumming can give you energy, can relax you and can help you blow off steam, resulting in a more healthy mood.

10. Drum work can help fight depression. Research has shown that drumming can have a positive psychological effect, to the point where it may help fight depression and help you work through traumatic experiences in your post. According to the Daily Beast, a 2008 study with veterans suffering from PTSD showed that drumming created an “…increased sense of openness, togetherness, belonging, sharing, closeness, connectedness and intimacy” as well as helping subjects regain a sense of self-control.”

11. Using drums can help you to understand music. The components of music are complicated and understanding how music is composed is not an easy feat. But drum beats are the foundation of so many musical productions, so understanding the rhythm of the drum and where that beat comes from can help you improve your understanding of music overall.

12. Drumming can sharpen your concentration. You have to truly focus in order to play the drums, or at least play the drums well. Your arms are doing several things at once while your feet do something different and your entire body needs to keep the beat. Not a simple task. Learning the drums will help you train your mind to focus intensely on several tasks at once while also using your body. And if you can use that concentration for almost anything.

13. You will improve your reflexes. Drumming requires extremely quick movements of the hands, fingers and feet in order to maintain the beat and work on several different tasks at one time. By training your body to excel at drumming you will simultaneously improve your reflexes, as your body will be more accustomed to quick, repeated movements.

14. Working with drums improves your rhythm. Some people are born with good rhythm and an ability to heat the musical beat. Some need to work at it, but either way, using the drums will enhance your rhythm in everything you do. And it’s great for teaching children rhythm as well. You can start by drumming simple beats and showing them how to repeat your actions.

15. As a strong drummer you become the center of a band. Without a good drummer a band is just a lot of noise. If you learn how to play drums, you set the tone, the beat, the rhythm and the mood of a song. A strong drummer can enhance any band or any musical production, which makes it an invaluable musical skill.

Read the full article at mamiverse.com
 

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Tags: drums, drumming, back to school, band, percussion, exercise, 15 reasons, develop
Categories: Drums & Percussion, Music Advocacy
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Practice Tips for Young Musicians
By West Music Company
8/23/2015 2:57:00 PM  
Practice tips for young and beginning musicians
It’s been said a trillion times, and for good reason: practice is absolutely essential for growth as a musician. You can never expect to grow if you don’t understand the value of a good practice session. Marathon runners exercise every day in order to be prepared to run those 26.2 miles. Musicians need daily practice as well to ensure that they will perform their very best.

Music is a mental activity, but it also has a physical element that is often overlooked by younger musicians. The greatest players in the world have such highly developed muscle memory in their arms, hands, feet, wrists, fingers, mouths, etc. that they are able to focus much more on the music - their tone, tempo, dynamics, etc.

Muscle memory isn’t developed over night. You need to spend enough time with your instrument that it becomes second nature. If you spend enough time with any tool it will gradually become easier to use. It’s been said that it takes 10,000 hours of focused practice to become an expert at something, and this is certainly true for musicians. After a while, you’ll notice that you can repeat melodies by ear, accurately reproduce sounds that were only in your head, and match pitches much easier than you could before you had logged a good amount of practice time. The goal is to get to a point where the instrument is an extension of yourself –where it’s no longer you vs. the instrument, but instead, one cohesive organism, both parts working perfectly together.

Here are three essential tips that can help you get the most out of your practice time, and help you to develop correct muscle memory:
 
1. Use a metronome
I’m going to sound like your band director here, but this one thing is arguably the most important tip I can give: practice with a metronome! It doesn’t have to be so loud and obnoxious that you hear it in your sleep, or so fast that you can barely keep up, but it’s absolutely essential that your practice is guided by an accurate time keeper. Practicing scales and rudiments with a metronome will train your muscles to move in time, and slowly your hands will find it much easier to play with accurate time when there is no metronome – performances for example. Having a metronome accompany your practice sessions will also train your ears to lock into a set tempo and be able to hear if it starts to slow down or speed up. This writer can say from experience, even if you’re not the most technically advanced player in your group, if you have the most developed sense of time, you will be the most valuable player.

Need a Metronome?


2. Warm up
Why do athletes stretch before games? They’ve played the game before, their minds are familiar with what their bodies need to do to win; so why is it important for them to warm up? The answer is simple: the faster their muscles are able to respond, the faster they can react to what their opponent is doing. In this metaphor, the opponent is a new piece of music.

The goal of any practice session should be to fine tune techniques, scales, chords, and songs you already know, but to also work on things that you haven’t mastered. Difficult theory, strange scales or chord shapes, and complex time signatures will be much easier to wrap your head around if your body is warmed up and can quickly respond. Say you’ve mastered a piece of music. You’ve completely memorized it start to finish, perfected it, you could play it in your sleep – your body has already formed strong muscle memory with this tune so not warming up may hinder your speed/fluidity, but your hands will still know exactly when and which notes to play (although it will probably sound a little sloppy). For a song you’re just beginning to learn, your muscles aren’t familiar with the placement of notes yet. Thoroughly warming up will eliminate any issues with your body not responding quickly to your brain while working through a brand new piece of music, and you’ll have the song learned much faster than if you had to struggle through waiting on your fingers to warm up while you focus on melodies and phrasing.

3. Have fun!
Music is fun. That sentence probably seems pretty obvious to anyone who has decided to dedicate their time and energy into learning an instrument. Even with all the difficulty, frustration, and anxiety that can sometimes come with practice, the act of creating music is a purely wonderful and enjoyable phenomenon. Like with any athlete, their practices and workouts can be extremely difficult, but they power through because playing the game at a higher level than they could before makes it more enjoyable and beneficial for them.

Practice the things you need to practice, but don’t feel bad about taking a few minutes to play though an old favorite or just experimenting with interesting new sounds and ideas – this leads to inspiration, and inspiration leads to growth. Turn on the TV and try to follow along with the melodies of commercial jingles or movie scores, put on an album and try to follow along with the recorded musicians. A clear goal and direction are highly important for a productive practice session, but to repeat what was stated earlier, any time spent with your instrument in your hands gets you a little closer to reaching your goals. Pick it up and don’t put it down!

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Tags: practice, practice tips, warm up, metronome, have fun, young musician, beginner
Categories: Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Helping Teachers Succeed
By West Music Company
8/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Helping Teachers SucceedMentoring is a powerful approach to help new teachers be successful in their first years of teaching. The strength of the program lies in the support and assistance of the trained mentors - colleagues of the new teachers - who have a wealth of experience, skills and resources to provide support.

Review an examination of critical aspects and practices that foster successful mentoring programs in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Helping Teachers Succeed

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.


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Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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