Now Bring Us Some …Figgy Pudding??

One of the most popular songs to sing this time of year is We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It could be we have been singing this song all of our lives but have not quite understood all the references. For example….figgy pudding. What exactly is figgy pudding? If we try to imagine what it is with our modern version of JELL-O® pudding, and limited understanding of figs (Fig Newton®, anyone?), we might assert that it should be called ICKY pudding!

But this yummy dessert has a deep history and is probably  way better than you think it is! Thankfully, the folks at the Post-Gazette have done some research and have the whole story here.

While you’re reading, feast your ears on this version of the carol as sung with humor, and excellence, by The King’s Singers!

UniSound Gets Exposure in Post-Gazette Article

UniSound is an organization that aims to connect families with youth music organizations in the greater Pittsburgh area. Ms. Leah and Ms. Amy recently had articles published by UniSound, and CYM events are regularly promoted  on the website. UniSound serves parents in Pittsburgh by pulling together music programs into one place. Parents can learn about programs that suit their needs, find events that are happening in Pittsburgh, read educational blogs, and more.

Recently the Post-Gazette had an article about the benefits of music instruction in the schools. The highlight of the article was the interview with Lindsey Nova, of UniSound, where she explains the purpose of their organization,which is continually expanding to meet the needs of parents who are looking for music opportunities for their children.

Congratulations to our colleagues at UniSound, and thank you for your work!

Read the full article here.


Play a Note Name Game

Our friends at Classics for Kids have a game that will sharpen your knowledge of note names in a fun, interactive way!

Have your young student or beginner follow this link to try it out!

Who is Antonio Hart? A Look at His Life and Work

On Saturday, December 7th, we at CYM have the opportunity to attend a workshop led by a jazz great, Antonio Hart. If you missed our previous post with details of this event for CYM families in coordination with Kente Arts Alliance, check that out here.

For now, you may be wondering just who Antonio Hart is!

When Hart was growing up, music was the one thing that made school interesting for him. He practiced diligently and auditioned for the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts so that he could deepen his music learning and expand his performing abilities. This is where he first started playing jazz. He was interested in the genre because of the people he saw playing it and the fact that he could improvise.

Hart went on to study music at Berklee College of Boston, which is where he really began to focus on jazz. He listened to music, he practiced, and studied as much as he could. He wanted also to have a balance between academia and music, so he became a Music Education major. The courses he took during that time became an inspiration to Hart.

Soon he was developing friendships, and started touring with Roy Hargrove, promoting Hargrove’s first three albums. Ready to study with true masters of jazz, Antonio began work on a masters degree at Queens College in New York. He had the opportunity to study with greats like Jimmy Heath and Donald Byrd.

In 1997, Hart earned a Grammy nomination for his release, Here I Stand. In all, he has been a guest artist on over 100 recordings, and has recorded eight CDs as a leader. The latest is titled Blessings and is produced by JLP (Jazz Legacy Productions).

Mr. Hart balances his time on the road and in the recording studio with his full-time professorship at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, NY. His bands are the Dave Holland Big Band and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.

Take a listen to a few tracks from Blessings here. And we will see you December 7th for what is sure to be an amazingly informative and inspiring workshop!

This event has been selected for our CYM families to be enjoyed as a benefit of the workshop and activities fee. Register today to provide a memorable experience in your student’s musical journey! 

In Honor of Veterans Day – Music and the Military

Music is an integral part of our nation’s military. Musicians in the Military play not only for members of their own service branch, but also to engage the public. They play indoors in theaters, concert halls, and at dances, and outdoors at parades and open-air concerts. They perform many styles of music, including marches, classical, jazz, and popular music.

Here is the Marine Chamber Orchestra performing “Sleigh Ride” and “The Marine Corps Hymn” from their performance the Late Show with Dave Letterman.

The Marine Chamber Orchestra grew out of the Marine Band, known as “The President’s Own”.

Here is a timeline of the Marine Band- showing it is the oldest of the military music ensembles!

The Marines’ Hymn – some downloads for you:

Listen/download The Marines’ Hymn audio selection, recorded by the United States Marine Band.

Download The Marines’ Hymn sheet music for piano/vocal.

Download The Marines’ Hymn sheet music for band.

Listen here to all the hymns for each branch of the military:



Classic Spooky Music

You know what is often missing in front porch Halloween décor? Music. For years, I hooked up a speaker to our front window and piped out Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor to the delight of our Trick or Treaters. It was the perfect finishing touch that brought all of the physical elements together.

If you are looking for spooky music, look no further than the classical genre. Here are some of our favorites:

Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Chopin, Funeral March

Dukas, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Saint-Saëns, Danse Macabre

Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King

Gounod, Funeral March of a Marionette

Mussorgsky, Night on Bald Mountain


Maybe keep the light on while you listen?!

Get to Know Your Faculty: “Favorite Halloween Candy” Edition

We are thinking you would like to know more about the faculty and staff at CYM. Insight into their personalities might be ascertained by revealing their favorite Halloween candy, might it not?

Who likes candy? A Good & Plenty number of teachers, I would say.

So, without further ado, here are the results, including favorite autumn-time treats:

Mr. Chris: Peanut Butter Cups (Jason’s, preferred!)   

Ms. Amy: m&m’s 

Mr. Erich: Kit Kat   

Ms. Grace: Skittles 

Ms. Leah: Candy Corn 

Ms. Lindsay: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups 

Mr. Mark: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Ms. Rochelle: Apple Cider 

Mr. Ryan: Peanut Butter Cups, “any and all”   

Ms. Simmi: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Mr. Jake: Milky Way

Mr. Rob: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Anyone else seeing a trend?

Happy Halloween! Hope you get your favorite treats!

An Online, Interactive, Music Dictionary

Here is a great way to keep music terminology straight: an online music dictionary! Curated by the folks at the Cincinnati Symphony, this is a tool for students to keep handy as they delve into their music studies this year.

Bookmark this link,  so it will be nearby the next time they wonder if timbre has something to do with a tree falling!

Click on a letter, then on one of the words to hear a pronunciation of the word, and to listen to a musical example. Very cool!

Quick – what’s the one word listed that starts with a U? How about X? Which letter has the most terms? How many of these words do you already know?

Share this with your teacher, and have fun!


Steelers Songs: A Look at the Music of the NFL!

Last week we enjoyed a glance into the popular fight songs of universities in and around Pittsburgh. If you missed it,  and want to get in the NCAA mood, take a look and a listen here!

Now let’s turn our attention to the Steeler Nation. If I told you that professional football teams have fight songs, would you be surprised? Apparently if you are from Pittsburgh you will not be surprised at all! This Ohio-girl is learning quickly that Steelers fans have a die-hard allegiance for their songs!


“Here We Go” is the official fight song of the Steelers. Interestingly it was written just over 20 years ago in 1994, but since that time it has become wildly popular! Here is the 2014 version of the song.


But our Pittsburgh team boasts other fan favorite songs, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers Polka! The story of Jimmy Psihoulis is the classic journey of the immigrant who finds success in America. But he’s probably best remembered as Jimmy Pol, who recorded the granddaddy of Steelers fight songs- take a listen here!

And there are many more- let us know what your favorites are in the comments below!




Alumni Spotlight: CYM’s First Student, Meredith Hudock Hopkins, Part I

As most of you know, Center for Young Musicians recently celebrated 25 years of teaching music and touching lives here in Pittsburgh! We have a treat in store, as we hear from CYM’s very first student Meredith Hudock, now Mrs. Meredith Hopkins! Let’s go back to the beginning of Alicia and Victoria’s dream, and follow the path of one little toddler, whose mother understood the importance of learning the language of music in the early years!

Meredith began her studies at CYM in what was then called Kindermusik, now known as  ECM/Musikgarten. She was 17 months old, a great age to begin absorbing the sounds of music and developing steady beat! Her classes were held in the basement of Northland Library, before the Wexford location came to be. After laying the foundation of music learning through her toddler years, Meredith moved into violin at 3.5 years old.

Apparently young Meredith had an early desire for violin study. As her mother was signing Meredith up for piano lessons, little Meredith wandered around the lobby and started pointing to a violin. Mom took this as a sign, and signed her up for violin!

Violin study was always at Wexford, which became a second home for Meredith. She studied with Ms. Alicia, then Ms. Victoria, the Ms. Leah, and with Ms. Tanya.

Meredith has cherished memories of her group class, where she made many friends. As these friends grew up together in their class, they gained confidence through performing for each other. Once in Ms. Leah’s class in high school, they began working on fun chamber pieces together. One year they played the whole Bach double concerto at virtually every performance. They became so comfortable performing it that Meredith has a feeling they would still be able to play the whole work to this day!

Enjoy a few photos of Meredith over the years– and  there’s more to  Meredith’s journey at CYM, so STAY TUNED!


The Center for Young Musicians