Imagine your life without music. Imagine watching a movie with no soundtrack. Imagine a long drive with nothing but traffic noise to keep you company. Imagine all the things in your life today that depend on music.
Now imagine giving the gift of music to someone else.
If your imagination is up to the challenge, you can begin to get an understanding of just how important music is to our humanity. It’s the language that connects us. It’s the community that accepts us. It’s the tool we all use to measure the intangible things within.
…but what you may not know is that music is more than just a social glue. It’s an important emotional and physiological vitamin that changes us – that enhances our development – from an early age. It is, in fact, the greatest medicine science has ever studied. Continue reading →
How different would my career have been if I had owned a digital piano as a child? I asked myself that question today as I taught a group piano lesson and watched the kids enthusiastically pushing buttons to find sounds that fit their songs. Their fingers flitted over the controls with an expertise that comes from life-long exposure to electronics and I found myself marveling at their effortless creativity. I listened as one my 10-year-olds played a beautiful piece of music that he composed and recorded, with drums, in perfect rhythm. I will never forget the joy and sense of accomplishment in his proud smile.
Students at Western Middle School in Louisville, Kentucky will begin the 2011-2012 school year with a Yamaha digital piano lab – thanks to another partnership between Jefferson County Public Schools and local piano experts at Gist Piano Center. On Wednesday, August 17, representatives from Gist Piano Center and Jefferson County Public Schools assembled the 15-piano Yamaha digital piano lab for what turned out to be the first day of classes in the school year. The pianos, which came from another JCPS school, were brought in, unboxed and inspected for missing components before assembly.
“We were lucky that they were so well packaged,” said Tim King of JCPS. “We were only missing a few screws, some AC adaptors and a couple of stands. Thankfully, we were able to set the pianos up just in time for classes.”
I have often said that people think there’s “nothing new under the sun” in the piano business. We’re dealing with an instrument that is over 300 years old and has changed relatively little. Most teachers, technicians and private owners have chosen their favorite brands years ago, firmly plugged their fingers into their ears and begun to hum loud enough to drown out any new information that might contradict their traditional view of the piano world. For those of us who work with current piano information on a daily basis, this is extremely frustrating.
One of the biggest challenges I face as a piano expert is finding others in my community who understand the value of modern piano tools. It’s not easy to find someone who will ask their students to play along with a CD, record a MIDI file or – gasp – practice their scales with a drum rhythm instead of a metronome. However, I occasionally have the fortune of encountering one of these enlightened souls and I want to share her relatively unique story with you. Continue reading →
To anyone who has been paying attention, the fact that our society is moving towards a more fast-paced, instant-gratification culture is not news. With the invention of such marvels as the microwave, the cell phone, and “instant messaging,” Modern Culture has certainly shifted into high gear. The risk, however, with this lightning-fast pace is that we may be losing our identity along the way.
Children today are rarely taught such niceties as etiquette, penmanship, and literature. The result? Our future leaders lack the trappings of academia and a sense of their place in the World. They no longer appreciate the importance of complex thought, articulation, beauty, courtesy – or any number of other things that can’t be adjusted on an LCD screen. In addition, kids today spend so much time isolated across the internet or the latest video game system that the complexities of social behavior have become a mystery to them – with disastrous results.
The concept of culture is not extinct yet, however. Though the sitting room days of musical gatherings, book readings, home and hearth may seem provincial in the Digital Age, our salvation may come from an unlikely source: Science. Continue reading →