Hats off to Teaching Artists!

Hats off to Teaching Artists!

Today, our MUST Teaching Artists have their first days of school in San Lorenzo! Some are returning to the classroom for the umpteenth time, and some are stepping into their role as teacher for the first time ever.  Teaching is not an easy job, whether it’s eight hours in a classroom or 60 minutes after school. But it’s because of the dedication and love that our teaching artists put into their work that kids in the Bay Area have the opportunity to learn Piano, Guitar, Modern Salsa Dance, Comic Book Arts, and many more fun and invaluable skills. Teachers are where the pedal of arts education meets the metal of the classroom. They are the ones who inspire, motivate, and care for kids in the classroom. The task can seem daunting, and at times it can be a heavy burden, but to see the look on a child’s face when a lesson finally “clicks” makes it all worth it. Teaching Artists help students move mountains, so they can continue to do so themselves for the rest of their creative lives. Author John Steinbeck wrote: “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” These individuals who spend their lives molding the mind and freeing the spirit are the heart of music education. They are the sole reason we can continue to reach more and more students every year. It is thanks to their expertise, hard...
Four BIG ways to support the arts and humanities this month.

Four BIG ways to support the arts and humanities this month.

Ah, October. Just the word conjures up images of pumpkins, warm sweaters, apple cider, Halloween, and cozying up by a bonfire. But it should also evoke thoughts of art, music, poetry, literature, and dance because October is National Arts and Humanities Month! National Arts & Humanities Month was established in 1993 and is celebrated every October in the United States. It was initiated to encourage Americans to explore new facets of the arts and humanities in their lives, and to begin a lifelong habit of participation in the arts and humanities. It has become the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts. National Arts and Humanities Month’s four goals are: FOCUSING on the arts at local, state, and national levels ENCOURAGING individuals and organizations to participate in the arts ALLOWING governments and businesses to show their support of the arts RAISING public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives Here are some ways to celebrate this month! Get your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors in on celebrating the humanities with you: Focus on the arts at a local level by becoming a teaching artist or docent, visiting a museum or independent bookstore, attending your local Literature Week, visiting the theatre, or volunteering at your local library. Encourage your family and friends to participate in the arts by hosting an art night at home, going to see an outdoor concert, learning a new instrument or a new art technique. Allow your government and local businesses to support the arts by reviewing your local and state propositions before voting this November! Support local arts advocacy groups with a donation or by volunteering for...
4 Easy Ways Parents Can Support Music Education

4 Easy Ways Parents Can Support Music Education

This week’s blog post is by guest blogger Scott Jenkins. Scott is Editor at architypes.net and a writer. You can see more from him on Twitter at @scottjenkins. Thanks, Scott!  With more and more school districts cutting funding to art classes, the music classes that your child needs and loves could be at risk. And even if your child’s music classes aren’t at risk, do you know how to encourage your child to nurture their musical education? Fortunately, there are some easy ways to do just that. Here’s how parents can support their children’s music education at home and at school. Show up One of the most important things a parent can do for their child’s musical education is to show up to the concerts, recitals, and musical events. Show your support for your child and the music classes that are inspiring them by attending these events and even encouraging the school to host more of them. Performing in front of an audience builds confidence, encourages dedication to their instrument, and helps your child learn about self-control and hard work. Reward their efforts by being there and showing that you care about their musical education. Encourage practice, don’t force it Well-meaning parents can destroy a child’s love of music by punishing them for not practicing often enough. Instead of punishing your child for not practicing, work on encouraging them to want to improve. Support their practice times by offering the space and an ear, if needed, so they can get feedback. Even if you don’t know the first thing about music, you can still lend moral support and become your child’s...
Musical Instruments of the Ancient World

Musical Instruments of the Ancient World

For all the time humans have been able to hear, we have loved playing and listening to music. But when did we begin creating instruments with which to play this music? MUST Program Assistant, Megan, had the opportunity this summer to visit The Louvre in Paris and see some of the ancient Egyptian musical instruments in their collections. This got us thinking about the histories of the instruments play every day. Where did they come from? How have they changed? Join us on a brief trip through history, and learn more about your favorite instruments! The bodyThe earliest musical instruments were the human body itself! Singing, clapping, drumming on the body–the human body requires no storage, next to no upkeep, and little-to-no training to get started. No wonder it’s still one of the most common instruments today! Though techniques and styles have changed over the millennia (beat-boxing, or tongue-singing anyone?), the mechanism has remained the same! Early percussionOnce early peoples realized they could make sounds with the impact of one body part against the other, they began to experiment with using tools to make different sounds. Clappers, rhythm sticks, and percussion blocks made of shells, plants, or stone were used to keep time and accompany the voice. Egyptian cymbals at The Louvre In Mesopotamia, round 2500 BCE, images of instruments became common. Much of our knowledge of early instrument come from these illustrations and sculptures. The sistrum was an early metal shaker from Mesopotamia, with metal rings on adjustable bars, so the musician could adjust the amount of rattle that came from the shaker. These were later common in...
Summer at Oakland Feather River Camp

Summer at Oakland Feather River Camp

This summer, our Music Integration Director, Ami Molinelli, spent time at Oakland Feather River Camp bringing music to kids in the middle of the California wilderness.. The following is an account of the camp and it’s music teachers from Alexa Weber Morales.  It’s hard to stay inside after a week of living outdoors, swimming in creeks and mountain lakes, making music and dancing, reading, hiking, socializing and, before bed, seeing the Milky Way snaking across the star-spattered sky. That’s my life at Oakland Feather River Camp (http://featherrivercamp.com), where I’ve taught various classes and been the artist in residence during music week for the past 12 years. It’s a low-key family atmosphere, rustic and relaxing. It’s also kid heaven. They get dirty, learn to swim, play ping pong, board games and “Sardines”, and wholly entertain themselves away from electronic devices. Classes include: Group Ensemble, Beginning Ukelele, Beginning Brazilian Percussion, Salsa/Samba Aerobics, Voice Technique and Recycled Rhythm. I share vocal technique, lead early morning salsa aerobics, put together the final show lineup, and rehearse with the impromptu ensembles that form throughout the week. Joining me for the last several years are percussionist Ami Molinelli and guitarist Brian Moran. Read on for more about the teachers… AMI MOLINELLI – Brazilian percussion Ami Molinelli is a professional percussionist and educator specializing in Brazilian and Latin percussion, especially the pandeiro.  She is the co-leader of the Brazilian choro and jazz ensemble, Grupo Falso Baiano. Ami received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and has studied at the Universidade Federal da Bahia in Salvador.  She has studied with master percussionists Michael Spiro, John Bergamo, Randy Gloss, and Guello to name a few. As...

Happy Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day!

Do you know what a hydraulophone is? How about a bladderpipe? You’ve heard of the sousaphone, but what about the zeusaphone? July 31 is Uncommon Musical Instrument Awareness Day, a day to celebrate odd, rare, experimental, and uncommon musical instruments. We’ve chosen three unusual instruments to share with you today, ranging from the electrifying to the stomach-turning to the nutritious. Next time you think about picking up a new instrument, consider one of these: Zeusaphone The zuesaphone is a “singing” Tesla coil, a kind of transformer circuit. Zuesaphones use electricity to produce a frequency that can then be turned into music, much like a theremin. The name is a combination of “sousaphone” and “Zeus”, the Greek god who hurls lightning at his enemies. The zuesaphone makes a buzzy, synth-like noise that sounds like it’s straight out of science fiction.   Bladderpipe The bladderpipe is a very old instrument dating to the middle ages. It is similar to a bagpipe, but smaller and somewhat more simplified. No bladder pipes have survived from the Middle Ages or from the Renaissance. However, they are pictured in various historical manuscripts. The “cap”, or bag, of the bladderpipe was make from animal bladders, which the musician filled with air in order to play.   The Vegetable Orchestra The Vegetable Orchestra is an Austrian musical group who use instruments made entirely from fresh vegetables. Their instruments, which are all of their own invention, include carrot recorders, clappers made from eggplant, trumpets made from zucchini, and numerous others, which are amplified with the use of special microphones. The instruments are made from scratch just one hour prior to each performance using the freshest vegetables available, then all ninety pounds of vegetables...