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Enroll Your Children in the Arts

Posted by Theodore Buchholz on Apr 18, 2017 3:45:22 PM

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” - Plato

This article by Theodore Buchholz, Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Arizona, was originally published in the fall of 2014, but continues to be shared as an important message to parents who may be enrolling their children into schools and courses in the coming months. It has been formatted onto the SHAR Blog with permission from Theodore Buchholz.

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Topics: Education, High School, Teaching, Higher Education, Elementary School, Music Education

Are your Strings Real or Fake?

Posted by James Engman on Apr 4, 2017 11:49:27 AM

There have been rumors about counterfeit strings for violin, viola, cello, and bass infiltrating the market for at least a decade. When I heard of "counterfeit strings", I mostly imagined packaging that looked like it came out of an Inkjet printer, and obviously cheap strings with noticeably altered thread colorations. As popular brands of strings continued to pop up online at wildly low prices, it was time to do some deep investigating. What SHAR found was very troubling: obviously inferior strings of unknown composition and origin, with nearly perfect packaging and presentation. SHAR began buying up these strings, dissecting them, showing them to manufacturers, and searching for the source of these knock-offs, which led us across three continents and deep into the shadowy world of counterfeit products and online marketplaces.

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Topics: Education, China, Strings, Product Reviews

Teaching to Read, but never to Write?

Posted by James Engman on Oct 14, 2015 6:30:00 AM

Music is an artificial creation. Often described as the highest form of art, it has nothing close to a natural existence but for the songs of birds and the movement of the planets. Its structure, elements, and substance are all born from human creativity. Every time music takes place, it is a new expression of centuries of influence being funneled through, and reconstructed by, an artist or collaborative group of artists. Only in the past century or so has the audio recording of music played a role in its propagation. Without audio recording, its only media for survival is an individual’s memory and written notation – the latter being the ultimate form for most works beyond traditional folk music. Without notation, great works of sufficient complexity simply couldn’t exist outside of the composer’s mind. However, the ability to write music by hand is going extinct as a pedagogical tool, and with it, the creative voice of each passing generation of musicians.

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Topics: Education, Teaching, Music Theory, Advice, Composers

Why Adventures in Violinland?

Posted by Shirley Givens on Jan 19, 2015 10:48:00 AM

For many years now, SHAR has carried the much-loved method book series Adventures in Violinland by Shirley Givens. Because of the esteem we have for Shirley, it's a great honor to offer her a space on our blog to answer a question that those of you encountering her well-respected series for the first time might have: "Why should I try Adventures in Violinland?"  

In my experience, young children love the violin! It is small  and huggableand it makes sounds! How can we nurture this initial enthusiasm for the instrument and transform it into a deeper love of music? My books aim to respond, successfully, to that question.

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Topics: Education, Method Books, Adventures in Violinland

Suzuki Teacher Training Journal, 2014

Posted by Guest Blogger on Aug 11, 2014 4:35:00 PM

Alexandra Ostroff, one our Customer Service Leads, talks about her experience this past week at the Phoenix Phest Suzuki Teacher Training seminar. Alexandra is clearly developing into a talented teacher; what I love most about her blog post is how open she is to learning from those around her. 

This past week I took some time away from my desk and returned to Phoenix Phest in Ypsilanti, MI to continue my education in teaching the Suzuki Method. This blog entry will share some of the highlights for me from this week’s institute.

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Topics: Suzuki, Beginner Violin, Education, Teaching

Fame, Money, Music, and Your Education

Posted by Guest Blogger on Apr 28, 2014 1:24:00 PM

In this guest blog, SHAR customer Paul Dittus asks the question "Why should anyone study music and why is it important?" His answer is a suprising one: drawing on arguments from classical philosophy, Paul argues that at its best music can connect us to beauty and truth. While not ignoring the dire employment opportunities for musicians, Paul reminds us that music is more than employment: it is enduring beauty. Note: This guest article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of SHAR Music.  

Why should anyone care to study music? For a large income and a good job, right? In today’s economy you would probably be better off pursuing a degree to become a doctor or lawyer. If money is really what you prize, maybe you should consider pursuing something other than music. I would say getting a degree in music should help you get a job, but I do not believe it should be your ultimate goal and purpose for pursuing a music degree. What about fame? There are not many guarantees in this world, and fame is one that is not easily come by. Unless you are going to be the next “fiddler on the roof” and become a hit, you should probably not count your chickens before they hatch. This is not to say you shouldn’t dream big and set your goals high, it is more to make sure you are pursuing music for a solid reasons. If not for money or fame, why study music and why is it important? 

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Topics: Education, String Community, Higher Education

Friendship and Love of Music: An Interview with Hayley Murks

Posted by Joseph Chapman on Aug 8, 2013 11:23:00 AM

Each year, Strings Magazine awards a $3,000 scholarship (plus $1,000 to spend at SHAR) to a deserving young musician. The Edith Eisler Scholarship is a much-needed and generous award, one named in memory of a dedicated musician and contributor to Strings Magazine. When I heard that this year's winner, Hayley Murks, was from Gulfport, Mississippi, I was excited to connect with a fellow Mississippian. I'm so grateful, however, that Hayley and I ended up talking about more than her home state; Hayley generously shared her story, what drives her to make music, and her passion for a Gulfport outreach program, the Magnolia Chamber Orchestra.   


Joe Chapman:
Tell me how you first started playing the viola. What drew you to the instrument? What has kept you going?

Hayley Murks:
Well, I always wanted to play the double bass, but I am only 5'1'' and I have the hand size of a five-year-old! I fell in love with the sound of the viola when I was in the fourth grade. I was a part of my public school's strings program from that point on.
            I had a really great strings teacher in middle school who was a very caring individual. At the time I was still participating in competition dance, and found it difficult to keep up in the class. He truly inspired me to stay passionate about viola and music.  
            My father's love for music has always given me a sense of direction too. He had a record room in our house. There must have been thousands of records in it! He was very supportive of me becoming a musician and thought that it was the coolest job on earth. He would always quietly listen to me practice outside my bedroom door in high school.  
            He became very ill my senior year of high school and passed away a few weeks before my first college jury. My memories of him give me the strength to continue on this journey.

JC:
That's such a moving and beautiful answer, Hayley. It's strange how the givens of our lives—your height, for instance!—direct our choices. And then there are the circumstances, like your father's death, that inspire us to continue. I guess I have two follow-up questions here. What do you love about the sound of the viola? And which records in your father's record room did you find yourself listening to?

HM: Having my double bass fantasy shattered in elementary school, I found comfort in the C string on my viola. I suppose I am naturally drawn to deep tones.
            The music of Bob Dylan fascinated my father to the point that he named his daughter Dylan—before my mother ruined it all by naming me Hayley. True story. And the music of the Beatles was like our family soundtrack.  

JC: Oh, Hayley is a good name! Although Dylan would have been pretty cool, too. (I can't say the same for Bob!) Tell our readers a little about Gulfport, Mississippi. What’s the town like? How long have you lived there?


HM: Gulfport is on the coast of Mississippi. It’s a beautiful beach town, although Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill have certainly done their part to set us back. But we are coming back strong!
            I have been born and raised on the coast, and as I’m planning my move to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend Longy School of Music, I realize just what a special place Gulfport is to me.
            I’m one of the founding members of the coast's Magnolia Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble specializing in early music performance under the fearless direction of Tomas Fajardo. Our concerts are a gift to our community; they’re free for all to attend, and through our performances we strive to impact the quality of life and the cultural diversity of the Mississippi coast.
            I feel privileged to be a part of Magnolia Chamber Orchestra and to have an opportunity to enrich the experience of the younger audiences on the Mississippi coast. I truly believe in the mission of the group: to inspire the youth, provoking the creativity in them and igniting a genuine interest for the arts through community outreach.  

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Topics: Education, Viola, Edith Eisler Scholarship

"Colburn School Commencement Address" by Arnold Steinhardt

Posted by Joseph Chapman on Jun 7, 2013 2:37:00 PM

The Guarneri String Quartet (photo by Erwin Fischer) and Charles Avsharian

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Topics: Education, Bach, Mozart, Arnold Steinhardt

The Importance of Music Education

Posted by Guest Blogger on Apr 18, 2013 3:38:00 PM

Since our blog's been on a hiatus over the winter, it's been some time since we've had a chance to post one of Nerissa Nields's blogs. How we've missed her! And this blog is especially welcome since it addreses a subject near and dear to many of us at SHAR: music education. Nerissa makes the case that music education not only soothes us as infants but it helps bring together classrooms and families. 

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of holding a baby just 10 days old. It was mid afternoon, and I was guessing her poor mama hadn’t really slept since the birth. Elle and I took turns cuddling the baby, while my friend crept upstairs for a much needed nap. After a few minutes, the baby began fussing. I picked her up, walked around the room, sang our version of “Hush Little Baby.” Still gritchy. I switched to “All the Pretty Horsies” and did a gentle canter-y gait. More fussing. Then I started in on Ledbelly’s “Bring Me Little Water, Sylvie.” The baby pulled her head off my shoulder (strong baby!) and stared at me as if in disbelief. She stopped crying and listened as I sang. When her mother came downstairs fifteen minutes later, I told her what had happened.

“No wonder,” said her mother. “We played that song and sang that song many times while shewas in the womb, and since birth."

I’d certainly heard of this happening–baby recognizing pre-womb music post-womb–and in fact, we wrote about this phenomenon in our book All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music as a Family. But I’d never witnessed it so directly. (Well, maybe I did. Maybe it happened with my own kids, but I was so sleep deprived then, I have no recollection.)

Today in Jay’s Suzuki class the teacher had the four-year-old pre-twinklers form a circle. She played “pass the Twinkle,” playing the first line of “Mississippi Stop Stop” to the child on her left, who in turn, wordlessly passed it on to the child on his left, and so on, around the circle. “Isn’t it amazing,” she said. “How you all knew what to do, and could do it without even saying any words. Music is a language we can all understand.”

Plans for SOS-SOA are looking up. Emails are circulating. I am making phone calls, juggling schedules, refining our focus. Meanwhile, doing a lot of thinking about the role of music in our children’s lives. Why fight to keep music in the schools?

- It’s a language we all share.
- It cuts through reason and goes right to the heart.
- When I look back on my own school memories, so many of them have to do with music class, performing, practicing an instrument. Maybe that’s just because I am a musician, but I can’t imagine growing up without all the music I had.
- It unites a group of disparate kids
- It’s the only academic discipline that is equally left-brained and right-brained

What about you? What do you remember about music education growing up?

For more about music education, visit the National Association for Music Education.

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Topics: Education, String Community, Nerissa Nields

An Invitation to O'Connor Method Alumni From the Ann Arbor Workshop

Posted by Guest Blogger on Sep 4, 2012 2:47:00 PM

Today's guest blog is from Val Jaskiewicz, the Vice President of Merchandising at SHAR Music. Val has been a tireless champion of alternative styles here at SHAR and was instrumental in bringing Mark O'Connor and Pam Wiley to Ann Arbor for a teacher training workshop in August. Below, Val expresses his heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated and invites the workshop participants to share questions, reactions, and ideas about the teacher training session in the comments section. 

Just one week has gone by since we all met at the Mark O'Connor workshop, and I have heard from so many of you about how much you learned and your eagerness to apply it. Thank you, Pam Wiley, for your masterful and enthusiastic presentation of Mark O'Connor's rapidly growing method, and for showing us how to teach concepts that are not familiar to most of us. Thanks, also, to the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts, who partnered with SHAR to bring this worthwhile event to Ann Arbor. And of course, we'll never forget Mark O'Connor and Melissa Tong's brilliant performance at the Ark Saturday, alongside the great Saline Fiddlers! It was indeed a memorable weekend. I highly recommend you read  James Engman's blog about the event. James was one of the teacher attendees, and is SHAR's newest apprentice. I believe he has brilliantly captured the essence of what Mark O'Connor is doing through his method.

The intent of this blog is to create an opportunity to connect with each other and share ideas about using the O'Connor Method in your studios and classrooms. Fifteen hours of classroom training in the method is a lot of training, but there are always things that come up that you wish you may have asked, usually right after leaving for home! There was definitely a lot of enthusiasm at the workshop and I want to be sure that we can keep the momentum going.

Please jump in with your comments and experiences! This blog is open for all to see, but we'd like to invite the attendees of the August 24-26 workshop at the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts O'Connor to participate in this particular conversation. If you did not attend the teacher training session but still want to contribute, SHAR welcomes you to propose a guest blog, which you can send to our blog editor Joe Chapman at this address: joec@sharmusic.com.

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Topics: Violin, Education, Violin Method, Mark O'Connor

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