Instrument of the Month: The Horn

Instrument of the Month: The Horn

Welcome to a new recurring feature on the MUST blog: Instrument of the Month! Each month, we will be featuring a new instrument, it’s history, fun facts, and some famous musicians who play it. November’s Instrument of the Month is the horn! Modern horns are instruments resembling a flared tube, often curved and with keys to produce different sounds. The oldest horns were actually just that: an animal horn with a hole drilled in the narrow end. You can see examples of these ancient instruments in the ram’s horn used in Judaism or the African kudu horn. Metal instruments based on the shape of animal horns survive from as early as the 10th-century BCE. The areas that are now Scandinavia and Italy had early examples of metal horns, as did China with their suona (though technically a reed instrument). Early metal horns were less complex than modern horns. By the 17th-century, there were two kinds of horn: the trompe, made in a crescent shape, and the cor à plusieurs tours, a tightly coiled, spiraled horn. These were generally used for hunting, but later evolved into the brass instruments used today. (Above: a trompe, and a French horn, based on the earlier cor à plusieurs tours) Amongst the first written records of horn music are hunting-horn signals, which date back to the fourteenth century. The earliest of these is The Art of Hunting (1327) by William Twiti, who uses syllables such as “moot”, “trout”, and “trourourout” to describe a number of calls involved in various stages of the hunt. Apart from hunting calls, there is no surviving music from before the seventeenth century that specifies use of the horn....
The Haunted History of Halloween Music

The Haunted History of Halloween Music

Halloween has its roots in the Celtic holiday Samhain (pronounced “sow-in”). Samhain was the day before the Celtic new year, and it was believed that during that seasonal transition, that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. It was believed that on Samhain, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. This holiday coincides with many other harvest-time holidays, such as the Roman Feralia or the Scandinavian Álfablót.   Kormáks saga is an Icelandic poem from the Middle Ages that relates to Álfablót. One verse reads as such: Brightly shone the beamingbrow-moons of the goodlylady linen-dight, howlike a hawk’s, upon me;but that beam from forehead’s-bright-hued-orbs, I fear me,of the Eir-of-gold dothill spell for us later.(source) An example of what poetry from Kormáks saga sounds like. This eerie and otherworldly recounting of meeting a spirit at the harvest bonfire sacrifice of Álfablót could well be interpreted as a predecessor of today’s ghost stories or spooky songs. It also related to the Celtic traditions of “mumming” and “guising“. From at least the 16th century, the Celtic Samhain included dressing in costumes and putting on plays in Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Wales. This involved people going house-to-house in costume (or in disguise), usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. One such song that may have been sung and acted out is Sir Cawline, a “child’s ballad” from at least before the 19th century. It is an English version of a much older Norse Myth, Myth of Ymir, which is associated with Álfablót and Samhain. “Guisers” would act out the fight scenes of the ballad in costume: They fought up, so did they down, they fought...
10 Incredible Ways Arts Education Improves Learning

10 Incredible Ways Arts Education Improves Learning

We all know how good it feels to pick up and instrument, draw, paint, dance, or listen to music–but did you know your favorite hobby is also proven to make you smarter, kinder, and more ready to take on life?  Scientists have been studying the effects of music education and the arts on people for years, and now the secret is out: adding music education to your day can make you the best version of yourself. Don’t believe us? Check out these 10 ways arts education can improve your life! 1. Musicians score higher on testsStudents in high-quality school music programs score higher on standardized tests compared to students in schools with deficient music education programs, regardless of the socioeconomic level of the school or school district. 2. Young musicians are more ready for school than their peersThere is a growing body of evidence that early engagement in active music-making impacts beneficially on children’s wider development. Children who participate in shared music-making at age 3 are better prepared for school experiences at age 5. 3. The arts make you more empatheticA study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to the development of greed and a “me first” attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other cultures at an early age. 4. Music class can improve SAT scores!On the 2012 SAT, students who participated in music scored an average of 31 points above average in reading, 23 points above...
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...
Change lives: become a MUST Teaching Artist!

Change lives: become a MUST Teaching Artist!

MUST is looking for enthusiastic artists to teach students in the East Bay! Could you be who we’re looking for? Read on to find out more! We are looking for Teaching Artists to teach singing, dance, comic book making, and fashion design. MUST hires Teaching Artists to teach dozens of art forms in an after-school setting for the San Lorenzo Unified School District’s elementary and middle schools. Teaching Artists use their own curriculum and bring their expertise in their art form to their teaching. Teaching Artists are part of a team of 26 teaching artists providing all schools in San Lorenzo with access to the arts. RESIDENCY DETAILS: Dates: October 16, 2018, to mid-Jan 2019Days: Tuesdays & ThursdaysTime: 2:40 – 3:40 (Elementary); 3:05 – 4:05 (Middle)Location: San LorenzoPay is: $75 per hr for 16 sessions over an eight-week period 1) One or more years experience teaching children either as a volunteer or paid position.2) Expertise in their art form.3) Kind, enthusiastic and encouraging attitude toward students. 4) All new hires must clear a background check (for this school district) and must have a clear TB test within the last 4 years. Are you interested? Know someone who might be? Email info@mustcreate.org to apply by October 11th 2018.  Interested in learning more about what it’s like to be a teaching artist? Here’s what last year’s MUST TAs had to say: “I really enjoyed showing and teaching these students about the different uses of all the mediums were utilized this semester. Having answers to their infinite questions about what everything is used for or how to create or draw something new is...
28 Ways to “Keep Kids Creative” this week!

28 Ways to “Keep Kids Creative” this week!

In honor of National Keep Kids Creative Week (September 24-28), we’ve come up with 28 ways to keep kids creative! Keep Kids Creative Week was founded in 2003 by Bruce Van Patter with the goal of encouraging children to not lose their creative spark as they grow older. According to the founder, the week is “time set aside to encourage kids to grab hold of their innate creativity and never let go!” He offers even more ways to celebrate the holiday on his website. From conducting a science experiment to composing a song, you won’t run out of ideas for exercising your creativity this week. Which one will be your favorite? 1. Designate a space for creating. 2. Remember that mistakes are good! 3. Allow for “free time” to create in your schedule. 4. Embrace a good mess–the next time your child asks to paint or wants to get everything out of a supply bin, make room for it!   5. Discuss art, music, drama, theatre, movies, and creativity as a family. 6. Build a fort! 7. Conduct a science experiment. 8. Make something out of a mundane object, like a tissue box or a soup can. 9. Visit a museum! 10. Give children the opportunity to express “divergent thought.” Create safe spaces for experimentation and asking questions. 11. Plant a garden (look for tips on how to incorporate music in the garden here). 12. Go to the library and collect books on crafts, music, and science! 13. Cultivate creative critical thinking through mind-mapping, puzzles, and creative problem-solving. 14. Draw something new! 15. Learn a new song, or make one...
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...
What did ancient music sound like?

What did ancient music sound like?

It’s normal to be nostalgic for the music of bygone eras; “back when music was music” people often say. “I remember when music used to be good!” However, it’s hard to be nostalgic for the music of ancient times, because we rarely have an idea of what it sounds like–until now! A couple weeks ago on the MUST blog, we explored the history of instruments in antiquity. But how were these instruments played, and what kinds of music was played? What did it sound like? Recent projects by musicologists have reconstructed what Ancient Greek music may have sounded like. By analyzing ancient instruments, rhythms, rhymes, and meter from Ancient Greek poetry, some researchers think they have an estimation of how this music sounded. So what does a 3000-year-old song sound like? Researchers in the above video used fragments of an ancient text carved into stone as the basis for their reconstruction of a piece of Ancient Greek music. The fragments contain 80-90 bars of music. Using reconstructions and replicas of instruments from the time this music was written, scholars and musicians were able to create an approximation of what this music sounded like.  A reproduction of a double pipe in the Louvre exhibit (seen in our previous post) was used to make the tone and timbre as close to the original instrument’s as possible. The lyre replicas were created from depictions of the instruments found on recovered vases and pottery. Musicians inferred the mode of playing these instruments from their own experiences with modern-day instruments. Due to the simplistic designs of these ancient instruments, musicians are able to closely replicate...
3 ways to celebrate National Classical Music Month

3 ways to celebrate National Classical Music Month

Since 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed Proclamation 6716, September has been National Classical Music Month. In the proclamation, President Clinton outlined the ways in which classical music reflects the American consciousness: Classical music is a celebration of artistic excellence. Great art endures through the ages, and in the United States we have embraced that great music and incorporated it into the American experience. Our best art reflects our Nation’s spirit—that mixture of discipline and improvisation, the combination of strong individual voices working together at the same time, the bravado, the inventiveness, the dynamism of the American character. Classical music plays in harmony with that energy and spirit to become reinvigorated and reinvented with each new orchestra or chamber group, with every performance that rings out new and fresh. Many supporters of classical music have noted the ways in which composers and performers create work which evokes intense emotion and deeply move the listener. Classical music has the capacity to compel the human spirit even more than popular music and has the depth and breadth to evoke ideas as broad as elation, heroism, anger, and anguish. Proclamation 6716 contends that classical music has “continuity and tradition”, and can be a “unifying force” worldwide. How can you incorporate more classical music into your daily life during the month of September? Here are three ideas to get you started: 1. Segment your symphonies Classical pieces are longer than popular music, exponentially so if you are looking entire works like cycles or operas. This can sometimes be intimidating or off-putting to people trying to get into classical music. Instead of setting aside a whole day...