NAMM Announces Best Communites for Music Education

BCMEThe National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) has revealed this year’s list of Best Communities for Music Education in the U.S.  The announcement was made during last week’s National Wanna Play Music Week celebration, an annual event which highlights the importance of music education programs in schools and promotes the benefits of playing music for people of all ages and skill levels.

This year’s survey recognizes a total of 174 school districts across 30 states for their commitment to providing music education for their students.  According to the NAMM Foundation, the “Best Communities” designation represents both a distinction worthy of pride and a call to action for local music education advocates to help preserve their current music education programs.

Teachers and school district administrators participated in a web-based survey to select this year’s winners.  Districts were measured across curricular and programmatic criteria, as well as public support of their music programs.

The complete list of Best Communities appears below, and can also be viewed online at

Abington School District Abington PA
Acalanes High School Lafayette CA
Albion Central School District Albion NY
Ann Arbor Public Schools Ann Arbor MI
Arlington Independent School District Arlington TX
Avon Lake City School District Avon Lake OH
Baldwinsville Central School District Baldwinsville NY
Baltimore County Public Schools Towson MD
Bay Shore Union Free School District Bay Shore NY
Bay Village City School District Bay Village OH
Beachwood City Schools Beachwood OH
Bedford Central School District Mount Kisco NY
Bedford Public Schools Temperance MI
Belmont Public Schools Belmont MA
Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School Franklin MA
Berea City School District Berea OH
Bergenfield Public Schools Bergenfield NJ
Bethel Public Schools Bethel CT
Boerne Independent School District Boerne TX
Boyertown Area School District Boyertown PA
Brighton Central School District Rochester NY
Canfield Local Schools Canfield OH
Central Cambria School District Ebensburg PA
Central York School District York PA
Chesapeake Public Schools Chesapeake VA
Cheshire Public Schools Cheshire CT
Clarence Central School Clarence NY
Clark County School District Las Vegas NV
Clarkstown Central School District New City NY
Clovis Municipal Schools Clovis NM
Cobb County School District Marietta GA
Colonial Elementary School Plymouth Meeting PA
Conestoga Valley School District Lancaster PA
Connetquot Central School District Bohemia NY
Cottonwood Elementary School Wright WY
Cumberland Valley School District Mechanicsburg PA
Cuyahoga Heights Local School District Cleveland OH
David Douglas School District 40 Portland OR
Decorah Community School District Decorah IA
Denton Independent School District Denton TX
Dover Area School District Dover PA
East Meadow Union Free School District Westbury NY
Edmonds School District Lynnwood WA
Ephrata Area School District Ephrata PA
Fargo Public Schools Fargo ND
Fayetteville-Manlius Central Schools Manlius NY
Fort Bend Independent School District Sugar Land TX
Fulton County Schools Atlanta GA
Gotha Middle School Windermere FL
Great Falls Public Schools Great Falls MT
Great Neck UFSD Great Neck NY
Greenwich Public Schools Greenwich CT
Guilderland Central School District Guilderland NY
Gwinnett County Public Schools Suwanee GA
Harford County Public Schools Bel Air MD
Henrico County Public Schools Richmond VA
Herricks Union Free School District No. 9 New Hyde Park NY
Hershey Middle School Hershey PA
Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools Woodmere NY
Hidalgo Independent School District Hidalgo TX
Hilliard City School District Hilliard OH
Hilton Central School District Hilton NY
Homewood City Schools Homewood AL
Honoka’a High and Intermediate School Honoka’a HI
Hopewell Valley Regional School District Pennington NJ
Hortonville Area School District Hortonville WI
Hudson School District Hudson WI
Huntsville Independent School District Huntsville TX
Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District Bedford TX
Independent School District 279 – Osseo Area Schools Maple Grove MN
Indiana Area School District Indiana PA
Irvine Unified School District Irvine CA
Island Trees Public Schools U.S.F.D. Levittown NY
Jenison Public Schools Jenison MI
Jericho Union Free School District Jericho NY
Johnson City Central School District Johnson City NY
Katy Independent School District Katy TX
Klein Independent School District Klein TX
Lawrence Township School District Lawrenceville NJ
Lee County Schools Opelika AL
LeRoy Central School LeRoy NY
Liverpool Central School District Liverpool NY
Longwood Central School District Yaphank NY
Loudoun County Public Schools Ashburn VA
Lower Merion School District Ardmore PA
Lynn Public Schools Lynn MA
Manhasset Public Schools Manhasset NY
Massapequa Union Free School District #23 Massapequa NY
Memphis City Schools Memphis TN
Metuchen Public Schools Metuchen NJ
Midway Independent School District Waco TX
Millard Public Schools Omaha NE
Milpitas High School Milpitas CA
Mineola Union Free School District Mineola NY
Montgomery County Public Schools Christiansburg VA
Monticello Central School District Monticello NY
Mount Lebanon School District Pittsburgh PA
Nanuet Union Free School District Nanuet NY
New Hartford Central School District New Hartford NY
Newfield Elementary School Newfield NY
Newtown Public Schools Newtown CT
North Allegheny School District Pittsburgh PA
North Babylon Union Free School District North Babylon NY
Northport East Northport Union Free School District Northport NY
Northwest Independent School District Justin TX
Northwestern Elementary New Tripoli PA
Nutley Public School District Nutley NJ
Oceanside Public School District Oceanside NY
Olmsted Falls City Schools Olmsted Falls OH
Open Door Christian Schools Elyria OH
Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School St. Johnsville NY
Osage County R-II Schools Linn MO
Paramus Board of Education Paramus NJ
Pasadena Independent School District Pasadena TX
Pasco School District #1 Pasco WA
Pendleton School District 16R Pendleton OR
Pennsbury School District Fairless Hills PA
Pequannock Township School District Pompton Plains NJ
Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools Perrysburg OH
Pine City Public Schools (Independent School District #578) Pine City MN
Pittsford Central School District Pittsford NY
Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Placentia CA
Plano Independent School District Plano TX
Plymouth Canton Educational Park Canton MI
Plymouth Community High School Plymouth IN
Port Jefferson School District Port Jefferson NY
Potsdam Central School District Potsdam NY
Princeton City Schools Cincinnati OH
Propel East Turtle Creek PA
Putnam Valley Central School District Putnam Valley NY
Quaker Valley School District Sewickley PA
Randolph Township School District Randolph NJ
Ridgewood Public Schools Ridgewood NJ
Roanoke County Public Schools Roanoke VA
Royalton-Hartland Central School District Middleport NY
Rush-Henrietta Central School District West Henrietta NY
San Diego Unified School District San Diego CA
Santa Monica-Malibu USD Santa Monica CA
Sayville Public Schools W Sayville NY
Scarsdale Public Schools Scarsdale NY
School District of La Crosse La Crosse WI
Shaker Heights City School District Shaker Heights OH
Shaw Visual and Performing Arts Elementary Saint Louis MO
Simsbury Public Schools Simsbury CT
South Huntington Union Free School District Huntington Station NY
Spokane Public Schools Spokane WA
State College Area School District State College PA
Stow-Munroe Falls City School District Stow OH
Syosset Central School District Syosset NY
The School Board of Polk County, Florida Bartow FL
The School District of Hillsborough County, Florida Tampa FL
The Sycamore Community School District Cincinnati OH
The Troy School District Troy MI
Torrington Public Schools Torrington CT
Township of Union Public Schools Union NJ
Trinity Area School District Washington PA
Virginia Beach City Public Schools Virginia Beach VA
Wappingers Central School District Wappingers Falls NY
Washington County Public Schools Hagerstown MD
Washoe County School District Reno NV
Wayland Public Schools Wayland MA
Webb Bridge Middle School Alpharetta GA
Webster Central School District Webster NY
West Genesee Central School District Camillus, NY
West Hartford Public Schools West Hartford CT
West Irondequoit Central School District Rochester NY
West Lafayette Community School Corporation West Lafayette IN
West Milford Township Public Schools West Milford NJ
Westborough Public Schools Westborough MA
Weston Public Schools Weston MA
Willard R-II Schools Willard MO
Williamsport Area School District Williamsport PA
Williamsville Central School District East Amherst NY
Woodside School Woodside CA

License Plates In Support of the Arts

Arts license platesOne of our main goals at TakeLessons is to inspire a generation through music.  In addition to the proven mental, physical and emotional benefits of music lessons, music and arts programs provide children with an essential outlet for creativity and inspiration.  However, many states are cutting funding for the arts, decreasing accessibility to these programs among students.

Here in California, the California Arts Council is attempting to combat this issue by encouraging residents to support the arts through the purchase of a personalized Arts license plate.  According to the CAC, sales and renewals of these plates have raised over $20 million for California arts since they were first made available in 1994.  In fact, over 60% of the California Arts Council’s current budget comes from the Arts plate.  All fees for the Arts plate are considered a charitable contribution; the CAC’s goal is to raise $40 million for the arts in California by selling 1 million plates, which would put California among the top states in the nation for arts funding.

Many other states including Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Alabama (just to name a few) offer special Arts license plates; you can find more information on your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Power of the Pentatonic Scale

One of our teachers, Drina B., sent us an email with a link to this video from the 2009 World Science Festival to share with all of you.

The video clip is from the “Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus” event at the 2009 World Science Festival. It shows singer Bobby McFerrin (of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” fame) showing the audience the power of the pentatonic scale by getting them to respond musically to his actions. What is really unbelievable is that the audience sings notes that he has not even described to them yet. It really shows us how music truly is a universal language.

Thanks for the clip, Drina!

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Instrument-Switching: A Good Idea?

Here is an interesting article that we found featured on September 17, 2009 on the Oxford University Press Blog about whether it is good or bad that your child is a music instrument switcher:


Amy Nathan is an award-winning author of books for young people including The Young Musician’s Survival Guide: Tips From Teens and Pros, out now in a new expanded second edition. A Harvard graduate with master’s degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Columbia’s Teacher’s College, she is an ever-struggling piano student and the mother of two musical sons: one a composer and trumpeter, and the other a saxophone-playing government major.

Which six of the following professional musicians were instrument-switchers as kids (answers at the end of the post)? Instrument-switchers start learning to play one kind of instrument that either they (or their parents) thought would be great for them — only to discover later that there is another instrument that they love a whole lot more. And so they switch.

( ) Joshua Bell, violinist

Andre Watts

( ) André Watts, pianist

( ) Paula Robison, flutist

( ) James Galway, flutist

( ) Ann Hobson Pilot, harpist

( ) Cynthia Phelps, violist

( ) Carter Brey, cellist

( ) Sherry Sylar, oboist

At this back-to-school time of year when kids are returning to music lessons, many parents have a nagging worry that their kids will turn out to be instrument-switchers. What if they don’t stick with the instrument the parents just shelled out a lot of money for? What about all the money spent on lessons? Will that be wasted? If they switch, how will they ever catch up with kids who didn’t switch?

Judging by the high level of musicianship of the pros in this quiz —

Music for Children

switchers and non-switchers alike — switching isn’t the disaster that some parents fear it will be. However, the prevalence of instrument-switching does mean that it’s unwise to rush out and buy an expensive instrument for kids until they’ve spent a year or so learning to play it and are sure they really like it. If a family doesn’t already own an instrument a child can learn on, start by renting — or borrowing.

Making up lost time on the new instrument didn’t pose a serious problem for the switchers in the list above. Many had been reluctant practicers with their first instrument. But when they switched, practice time became less of a chore, turning instead into something they actually wanted to do — well, at least much of the time. After all, the new instrument was one that they chose for themselves, one whose sound spoke to them, one they really wanted to play. They were willing to put in regular practice time in order to master it. As for all those lessons with the first instrument — they weren’t a waste, but provided an introduction to music that carried over to the new choice.

“Switching is okay, but don’t switch too soon,” warns Daniel Katzen, who plays French horn with the Boston Symphony. He started on piano at age six, tried cello for a while at age nine, and then two years later finally found the instrument that was right for him, French horn. As he explains in The Young Musician’s Survival Guide, “You can’t tell about an instrument in just a few months. Other instruments always look cool. But after you start playing, you find that no instrument is really easy if you want to play it well.”

Instrument-switching may actually be something a parent could encourage a youngster to think about if the child loves music but never wants to practice. Of course, a lack of interest in practicing could come from other causes, such as the type of music the youngster is learning, the approach the teacher is taking or an overly busy after-school schedule. But it could also be that the instrument just isn’t the right one for that kid. A better match may present itself if the youngster does a little exploring by listening to a variety of kinds of music, going to concerts at school or in concert halls, watching performances on TV, having the school music teacher demonstrate different instruments. Maybe that reluctant practicer will discover an instrument he or she really wants to play, as happened with Ann Hobson Pilot, principal cellist of the Boston Symphony. She struggled with piano lessons for years, not liking them much and not wanting to practice. But when she had a chance to try harp in high school, “I felt more expressive,” she says. “I loved it from the start. So I practiced more.”

Answers to Quiz: In addition to the Boston Symphony’s Ann Hobson Pilot, three other instrument-switchers in the list above are also orchestral musicians, members of the New York Philharmonic: Cynthia Phelps, who switched from violin to viola; Carter Brey, from violin to cello; Sherry Sylar, from piano and flute to oboe. The other two are soloists: André Watts, switched as a youngster from violin to piano; Paula Robison, from piano to flute. The two who didn’t switch: Joshua Bell and James Galway.

Jason Mraz Writes About the Power of Music

Jason Mraz at Foxwood's, May 17 2006

We at TakeLessons are huge Jason Mraz fans. We love his music and his philosophy of endorsing the value of music education for all. Here is a recent “Journal” entry he posted on July 9, 2009 on his own site about the gratitude he feels towards all the people who have given him the gift of music in his life:

I am grateful to have music in my life. My mom was the first person to turn me on to it. She sat me at the piano, shaped my fingers to help me make sense of chords, and we would play chopsticks over and over again. My step-dad, an incredible drummer, gave me a drum kit for my 10th birthday. That gift taught me the essential rock/rap beat, a cross-stick over the hi-hat and snare while the foot slams the kick on the 1 and 3. Even if I never pursued music as a career, those few musical moments introduced me to an organized and expressive way of being that would carry over into friendships and academics, improving my attitude and overall performance at school.

I am so grateful for the many, many amazing music teachers in the public schools who kept me enrolled in the power of self-expression and group participation. I am thankful for that extraordinary study of sound and the opportunity to play when the age was most appropriate for playing.

Please support arts programs in your community, especially in the schools. At the very least, it’ll give the graffiti on the overpass some depth.

Jason Mraz’s enthusiasm and passion for music education for all echoes our own sentiments and our desire to inspire a generation through the power of music.

So You Wanna Play Guitar (pt.XIX)


Here is the latest blog entry from our talented guitar teacher Jason, covering his thoughts on Music Theory:

I’m pretty excited about some of the response I’ve been getting from my students about questions they have about Music Theory.  Some of my students are in college, some of them are looking for the lost art of grimoire, and some just wanna know how a chord is built.  I’m finishing up some touches on a book that I’ve been making and am pleased that my ability to make it has been solely on the requests of those that had the balls to question.

Why Music Theory?

Music Theory doesn’t really have a beginning in my opinion.  It is what it is and I don’t abide by it.  I’m also not a hypocrite so let me give you some thoughts on how to know the rules and then break the rules.

Things to know: Circle of Fifths… a basic diagram of the universe that is music.  Also known as the cycle of 4ths.  It’s a circle that can help you determine the Major and minor key signatures and see how they relate to each other.

Modal Scales: Ionian/Dorian/Phrygian/Lydian/Mixolydian/Aeolian/Locrian….. all the same thing.  Ex: CDEFGABC, DEFGABCD, EFGABCDE, FGABCDEF, GABCDEFG, ABCDEFGA, BCDEFGAB.  But is that it?  No, you need to learn the interval structure as well.  W=whole step, H=half step Ex: WWHWWWH, WHWWWHW, HWWWHWW, WWWHWWH, WWHWWHW, WHWWHWW, HWWHWWW.  But is that it? No, now you need to be able to transpose those into all other keys.  Take the same intervalic structure and apply it to the Circle of Fifths in any Key to check out the magic.

Minor Scales: Aeolian is another term for minor, but there are two that you can meld w/the minor to form some almost european metal sound called the Harmonic Minor…. (looks like a minor scale ‘sept the 2nd to last note is sharped in a Major fashion) And the Melodic Minor (looks like a Major Scale except the 1st 3 notes look like a regular minor scale ascending/descend just like a regular minor scale)Jason

Chord Theory: Major (1,3,5) Minor or – (1,b3,5) Delta or “triangle” (1357) 7th (1235b7) Augmented or = (13#5) Delta 9 (13579) Know it to the point where you can just say…”so what” and mean it.

Relative Minor: Built on the 6th degree of the root or “1” tone.

The “5” Em minor pentatonic or G Major box patterns: Fun little thing to know before you can think outside the box is to learn the box you wanna think out of.  Move your box shape back three frets and you’ve uncovered E major or C#minor.

Arpeggios: Just chopped up chords played in a sequence that can be as little as say 3 notes up to 12 notes or more.  Typically you just need to know how far you need to reach to get a solid grasp when really your just playing (CEGCEGCEGCEGCEG) or (AC#EAC#EAC#EAC#E)

Composition:  I wouldn’t be in the postion I am today if I didn’t write all this down.  Start writing immediatly or you’re just blowin’ smoke.  Well, not really… but if you wanna understand what the heck you just played or what you’re playing… jot it down/put it in ink/immortalize that sucker. Know what a G clef is know that an F clef is for bass, think above and below the ledger lines, understand the rhythm structures.  Write your own TAB.

Harmony: A lot of really great bands have 2 guitar players…those that don’t often have a doubled guitar of themselves going while they lead.  Learn to build doubled guitar parts or add a bass part.  Add a vocal melody and you’re good.  4 part harmony right there.

Chord progressions: I IV V, basic blues… everything else is out the door.

Now what?  “So what” man… don’t quit, be yourself, and remember that everything I just mentioned is just a bunch of… well, second thought.  Study it, then play a few power chords of your own to create what you can call yours.


Jason MJason1

Support Music Education

As a proud partner of NAMM, we support their stance on supporting the arts regarding the "No Child Left Behind Act." Here is their latest positioning:

On August 18, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke with the Support Music Coalition regarding his letter about the importance of Arts Education.

Tell your Members of Congress that when the No Child Left Behind Act is reauthorized, Congress should provide flexibility in the law for music and arts programs.

Every child in America deserves to have a complete, well-rounded education that includes music and arts education. These programs develop and foster skills to help students meet the ever-growing demands of a 21st Century workforce.Music Class

We must call upon Congress to make a strong commitment to our children. By reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act to include music and arts education as "core" academic subjects, our elected officials can make music and arts education a reality for every single American child.

Tell your Members of Congress that support for music and arts education should be strengthened in the reauthorization of NCLB to provide flexibility for all decision makers at the state and local level to include rigorous and sequential programs so that students can continue to reap the benefits of school-based music education.

We at TakeLessons hope that all children can have the same musical education that has been available to previous generations. By supporting the arts you are supporting every child's opportunity to experience the arts as an integral component to a well-rounded education.

100 Best Online Archives for Music Majors

Amber Johnson, from, was kind enough to share this article with us.

Internet technology has been a bane to music companies. But the wide
range of available audio resources has made studying music easier than
ever. Online music archives host a variety of genres from countries
around the world. Here are the best online archives for music majors
pursuing their passion.

Popular Genres

Popular music shapes culture and often serves as a soundtrack for
current events. Check out these music archives for popular genres such
as rock and rap.

  1. Artist Direct: Free downloads and streaming music from the biggest and newest acts.
  2. Iceberg: A Canadian service offering international pop groups in a range of genres from R&B to techno.
  3. CMT: Focused on country music, this site has video, lyrics and more.
  4. Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music: With samples, equipment reviews and a library, this archive is great for anyone interested in techno or electronic music.
  5. Motor City Music Archives:
    Detroit has a long tradition of great music from gospel to punk rock.
    This archive is dedicated to Motor City music such as Motown and the
    White Stripes.
  6. Stoner Rock: Latest news
    and releases from the world of acid rock, this resource includes
    samples from up and coming bands in addition to established groups.
  7. Eternity Rock: This music community shares information and archives from varying genres.
  8. Gospel Music Archives: Songs, MP3s and sheet music for modern gospel tunes, this archive is sure to save your soul.
  9. Free Music Archive: A collection of songs from unsigned, unknown bands this archive is a must for indie fans.
  10. Promoting electronic and electroacoustic music, this archive regularly adds more top quality music every day.
  11. Cosmopolis: This music archive caters to fans with different tastes. Get music in nearly any genre from jazz to classical to pop.
  12. New Gibraltar: An encyclopedia of progressive rock, this archive provides streaming samples and downloads.
  13. Christian Music Archive: A solid site for Christian music fans, this archive is blessed with an easy to use interface.
  14. This collaborative project was started to source, digitize and distribute out-of-copyright sound recordings.
  15. Hyperreal Music Archive:
    Hosting music representing a range of indie labels across a variety of
    genres, this archive offers amazing resources for musicians interested
    in techno.
  16. The Children’s Music Archive:
    Lyrics and sing-a-long suggestions from this site makes it particular
    useful to music majors thinking about a career as an elementary teacher.
  17. VGMusic: A kitschy little site specializing entirely in video game theme music this is a must for any geek.VanMorrison
  18. The Music Archive: This database provides detailed information on some of the popular acts in history such as Neil Young and Van Morrison.
  19. ASMA: A massive archive of sounds from the Atari system of video games, this site grows rapidly and now contains thousands of songs.
  20. The Indie Music Archive: An archive for out of publication indie music, many of the bands on this site are Canadian and have broken up.

Classical Music

Studies have shown listening to classical composers such Mozart and
Beethoven can boost brain power. Get smarter by checking out the best
online music articles.

  1. Classical Archives:
    One of the largest archives available on the web, this site contains
    hundreds of thousands of classical tracks from thousands of composers
    new and old.
  2. Classical Guitar Archives: This database for classical guitar is run by a master musician looking to share his craft with the world.
  3. NOM Classical: Music cataloged by specific instrument, this site hosts beautiful and traditional in classical music
  4. Bach Chorales: An archive specifically dedicated to the German Composer Johan Sebastian BachBach
  5. Arman’s Concert Hall: The thousands of piano works available on this site will drastically expand anyone’s classical repertoire.
  6. The Sweet Sounds of Classical Music:
    A collection of masterful symphonies from the earliest creations to the
    present day, this archive contains some of the world’s most beautiful
  7. A free Internet resource committed to guitarists and classical pieces, this archive has thousands of songs and video clips.
  8. Classical MP3s: Free classical MP3s and other music downloads, this site is a lot of fun for classical lovers.
  9. MusicWeb International:
    Over 100 of the greatest symphonies ever written performed by some of
    the greatest musicians alive today, this classical database offers
    reviews, audio files and, best of all, completely free.
  10. Classical MIDI with Words:
    Classical masterpieces aren’t all instrumentals, some of the best come
    with words. This MIDI archive of classical works with words is
    fantastic reference tool.
  11. A-M Classical: News and information relating to the classical community, this database provides quick access to favorites.
  12. Classical LP to MP3:
    This unique archive gives classical music lovers access to recordings
    from Dutch radio in the 1950s. These awesome recordings will delight
    any true fan.
  13. ELIXIR’S MIDI Page for Classical Guitars:
    A fantastic collection of songs for classical guitar players, this
    archive contains hundreds of tracks and links for aspiring professional
  14. eClassical: Crystal clear files are the standard for this classical archive that offers an easy search by composer, title or instrument.
  15. Aji’s Classical Music Palace: Get works from great composers, past and present, at this site for classical music aficionados.
  16. Tina Billet’s Keyboard Creations:
    These recordings of pieces from master composers were performed by a
    talented amateur musician based in England and placed into a convenient
  17. Classical MIDI Connection:
    MIDI music ranges from brilliant compositions to annoying beeping. This
    database of songs serves as a fantastic reference guide for an amazing
    number of classical works.
  18. Classical Guitar MIDI Archives: This site gives students a wonderful introduction to classical guitar by providing over 2400 songs from 100 composers.
  19. Classical Music Archives: A simple, no fuss interface, this site seeks to provide users with an amazing classical experience.

World and Regional Music

Countries, cultures and people are greatly influenced by music. Hear
what the world has to offer with these great music archives featuring
the best world and regional music.

  1. The Internet Chinese Music Archive: Featuring music from various periods of Chinese history, this archive includes modern tracks representing a new China.
  2. Global Music Archive:
    A fantastic resource provided by Vanderbilt University, this database
    of world music includes traditional and new songs from around the world.
  3. CaribPlanet: Checkout the amazingly varied genres produced from the Caribbean with this archive specializing in island music.
  4. Canadian Music Archives:
    This resource provided by the Canadian government preserves the musical
    history of the great nation to the north. Search this database of
    Canadian musicians and learn about the culture of Canada.
  5. Hawaiian Hula Archive: This archive ensures the continued perseverance of Hawaiian culture contains hula tracks perfect for parties or study.WorldMusic
  6. Mendocino County Public Broadcasting Archive: An archive of radio music from the Mendocino coast of northern California, this site contains an eclectic mix of genres.
  7. Asobi Music Gallery: A collection of orchestral works and piano duets, this gallery of well-performed music is worth checking out.
  8. The Digital Music Archive: An
    archive of music and composers this site has thousands of compositions
    for known greats and modern masters around the world.
  9. World Music Central: A gateway to world music, this site has thousands of artists and albums.
  10. FolkStream: A database for Australian folk songs, this site offers traditional and modern music.
  11. BBC World Music:
    A complete online archive for world music, the BBC provides an amazing
    service for students looking to expand their musical tastes.
  12. Wisconsin Music Archive:
    Wisconsin has a surprisingly rich musical history the University of
    Wisconsin at Madison stores with a fantastic archive for preserving
    songs from the cheese state.
  13. NPR: This resource for world music includes songs from every part of the globe provided by American public radio.
  14. RootsWorld: An archive of African music that reveals the wide variety of genres from one of the least understood continents.
  15. New England Music Archive: The music of New England has played an important role throughout American history, this site is a great site for studying

Historical Music

Music is a distinctive feature of any historical period. These archives include music from specific important eras of history.

  1. Folk Music Archives: Focusing on American folk music, this archives stores the creative contributions of common people.
  2. The Internet Renaissance Band: Performing works from the Renaissance period, this site givers users a taste of a more enchanted time.
  3. Ceolas: A Celtic
    music archive providing the sweet tones of Scotland and Ireland, this
    database is great for anyone looking to explore cultural heritage.TheCorrs
  4. Folk Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and America:
    A collection of old folk music from the history of English speaking
    countries, this archive provides artist biographies, genre history and
    other information.
  5. Acadia Early Music: Sounds from the swamp, this archive gives music students access to songs from old Louisiana.
  6. Folk Music: This archive of folk music is geared toward teaching students how to play old American classics.
  7. Tulsa Music Archive: This site aims to preserve the musical heritage of artists from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  8. The Jewish Theological Music Archive: A collection of music representing the Jewish tradition, this site connects students with a rich cultural heritage.
  9. Sarasota Music Archive:
    A public resource from the good people of Sarasota, this site preserves
    the musical tradition of hard working individuals and their ancestors.
  10. The Greatest Music Collection:
    Over 3 million recordings starting from the earliest Thomas Edison
    production, this site is an impressive resource for any music student
    covering any and all genre throughout history.

Sheet Music

Reading music notation is one of the most important music skills
music majors learn. Here are the best sites for getting sheet music for
a range of instruments.

  1. Levy Collection of Sheet Music: This resource is provided by John Hopkins University and is one of the most impressive collections of sheet music on the web.
  2. Sheet Music Archive: Providing over 100,000 sheets of music, this archive is a must for musicians looking for obscure pieces to play.
  3. Musica Viva: A collection of sheet music for nearly any instrument, this archive of sheet music also caters to varying skill levels.
  4. Jumbo Jimbo’s Song Lyrics Archive: Tabs and sheet music for guitar players, this archive includes music representing all genres and tastes.Sheet Music
  5. Tabby Cat Music Archive: Tabs for musicians interested in country, this database is a collection tailor made for country lovers.
  6. Ward Irish Music Archive: A public collection of Irish sheet music, this database one of the largest emerald archives in the United States.
  7. Tin Whistler: A sheet music archive for penny and slide whistles, this site is a must for anyone interested in unique instruments.
  8. Fedor Vrtacnik: This database is maintained by a composer and offers pop arrangements and classical scores.
  9. A free sheet music resource, this sites caters to any instrument or skill level.
  10. Free sheet music and scores, this site provides pieces for a number of instruments from guitar to the voice and French horn.
  11. Free Sheet Music: Free classical scores and sheet music, this database includes works from Beethoven and Bach.
  12. Eerland: This site contains definitive collections of sheet music from master German composers.
  13. Great Scores: Providing printable sheet music for a vast array of instruments, this site is great for students just learning the basics.
  14. Keystave: A leading classical music site, this resource has sheet music for a variety of instruments.
  15. Lysator: Modern renditions of classical works, this offers 17th and 18th century masterpieces.
  16. Original sheet music for any instrument, this site contains hundreds of songs and composers.
  17. Musicroom: Everything a musician needs for their instrument, this site has sheet music, samples and links to online stores.
  18. MusicaStorica: Specializing in spreading music knowledge, this site is great for locating hard to find pieces.
  19. Notation Machine: This unbelievable archive of sheet music also lets users upload their own work and generates sheet music for others to play.
  20. Archive of Popular American Music: This site is generously provided by UCLA and hosts digital sheet music from some of the greatest 20th century composers.
  21. The Gospel Music Archive: An extensive catalogue of gospel music especially for the guitar.

Lyric Archives

Crafting song lyrics can be frustrating for sonically gifted
students. Head over to these lyric archives for idea inspiration from
indie gods and popular acts.

  1. The Lyric Archive: Lyrics for popular albums from across genres and generations.
  2. Ohhla: The original hip-hop lyric archive, this site is comprehensive including all rap genres.
  3. My Lyric Archive: User submitted lyrics makes this site excellent for popular lyrics and well-known classics.
  4. An extensive archive of song lyrics from popular musicians and indie greats.
  5. Risa Song Lyrics Archive: Collected from user submissions and other Internet sites, this archive of song lyrics covers all genres and eras.
  6. One of the
    largest song lyrics destination on the Internet, providing access to
    more than 200,000 lyrics from around 15,000 artists/bands for over ten
  7. The Archive of Misheard Lyrics:
    This archive contains popular lyrics that are often hilariously
    misunderstood. Check out the mistakes made on popular classics such,
    “Mrs. Robinson.”
  8. Ireland First!:
    An Irish song lyric archive, this collection of 391 Irish songs range
    in emotion from political to funny, some sad, some happy, all worth
    listening to.
  9. MusicMoz: A free song lyrics search engine with offering searches based on artist, song name or album.
  10. The SKA Lyric Archive: This resource is dedicated to SKA music and is a great site for passionate fans.
  11. The largest
    Christian lyrics site on the internet, this archive has thousands of
    lyrics to hymns, worship songs, praise choruses and a lot more.
  12. Lyrics Search Engine: A completely searchable database of lyrics including popular hits, classics and indie tracks.
  13. A-Z Lyrics Universe: A pretty comprehensive database of song lyrics that grows daily as a result of an active network of users.
  14. MP3 Lyrics: Large lyrics
    website with over 150000 lyrics from 7000 artists. The site features a
    search engine that lets users search by artist, song title and album.
  15. Lyrics Point: Find the words to all your favorite songs by searching thousands of free music lyrics from popular singers and artists.

Why Do We Love to Sing? A Look at the Origins of Vocal Expression.

The rapid innovation in interactive singing technology brought about in the late 1970’s by the invention of Karaoke equipment sparked an ever-growing interest worldwide in singing popular songs—both for the sheer delight of it and for whatever rewards and recognition it may bring to the new breed of participants.  Along with the increased popular access to the tools of music making came the realization that singing is something anyone and everyone can do with basic singing lessons, not just a select group of highly professional singers or superstar talents created by Hollywood star maker studios!

Where did this love of singing originate? Why is that people all over the world love to hear music and love to sing?  What are the deeper social purposes that singing fulfills?  In this article we look at vocal expression in the dawn of human history in order to trace the fundamental social needs singing fulfills.

When looking for the origins of music, we are looking at a period of prerecorded history. There are no song remnants, movies, videos or tapes available. No written records, or texts to guide us to the shape or structure of early music. We know from anthropologists, geologists, and other researchers of human history that as the dust settled on the Jurassic period, as the giant dinosaurs disappeared from the earth, early men formed societies and thrived in several locations on the planet.  Without any record of the music-making capacities of early societies—prior to the written records left by Sumerians and Egyptians 6000 years ago, we have little to show us how early man in the Paleolithic era, 12,000 to 25,000 years ago exhibited musical expression.

Early primitive groups. To find primitive song forms, musicologists have studied the societies surviving to this day, which contain remnants of Stone Age culture. Small isolated groups of people around the world, now confined to living in the harshest environments, driven there by the rapacious advance of modern civilization, still maintain the earliest forms of social organization. These groups include the Pygmies of the equatorial forests of Gabon and Ituri, the Bushmen of Southwest Africa, the Semang of the Malayan jungle, the Veddas of Ceylon, the Andamanese, the Australian aborigines, the Eskimos of arctic North America, and the Selknam and Yamana tribes of Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America.

These groups have in common an economy based on hunting and gathering and of following their prey and moving from season to season. They do not practice agriculture, nor do they build fixed habitations.  Men are usually the hunters and women the gatherers. Men use weapons in the hunt; the primary weapons being the spear and the bow and arrow. The only professional class is the shaman or medicine man.  Usually these are men, but this is not universal. And women in all these societies have primary healing and medicinal roles in relation to childbirth, childrearing, healing the sick and rites of passage at the time of death.

Picture 2 Archeologists have uncovered remnant evidence of musical instruments used in Stone Age times, which are corroborated by musical practices amongst surviving societies today. Animal bones were fashioned in to wind instruments, such as the flute, and into percussive sticks.  One of the earliest musical instruments used in Africa was the bow. Cave paintings from Paleolithic times reveal telling evidence of musical practices for the purpose of sustaining life or of denying fearful spirits.  Drawings depict men dressed in animal costume—thereby invoking the magical powers of animals; dancing and playing instruments such as the flute. Dancing is closely associated with the hunt.  There are spiritual, ritual, and survival overtones in these societies dependent upon the hunt for survival.

Do the war dance. As dance is driven by rhythmic activity, generated by men playing early percussive and wind instruments, primitive songs associated with the hunt dances or war dances came about when people uttered sounds to invoke the spirits and or to express strong emotions, impressions or sensations.  Often the uttered sounds were not articulated words conveying meaning, but rather were repeated syllables that captured a feeling or expressed a sensation.

For example, a greeting song of the Yamana tribe of Tierra Del Fuego goes like this:

Ha ma la  Ha ma la Ha ma la
O la la la,  la la la la la  la.   (Primitive Song : 57,58)

Another song example from the Yamana, made up of emotive sounds expresses a vague mood rather than a word meaning:

Ma-las-ta xai-na-sa, ma-las-ta, xai-na-sa.
Hau-a la-mas ke-te-sa, hau-a-la-mas ke-ta-sa.

These are sung to a fixed tune and repeated as a chorus or rhythmic utterance accompanying a dance women and girls perform.

Early songs were based on the rhythmic movement needed to perform the dance. When words were added and made to conform to the rhythm, poetry began.  Drama also began with the performance of the dance, since performers took on the character of the animals, spirits or gods they were seeking to please with their dance.  Primitive song is a communal activity, as ceremonies are a main focus of the social life of the tribe.  Song became the way to communicate with the supernatural and to express joy, grief and other strong emotions.

Some of the early songs. Primitive singers developed phrases, which were often repeated to drive home the meaning of the words of the song. The poetry and drama of the songs became quite elaborate and had the power to evoke strong responses in the listeners or participants and to create a vivid awareness of the present scene or unknown powers at work. A song sung by the Pygmies of Gabon when preparing for an elephant hunt provides an example:

On the weeping forest under the wing of evening,
The night, all black has gone to rest happy.
In the sky the stars have fled trembling.
Fireflies, which shine vaguely and p
ut out their lights;
On high the moon is dark, its white light is put out.
The spirits are wandering.
Elephant hunter take your bow!  Elephant hunter take your bow!
In the forest lashed by the great rain,
Father Elephant walks heavily. Baou, Baou.
Careless, without fear, sure of his strength,
Father Elephant, whom no one can vanquish,
Among the trees, which he breaks, he stops and starts again.
Father Elephant, you have been heard from afar.
In the forest where no one passes but you,
Hunter, lift up your heart, leap and walk.
Meat is in front of you, the huge piece of meat, which walks like a hill.
The meat which makes glad the heart,
The meat that will roast on the hearth.
The meat into which the teeth sink.
The fine red meat and the blood that is drunk smoking.
Elephant Hunter, take your bow, take your bow!

The melody line of this music may have been of the simplest form; a five or six note melody starting at the highest note and descending to the lowest note, and this repeated for each line of the verse, except on the repeated refrain at the ends, where the voice may rise for emphasis and the Elephant Hunter is exhorted to take his bow.  But the power and drama of the scene and the extent of what is at stake are clearly present in the language of the verse.

Picture 3This example demonstrates important features of primitive languages that have great bearing on the poetic content of primitive song. The languages of early people are skillful in dealing with a kaleidoscope of impressions, whether visible, emotional, or audible.  Early languages have words, which cover a vastly wider range than civilized languages for such matters as colors or effects of light and shade, or the movements of animals, or the relations of bodies in space.  In some Eskimo languages, a noun can have many forms, each with its own shade of meaning.  The aboriginal Australians of Arnhem land have a rich vocabulary for catching the precise impression of natural things.  A dictionary compiled by a British Missionary of the Yamana language of the Tierra Del Fuego region of South America contained over 30,000 words in daily use; a tribute to its richness and diversity.

Primitive languages lack words for general and abstract ideas but they have an immediate impact for those who know them. Quite a complex picture may be presented very rapidly in a concentrated form, as in a line from a song of the Australian Aranda:

“ngkinjaba iturala albutjila”

“Nginjaba” means both “sun” and “afternoon”, “iturala” means “in the heat or brightness of the sun” and “albujika” means “to turn homeward”. Thus the whole line means “To turn homeward in the afternoon when the sun is bright and hot”. (Primitive Song, 22,23)

 The purpose of the early songs. Songs of early societies can be viewed as serving either sacred or secular purposes, and these categories are not mutually exclusive.  The elephant hunt in the above example is viewed as a secular affair but with supernatural overtones. The elephant is a being whose spirit merits homage, while its conquest is a dangerous life and death affair.  Song in early societies became a way to deal with the mysteries of life that must be mastered; it was an enhanced art of words—words being the chief instrument men have of forming a relationship with the unknown.  Shamans and medicine men or healers had a large role in the composition and performance of songs. They often composed the prayers and incantations, and served as the song leaders in the performance of songs at ceremonies.  Singing was not confined to them, though certain songs in certain cultures were closely guarded by them and could only be performed by those who have been admitted to the Shaman role.  These may be songs about the origins of the tribal group or the history of the tribe in its struggles with the supernatural.

Summary. This completes this brief review of the origins of song.  It is astonishing how different is music and song today, with our romantic song literature and modern musical forms!! Nevertheless, songs still deal with ancient deeply felt human needs in the struggle with the mysteries and challenges of living in a dangerous world full of wonder and challenge.  Songs continue to tell our stories, to make sense of our trials and triumphs and to explain the spiritual and supernatural wonders of living on this earth.

Richard Article written by TakeLessons instructor, Richard Kalman. Richard is an excellent singing teacher in Berkeley, CA. With a BA in Music,
Richard is lead vocalist/keyboardist for his jazz harmony group, a
former member of two award winning choirs, and busy teacher of piano,
vocals, and guitar. Richard teaches fundamental singing techniques, and
works with jazz, popular music, blues, gospel, folk, ethnic music, and
broadway singing. Richard has a degree from CSU Sonaoma in Music
andJazz Studies, and has received his Adult Education Teaching
Credential from the University of California, Berkeley.

PRIMITIVE SONG, BY C.M. Bowra, World Publishing Co. 1962
MaCMILLAN publishers Ltd. 1980.

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NYC TV Show is Looking For Indie Band Music Videos

IndiMusic TV is looking for independent artists or bands who have a quality concept music video (no live footage) they would like to air on WLNY TV 10/55, a powerful commercial TV station in the N.Y. tri-state area.

Says John Tabacco, Associate Producer: “We reach over six million homes and potentially 15 million viewers. We are currently offering this opportunity for free. Indimusic TV is a half hour show that airs for 13 weeks, and broadcasts four videos a week. We play music videos from around the world as well as interview some of the artists involved. This is the only show of its kind and is the first of its kind in N.Y. (the #1 market in the U.S.). We just need a DVD or a minidv of the video or they can send it can via if it is a big file.”

For more information please visit and register at  You may also call 1-631-585-5380.

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