EducationWatch: Music For All
National educational organization convenes annual symposium for music students in Illinois
Music For All's Summer Symposium took place June 21–28 and brought thousands of young musicians to Illinois State University in Normal, Ill., for a week of powerful music experiences. As one of the largest national music organizations supporting the benefits of music education, Music For All combines regional and national music-related event programming with awareness campaigns, research and advocacy — all in an effort to expand access to music in schools and communities. Now in its 33rd year, Music For All's annual symposium was presented by Yamaha and provided curricula designed to help students grow as musicians and performers while also learning leadership and life skills. The curricula included choices such as concert band, jazz band, orchestra, marching band, percussion, color guard, and drum majors. A key component of the symposium, the Leadership Weekend Experience, was highlighted by nightly concerts and additional musical performances.
The Academy — a New York-based innovative two-year music education fellowship program — recently completed its second phase of development. A partnership between the New York City Department of Education, Carnegie Hall, the Juilliard School and the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, The Academy provides extensive performance opportunities and rigorous music education training for top post-graduate, conservatory-trained classical instrumentalists, as well as teaching instruction and experience. The program puts into practice the partners' philosophy that tomorrow's artists require the highest performance standards and the ability to give back to the community and inspire successive generations of musicians and music lovers. Making significant contributions to music education programs in collaboration with teachers at the elementary, middle and high school level, Academy fellows work in residencies within New York City public schools. The program was established in January 2007 and the third phase is scheduled to begin in fall 2008.
In related news, some 80 New York City public school fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade student musicians made their Carnegie Hall debut in a special concert staged as part of the Children's Music Campaign NYC this past May. Formed by musicians and Academy program mentors Claire Bryant, Carol McGonnell and Elizabeth Joy Roe, the Children's Music Campaign is a groundbreaking project designed to galvanize the state of music education in New York City public schools by affirming the value of music and raising awareness about the essential role arts education plays in fostering child development, self-confidence and the life skills of focus, determination, teamwork and the pursuit of excellence. Filmmaker David Smith documented the concert preparation and rehearsal process in support of the program's objectives to establish a legacy of effective music education and to inspire active school and community involvement. Participating students also were assigned to write an essay exploring the theme of the "Simple Gift of Music."
The Early Childhood Music & Movement Association recently held its Waves In Motion 2008 ECMMA International Convention in Providence, R.I. With local chapters currently in nine states and growing, ECMMA's goals include: advocating for positive music and movement experiences vital to child development; advancing the development of music and movement education for youngsters; supporting the professional development of educators in music and other areas of early-childhood education; and encouraging positive interaction in families through sharing music. The convention featured a keynote speech by David Darling, GRAMMY-nominated composer/cellist and co-founder/artistic director of Music For People. Other keynote speakers were Paul Madaule, director of The Listening Centre Toronto and author of When Listening Comes Alive: A Guide To Effective Learning And Communication, in addition to other published articles on the educational and therapeutic value of music and voice; and Dr. Lorna Lutz Heyge, chairman/founder of Musikgarten, a company specializing in training educators and parents to teach children music. Convention sessions covered topics such as emergent music literacy, singing with young children, exploring the power of listening, and informal guidance for musical growth.
The new Universal Music Family six-disc collection of kid- and parent-friendly CDs compiles the music of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5 and many others. Each CD is age-graded and designed to expose children to classic pop, jazz, Broadway and Motown tunes while simultaneously allowing parents to relive their musical favorites. Ella Fitzgerald: Miss Ella's Playhouse presents songs such as "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" and ''Old McDonald." Motown For Kids introduces children to enduring Motown hits such as "ABC" (the Jackson 5) and "Dancing In The Streets" (Martha & The Vandellas). Songs For The Car features "Route 66" (Chuck Berry) and "Mañana Iguana" (Bobby McFerrin). Totally '80s For Kids includes "Celebration" (Kool & The Gang) and "Our House" (Madness). Jazz Lullaby showcases soothing standards such as "Lullaby" (the Singers Unlimited) and "Over The Rainbow" (Ben Webster). Finally, Future Idols includes Broadway classics such as "Tomorrow" ("Annie") and "Do-Re-Mi" ("The Sound Of Music").
(Laurel Fishman is a writer and editor specializing in entertainment media. She reports regularly for GRAMMY.com 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.)