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A Window Into the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

April 2, 2020

Here is a fun web page with many resources for you from Carnegie MNH! Explore the museum, watch clips from paleontologist Matt Lamanna, ask geeky science questions, and more! Did you know there is a City Nature Challenge? Find information about how that will work in your neighborhood this month. Do you need more coloring pages? Download and print! Check out Super Science Saturdays, which are now transitioned to be enjoyed online. This site is chock-full of ideas, links, and is designed for the whole family.

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Bird Songs in Your Neighborhood and Around the World

April 2, 2020

Many of us are scheduling time outdoors to break up the day. Daily walks, dog walks, nature hikes and the like are becoming routine and greatly valued moments in our long days. Next time you are outside, try to focus on the bird calls around you. That is sweet music, indeed. It’s fun to try to figure out where the birds are located, and who makes each sound. To that end, we are providing this beautifully illustrated chart. It’s so pleasantly designed it would look good hanging on a wall. Each bird is fully illustrated, and labeled with its name, and a fun phonetic spelling of the bird call. Above the bird, you’ll notice a map which shows you the region for that particular bird. Have fun listening, and take it with you on your next walk outside! you don’t have to go far to hear the melodious offerings from...

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Daily Music Joy!

March 27, 2020

Our friends at From the Top are sharing clips of some amazing young people who are making music and using their gifts to bring joy to all who watch and listen. Here are a few of our favorites so far: FTT alum and violinist, Sam, shares a favorite technique- up bow staccato! Take a look here– he makes it all seem so effortless! And how about the decor in that practice room at McGill University? A brother sister guitar duo will bring joy as well as peace, as they perform outside! They are holding a special Facebook live event this Friday, March 27. Check From the Top on Facebook for more information! Now on to an instrument that may be new to you. Do you erhu? Here is a little background before you watch 17 year old Benjamin perform! If you like numbers, you’ll enjoy this system of playing music!...

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Helpful Resources for Families

March 26, 2020

We thought we would pass along some great resources for families, curated by the folks at Commonsense Media. Simply go to this article on their web page for some timely tips, helpful ideas, and sources. You’ll find many wonderful links, from quality media suggestions to at-home schooling help and articles to help have healthy conversations with your kids, and so much more. Hang in there, parents- you are doing a great job! And we are doing all we can to help. See you at your next lesson!

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Emma Movie Comes to the Small Screen

March 26, 2020

You don’t have to wait for the much-anticipated movie, Emma., any longer. (And yes, that is a period, after the title. Some suggest that the period tells us that this adaptation is aimed at young adult audiences. You know, the ones who emphatically express themselves. With. Extra. Periods. It’s also a “period” film, so there’s that.) The movie was just beginning its run in movie houses across America when response to the current Pandemic caused theaters to close their doors. Thankfully for those of us who were eager to check out the latest Jane Austin novel-turned-movie, the production went to digital release on March 20. Something notable about this movie is that both the director and the composer of the film are women. It seems odd that in 2020 a fact of that nature would still be worth noting. But here we are! Composer Rachel Portman (pictured) began scoring music...

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Making Instruments – Do Try This at Home!

March 25, 2020

If your child or children are enrolled in group lessons, you know they play many percussion instruments throughout each class. So if you are doing online lessons, your teacher may be adapting activities so that the instruments are not as crucial. But did you know you can have fun making a multitude of musical instruments at home? A drum is one of the easiest- just hold onto (or empty out) a rolled oats container. Keep the lid, and decorate as you would like. And presto, you have a decent drum! A coffee can works well, too, or get fancy with some fabric as this article from Artists Helping Teachers demonstrates! If you need a drum on the fly, though, a wooden salad bowl played with wooden spoons works quite well! Who remembers playing a kazoo as a kid? Well, if you take the cardboard tubes from those precious rolls of...

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Spread the Creativity! Celebrity Shares from Home

March 20, 2020

With so much technology available to us, being home-bound can be purposeful and enjoyable. As musicians, we have it pretty good, too. We can make music whenever we want! Have you thought about face-timing a loved one and playing music for them? Or how about recording one-half of a duet and sending it to your buddy to have them play along? Maybe now is the time for you to work composing, or improvising! When you have your instrument, the sky is the limit. Hop on Google Hangouts and jam with your friends or share something you are working on. Collaborate! Two nights ago, two very well-known friends shared a musical moment. Jimmy Fallon has taken to creating daily shows from home, and each night he has a special guest via Zoom. On Wednesday night, his guest was Lin-Manuel Miranda! Miranda is a composer and singer, best known for his musicals...

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Browse, Listen, Look, and Read!

March 20, 2020

Finding activities for the whole family just got a lot easier, due to the generosity of arts organizations! On any day, you and your children can explore a museum anywhere in the world, such as the Van Gogh Museum! For more museums, or to look INSIDE the Paris Opera House, check out the many wonders you can find at Google Arts & Culture! On another day, how about checking out world-class orchestral performances and activities from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra! Scan the QR code for the corresponding music (Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony No. 6) and try the fun music activity. Or if reading is on tap for a day, head over to Open Culture and browse hundreds of free audio books that you can download! We will keep the links coming – and you can share your ideas, too with your teacher!

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“Hands A-Washing”, and Other Songs for Hand Washing Fun

March 20, 2020

Our Musikgarten toddlers recently learned a song that is actually helping them during COVID-19: Hands A-Washing is a fun and silly song that has the children singing and pretending to wash their hands. Hopefully this is translating to actual washing of hands! The CDC recommends that we scrub our hands for a full 20 seconds, and you may have heard that singing Happy Birthday twice is a good way to gauge the passing of time. But what if you are getting tired of singing Happy Birthday? Here are some other options that also clock in at 20 seconds! Have fun with these familiar songs: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star – one time throughTheme from Jeopardy – 30 seconds long, for extra clean handsHere We Go Round the Mulberry Bush -2 times, with the words “This is the way we wash our hands…” the second time!My Country, ‘Tis of Thee If you...

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Ten Tips for Boosting Memory Security, Part Two

February 24, 2020

We recently ran part one of this series on playing instrumental music from memory, citing five strategies for playing securely without music. If you missed that post, please check it out here. Memory work is an aspect of practicing that does not always get full attention or exploration. But students whose teachers take them through activities such as these do indeed perform well under pressure. Knowing a piece inside and out gives a performer a sense of security- a sense that “I can make it through this no matter what”, taking the unknown out of the scenario, nearly completely.  The “what if” thoughts that can run through a performer’s mind recede, as confidence moves in with an understanding of the structure of the piece, the tonalities, what each hand is doing, and so on. This kind of study brings in a purposeful performance, where the artist is living “in the...

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