Helsinki on Hudson!

Wow what an incredible show! Thanks to everybody who came out and all the performers for working so hard to make this such an amazing event. You can watch each performance below.

Our Spring Music & Acting Performance

Wow what an amazing time we had! So many bright moments, great performances, hilariousness, and chills! Thanks to everybody who participated and supported the even and our school. here are some pictures of our day at the Fisher Center.

Alison CMS_May_2014_43 CMS_May_2014_35 CMS_May_2014_25 CMS_May_2014_27 CMS_May_2014_28 CMS_May_2014_31 CMS_May_2014_15 CMS_May_2014_18 CMS_May_2014_19 CMS_May_2014_03 CMS_May_2014_10 CMS_May_2014_12 CMS_May_2014_08 CMS_May_2014_04 CMS_May_2014_51

 

 

It’s the end of winter as we know it!

Our Kids Choir is at it again!

Check out their latest gem, all written and arranged by the kids themselves. I think you’ll recognize the melody!

 

 

Winter Music

Wow, what a show!

Thanks for everybody that participated, it was amazing, that’s all we can say other than just check out these videos!

For all the videos from the Performance, Click Here!

 

What If making music is essential?

It seems like every month I have the same conversation with a parent who is struggling with their son or daughter to keep them interested in learning to play an instrument. The child starts out excited, thrilled to do all those things they hear on the radio or on their iPod.Happy-Kid-Music-lores Then the reality sets in that learning an instrument is hard and they’re initial response it to quit. The parents acquiesce and that’s it, they’re done.

The truth is, learning to be musical is not easy, it’s a lifelong practice like exercise, eating well, or reading, and the more you put in, the more you get back. Learning to read is not easy, math is not easy, exercise is not easy. But when kids resist having to read everyday, or do their math homework, parents use all sorts of methods to keep their kids engaged because they know how rewarding the process can be.

Most people do not view music to be as essential as math, reading, or science.

But what if it is?

What if learning a musical instrument made you smarter at other things?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6447588/Playing-a-musical-instrument-makes-you-brainier.html

What if learning a musical instrument could help you focus and be more productive?
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/jobs/how-music-can-improve-worker-productivity-workstation.html?_r=0

What if being able to express yourself musically could help you help a loved one through their cancer treatment?
http://www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/2011/03/music-therapy-helps-people-with-cancer.html

What if a focused musical practice could keep Alzheimer’s from destroying your mind when you get older?
https://musicandmemory.org

What if a short daily focused musical practice would improve your test scores, SAT scores, and give you a better chance of getting into a “good school”?
http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/new-evidence-links-music-education-higher-test-scores-64980/

What if learning to play an instrument could enrich your life and give you a deeper understanding of the world around you?
http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education/

What if just ONE of these statements is true, wouldn’t it be worth it to keep your child engaged musically?

And what if you never study an instrument and spend your adult life wishing your parents had made you stick it out…to know a musical life, have somewhere to go when you are lonely, sing a song with your friends, find your breath, walk through a melody, step to a beat, make something up, free your mind and engage your soul.

 

Hoilday’s are Weird (by The CMS Kid Singers)

It’s True, but only kids can say it in a way that makes us all pause and appreciate unfiltered creative madness. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do. Happy Holidays Y’all!

 

 

 

GETTING CREATIVE IN THE STUDIO!

The incredibly creative kids in our 3-5th grade vocal group recently wrote, arranged, and recorded “Ghosts of Minions” at our Space Studios!

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Why Do We Hate Piano Lessons?

As the owner of The Community Music Space I have a lot of conversations with parents about the process of how kids learn an instrument. When I first meet with parents we talk a lot about whether their kid is musical or not (they are), and what instrument would work best for them in the beginning.

IMG_1476But then, quite often, the conversation turns to their own experience with music when they were young. Sometimes it’s a positive experience about a great teacher or family member that inspired them, but most often it goes back to a bad music teacher, a more talented, unsupportive family member, and most commonly, how much they hated piano lessons. I have had this conversation so many times that I thought it was probably time to put my thoughts down in writing. I’ll begin with a story of my own attempts to learn the piano and end with some ideas that frame my philosophy of music and education.

The Bad Piano Student

As a kid I went through 4 piano teachers before I finally gave up and switched to guitar and saxophone. My father (a drummer by trade) went so far as to begin taking piano lessons himself to encourage me to keep taking lessons, a strategy that kept me in it for another year. I have always been a left handed, right brained, improviser at heart, so the idea of reading music off a page was not something I embraced. I remember one experience very clearly. it was recital time and I had neglected to study the Bach Minuet assigned and instead showed up at the performance to debut a new improvisation I had composed the night before called “2010”. I had just heard Deodato’s super funky and psychedelic version of Also Sprach Zarathustra (thanks Dad) and was inspired. My teacher had no idea I was going to perform my piece until I began to play. In fact the Bach Minuet was written on the program! She was irate and fired me as her student and that was the end of my piano lessons. My parents loved the piece, bless their wayward hearts and off we went in search of another piano teacher. My piano teacher was a very nice lady, I’m sure she was a fine pianist and cared about her students but she lacked the ability to teach outside of the classical methodology of creating music from a page (sight before sound). She also did not recognize that I learned in a different way.

That Was Then, This is Now

So that was the 1970’s, things must have changed. What is the common experience in 2013 when it comes to piano lessons? Sadly, I have had too many conversations with distressed parent of disgruntled teenagers who, after 8 years of playing classical piano, want nothing to do with the instrument. They are fascinated by popular culture and are unable to find the connection between their piano repertoire and the music they listen to on their iPods. They hate the instrument and resent their parents for making them practice for what they perceive as nothing. This is a scenario I have seen dozens of times played out and obviously there is no simple answer. But there are some good lessons to be learned moving forward. Below I have put together a handful of thoughts that I believe to be true when it comes to teaching and studying music.

  1. Meet the students half way. Shoving Mozart down the throats of your students will not make them love Classical music. But by legitimizing what they love about music we can create a pathway that winds its way back to those incredible dead white guys. With one student we took a Chopin Nocturne and played an improvisation over the chord changes with piano and electric guitar. He ended up committing the entire piece to memory. The next piece he asked for was by Composer Erik Satie!
  2. Keep PLAY as a prominent part of PLAYING the piano. Kids are over structured; make practice a respite from their structure. Kids are naturally creative, if you give them paper and a crayon they will draw, if you give them a simple scale and a recording device they will create something beautiful. There are 10,000 songs written that use the same four chords. Teach them the chords, have fun playing around on them and creating melodies that go along with them.
  3. Sound before Sight. We live in a visual society, these day even sound waves are now images. So have them listen to music, develop their ear training and back it up with the written notes.
  4. Identify the different types of learning in your students. Our job is not to teach, our job is to figure out how each student learns and give them the tools they need to learn. After that our job is to inspire them to create their own musical realities. Some students love to read music and are motivated by traditional teaching methods. However, for the other 90%, there are other methods to get them excited about playing.
  5. Make learning music social. Sitting alone pounding out scales will rarely get a student excited about piano. But learning the chords of a song and then connecting them with other students so they can play that song together will connect them to a lifetime of musical adventures.
  6. Maybe piano isn’t the right instrument. The piano might not be the best instrument for every person. I always recommend piano as a foundational instrument to learn about how western tonal music is structured. But some people are just made to be drummers, other woodwind players, guitarists, violinists and bassists. There are a whole collection of jokes about the personality types of certain musicians and most of them have more than an ounce of truth!
  7. Reading music is still very important! Students that do learn to read music are at an advantage when it comes to learning new pieces, arranging, and composing. If you are interested in following a classical path it is essential. But it has nothing to do with being inspired to play. If one is not inspired to practice, then learning to read music is useless. And it is entirely possible to become a great musician without learning to read. It is impossible to become  even a good musician without developing a good ear.

Amateurs! By Stephen Clair

Ok, I have to repost this from my friend and fellow “what a great idea, lets start a music school in a small town because we’re flippin’ crazy” guy Stephen Clair. I preach this philosophy every week to my students but I couldn’t articulate it better than this! If you live down in Beacon, please check out his school The Beacon Music Factory.

let us know what you think of this!!

Thanks Ben

7/29/2013

Amateurs!

Hi Everybody,

So I’m reading David Byrne’s book, How Music Works, and last night I get to a chapter called “Amateurs!” — and I had to put down the book so I could take a minute and write to all of you. If you want to know why I started Beacon Music Factory in this amazing little Hudson Valley town, the desire to celebrate amateurs has a lot to do with it.

I think everyone deserves to make some music, because making music will lift you up to the rafters. If music moves you, making music will move you even more. Byrne writes, “The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different, and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things.”  In modern society, we have tended “toward the creation of passive consumers, and in many ways this tendency is counterproductive.” What he’s referring to is the idea that for a bazillion years people made music. Then in the 20th century we created a recording industry, out of which has come a recorded-music world in which most people participate by merely consuming music. Feh.

“Maybe, like sports,” says Byrne,”making music can function as a game—a musical “team” can do what an individual cannot.”

Exactly.

Long before there was ever a recording industry, music-making was a way of socializing, or being on a team. In the back forty, on the front porch, in the parlor, on a street corner, in church, in a pub. A hundred years ago, if you wanted to hear some music you got together with your peeps and you made some music. When I rave to anyone — parent, student, teacher, whomever—about why I think our Rock Band Boot Camp program is so incredible, so inspiring, so important, it’s because no matter what you, the student, bring to it, you can—and we will—put it to use.

And in the process, while you’re in rock camp, as a contributing member of this team, of this group, of this band that you’re in, you share a common goal with your crew. You’re in it together. Suddenly the music you’re making is more fun, more engaging, and more interesting to you than anything on Spotify or whatever on Brooklyn Vegan. The songs you’re working on might be cheesy as hell, but all of a sudden you find yourself inside the music looking out—maybe for the first time. And because you’re a vital part of the band, some part of that arrangement depends on you. What a rush.

Byrne quotes anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake: “Prehistorically, …all art forms were communally made, which had the effect of reinforcing a group’s cohesion, and thereby improving their chances of survival.”

Communal cohesion, tell me about it. If you were at any of the Adult Boot Camp final shows over the past year (London Calling, Arena Rock, Ziggy Stardust, Marquee Moon, Odd Man Out), the community support and enthusiasm rocked as hard as the bands.

In our Rock Band Boot Camps, we are so dedicated to providing an opportunity for any and all kinds of people to rock out (our way of saying make music while having the time of your life). Of course, BMF diligently serves its serious students with instruction in a wide range of instruments, yes. But there is this other part of our mission: and that is to let the person with desire (and perhaps no experience) get his or her ya-yas out. As long as you’ve got desire, you really ought to give yourself the chance to rock out. And what better way to rock out than to make real music with real people like yourself.

I really believe in what we’re doing with these rock band camps, and I’m grateful to our teaching staff and to all of you, our students and supporters, for making this thing so real.

Stephen Clair
Beacon Music Factory
845-202-3555

 

More tunes from this summers Music Camps

Here’s a collection of songs recorded at The Space this summer. Two songs came from our Electronic and Digital Music Camp and two more from the Chocolate Jam camp.