Archives for October 2006

AARP and Recreational Music Making

I had the pleasure to participate in the “AARP Life @ 50+” Convention this past weekend in Anaheim, CA.  My appearance was sponsored by Alfred Publishing Co.  I gave two presentations – “Making Memories with Music” and “Making Music with My Friends.”

The Recreational Music Making pavilion at the show was sponsored by NAMM, The International Music Products Association.  The member companies who participated were:

Yamaha, Lowrey, Alfred Publishing, Whacky Music, Remo, Roland, Rhythm Band Instruments and The Museum of Making Music.  In addition, Making Music Magazine was a generous sponsor – handing out copies of their Fall 2006 Issue to all of the AARP members who visited our pavilion.

There were several popular presenters – including Scott, “The Piano Guy,” of PBS fame.  Roland sponsored his appearance.  “Drum Circles” were a popular event at the AARP Convention and Remo sponsored several of them each day.  Members of the Carlsbad, CA “New Horizons Band” performed as the convention ended on Saturday.

I applaud the efforts of the music industry to promote the benefits of music making – for both your health and to have fun!  There is a mounting body of scientific evidence that proves that making music “reduces the impact of stress at the genomic level, reversing some of the key switches that turn on mechanisms for producing serious diseases.”

The focus of my presentations, on behalf of Alfred Publishing, was to demonstrate some of the materials that make it easy to read and play music.  Many of the people in my audience have bad memories of the drudgery and strict discipline involved in taking music lessons.  They are at a stage in life now where they just want to do things that give them pleasure.  Making music gives us pleasure and they were pleased to see the many ways that music publishers have made learning music fun and fast.  For example, there are many DVDs that demonstrate how to play some of your favorite songs – to the amazement of your friends!  Several series of books allow you to “Teach Yourself Guitar' or Piano or to Sing, etc. 

Check some of these materials out at your local music store.  Click here to find a dealer near you. 

Now that I am working at home, I try to play the piano for a half-hour each day.  I look forward to this time.  It helps me to relieve built-up stress and gives me great pleasure.  And I find that after play piano for a while, I can go back to a project with renewed energy and better focus.

If you would like to get back-to – or just get started – making music, click here, to get more information on the many Recreational Music Making programs that are now available – and waiting for you!

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At the AARP Convention

I posted a new photo to Photos.

Arts Funding Watch – October 25

It's hard to believe, but today is the last Wednesday in the month of October!  This will end the special weekly edition of the “Arts Funding Watch” from The Foundation Center.  (Of course, they will still publish this free newsletter each month.)  Please be sure to sign up for this informative eNewsletter.

There are two highlights in today's newsletter:

1) The Wallace Foundation has announced $2.9 Million in Excellence Awards Grants to nine Chicago-area arts organizations.  Each of the groups will receive a grant ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.  The organizations include the Merit School of Music.  Click on any of these hyperlinks to learn more about the programs and the grants.

2) The James Irvine Foundation has announced $18.9 million in Grants to 41 organizations in the third quarter of 2006.  This includes $4.1 million to a dozen regional arts organizations in the Inland Empire and Orange and San Diego counties (all in California.)  This is made possible through the foundations Arts Regional Initiative.

Let's join in celebration of these generous grants and send our best wishes to the programs who are the recipients!  I urge you to learn more about what made each of these programs stand out.  Follow their progress and they use the grant money to make a difference in their communities.  And, emulate their model for success – adapting it to your local circumstances.

Why We Belong to Organizations

“People want to be part of something larger than themselves.  They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that they trust.”

– Howard Schultz, Chairman and Founder of Starbucks

I found this quote this morning during my usual wandering through favorite websites.  It appears on business guru Tom Peters’ website – in his “free stuff” section.  I got to Tom’s website via another excellent site – Speaking on Speaking.

The Internet is something larger than ourselves that we want to be a part of – at least “our favorites” or the “blogs” that we participate in or the multitude of friends that we associate with through My Space and other social networks.

However, Mr. Schultz was really talking about what sets his company – Starbucks – apart.  Why do people want to work there?  Why do people like to buy their products and hang out in their cafes?

Job satisfaction is not directly related to how much we get paid for what we do.  Certainly money is important and we must all feel that we are being compensated on a fair and equitable scale.  But that is not job satisfaction.

Why do we choose the companies or industries that we work in?  The causes that we support?  The people that we want to be around – or to be like?  What gives us satisfaction?

People, Products, Reputation

We want to work with people that we like and respect.  We want to produce products and services that we are proud of.  These help to establish our reputation.  This is what give us satisfaction. This is why we choose our associations.  This is why we fight for what we believe in.  This is why people will trust us.

From today’s web-crawl and finding Tom Peters’ treasure trove of “freebies”, I have a stack of quotations to add to my database.  But I also have found motivation to get my day going.  I hope that this blog is help you as well.  If so, please share your thoughts with our readers. 

Why Arts Education Matters

“Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers;  it comes from being open to all the questions.”

– Earl Stevens

I firmly believe that quality Arts Education is a vital part of a child's education.  Learning how to ask – and respond to – complex questions develops critical thinking.

And many others share this belief.  In “Quality, Equity and Access,”  The California Alliance for Arts Education states:

“The arts provide experiences in which students are encouraged to ask complex questions and experiment without a predetermined result.  A curriculum without the arts impoverishes our students as human beings, citizens, thinkers, and workers in any field, and narrows the function of education to the development of those skills that can be measured on standardized tests.”

The landmark research document on this subject is “Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning.”  This 1999 report – click here to access the full report – was made possible through the GE Fund / MacArthur Foundation.  The major findings:

1) Students with high levels of arts participation outperform their peers with little or no arts participation.

2) Sustained involvement in particular art forms – music and theater – is highly correlated with success in mathematics and reading.

3) The arts have a measurable impact on students in high-poverty and urban settings.

4) Engagement in the arts nurtures the development of cognitive, social and personal competencies.

5) Arts experiences enhance critical thinking abilities and outcomes.

6) The arts enable educators to reach students in effective ways.

Support our children.  Support the arts!



Arts Funding Watch – October 18

Please, please – If you are involved in the Arts or Arts education, sign up – today – for the e-newsletter, “Arts Funding Watch” from The Foundation Center.  It is free.  It is informative.  It is vital that you stay abreast of developments that affect funding and support for the arts.

In this week's edition there are several points of interest.  You can locate all Arts-Related Reports in One Convenient Location – PubHub.  I am attaching – as Adobe PDF files, two reports that are “must reading” –

“Critical Issues Facing the Arts in California” – Published by the James Irvine Foundation.

“Portfolio 2006” – This report evaluates the economic and social contribution of the arts and cultural community in southeaster Pennsylvania.

The newsletter also featured a new book, “Guide to Getting Arts Grants” bu Ellen Liberatori.  I purchased the book and will post a book review as soon as I have read it.

While on the website I located a very useful “Reference Guide for Musicians.”  This contains a terrific resource guide – with links – to Foundations and organizations that fund individual musicians.

Check this all out!  TODAY!


Logo – Arts Funding Watch

I posted a new photo to Photos.

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How to Become an Excellent Public Speaker

I received a link to the Business Week Online Small Business web page in my email this morning – I subscribe to both the magazine and the email newsletters.  The headline that caught my eye was “How Cisco’s CEO Works the Crowd.”  The story was written by Carmine Gallo who has extensively analyzed what makes Cisco CEO John Chambers such an effective communicator in his book “10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators.”

If you are serious about improving your business communications skills, buy the book.  If you don’t have the time – or want a quick course in effective communications, ready today’s article from Business Week Online Small Business.

John Chambers is by any measurement one of the Top 5 Business communicators alive today.  Take any opportunity you can get to see him “in action.” – not just on stage.  Watch – and tape – him when he is giving a press conference, speaking to analysts, etc.  Study what makes him so effective.  Doing so will help  you to improve your communications skills immediately.

Use these points from today’s article in Business Week Online to guide your study of John Chambers:

1) Sell the benefit

2) Tell stories

3) Make preparation a part of your routine

4) Use confident body language

5) Overcome personal challenges

I believe that we teach by example.  By that precept, John Chambers is an excellent teacher.  And Carmine Gallo has done an excellent job in identifying the concepts that John Chambers teaches us – to be more effective business communicators.