Singing for Scholars

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Sarah Brightman June 11, 2008

Filed under: Biography,Broadway,History,music — nikki93090 @ 12:36 am

The longest running Broadway play is Andrew Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. It is a story about Music, Love, and Perseverance. Broadway star Sarah Brightman was the inspiration behind such stage hits as Phantom of the Opera and Requiem, written in her honor by ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber. Born on August 14, 1960 in Berkhampstead, England, Brightman began dancing at the age of three, and ten years later made her London theatrical debut in Charles Strouse’s I and Albert. By 1976, she was a dancer on the television series Pan’s People, and later led the pop group Hot Gossip, which in 1978 scored a U.K. number one hit with the single “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper.” In 1981, she was cast in the role of Jemima in Lloyd Webber’s Cats; there she and the composer were introduced, and he divorced his first wife to marry her in 1984. Their relationship lasted through 1990, during which time Brightman created the role of Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera. Sarah inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber to write the musical phenomenon which is the Phantom of the Opera. Andrew created the role of Christine for Sarah’s voice. The role of Christine showed just how versatile Sarah’s voice is. The Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty’s Theater in London in the month of October, 1986. Sarah then premiered on Broadway in 1988, where she was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. Lloyd Webber wrote the part of Christine Daae specifically for Brightman and he insisted that she repeat the role in the New York production. American Actor’s Equity, a labor union representing American performers, objected, claiming that Brightman was not an “international star” or a “unique talent” and could not be exempt from union rules requiring American Equity members to be cast in American productions. After Lloyd Webber threatened to cancel the Broadway production entirely, Equity caved in and permitted Brightman to perform in exchange for an American performer being given the opportunity to work in England. After Sarah got the Broadway role she gave in interview with the Sunday Telegraph. “I always made my mark as Sarah Brightman … I am not saying I am the greatest thing since the world began but I obviously do my work fairly well to have got as far as I have. I had, you know, as strong a career as I could have had by the age of twenty before I met Lloyd Webber,” she told the Sunday Telegraph. She also pointed out that the casting decision in regard to the role of Christine was a collective one with Phantom’s director Hal Prince and producer Cameron Mackintosh. Sarah Brightman hasn’t performed in Theater since the early 1990s and unfortunately does not seem eager to return to the Broadway stage, but it’s for certain that she has left her mark in our culture’s history for decades to come.

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The History of Broadway June 10, 2008

Filed under: Broadway,History,music — nikki93090 @ 11:57 pm

The Great White Way, more formally known as Broadway, is a highly acclaimed institution of art and culture. Broadway is the street in New York that has come to symbolize live theater entertainment throughout the world. Today the area, known to tourists and theater-goers, stretches from W. 41st Street, where the Nederlander Theater is located, up to W. 53rd Street’s Broadway Theater. Only four theaters are located physically on Broadway, the Marquis at 46th Street, the Palace at 47th Street, the Winter Garden at 50th Street and the Broadway at 53rd. At Broadway’s beginning actors were usually called in from Europe, but as the Broadway phenomena grew, more and more people wanted to become involved with the hectic and magical lifestyle that the Broadway stage promises. In 1852 The National Theater and Uncle Tom’s Cabin provided Broadway with its first matinee performances, and the child prodigy Miss Cordelia Howard appeared in 12 performances a week. This performance would be the opening gateway for a phenomena like no other, this performance opened the door for Broadway. “In the 1900-1901 season there were seventy plays or musicals being produced on Broadway. It was the beginning of the boom, and the decades that followed saw the truth of it as the play numbers began to quadruple. In 1914, A newcomer to the theater district, Irving Berlin, composed a Broadway score entirely in jazz rhythms, entitled Watch Your Step. It had a distinctly American flavor and a New World Sound. The following year, in 1915, Jerome Kern (who was also classically trained in Europe, though born in New York) and Guy Bolton, collaborated on the play, Very Good Eddie. For the first time, the songs of a play were part of the action, and “the farsighted got a glimpse of the future of the Broadway musical.” The 1920s, “this will be the decade that sees a push for genuine Repertory Theater with some success. It is the decade that sees blacks on Broadway – not as the secondary entertainment, but as stars in white productions and as stars of their own theater creation, black productions for white audiences. It is also the decade of the cry for a “morality police” for theater, and the new argument between what is “art” and what is not.” “Throughout the 1900’s Broadway shows were strongly influenced by the events of the time, from comedic spoofs to heartfelt dramas. The 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s saw many ups and downs in theater production, due to historical events such as prohibition, the stock market crash, war, and the draw to Hollywood for much of Broadways top talent.” Today, the longest running show in Broadway history is still in production. The Phantom of the Opera debuted on Broadway in 1988. It is still widely known today as well as being a huge influence on our Musical Culture today.

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The Essence of Music June 2, 2008

Filed under: education,music — nikki93090 @ 1:59 am

What is the ESSENCE of music? What makes it so important? What defines music as an important part of our culture and history? Music Education Online, the number One Online Music Education Resource for Teachers, Students, Parents and Administrators, says that music participation provides a unique opportunity for literacy preparation. Whether the child is singing, playing, or listening, teachers direct them to listen and hear in new ways which exercises their aural discrimination. Playing instruments and adding movement to the lessons teaches children about sequential learning which is essential in reading comprehension. So what makes us as a culture and community always lean towards the use of music anyways? I believe it is the very love of the subject itself. Ever since the beginning of time humans have been creating, and listening to music of different forms and types. Plato once said that music “is a more potent instrument than any other for education”. You will find many teachers of young children who would agree with him. Recent research has found that music uses both sides of the brain, a fact that makes it valuable in all areas of development. Music affects the growth of a child’s brain academically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Yet still there are schools and learning establishments everywhere shutting down, and closing off music education programs. Music Education Online also says that;

Music is academic. For some people, this is the primary reason for providing music lessons to their children. A recent study from the University of California found that music trains the brain for higher forms of thinking. Second graders who were given music lessons scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than children who received no special instruction. Research indicates that musical training permanently wires a young mind for enhanced performance.

Music is physical. Music can be described as a sport. Learning to sing and keep rhythm develops coordination. The air and wind power necessary to blow a flute, trumpet or saxophone promotes a healthy body.

Music is emotional. Music is an art form. We are emotional beings and every child requires an artistic outlet. Music may be your child’s vehicle of expression.

Music is for life. Most people can’t play soccer, or football at 70 or 80 years of age but they can sing. And they can play piano or some other instrument. Music is a gift you can give your child that will last their entire lives.

So what is the essence of music? What makes music so important? It is the people who create it, the people who listen to it, and the people who love and create through it. It is an expression of individuality and creativity. So the question is not so much what is the essence of MUSIC, but what is the essence of the People? The creators, lovers, and discoverers of something so influential as MUSIC.

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The Power of a Picture May 29, 2008

Filed under: education,music — nikki93090 @ 6:39 pm

The American culture is very visual. Everything has to look good before we even consider dealing with it. All our food has to be perfect and pristine, while we judge our peers based on the same standards. What do you see in the picture above? I see many things, the blending of age, the mingling of races, and the shared joy between the two of them. Music education is so important today, not just to become educated in the arts, but because it has so much to offer in so many other ways. Less than one-hundred years ago our country was segregated by race, gender, and social standing. Through music, the citizens of America have been able to overcome such obstacles.

In the photo there is a white teacher and a Korean, or Asian young girl. The two people are able to overcome their minor differences and work together to accomplish something truly magnificent. Both the student and the teacher are smiling, so they are obviously having fun together. And why shouldn’t they? The two are bonding together as human beings, on a subject that is known throughout the world.

The photo seems to be faded around the edges of the picture for extra effect. The faded effect makes me think of a home picture album, or a well worn photo. Whether with a purpose in mind, or just the idea of visual effect, the fading makes the photo seem unrealistic as well as portraying the photo as calm and celestial.

The photo contains a young girl, and a grown woman. This shows that through music, the “age barrier” is broken down and age no longer holds back communication between two people. Age is more like the essence of knowledge, knowledge that is meant to be passed down to the less learned.

So what is the main purpose of all these components? Mainly just to show how, in picture form, music education is so important. I could just tell you, give you the facts, but there’s proof that a lot of people learn better through the use of imagery. ( As Denis M. says, a writer for the Canadian journal of applied sport sciences, music helps with;

  1. Vividness. Better imagers learn better thus, it most probably will be necessary to instruct individuals how to perform imagery effectively. Mastery of an overt skill increases the vividness of imagery. That is why superior athletes can imagine their skills better than lesser individuals.
  2. Controllability. This is the capacity to generate persistent images. Without persistent images precise repetitions will not be possible and thus, learning would be retarded. Some forms of skill practice, for example those involved in karate and shooting, require high levels of concentration which facilitates both image control and vividness.
  3. Exactness of reference. The event has to be accurately represented for the effects of the mental activity to transfer beneficially to the real-life situation. Research has shown that practicing the wrong images (errors) produces a tendency to perform those errors.)

Music education, as I have said many times before, is the middle ground. Music education is the way to bring people of all different colors, sizes, genders, races together as one people. This statement is proved once again as General H. Norman talks about his experiences with music education; “During the Gulf War, the few opportunities I had for relaxation I always listened to music, and it brought me great peace of mind. I have shared my love of music with people throughout this world, while listening to the drums and special instruments of the Far East, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Far North, and all of this started with the music appreciation course that I was taught in a third-grade elementary class in Princeton, New Jersey. What a tragedy it would be if we lived in a world where music was not taught to children.” No matter what it takes, I am willing to use every source available to convey to the readers the true importance of music education.

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How Can Music Help? May 28, 2008

Filed under: education,music — nikki93090 @ 3:03 am

Music is an outlet for stress and an inlet for creativity. It induces happiness, and takes away the sadness. Music is a way of communication, and a way to learn. It is the history of our past, our endevours of the present, and our dreams for the future. The cultures of the world are divided in many ways, but music is not one of them. Everyone “gets” music. Everyone can relate to it, and understand it. Music is a way of entertainment, and Education in all cultures, and through all people.

So how can music help? Not only does music help with memorization and creativity, but it is said that music improves spatial-temporal reasoning, ( a neurological process needed to understand mathematics.) Music can also improve literacy and writing skills. Recently Dee Dickinson wrote a report on the affects of music on students from seventeen different countries. (fascinating article about the importance of music education.) It gives results on how children in places like Japan, (A country where music is in the curriculum throughout the duration of school.) are learning to their highest capability, and are doing well in everything else they attempt. The article also provides the top fifteen reasons, in Mrs. Dickinson’s opinion, for why music is so important. They are as follows.

1. They are languages that all people speak –that cut across racial, cultural, social, educational, and economic barriers and enhance cultural appreciation and awareness.
2. They are symbol systems as important as letters and numbers.
3. They integrate mind, body, and spirit.
4. They provide opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality.
5. They offer the avenue to “flow states” and peak experiences.
6. They create a seamless connection between motivation, instruction, assessment, and practical application– leading to “deep understanding.”
7. They make it possible to experience processes from beginning to end.
8. They develop both independence and collaboration.
9. They provide immediate feedback and opportunities for reflection.
10. They make it possible to use personal strengths in meaningful ways and to bridge into understanding sometimes difficult abstractions through these strengths.
11. They merge the learning of process and content.
12. They improve academic achievement– enhancing test scores, attitudes, social skills, critical and creative thinking.
13. They exercise and develop higher order thinking skills including analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and “problem-finding.”
14. They are essential components of any alternative assessment program.
15. They provide the means for every student to learn.

Music can give success in Society, success in School, Success in developing intelligence, and success in life in general. Music is very influential, it shows who we are and what we are really like. It infulences what we do and the people we choose to hang out with. It brings people together, who in any other case may never have spoken. That’s the main picture, bringing everyone together in a way where age, gender, or race makes little difference. It’s a way to make the world a little less hateful and a little more thoughtful, music is bringing us together, one song at a time.

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Introduction May 27, 2008

Filed under: music — nikki93090 @ 8:38 pm

The following series of blogs are about singing, the history of singing, and the effects of music on students in, and out of school. I have been singing for as long as I can remember, and have been involved in choirs and plays for as long as I was able to tangibly speak. I LOVE music, it is my biggest interest and passion. I love how it makes me feel, and the way it makes people able to communicate to others. I love the way it is able to express things that you can’t express with just words. I love the artistry of it and the way it is able to teach where all other methods failed. I learn through music and I take it very seriously. In a world where music programs are becoming a minority, I am writing to change them back into a priority, not just for pleasure, but for education. Music is a very popular topic to blog on, so what makes this one so unique? This blog will be honest, opinionated, and will give the facts, not fiction. I plan to indulge my readers with looks into the history of Broadway, one of the earliest forms of music, the effects of music education programs on students, and the differences in performance in students with, and without, music education. I hope that you find my blogs enlightening and interesting. I will do my best to educate and entertain you as you read about music.

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