Photo: Courtesy of the GRAMMY Museum
Music In Our Schools Month: How 10 Museums And Cultural Institutions Are Operating In The Pandemic
The pandemic may have fundamentally altered the educational landscape, but that doesn’t stop these institutions from offering dynamic, cutting-edge music education—from the GRAMMY Museum to Lincoln Center to New York Jazz Museum
In celebration of Music In Our Schools Month and ahead of the inaugural GRAMMY In The Schools Fest during GRAMMY Week 2021, GRAMMY.com is shining a light on institutions carrying the torch of innovative music education during an unprecedented time.
Museums and cultural institutions offer some of the best music education programs for students in the country, and the pandemic has prompted many of them to upgrade their online learning resources and add virtual experiences that people anywhere can access.
Below, discover how 10 institutions have risen to the occasion to make music education more inclusive during COVID-19.
GRAMMY Museum — Los Angeles
Though the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles is currently physically closed, more than 25,000 students in the Los Angeles area have taken an in-person tour. Plus, more than 10,000 students have participated in a workshop since it opened in 2008.
GRAMMY Museum’s many local, regional and national music education initiatives continue, and there’s a significant way to support them from home online. Proceeds from subscription and video purchase fees for COLLECTION:live—GRAMMY Museum’s streaming channel featuring artist interviews, livestreams and performances—go straight to those programs.
These include career-focused camps for high school students who are interested in various aspects of music creation and the music business (GRAMMY Camp and GRAMMY Camp Weekend), after school experiences and awards for music educators who go above and beyond. The GRAMMY Museum has additional satellite experiences in the United States that will reopen once it’s safe to do so: GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey; GRAMMY Museum Gallery at Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee and GRAMMY Museum Mississippi in Cleveland, Mississippi.
Lincoln Center — New York
Thanks to Lincoln Center At Home, families everywhere can check out educational performing arts programming from the Lincoln Center Pop-Up Classroom. Currently available on-demand classes in the music realm include instructional videos on how to write an aria (or operatic solo for voice), music composition and even building your own musical instrument.
Additionally, the Passport to the Arts initiative is currently offering free virtual classes, workshops and performances designed for people of all ages with disabilities and their families through mid-May. Musical highlights from Passport to the Arts include workshops on jazz architect Louis Armstrong, interactive sessions with the Metropolitan Opera Guild and a class on crafting melodies featuring advice from the New York Philharmonic.
New Orleans Jazz Museum — New Orleans
The first phase of a new Jazz Education Center for K-12 students at New Orleans Jazz Museum opened prior to the pandemic, and the building is currently back open for in-person visits and virtual concerts.
The institution is poised to continue the New Orleans Jazz Museum Music Outreach Program in schools under a new partnership with the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. For post-K-12 learners: researchers can make an appointment to browse the museum’s archival collections at Donald M. Marquis Reading Room.
Motown Museum — Detroit
Back open for in-person visits with increased safety precautions, the Motown Museum is located inside Motown Records founder Berry Gordy’s original headquarters, a house turned studio dubbed Hitsville U.S.A. where the label’s familiar classics were made.
Taking a tour inside the house that brought Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and Diana Ross to the world (to name a few) remains one of the most special music history experiences in the country.
The educational programs for 2021 include both in-person and virtual experiences, like day camps for middle school and high school students (Spark Summer Camp and Ignite Summer Camp), a quarterly Entrepreneurial Legacy Forum and the online Lyric Project.
The National Jazz Museum in Harlem — New York
Though in-person school tours, student workshops, musical performances and hands-on experiences including an "instrument petting zoo" are presently on pause due to COVID-19, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem has some intriguing online educational sessions planned in March and beyond.
Upcoming events happening this month, such as Music on the Brain, a look at how songs affect the space between your ears, and the 15th edition of the Jazz and Social Justice salon discussion series, can be joined from home.
Stax Museum — Memphis
The pandemic led the Stax Museum to offer a virtual museum tour/field trip and accompanying study guides for students everywhere to enjoy and learn about the legacy of Stax Records, the legendary record label that brought artists like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, The Dramatics and The Staple Singers to the world.
There’s also Stax Music Academy, which offers master classes and college preparation, among other life skill building workshops and course efforts.
Kennedy Center — Washington, D.C.
The Kennedy Center is on a pandemic schedule of virtual performances and Kennedy Center @ Home releases educational arts videos every day and has a robust education center with free curriculum-based lesson plans for teachers, podcasts, digital lessons, activity ideas and more.
The Smithsonian — Washington, D.C.
One can also take advantage of its vast educational resources, like the Smithsonian Learning Lab, which allows students to create and share content derived from the collections, and world music curriculum plans from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Musical Instrument Museum — Phoenix
Musical Instrument Museum has reopened for in-person visits, although field trips and big group visits are on hold for now.
Schools can purchase virtual education programs consisting of video collections with field trip activities including music creation and music instrument lessons and sessions with artists in residence.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — Cleveland
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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Take Over The GRAMMY Museum
Hip-hop duo discuss their career beginnings and creating their GRAMMY-nominated album The Heist
Current seven-time GRAMMY nominees Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, along with their manager Zach Quillen, recently participated in an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's A Conversation With series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, the hip-hop duo and Quillen discussed the beginning of the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' career, having creative control over their work and recording their GRAMMY-nominated Album Of The Year, The Heist.
"I met somebody [who] had the same dedication as me, [who] put everything into the music, everything into the craft," said Ben Haggerty (aka Macklemore) regarding meeting Lewis. "I wanted a career and Ryan was somebody [who] had the same discipline and sacrificed everything."
"I think it took a little while before it became clear to me who [Macklemore] was going to be," said Lewis. "I think the first indication of that was with the song 'Otherside' from the VS. Redux EP]. … That song … embodied so much. It was a story nobody was telling. … It was just somebody who was dying to be on the mike and to say something."
Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and DJ/producer Lewis have been making music fans take notice since they released their debut EP, 2009's The VS. EP. They followed with VS. Redux, which reached No. 7 on the iTunes Hip-Hop chart. The duo made waves in 2011 with the release of their hit single "Can't Hold Us" featuring Ray Dalton. The next year Macklemore was featured on the cover of XXL Magazine's coveted freshman class issue, and Rolling Stone dubbed the duo an "indie rags-to-riches" success story.
Released in 2012, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' debut studio album, The Heist, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the No. 1 hits "Can't Hold Us" and "Thrift Shop," the latter of which reached multi-platinum status and remained on top of the charts for six weeks. The album garnered a nomination for Album Of The Year and Best Rap Album at the 56th GRAMMY Awards, while "Thrift Shop" earned a nod for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. The duo's Top 20 hit "Same Love" featuring Mary Lambert earned a nomination for Song Of The Year and has been adopted by some as a pro-equality anthem. The duo garnered additional nominations for Best New Artist and Best Music Video for "Can't Hold Us."
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Icons Of The Music Industry: Ken Ehrlich (Jan. 14) and A Conversation With Peter Guralnick (Jan. 15).
Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures Exhibit Will Showcase The Surf-Rock Icons' Impact On Pop Culture
The exhibit, opening Dec. 7, will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run" and more
Influential instrumental rock band The Ventures are getting their own exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles that will showcase the band's impact on pop culture since the release of their massive hit "Walk, Don't Run" 60 years ago.
The Rock Hall of Fame inductees and Billboard chart-toppers have become especially iconic in the surf-rock world, known for its reverb-loaded guitar sound, for songs like "Wipeout," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Walk, Don't Run." The Walk, Don't Run: 60 Years Of The Ventures exhibit opening Dec. 7 will feature late band member Mel Taylor's Gretsch snare drum, a 1965 Ventures model Mosrite electric guitar, the original 45 rpm of "Walk Don't Run," a Fender Limited Edition Ventures Signature guitars, rare photos and other items from their career spanning six decades and 250 albums.
“It’s such an honor to have an exhibit dedicated to The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum and be recognized for our impact on music history,” said Don Wilson, a founding member of the band, in a statement. "I like to think that, because we ‘Venturized’ the music we recorded and played, we made it instantly recognizable as being The Ventures. We continue to do that, even today."
Don Wilson, Gerry McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor are current band members. On Jan. 9, Taylor's widow and former Fiona Taylor, Ventures associated musician Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and others will be in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Artistic Director Scott Goldman about the band's journey into becoming the most successful instrumental rock band in history at the Clive Davis Theater.
"The Ventures have inspired generations of musicians during their storied six-decade career, motivating many artists to follow in their footsteps and start their own projects," said Michael Sticka, GRAMMY Museum President. "As a music museum, we aim to shine a light on music education, and we applaud the Ventures for earning their honorary title of 'the band that launched a thousand bands.' Many thanks to the Ventures and their families for letting us feature items from this important era in music history."
The exhibit will run Dec. 7–Aug. 3, 2020 at the GRAMMY Museum.
Scott Goldman and Julia Michaels
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Julia Michaels Deconstructs "Issues," Writing Songs | "Required Listening" Podcast
Go inside the bright mind of one of pop's most promising singer/songwriters and learn about her songwriting process, her transition to the spotlight and the three female artists she admires
Julia Michaels' career has soared within the past year. Already a talented songwriter with writing credits such as Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ed Sheeran, and Fifth Harmony to her name, Michaels took a leap of faith with the release of her third solo EP, 2017's Nervous System.
Though Michaels has admitted to being nervous about moving to the forefront as an artist in her own right, the gamble paid off. The single "Issues" went gangbusters all the way to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and her EP cracked the Top 50. Plus, the Davenport, Iowa, native scored two nominations for the 60th GRAMMY Awards: Song Of The Year for "Issues" and Best New Artist.
What makes Michaels tick musically, how did she overcome her trepidation and why does she rely on feelings to guide her songwriting?
"It depends on the person. A lot of the times I'll just talk to them [first]," said Michaels regarding collaborating with other artists. "I mean we're all human. We all cry the same. We all bleed the same. So I try to make people feel as comfortable as possible to be able to tell me things, even if the artist that I'm with doesn't write, just having them talk is lyrics in itself. You know, them explaining their day or expressing how they feel. It's like, "That's amazing ... if that's how you're feeling we should write that.'"
As a matter of fact, Michaels told the host of "Required Listening," GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Scott Goldman, that she lets her feelings pilot her songwriting instead of traditional conventions — a process that has yielded gems such as "Issues."
"I'm not that calculated when I write," said Michaels. "I'm all heart when I write so I don't think about the algorithm of a song or the mathematics of a song. I just think, 'This feels good to me,' and just kind of go with that."
When peppered by Goldman with a question about coming into the limelight as a recording artist, Michaels was quick to point out that she has benefitted from plenty of help and encouragement.
"I think a lot of people have helped me get there," said Michaels. "My manager, Beka Tischker, she's been with me for six years. She's always believed in me. … And this year a lot of people have come into my life. I mean even my band — Dan Kanter, who's my guitar player … he's been with me since the beginning of the artist transition. I can't even do it without him at this point. ... There's a lot of people in my life, especially this year, that have made me feel comfortable and confident."
Speaking of confidence, Michaels has taken cues from plenty of her self-assured peers. She cited three artists, in particular, who have inspired her career path.
"I'm not that calculated when I write. I'm all heart." — Julia Michaels
"[Pink is] a bad*," said Michaels. "I love Fiona Apple. I love a lot of artists that are not afraid to say what they want to say. I love artists that write their own music. Laura Marling — she's very much from her point of view, very much whatever she wants to do. And plus her voice is so haunting and beautiful."
"Required Listening" launched on GRAMMY Sunday, Jan. 28, with the first episode featuring an in-depth conversation with GRAMMY winners Imagine Dragons and the second detailing "The Defiant Ones" with Allen Hughes and Jimmy Iovine.
ReImagined At Home: Watch Ant Clemons Croon The Cosmic Blues In Performance Of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine"
Singer/songwriter Ant Clemons puts his own spin on Bill Withers' immortal "Ain't No Sunshine" in an exclusive performance for ReImagined At Home.
Why has Bill Withers' immortal hit, "Ain't No Sunshine," endured for decades? And, furthermore, why does it seem set to reverberate throughout the ages?
Could it be because it's blues-based? Because it's relatable to anyone with a pulse? Because virtually anyone with an ounce of zeal can believably yowl the song at karaoke?
Maybe it's for all of those reasons and one more: "Ain't No Sunshine" is flexible.
In the latest episode of ReImagined At Home, check out how singer/songwriter Ant Clemons pulls at the song's edges like taffy. With a dose of vocoder and slapback, Clemons recasts the lonesome-lover blues as the lament of a shipwrecked android.
Giving this oft-covered soul classic a whirl, Clemons reminds music lovers exactly why Withers' signature song has staying power far beyond his passing in 2020. It will probably be a standard in 4040, too.
Check out Ant Clemons' cosmic, soulful performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" above and click here to enjoy more episodes of ReImagined At Home.