With the prospect of a new teacher, a new grade, or even a new school, the end of summer is at once exciting and daunting. Which is why we're excited to honor our students of the month, who meet the challenges of back-to-school with enthusiasm and passion. Congratulations Katherine and Micah we hope that you're school year is full of music, and learning!
Orpheus students are always engaged in some form of group music making. Whether it's in a Musicianship Class, a special ensemble class, or in preparation for one of our Friendship Concerts, making music with your friends is rewarding and fun. As you can imagine, we spend a lot of time thinking about the best ways to pair up different instruments to not only make beautiful music, but new challenges for our students. That's why this month we're honoring two of our string students. The guitar and violin might not be one of the first pairings you think of, but this match up is both unique and beautiful! Congratulations Rania, and Natalia, we can't wait to hear more of your awesome music!
While we love summer at Orpheus because of new musical adventures in summer camps, and performance trips like our concert at Carnegie Hall, many music teachers know that a lack of structure from school and long vacations can make consistent practice a challenge. That's why we're extra excited to honor those students who not only love music, but keep up the hard work during the long hot days of June. Way to go Eli, and Clara, keep up the good work!
What Motivates Me
I have always loved playing in ensembles, and have been doing so since I was young. I saw 'School of Rock' when I was 12, and was incredibly inspired by the limitless potential for expression when musicians band together. The inspiration led me to form a rock band with my best friends, and to take my classical guitar ensemble playing very seriously. Through middle and high school, I played in a few ensembles coached by my teacher, Alan Johnston. Rehearsals were incredibly fun, and I had some amazing opportunities, most notably a performance on NPR's 'From the Top'.
Today I am lucky to pursue this passion as a member of the Austin Guitar Quartet. It is made of four incredibly talented former classmates of mine. Our rehearsals (around 10 hours a week) are always fun and inspiring. We have some amazing opportunities coming up this year, including a concert with my guitar heroes, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet! The talent in this group and the exciting opportunities we've been given make it a huge source of personal inspiration.
Watch Stephen perform with Austin Guitar Quartet here.
Congratulations to Orpheus Students Mei Yin Steadman and Aaron Baldauf for their achievements at the Texas Guitar Competition and Festival! Mei Yin placed first in the Youth Division I and Aaron placed third in Youth Division II. We are so proud of you!
Going to the Texas Guitar Competition and Festival was a great experience. It helped me focus and learn how to practice well because I wanted win and do my best when I played and I wanted to feel good about myself in the end. Even better than winning was the feeling I got when the judges came up to me individually and told me how well I played guitar." Mei Yin Steadman, Age 12
Most of us believe deeply in the power of music and want our children to enjoy music in their lives in one way or another. The benefits of music study are so well publicized now that a higher percentage of parents are giving their children music lessons than ever before – and for good reason: Music has already been shown to have a positive impact on so many areas of development and new studies touting its benefits seem to come out nearly every month.
But is that all music is? Just another tool to get ahead in never-ending race to be the most advanced kid in class?
Whatever happened to making music because it is beautiful, or because it brings meaning to a special event or to enjoy the company of a few a good friends?
Or because it connects us to who we are as a people?
One of the most powerful memories of my childhood is that of attending summer music camps with other kids my age. Spending 3-8 hours a day working out our favorite songs, learning music from other cultures, being exposed to new ideas about how to improvise or compose – all of these things left an indelible mark on my personality not just because they were beneficial, but because I was enjoying learning them in the company of kids my own age.
I can also remember the excitement of learning to play music from cultures completely foreign to mine and knowing that I was learning something powerful and indescribable about that culture that I could not get from books.
As a music teacher and academy director, I want each of my students to draw on the power of their own musical heritage while also broadening their musical tastes. This is why we ask every student who signs up for lessons at Orpheus Academy of Music if there is any cultural and personal interests in music that we should consider when teaching them. This is why all our classes are based on “real music” from around the world, rather than watered-down “teaching tunes.” Most importantly, it is why our students love music so much and remain dedicated over such a long period of time: Children don’t quit an activity that connects them to their world in a meaningful way.
Whatever your background or musical interest, I hope you will give your child the gift of learning music in a manner that both deepens their experience of life and connects them to their peers and their culture.
Dr. Klondike Steadman is co-founder (along with his wife, Wendy) of Orpheus Academy of Music.
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At the Carnegie Guitar Orchestra Rehearsal last Saturday I noticed something very strange: Several of the students were performing a difficult technique that nobody had taught them. I had briefly asked for a very staccato bass, but
then waved it off knowing that we they were too young to pull off the complicated thumb maneuver required to play and stop a bass note on guitar. But a few tries later every single one of them was doing it beautifully! That is the power
of setting a big goal. When the motivation to do something is high enough, you find a way.
And I have been seeing breakthroughs like this all around Orpheus lately. Not just from the students that are going to New York, but so many students that have set an amazing goal and are going for it: Frances Huffaker who composes something new every year for the Composition Book; Aaron Baldauf, who worked hard and got into every guitar program to which he applied (and will be going to UT!); The amazing performers who put in the extra rehearsals to prepare for the Friendship Concert this past April; Everyone who completed the 50 Days of Practice; Everyone who is giving a Musical Journey Concert or making a CD. All of you are changing who you are and inspiring others to do the same.
I want you to start thinking about what big project you can do next that will change your paying forever. Pick something you can pour your heart into. Something that is a stretch, but that, if you work hard, you can play with exceptional beauty and expression.
When we dream big, we push ourselves to grow in ways we could not have imagined otherwise. I have come to realize that it isn’t the achievement itself or even learning to enjoy the process of getting there (as we are often told): It is the
change we effect in ourselves by reaching, stretching, failing, getting back up and reaching again.
Dr. Klondike Steadman
A Review of Sight-Reading ipad apps from a student's perspective:
#1: Music Tutor
The reason why I think Music Tutor Is the best is because It gives you the 5 bar lines and it puts a note on any one of them and you have to look below at the letter options and see which letter it is. When you choose the right letter note, it plays the next note out loud. It shows you the letters of the scale and you put which letter it is. You are timed and you can see your score at any time. And after you are done you can review the ones you missed.
#2: B Flat
This app is very similar to Music Tutor. You can do all the same things but you can’t review what you missed. It still shows you what you missed but you can’t review the specifics.
You only know that you got it right or wrong. It my opinion it is a very good app, but not as good as Music Tuner.
#3: Treble Trainer
This app has 12 levels and each one has different piano key groups including sharps and flats. Each stage is timed and you get a point for each one you get right. You may drop down if you don’t win enough points. You advance forward
for winning a lot of points. There is an average and high score for each player. This app isn’t as fun because it is hard to improve a lot to advance. Also, the illustrations are limited to piano keys, not guitar strings.
This app shows a piece of music and starts with an audible metronome beat. Then the music starts and you just have to follow along and play aloud. I could not figure out how to vary the difficulty or pieces offered.
This app was the worst one I looked at. It has a guitar arm & string but the directions of how to do anything are not helpful. When you touch a spot on the guitar neck where it has a smiley face lit up, it will show you the name of the note with the tone and also how it is written on the treble clef. In my opinion, it is not very helpful.
- Griffin age 9