EducationWatch: Dudamel's Discoveries Benefit El Sistema

EducationWatch: Dudamel's Discoveries Benefit El Sistema

Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel supports José Antonio Abreu's El Sistema music instruction network
Laurel Fishman

Gustavo Dudamel, internationally celebrated conductor and music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, recently joined his mentor, 2009 Latin Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient José Antonio Abreu, in Toronto to spread the word and support Venezuela's extraordinary progress in music education. While in preschool, Dudamel had attended Abreu's El Sistema, Venezuela's network of music instruction and ensembles. A new Dudamel compilation recording, Discoveries, will help fund El Sistema initiatives in Los Angeles, home to a new El Sistema-style youth orchestra. For his efforts in music education, Abreu also recently received the Polar Music Prize, Sweden's most prestigious music award. In accepting his Latin Academy honor, Abreu emphasized the importance of providing free music education to disadvantaged children.

A new educational music and travel TV series, "Music Voyager," will debut on PBS and Nat Geo Music & Adventure in February 2010. The series covers the globe to present musical adventures and discoveries, including the "Road To A GRAMMY" special. In the buildup to Music's Biggest Night, the show will travel nationwide and beyond to provide personal looks at the backgrounds of five 52nd GRAMMY Awards nominees. An interactive, broadband social media campaign will allow global visitors to meet the GRAMMY nominees and impact the filming as it progresses.

Two-time GRAMMY-winning children's musician Bill Harley is offering a free download of his flu-fighting latest song, "Wash Your Hands," and he is hosting a contest inviting kids, families and classrooms to create music videos based on some of his songs.

The GRAMMY Museum will honor children's music artists with the second annual GRAMMY Children's Music Showcase on Jan. 30. Invited nominees in the Best Musical Album For Children category will perform, and nominees in the Best Spoken Word Album For Children category will also be recognized.

Current Best Musical Album For Children GRAMMY nominees Milkshake made a rousing appearance at the GRAMMY Museum in November. The children's rockers are PBS KIDS, Nick Jr. and Discovery Kids favorites, and songs on their nominated album, Great Day, explore themes of friendship, inclusion, family, self-esteem, and goals, set to music with all-ages appeal.

Nominated alongside Milkshake are popular GRAMMY winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer for Banjo To Beatbox, featuring Christylez Bacon. Fink and Marxer currently are readying a new Meet The Instruments educational DVD series for preschoolers, with two videos: Things With Strings and Tap And Clap. At the recent National Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Washington, D.C., Fink and Marxer met with hundreds of preschool educators and offered free teaching techniques for music in the classroom.

Heart's Wilson sisters have shown their heart for children, as guitarist Nancy Wilson released Baby Guitars, a melodic collection of acoustic lullabies, in October. Also newly available is Dog & Butterfly, based on the Heart song of the same name, written and illustrated by Nancy and her sister, Heart vocalist Ann Wilson.

Music education will get literal on Jan. 1 with the release of the intelligent new CD Why Does Gray Matter?...And Other Brainy Songs For Kids! by Roger Day. Day's lyrics draw from science and medicine, including how Ringo Starr's brain transforms a thought about drumming into actual performance, among many other colorful gray matters.

New book releases are providing an educational look at well-loved musical genres. Geniuses Of The American Musical Theatre is a witty, warmhearted paean to 28 of the theater's most prolific songwriters and lyricists, including Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and Stephen Sondheim. Life In Opera: Truth, Tempo And Soul gets personal with larger-than-life luminaries of the grand opera, including GRAMMY Salute To Classical Music honoree Plácido Domingo. In The DownBeat — The Great Jazz Interviews (A 75th Anniversary Anthology), the magazine's publisher, Frank Alkyer, showcases the best interviews and features written by jazz legends themselves, including Cannonball Adderley, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, and Jelly Roll Morton. Young People's Guide To Classical Music is written especially for youngsters and parents of music students, using cultural and historical context to help young minds grasp the music's significance.

Honoring Les Paul, multiple-GRAMMY winner and recipient of The Recording Academy's Trustees and Technical GRAMMY Awards, The Modern Era Of The Les Paul Legacy: 1968–2009 by Robb Lawrence documents the music pioneer's career and the history of the Gibson Les Paul guitar, with never-before-seen photos and exclusive interviews with guitarists such as Al Di Meola, Warren Haynes, Neal Schon, and Slash. Paul received many awards during his career, including the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Music Education in 2004, established by the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music to salute Wisconsin natives who have made outstanding contributions to music.

Two new books provide go-to expertise for aspiring music professionals. The second edition of The Desktop Studio, A Guide To Computer-Based Audio Production by Emile D. Menasche, and The Studio Musician's Handbook by Bobby Owsinski and Paul Ill, impart skills in home computer-based recording, including audio production hardware and software, and demonstrate how to develop a career as a studio musician.

A fascinating new read, Chicken Soup For The Soul: The Story Behind The Song, edited by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and industry executive Jo-Ann Geffen, reveals deeply personal, entertaining tales about the creation of 101 popular songs across musical genres, with the foreword written by legendary GRAMMY-winning songwriter and Recording Academy Trustee Lamont Dozier.

(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for and GRAMMY magazine, and she is an advocate for the benefits of music making, music listening, music education, music therapy, and music-and-the-brain research.)

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