Dear Music Lover,
Please consider an end of the year tax deductible donation to Music in the Parks, a project of Carrizozo Works, Inc., a 501c3 organization.
Carrizozo Music sponsors a year-round series of classical concerts that are free and open to the public. In 2014 we are refocusing our events into three areas: the Classical Series, Summer Pops, and School Outreach.
We are in the process of finalizing our 2014 schedule and working to include the following concerts:
March -- Piatigorsky Foundation violin/piano (school and community)
April -- Border Baroque (school and community)
June -- Lori Lovato, jazz clarinet with piano trio
July -- Altura Winds, woodwind trio, rags, marches and light classics
Fall -- La Catrina Quartet (school and community)
Your tax-free donation can be sent to
Carrizozo Music in the Parks
P.O. Box 335
Carrizozo, NM 88301
Thanks for your support!
Elaine Brannen and the Carrizozo Music committee
Emma Cowing: Music to our ears Proposals include an end to tuition charges for students sitting SQA music exams. Picture: Neil Hanna
Print this After months of campaigning by Scotland on Sunday, the Government is overhauling instrumental tuition, writes Emma Cowing
ON A drizzly summer’s morning in late June, Scotland’s minister for learning, science and Scotland’s languages sat down in the assembly hall of Leith Academy to listen to a concert. As rain pelted the windows and pupils from Leith Academy and Holyrood RC High School in Edinburgh entertained the audience with a number of string pieces on violins and cellos, Dr Alasdair Allan, not unmusical himself and an enthusiastic member of the Back District Gaelic Choir on the Isle of Lewis, might reasonably have been forgiven for wondering how on earth he had got there. Because when the music stopped, Allan stood up to announce the proposal of something that would have been unthinkable just a year before: the most radical and wide-ranging overhaul of instrumental music tuition ever seen in Scotland.
Today, the Scottish Government declared it had accepted that overhaul. All 17 recommendations contained in the Instrumental Music Tuition in Scotland report launched that day in June will be implemented over the next year, changing how music is taught in this country forever. These include a “national vision statement” – effectively the country’s first policy on instrumental music tuition; a commitment that personal circumstances should not be a barrier to learning a musical instrument; more opportunities for learning instruments for children with additional support needs; apprenticeships to make musical instruments; more clarity on local authority charging policies; and an understanding that learning an instrument is a hugely important tool in shaping the creativity and future of Scotland’s children.
But to answer how this all came about you must go back almost 15 months, when this newspaper first started asking why Scotland had lost its grip on music tuition amid spiralling fees, a lack of access to instruments and a disturbing trend to charge for SQA music exams – developments that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. So just what has our campaign, Let The Children Play, achieved and what do these latest commitments mean for the future of instrumental music in Scotland?
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Allan admitted that by September 2012 when our campaign first launched, the Scottish Government had “lost a national focus” when it came to instrumental music tuition. “We didn’t have a clear picture in the past as to how different local authorities approached this,” he said.
That is one way of putting it. We published exclusive figures showing a total of 24 out of 32 local authorities were now charging children between £95 and £340 for instrumental music tuition, and 11 had raised fees that year, making prices out of the reach of many hard-working families. Most shockingly of all, five councils (Aberdeen City, Dumfries & Galloway, Midlothian, Highland and Renfrewshire) were charging children for instrumental music lessons even when they were sitting SQA music exams, where playing an instrument counts for up to 60 per cent of the final mark. It effectively meant there were children in Scotland being charged up to £340 to sit an exam that was on the Curriculum for Excellence.
Our motivation was not purely to shame the local authorities who were charging children to play instruments, but to demonstrate why learning to play a musical instrument was not some middle class, extra-curricular indulgence, but an essential tool, crucial for children’s educational and social development.
As Nicola Benedetti, the Scottish violinist and former Young Musician of the Year, who has backed our campaign from the start, said when we launched: “Learning an instrument is just as important as learning the fundamentals of maths and English. It’s about understanding the creative, spiritual thing that goes on inside of us. It goes to the heart of who we are as human beings. How can it possibly be separated by something as superficial as whether you can pay for your lesson or not?”
We published wide-ranging research that showed that learning to play an instrument could influence everything from how well a child performed in maths and English, to their ability to communicate and work in a group. One report, published in Canada, suggested that six year olds learning an instrument had, on average, a seven point IQ increase over the course of a year. Those not learning to play saw no increase.
Professor Susan Hallam of the Institute of Education in London and the UK’s leading researcher on the subject, told us: “The evidence is overwhelming. Learning an instrument is very important in terms of a child’s intellectual development. It improves listening, it impacts on how they learn language, literacy, mathematics, it can boost self-esteem, improve social skills, not to mention that it gives young people the opportunity to demonstrate that they are good at something.”
Scottish musicians from Dame Evelyn Glennie to Frightened Rabbit, Aidan Moffat to Sharleen Spiteri, agreed and gave us their support. We also spoke to members of Scotland’s wider creative community about the impact learning an instrument had on their lives. Janice Galloway, the award-winning novelist, wrote a poignant piece for us on how being taught the violin at school had, in her words, “saved her life”.
“The thing with music lessons in school is, you don’t just learn how to play,” she wrote. “It is learning complex, multi-taxing synaptic connections, learning to take criticism and persist, learning to accept applause and belonging. It’s gaining friends, a subject for conversation, a route into personal study, joint study, how to listen and listen constructively, and an awareness of what it is to learn for sheer pleasure. Which means being able to find reading, languages, history, the entire open world of knowledge being meant for you too.”
The reaction to our campaign was immediate and overwhelming. Parents and teachers contacted us in their droves to tell us how children and schools were being affected. One music tutor, Kenny Letham, wrote movingly to tell us: “I have seen first hand, good young musicians no longer being able to continue their education due to financial circumstances. I’ve seen professional teachers, people who have spent huge amounts of time learning to do their job professionally and comprehensively, teach pupils for free just to avoid letting talent go to waste.”
Determined to enact change, we published a five point roadmap for the Government, setting out a plan towards scrapping tuition fees. We called for the following five moves:
1 As a first step, an end to tuition charges for students sitting SQA music exams.
2 A national Government policy for instrumental music tuition, to fill the current gap.
3 The education minister to take on direct responsibility and accountability for instrumental music tuition.
4 A commitment to reduce instrument hire costs and the establishment of an instrument fund.
5 A Government commitment to end all tuition fees for instrumental music lessons.
A parliamentary debate led by Iain Gray MSP brought the issue to even wider attention and education minister Mike Russell was forced to admit that the Government need to “get a grip” on instrumental music tuition. By December 2012 the Government had not only created a £1 million fund for instruments, but set up a working group to produce a report on instrumental tuition and put Allan in charge of the issue.
In June, that group made 17 recommendations to Government – one of which was to be enacted immediately: an end to all SQA charging. It was a huge victory for the campaign, but more importantly, for the thousands of children across Scotland who could now study for their Higher music without worrying about whether or not their parents could afford to pay for it.
One instrumental music teacher said this week that the effects were already being observed in schools.
“One of the most important changes we are seeing is that no pupil need be put off taking SQA music as part of their course within schools as a result of having to pay for their lessons. Income is no barrier now – and it never ought to have been a barrier to children learning and taking SQA music as a subject in the first place.”
Further, the teacher said, local authorities were now aware that instrumental tuition fees was an issue that they had to pay attention to. Whereas in the past councils were quietly raising fees and charging for exams, communities were now standing up and demanding that they explain themselves. Not one council hiked fees this year, in stark contrast with 11 last year. Two abolished them completely.
“There is a much keener interest and vigilance from parents on the ground as to how authorities are organising instrumental education in schools as a result of the campaign,” he said. “They are aware it’s an issue and they’re not going to let the councils get away with it again.”
The Government has stopped short of abolishing tuition fees for good, however, despite the fact that Dundee City and Dumfries & Galloway have done it off their own bat. The Government claims hat charging, ultimately, is an issue for local authorities – and that at a time of austerity and budget cuts, axing all fees is something that some local councils simply won’t entertain.
But several of the recommendations approved today by the Government – all of which will be taken forward by an implementation group that includes members of Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and other educational and musical bodies – pertain to transparency of charging policies, as well as increased cooperation between councils on sharing resources as well as practices.
“Hopefully, what this means is the situation will not arise in the future in Scotland where anybody is prevented from taking up or learning a musical instrument because of their personal circumstances,” Allan said this weekend.
“I think that’s what lies at the heart of this and hopefully it’s also a good opportunity for us all to restate and better understand the importance that learning a musical instrument can have on developing a child’s wider education, and wider enthusiasm about education.”
Even the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), which is a member of the implementation group and has been critical of the issue in the past, is positive.
“It shows a real intent to look at this and see if we can find a way forward - a future for instrumental music in Scotland,” said Mark Traynor, convener of the EIS’s Instrumental Music Teachers’ Network. “We have a unique opportunity in Scotland now to do something different, unlike our colleagues south of the Border. We’re excited about working on this and looking to see if we can find some solutions to ensure instrumental music continues to be delivered.”
There are other recommendations in the paper: a national conference - the country’s first – on instrumental music; a commitment, and an understanding, that children with additional support needs will receive and benefit from music lessons; research that will be commissioned into the benefits of instrumental music in Scotland; the possibility of an apprenticeship scheme - Britain’s first - on the building and maintenance of musical instruments.
David Green, chair of the instrumental music implementation group and author of the report, says the future is bright. “The journey musical education is going on at the moment doesn’t have an end point,” he said. “It’s such a fantastic subject to be involved in in terms of what it can do for learning, for community and our society, as well as enhancing our cultural identity. That is what we will be looking at implementing.”
After 15 months of campaigning, the fight is not quite won, but it is getting there. Finally, it seems, this country’s Government agrees with us: we should – and must – Let The Children Play.
How Music Could Make You a Rocket Scientist Oct. 27, 2013 COLUMN By LEE DYE
Studies link early exposure to the arts to later success in science. Getty Images There is a very strong correlation between childhood engagement in the creative arts and measurable success later in life, researchers at Michigan State University have found.
Although a number of scientists have demonstrated that exposure to music and art during early life enhances the development of the brain, it has been difficult to measure how that has affected their adult performance.
The MSU research team thinks they found one way to do that. Children exposed to a wide variety of arts and crafts were more likely to eventually invent something so unique that they earned a patent, or come up with an idea good enough to form a new company, or publish provocative papers on science and technology.
That led them to conclude that cutbacks by the educational system on creative subjects -- whether it be music, art or woodworking -- may deprive the nation of the kind of innovation it will need to remain at the top of the global heap.
"We conclude, therefore, that a very strong case can be made that arts and crafts training correlates significantly with success as a scientist or an engineer and that this success can be measured in economically valuable products such as patentable inventions and founding new companies," the researchers conclude in their study, published in the journal Economic Development Quarterly.
The researchers also found that the converse is equally likely to be true. Depriving a child of a chance to be creative will probably lead to a less productive life later on.
Among the participants in their study, those who held the most patents, or started the most successful companies, received up to eight times more exposure to the arts than children in the general public.
"The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities," Rex LaMore, lead author and director of MSU's Center for Community and Economic Development, said in releasing the study. "If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you're more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed, or articles published. And that was something we were surprised to discover."
The study was based on access to an elite group of people who graduated from MSU's Honors College from 1990 to 1995. All of them were very smart, or they would not have been in the honors program. Most undoubtedly came from privileged homes where creativity was treasured and opportunities abounded, so these results may not apply to everybody.
But the numbers are so impressive that it would require a huge margin of error for them to be irrelevant.
Eighty-two persons participated in the study. All had majored in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM.) Music was the most common form of creative activity, and a whopping 93 percent of the participants maintained a lifelong involvement in music compared to 34 percent of the general public.
Except for the huge gap between those numbers, that may not seem all that surprising, because numerous studies over the years have documented the effect of early music lessons on the development of the human brain. Scientists at Concordia University in Montreal found earlier this year that the younger the lessons started, the greater the impact on the brain.
And scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., found last year that even a little musical training during childhood enhances the brain's ability to respond to complex sounds.
However, the MSU researchers found a strong correlation between numerous creative fields and later success. Some 41.9 percent of those who had worked with metal, for example, were more likely to end up holding patents than those who had never studied metal work.
Others excelled because they had studied ceramics, photography, wood working, electronics, computers, architecture, dancing, acting, creative writing, and so forth.
In other words, any exposure to the arts made a huge difference.
"High achievers in general, and those individuals most likely to found companies and make inventions in particular, have acquired a set of arts and crafts skills to which the average person is never even exposed," the study notes.
Why should working with metal or clay help a person found a company later in life? The researchers suggest that arts and crafts help kids and adults think "out of the box."
A lot of working with hands amounts mostly to figuring out how to solve problems -- how do you make a piece of wood bend the way you want it to -- and that can translate into finding a way to do something that no one else has figured out.
When asked to describe the value of engaging in arts and crafts, a couple of the participants put it this way:
"Quilting is a great way to use creativity and analytical thinking to solve problems and create something that is aesthetically appealing. It helps me lower my stress level, and likely improves my creativity in my current vocation," said one.
"General creativity and ability to consider multiple possibilities when troubleshooting. Able to get out of the 'this is the way we've always done it' rut," said another.
"The skills you learn from taking things apart and putting them back together translates into how you look at a product and how it can be improved," said Eileen Roraback of MSU's Center for Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities, a member of the research team.
Co-authors Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein, who have studied the relationship between the creative arts and scientific success for years, have found that the avocations persons choose can play a dramatic role throughout their lives.
After studying many scientists they reached this conclusion: "The most eminent and innovative among them are significantly more likely to engage in arts and crafts avocations" than the average Joe.
The bottom line, according to the researchers, is if you want to see this country rebound from its recession and lead the world in innovation, don't just look at Wall Street. Look at the ceramics lab as well.
I'd love to bring Katie back here for this concert! The audience writes the opera! What a gas....
Yippee, we're going! Tickets still left for this incredible quartet!
Woman's Club dinner menu!
Mozarella Chicken, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Broccoli Salad, Homemade Biscuits, Dessert Cart, Iced tea or Coffee---all for $8!
The 2pm school concert has been moved to the school Multipurpose Room due to renovations on the Old Gym. To reach the concert, park on 10th near D Ave, walk to the gazebo, then go NW. The room is in the same building as the old gym. I'm checking on whether the parking lot of Airport Rd will be open to the public..and will post if you can park there.
The Woman's Club pre-concert meal will feature mozzarella chicken, broccoli salad, rice, desserts and beverages.
We have a full house for Richard Dowling, but another fabulous concert is coming up soon! Altura Winds, a woodwind quintet from Albuquerque! Two concerts... 2pm at the Carrizozo School Old Gym and 7pm at Trinity United Methodist Church. And a pre-concert dinner at the Woman's Club, starting at 5. Mark your calendar!