Article on “Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who’s Doing It Best”

February 26, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Kindermusik | 1 Comment
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The following article was in the February, 2009 issue of Edutopia

“Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who’s Doing It Best”

… Art and music are key to student development. by Fran Smith

“Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence,” sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. Arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it’s closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual’s life — according to the report, they “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,” creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. “Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,” says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education.
It has become a mantra in education that No Child Left Behind, with its pressure to raise test scores, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts (and science, social studies, and everything else besides reading and math). Evidence supports this contention — we’ll get to the statistics in a minute — but the reality is more complex. Arts education has been slipping for more than three decades, the result of tight budgets, an ever-growing list of state mandates that have crammed the classroom curriculum, and a public sense that the arts are lovely but not essential.

This erosion chipped away at the constituencies that might have defended the arts in the era of NCLB — children who had no music and art classes in the 1970s and 1980s may not appreciate their value now. “We have a whole generation of teachers and parents who have not had the advantage of arts in their own education,” says Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), a national coalition of arts, business, education, philanthropic, and government organizations. (read more)

Video of Dancing to a Hank Drum after Kindermusik class… :)

February 24, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in Kindermusik | Leave a comment
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In Imagine That Cities we are exploring the music of cities. When my husband made his first “hank” drum out of a propane tank it reminded me of street musicians…so I encouraged him to bring it to our Imagine That class and share. The video is just one student after class dancing, while her father and my husband have fun on the “Hank” drum…. 🙂

Jose Antonio Abreu: Help me bring music to kids worldwide (TED Prize winner!)

February 21, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Kindermusik | Leave a comment
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Fellow Educator, Merri Williams wrote the following post and found it to be something I wanted to share with you. I also am a member of TED and couldn’t have said this any better myself.

…I don’t honestly remember how I first found  I guess it was a link sent by a friend or one of those days I was surfing the web, traveling from link to link, reading whatever caught my interest.  In any event,  I was so fascinated by the expansive offerings on TED that I subscribed to their newsletter.

This week’s e-newsletter shared one of the three winning TED wishes ($100K prize) this year  – that of Dr. Jose Abreu of Venezuela,  a 70-year-old retired economist, trained musician, and social reformer who founded “the system” (El Sistema) in 1975 and has built it with religious zeal, based on his belief that what poor Venezuelan kids needed was classical music.

Abreu’s wish?  To take El Sistema to other nations, including the United States.

El Sistema is all about children,  many from neighborhoods which are so poor, desperate and crime-ridden, that hope is often extinguished in children at an early age, living in areas where residents don’t walk alone day or night.  And it’s focus is about saving them – hundreds of thousands of children – through music.

According to Dr. Abreu, music is a social system that fights poverty and overcomes it by the spiritual richness that music provides, becoming a vehicle of social change.

Each day, children from some of the poorest of the poor slums in Venezuela line up for free lessons at their local branch of El Sistema.  Beginning as early as two years of age, they start learning the basics, like rhythm, and the language of music.  (Sounds like Kindermusik!)

By the time they’re four, they’re being taught how to play an instrument. By the time they’re six or seven-year-old veterans, they’re playing in orchestras.

Through hard work and the assistance of fifteen thousand trained musicians as well as gifted kids who teach other kids, the system uses classical music to instill in the kids self-esteem and confidence.

In the thirty-four years since El Sistema was first founded, over eight hundred thousand children have passed through the organization.  While the majority of them do not continue on to be professional musicians, all of them are changed.

Dr. Abreu is quoted as saying,

“Music produces an irreversible transformation in a child. This doesn’t mean he’ll end up as a professional musician. He may become a doctor, or study law, or teach literature. What music gives him remains indelibly part of who he is forever.”

When asked if he thinks the system could work in the United States, one Sistema branch manager said:

“Yeah. But I mean, kids are kids. It doesn’t matter where they come from. And if you can help a poor kid in here, you can help a poor kid everywhere. It doesn’t matter the culture, it doesn’t matter the race. I mean, it’s music. Everybody love music.”

Make sure your computer is hooked up to a good set of speakers, turn up the sound, sit back, and prepare to be completely blown away by the power and beauty of  the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra (Sinfónica Juvenil Teresa Carreño), the national high-school-age youth orchestra of El Sistema, directed by Gustavo Dudamel,  newly named musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and product of El Sistema himself.   The two selections are Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, 2nd movement, and Mexican composer Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2. 

To learn more about Dr. Abreu, El Sistema, and making Dr. Abreu’s wish come true, please visit here.

To view the El Sistema segment by Bob Simon on 60 Minutes, please follow this link.

To learn more about Dr. Abreu, El Sistema, and making Dr. Abreu’s wish come true, please visit here.

To view the El Sistema segment by Bob Simon on 60 Minutes, please follow this link.

Thanks Merri for sharing this!

Kindermusik birthday party – fun for all ages “A mom’s point of view”

February 8, 2009 at 3:28 am | Posted in Kindermusik | Leave a comment
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My son just turned 2 and we had his birthday party at Kindermusik of Clayton. It was so much fun and Miss Julie took care of everything! All I had to do was bring the food. When we arrived the room was decorated and everything was set up, including a table for food and a gift table. We had gathering time for a few minutes until all the guests arrived. Miss Julie taylored the whole event around my son’s favorite Kindermusik songs from our time in classes. The drum circle was a hit with all the kids and the parents, too! We had guests ranging from newborn to 4 years old as well as Moms and Dads, and everyone had a blast! Miss Julie even included an instrument for each child to take home. Over all we had a great time and it didn’t cost much more than throwing a party in my own home would have, but it was MUCH easier on me! Thank you Miss Julie!

submitted by Jennifer Hawley, mom to Nathaniel.

George Beverly Shea is 100 years old today!

February 1, 2009 at 10:04 pm | Posted in Kindermusik | 1 Comment
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George Beverly Shea, a singing Icon is 100 years old today and still singing. A song a day not only makes your smarter, but also keeps you young at heart, young in spirit, and sometimes young in body. I heard him sing in Cleveland at the Billy Graham Revival at Cleveland Indians Stadium in 1969 ??? ! 🙂

At 100, Billy Graham singer’s voice still booming

Associated Press Writer

Posted: Jan. 31 3:25 p.m.
Updated: Today at 8:35 a.m.

MONTREAT, N.C. — George Beverly Shea is skipping from memory to memory of his globe-trotting career as evangelist Billy Graham’s crusade crooner. When words can’t explain, he bellows out a song.

“Oh, can it be, upon a tree, the Savior died for me?” Shea sings from a John Newton hymn, his raw and rumbling voice describing how music fits into ministry. “My soul is thrilled, my heart is filled, to think He died for me.”

Shea planned to celebrate his 100th birthday Sunday, and the songs that defined his career still burst out in a signature bass-baritone that can quiet a room in an instant. Shea worked with Graham for more than half a century, making him one of the world’s most-recognized voices: He’s sung live in front of an estimated 200 million people. And he’s still making special appearances without his longtime partner. (read more)

Song Around the World “Stand By Me” is an excellent view of Music Around the World as we begin our newest class of Imagine That “Cities~ Busy Places, Friendly Faces”

February 1, 2009 at 4:56 am | Posted in Kindermusik | Leave a comment
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One of the things I love about teaching Kindermusik to preschool and elementary age children is the opportunity to enlighten them about the rich and wonderful “world” of music. This semester our focus in Imagine That class is “Cities~Busy Places, Friendly Faces” where we enjoy music from cities all over the world and explore things like street vendor music, city rhythms, high and low musical concepts that are mirrored in the high buildings and elevators and escalators, the sounds of the city, street musicians, concert halls, ballet dancers, jazz musicians and much more. When I heard this video version of “Stand by Me” it reminded me of how in Kindermusik class we become a community and support each other teacher to parent, parent to child, family to family, student to teacher, friend to friend. What a wonderful way to explore the thought of standing by each other all over the world. Enjoy this version of a favorite song.

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