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...
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...
Nadia Boulanger and the French Influence in Today’s Music Education

Nadia Boulanger and the French Influence in Today’s Music Education

Music institutions in “interesting times” often turn to outside influence and perspectives to stay relevant. Music integration, popular music, and tech are all avenues institutions and music educators turn to for inspiration. The Aspen Music Festival and School, however, have turned to history, and to one place in history in particular. Paris, France has long been looked to as a center of culture. Since the middle ages, Paris has produced myriad famous musicians, composers, and institutions. Now Aspen is looking to this rich history to inspire the next generation of musicians in the United States. “We realised, looking at Paris, how many cities would there be where you have that richness through so many periods?” said composer Alan Fletcher, who is president and CEO of the festival. “Paris has been important to the world of music for centuries… I don’t see there being any decline [in this pattern]– there is, though, a decline in the way American musical life responds to Paris.” (source) Aspen’s music teachers are looking for clues to the prolific abundance of musicians coming from Paris in the 20th century by looking at one music teacher in particular. Nadia Boulanger was a French composer, conductor, and teacher in Paris in the first half of the 20th century. Boulanger was perhaps best known for her years of detailed advice to Stravinsky, whose works she brought around the world as a conductor. She boasts a pupil roster which includes the names of musicians and composers such as Aaron Copeland, Philip Glass, Quincy Jones, Igor Markevitch, and Burt Bacharach. She influenced generations of young composers from her principal base for most of...
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...
Free Instrument Petting Zoo on a Rooftop Park!

Free Instrument Petting Zoo on a Rooftop Park!

  What? Is it Back to School again already? That’s right! For many Bay Area schools, students begin to head back in mid-August. Even though summer is starting to wind down, however, that doesn’t mean summer fun has ended for good! Don’t miss a FREE Instrument Petting Zoo on Saturday, August 11th at the Salesforce Park Grand Opening! Join us at the park’s children’s area for three hours of musical fun on the gorgeous rooftop park in downtown San Francisco. MUST has teamed up with the folks at Salesforce Park in downtown San Francisco for a month of Saturday music events. We kick off the Fall season with an Instrument Petting Zoo at the Salesforce Park Grand Opening on Saturday, August 11th, and continue the fun every Saturday through August with a MUST teaching artist leading songs on the rooftop park. What’s an Instrument Petting Zoo? It’s an opportunity for kids of all ages to explore new instruments and make some music outside. Our staff offers many instruments, including guitar, keyboard, accordion, tambourine, xylophone, castanets, bells, and many other percussion instruments. So come out and join us in downtown San Francisco for music and fun in the sun (or maybe in the...

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...
Making Music in the Garden, Part 3

Making Music in the Garden, Part 3

This post is a continuation of a lesson from June called Making Music in the Garden: A Summertime Lesson in Music Integration. View part 1 and part 2 here. How do you think nature and music are connected? Peas don’t just come from the frozen section in the groceries store, and music isn’t just for professionals on the radio. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it is easy to forget where the things we enjoy come from, and how we can take part in bringing these things to life. Do you, or I, or anyone know how oats, peas, beans, and melodies grow? We’re big into music integration at Music in Schools Today. Even though school is out and music programs are on a brief hiatus, it’s still important to integrate music into children’s everyday lives. Here is a taste of one of our programs, Nature of Music. This lesson integrates music into learning about nature in the garden, by planting seeds that will grow into delicious snacks in just a few weeks time. It’s a good way to get kids outside learning about the world around them, and about science and music. Try it this summer! Get outside, make some music, and learn something! In our last lesson, we planted pea plants and learned about the parts of a plant and what they do through singing the song Roots, Stems, Leaves. In this lesson, we will build on that knowledge, and introduce new information about how to take care of our pea plants! You will need: Xylophones, drums, or other percussion instruments The song Decomposition The Carrot Seed By Ruth...