Growing up in Ohio, the often-criticized school levy funding program in the state was common practice for me. Every few years, administrators and teachers shifted focus from teaching students to appealing to voters for school levies and bond issues. Because of failed ballot initiatives, many schools in Ohio have faced serious budget issues that have eliminated or reduced busing, extra curricular activities and arts programs. After multiple levy failures for Medina City Schools, the district got creative in order to preserve its long tradition of musical excellence. Through a partnership with the Medina City Schools Foundation, students would receive elementary band and string instruction through an enrichment program funded entirely by private donations. This new enrichment program engages the local Akron Symphony Orchestra to provide instruction and master classes for more than 1,000 students who would not have received music instruction due to budget cuts. If your school is facing budget cuts, visit our Advocacy webpage for tools and resources to keep music in our schools.
Each year, the Grammy Foundation awards grants to support research in music. From music therapy to recording preservation, the Foundation supports a wide variety of initiatives that support music in America. Last week, the Grammy Foundation announced that more than $200,000 would be awarded to 15 recipients. The recipients include a University of California, Davis project to study memory retention through music for Alzheimer's patients and a University of Memphis study to examine the possible benefits of music training in strengthening the ear and preventing hearing loss. The Foundation also supported several organizations who are attempting to properly archive and preserve early recordings. Click here to view the entire list of 2014 grants. The video below displays a few of the research initiatives recognized last year by the Grammy Foundation.
Last week, we brought you a moving op-ed column from a Southern California Superintendent advocating for the support of arts education. This week, a superintendent in Northern California is making waves for a district long without an instrumental music program. Students from the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto received no formalized music instruction in middle school, and were then unable to join the band when they moved on to Menlo-Atherton High School. While students at the other eight school districts that feed into Menlo-Atherton participated in band in sixth through eighth grade, Ravenswood students were two years behind in music instruction. "I want to ensure that they get that option by offering music as part of our core program and when the students get to sixth grade, that we actually have a band program," said Superintendent Gloria Hernandez. Currently, Ravenswood partners with Music in the Schools, a local nonprofit to provide music instruction to students. Hernandez has also set aside $150,000 to provide instruments for students and begin a formalized instrumental music program at one middle school in the district.
Last year, 2013 MFA Summer Symposium faculty member Dr. John P. Lynch announced that he will be accepting a position at the University of Sydney, Australia. We wish Dr. Lynch the best and welcome the University of Georgia's newest Director of Bands, Dr. Cynthia Johnston Turner, previously Director of Wind Ensembles at Cornell University. Dr. Turner is an advocate of the 21st century classroom, speaking frequently on technology in music education. She even became one of 8,000 beta testers of Google Glass last summer. The Cornell Daily Sun highlighted her experiences with Google Class in October and noted that Dr. Turner has used Google Glass to coach her conducting students more efficiently and even import scores into Google Glass so she does not need to look down at the podium while conducting. Dr. Turner and student Tyler Ehrlich are also researching other applications of Google Glass for music education. Below is an example of how Dr. Turner uses Google Glass in her conducting class.
While on the topic of technology, I came across a new iPhone commercial last night while watching television. The commercial (displayed below) begins with several musicians using the iPhone in different ways to perform a song, the Pixies' 1988 hit "Gigantic." While I have hundreds of apps on my phone for just about any function, I often forget how often I use my iPhone for music. Beyond just listening and identifying music, I have several metronome, tuner and recording apps to use when practicing. The Ohio State University Marching Band was also featured in a recent Apple commercial for their innovative work in learning drill via iPad. How do you use your smartphone or tablet for music performance and instruction? Educators - you can also learn more on utilizing the latest in technology for music education at the Directors' Academy, part of the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha.