EducationWatch: LA Acoustic Music Festival

Inaugural California-based acoustic festival raises CAMP funds
Laurel Fishman

The inaugural LA Acoustic Music Festival took place June 6–7 in Santa Monica, Calif., and raised funds to benefit the California Acoustic Music Project with featured artists Bruce Cockburn, the Kingston Trio, David Lindley, and Richard Thompson. In working toward its goal of providing daily music instruction for California schoolchildren, CAMP provides artists-in-residence to schools on a salaried, ongoing basis through the curriculum of the Americana Project. CAMP offers classes in songwriting, instrumentation and performance, instruments, and a semester program culminating in both a CD project and concert. CAMP's interdisciplinary approach also allows its art students to produce CD cover art and other promotional materials, while CAMP students in computer classes create graphics for CD liner notes.

On May 16 GRAMMY-winning children's artists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer brought their energetic blend of folk, country and family music to the GRAMMY Museum family program "What Is Folk?" The event gave children the opportunity to dance, sing and play air guitar while learning about folk music and artists such as Woody Guthrie, Ella Jenkins and Pete Seeger. Following the performance, families participated in a Build Your Own Instrument craft hour, where children made instruments using everyday household items.

For the Coalition for Music Education in Canada's fifth annual Music Monday in early May, Canadians were joined by U.S. schools and communities in this yearly tradition designed to inspire the appreciation of music making. NAMM, the trade association of the international music products industry, teamed with the coalition to help unite several hundred thousand students across North America to participate in a simultaneous concert. Demonstrating the galvanizing power of music, many community and professional organizations and music advocates also participated to support and celebrate music education.

In related news, on May 4 Music Monday also kicked off NAMM's annual Wanna Play Music Week, a program building awareness of the proven benefits of playing musical instruments. Wanna Play Music Week is part of the Wanna Play? public awareness campaign, which recognizes the important role music education and recreational music making have on people's health and well-being. The Bacon Brothers, featuring actor Kevin Bacon and film/TV composer Michael Bacon, helped launch National Wanna Play Music Week by appearing at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art in New York alongside Yoko Ono and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. NAMM also launched a free "Find Music Lessons" search tool featuring a comprehensive Web music educator database.

On May 12 NAMM also hosted its first "Virtual Advocacy Days" for all of the association's members to participate in NAMM's annual advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, learn about legislative activities affecting the music products industry, and support access to music education in public schools. Participants logged on to the live daylong webcast to hear policy and political briefings featuring prominent political leaders and experts addressing legislative topics and advocacy activities in support of music education. NAMM organizes advocacy events each year to allow industry representatives to meet face-to-face with members of Congress in support of music education. Also, on May 19 the NAMM Foundation announced the 31 recipients of its 2009–2010 grants program. Approximately $850,000 in funds will support community music-making programs, scientific research on the effects of making music, and music programs for seniors, college students and schoolchildren.

This year's ASCAP "I Create Music" Expo took place in late April in Los Angeles and featured increased educational activities and presented career opportunities in a range of musical genres including hip-hop, jazz and rock. Attendees learned from prominent writers, composers, producers, artists, and music industry executives including Siedah Garrett, Wyclef Jean, Chaka Khan, Jeff Lynne, Richard Marx, Ricky Skaggs, and Paul Williams about how they built their careers, and Heart's Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson shared insights into their collaborative relationship and enduring success. Several workshops addressed topics such as demo making, music placement, production music, studio recordings, music publishing, social media channels, online tools for music creators, and copyright issues. Author/educator/networking expert Dan Kimpel's session educated attendees about maximizing professional relationships and communication, and exhibitors gave extensive hands-on instruction about how to use music technology to its best advantage.

Innovative tools for integrating music and technology are presented in a group of new books designed to increase comprehension, motivation and music literacy. Integrating Technology With Music Instruction is a comprehensive guide for incorporating multimedia into a music curriculum. Mr. Zig's Literacy, Music & Technology Connection builds on basic familiarity with recording software and the process of creating, composing, recording, and producing original songs, and includes a CD containing a sample library of background music loops. Essentials Of Orchestration includes new guides for composition and arranging, written simply and clearly for all levels, and contains fundamental information on ranges, characteristics and tonal qualities for more than 150 instruments. Essentials Of Music Notation concisely presents the most current, correct notation practices, covering more than 75 topics such as chord frames, ornaments and harmonics.

(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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