Gifted Education 101: Enrichment opportunities for your musical child

Here is an awesome article originally posted by Alina Adams from NY Gifted Education Examiner about the power of music education:  Philharmonic

When Farah Taslima's parents immigrated from Bangladesh, they didn't dream that their 12-year-old girl's music would someday be performed by the New York Philharmonic. Even if they had, they never could have imagined it would happen in North Korea….

The 106 members of the Philharmonic returned Thursday from a historic visit to North Korea, which is locked in frosty negotiations with the United States over its nuclear weapons program. It was the biggest American delegation to visit the communist country since the Korean War.

The pinnacle of the trip was a concert broadcast to the world last Tuesday. And the next morning, four members of the orchestra and four North Korean musicians performed an octet by Felix Mendelssohn, with Taslima's piece squeezed in at the end.

"It was a wild-card thing," said Jon Deak, a Philharmonic double bass player who runs the orchestra's teaching program for child composers….

She had originally written it for the entire Philharmonic two years ago, and it was played at one of the orchestra's Young People's Concerts at Lincoln Center.

But she scaled down the work for a smaller group of musicians – clarinet, violin, cello and double bass, including the Philharmonic's top violinist, concertmaster Glenn Dicterow….

Farah, who attends a gifted children's school at Manhattan's M.S. 54, started composing as a third-grader at P.S. 199, where Deak – also a composer – introduced his Very Young Composers program sponsored by the orchestra.

For the musically gifted youngster more interested in jazz than classical music, the NY Gifted Examiner spoke to David O’Rourke, Artistic Director of the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra (JSYO), about opportunities available for boys and girls with his organization.

According to O'Rourke: Jsyo

At a time when
arts education programs in public schools continue to diminish, it’s
imperative that we ensure all school-aged children have access to a
quality education that includes music. Studies have shown that music
study improves children’s SAT scores, basic math and reading abilities,
self-esteem, empathy for various cultures, interpersonal communication
skills, self-expression, and the list goes on and on.

For the
eighth consecutive season, the Jazz Standard, the nation’s premier jazz
club, and JSYO, a breeding ground for NYC’s talented young musicians,
are providing numerous performance opportunities, priceless musical
education and insight from today’s top jazz professional musicians, as
well as collegiate auditions and scholarships for hundreds of children
between the ages of 11and 18,  all while motivating the next generation
of up-and-coming artists. 

The vast majority of our JSYO
alumni pursue music in college, many testing out on several of their
first year courses due to their performance experience with us. Little
did I realize when we launched this program in 2002, that through music
I would find myself helping to prep kids for their college auditions,
helping place some of them in performing arts high schools, alongside
helping to develop prodigious young talent. We audition kids from La
Guardia High School, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the local community
and schools to identify students to participate in the program each
year. We see a trend developing where our musicians are coming to us at
an increasingly younger age while their level of playing is already
quite developed. Our youngest members are 11 years old!

addition to the kids’ private teachers and school band directors, the
JSYO provides these youngsters with the greatest of all teachers:
regular live performance. We launched JAZZ FOR KIDS, a weekly
performance at Jazz Standard that involves the JSYO playing for the
general public. JAZZ FOR KIDS offers our student musicians the
opportunity to play exciting new arrangements of big band classics such
as St. Louis Blues and Don’t’ Be That Way, Big Band charts such as Miles DavisSo What,
and jazz compositions by the likes of Duke Ellington, Cedar Walton, Wes
, and Charlie Parker. For the audience, which usually
consists of families and their impressionable children, JAZZ FOR KIDS
provides an opportunity to connect with the music in a lively
environment.  To learn more, visit

Concert Review: Tim Price, Jazz Artist

(Authors note: I composed this article about my teacher and a great inspiration to me with my musical life.  I tried to capture the feeling of the musicians working together as much as how much I learned from the experience.)

Tim Price with the Department of Good and Evil

L’Villa D’Arte at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel Ballroom

Friday, March 16 – 17, 2007 as presented by the First Energy Berks Jazz Festival, Reading, PA

As I contemplated my drive from Southern New Jersey with the wind whipping, the sleet falling throughout Philly, heavy snow falling in the area, and the forecast for bad driving conditions sounding worse and worse, I thought about why I was going to still make this trip.  To see the internationally acclaimed woodwind virtuoso Tim Price on his home turf of Berks County with one of the freshest new jazz trios on the eastern seaboard, or the USA for that matter, (since they are touring California as I write this), The Department of Good and Evil.  I decided that I couldn’t miss it and set out in my truck for what ended up being a 5 hour drive past jack-knifed tractor trailers to make what is normally a 1 ½ hour trip.  I also knew that the entire REASON that D.O.G.E was coming way there, was to play with Tim Price, not just to do a gig.

I was infinitely rewarded, and forgot about the drive as soon as the music started.  Besides, the rest of the band went through the same weather for almost 10 hours to be there to play to me.

The room was over half filled, even with and because of the snowstorm.  After the first song, I was hooked, big time.  Tim’s tone and projection on tenor sax filled the beautiful old world ballroom throughout the first set with some old standards, and at least three of Tim’s original compositions.  The band of Rachel Z, (who I had known from her playing with such luminaries as Wayne Shorter and Peter Gabriel), Bobbie Rae on Drums and Percussion, and Maeve Royce on Upright Bass was extremely tight, and communicated to the audience using of all the elements of jazz, the language, in an extremely melodic way.  I have not felt this from any of the recent recordings I have heard on any label, because it is new ground for a change.  It isn’t avant garde jazz, its not smooth jazz, its not be bop, its not blues.  It is actually all of those things, and then add, rock, reggae, funk, international rhythms, and apply it to some old and new jazz standards while still staying with the melody.

Rachel Z is a giftedly unique pianist of the highest order.  She captivated me with her flowing runs, and especially her presence within the music.  I am not sure that I can at this point in my listening of her work, put her into any category.  This enthralls me all the more.  She has the inventiveness of Herbie Hancock, the lyricism of Chick Corea, the fluidness of Horace Silver, the scat of Art Tatum, the list is endless.   As a soloist, as an accompanist, Rachel Z is in a class by herself for this writer.

Maeve Royce is only 22, but plays with intensity unmatched by professionals two and three times her age.  Her ability to hold on to an audience with her solos thrilled me, while she and the rest of the band tested each other with complex chord patterns.  Not one member flinched or shied away from the challenges set forth.  Jazz is all about tension and release, communication and stretching boundaries and these four performers have got it all together in that department.

You could feel they were really HAVING FUN pushing each other. They all got back into the groove every time they stretched, which is the real test to any drummer, and a testament to Bobbie Rae.  Mr. Price said that “calling Bobbie Rae just a drummer is like calling Ben Franklin just a scientist”.  Wow.  I can’t say anymore than this: Mr. Price is right on.  And Bobbie is as soulful, as hip and as beautiful a person as you would want to meet.

At one point, while listening to Tim’s composition of “Combat Zone”, recorded on Tim’s standards release “Passion Sax”, the scene outside the large floor to ceiling windows behind the band caught my eye, the still heavy snow outside was falling sideways, and the band was swinging his upbeat tune right along with it. It was a magically lyrical sonic portrait.  Tim told us this tune was inspired by his years playing in the seedier clubs of


in the 70’s, and it certainly had that “little bit nasty, little bit guttural” feel to it.  They then launched into a seldom played tune from Wayne Shorter called “Tom Thumb”.  With the way this song was presented, it should be played quite a bit more often, especially by this band.  Tim’s solo was a fitting tribute to Shorter, using all the multiphonics, chord progressions, and altissimo available to him in his vast range on the tenor sax.  The next tune started with Maeve on bass alone, effortlessly moving through the changes with her trademark humming/singing, then with Tim, Rachel and Bobbie joining in what turned out to be “It Never Entered My Mind”.  His treatment of this ballad reminded me of a Stan Getz recording of this tune, although I am sure Tim’s humility and respect for Stan’s work wouldn’t like me to make that comment. Next came another excellent Tim Price composition written as a homage to John Coltrane entitled, “Twins of Spirit”, which has recently been recorded by two other students of Tim’s, along with Bob Mintzer, of YellowJackets fame.  It was “Priceless” when Bobbie Rae and Tim started a dialogue on the drums and sax that went from Trane-esque to funk, to swing, and back to bebop, each time building and building with a masterful use of percussion and sax, which I have no reference point to compare to, just to say it was phenomenally entertaining if not mesmerizing.

And that was just the first set!  The second set was even more inventive.  Needless to say, I extended my stay over at the


In order to catch their show on Saturday night as well, and attended their improvisational seminar at the Goggle Works in the afternoon, attended by professional musicians and students
, but that’s a whole other story in itself.

One comment I would like to make from the improv class at Goggle Works.  Rachel Z was asked why she liked playing with Tim Price, by one of the many students in attendance.  She has played with a HOST of soloists from around the world, and she picks Tim as “interesting, one of my favorites, because he challenges me in ways few others do today”. She went on to state some background:  Because a musician, when they find THEIR sound, brings with them in that sound all the players who influenced them throughout their lives, and she was especially attracted to the ones that Tim heard and learned from while they were passing through.

Reading, PA

Johnny Griffin, Brother Jack McDuff, and many more that played on the so called “chitlin circuit”.  And because those from other big cities she has played with, just didn’t experience the “dirty harmonies” and inventive use of chords that Tim did growing up where he did. What I think she was getting at was that although Tim Price calls Berks County home, and brings her aforementioned experiences to his music, he plays globally with that small town feeling, that anyone from a small town understands, and blends it with his international study of all idioms of music to create a fascinatingly blended musical palette. There is no one from the jazz idiom today, that this writer is familiar with, that could play a different instrument on every tune on a 12 or more track cd, and do it to the highest level of proficiency that Mr. Price can.

By the way, the Saturday night show was SRO packed with young and old, students of Tim’s as well as music followers, eager to hear the band that everyone from the night before must have been talking about.  The few repeated songs from Friday night sounded even better the second time I heard them, and were each presented in a different way from the night before.

As a final comment on the shows, at the end of the every set I witnessed, the crowd took a full minute to bask in the intensity of the feelings this band created, before erupting in applause and a standing ovation.

Thank you Tim Price, and Thank You to Rachel Z, Bobbie Rae, and Maeve Royce for two of the most enjoyable shows I have seen in my 37 years of listening to live music.  And thanks to the First Energy Berks County Jazz Fest Committee for having the foresight to book Tim Price and the Department of Good and Evil as part of their festival.  By the way, I will be back to the Berks Jazz Fest for two more shows offered next Friday night, but that might be another story, I just hope it doesn’t snow again.

Larry Larry G
Larry is a TakeLessons Certified Instructor and gives saxophone lessons in Philadelphia and Woodbury NJ focusing on Blues, Jazz, Classical, Big Band.

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Jazz Students Play at The White House

Washington Post Staff Writer

Published in the Washington Post Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The first family of jazz was there. The first family of the United
States (minus the nation's No. 1 jazz fan, who was busy with
health-care reform) was there. And 150 talented young jazz musicians
were in the White House, too, all celebrating an original American art
form in the most exclusive jazz workshop this city has ever seen.

First lady Michelle Obama told the group that jazz was always in the
air when she was growing up in Chicago. Her grandfather put speakers in
every room of his house, turned up the stereo and listened to music all
day long. "At Christmas, birthdays, Easter, it didn't matter," she
said, "there was jazz playing in our household."

Now that she's in the White House, the beat goes on. "Today's event
exemplifies what I think the White House, the people's house, should be
about," Obama said.

The event took place in conjunction with the Duke Ellington Jazz
Festival, Washington's largest music celebration, which concluded last
night with a concert at the Kennedy Center. The students, who were
chosen by their teachers, participate in programs sponsored by the
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which paid for some of them to fly
to Washington.

Wynton Marsalis at The White House

Parts of the White House became an elaborate rehearsal room, where
students from 8 to 18 absorbed the feeling of jazz and the blues from
those who know it best. The entire Marsalis family — father Ellis and
sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason — participated, along with
Cuban jazz master Paquito D'Rivera and D.C.'s own Davey Yarborough,
passing along jazz tips and the larger lessons they've learned from
music. In one workshop, the students paraded across the stage of the
East Room, improvising variations on the blues under the gaze of the
portraits of George and Martha Washington.

"Blues is what connects us to the earth," Wynton Marsalis told the
students in his advanced tutorial. "It keeps us grounded, gives us the
spirit behind this music. It makes us holler and scream and shout
through our horns."

After the intensive hour-long workshops, conducted in three separate
rooms of the White House, the students gathered in the East Room for a
brief concert featuring D'Rivera and a teenage combo, including three
D.C. area musicians: Elijah Easton on sax, Zach Brown on bass, Kusha
Abadey on drums. "This kind of interaction was the first of its kind,"
said Thomas R. Carter, president of the Monk Institute, who has
presented jazz events at the White House during the past three
administrations. "It was groundbreaking and truly sets a precedent for
bringing music education itself into the White House."

The Obama administration plans to continue its hands-on program in
arts education in the future, but it was jazz, America's indigenous art
form, that got the first turn in the spotlight.

"There's probably no better example of democracy than a jazz
ensemble — individual freedom, but with responsibility to the group,"
said Michelle Obama, who was wearing a white skirt and sweater.

For longtime Washington jazz musician and educator Yarborough, it
was important to see not just the history of jazz honored at the White
House, but its future as well.

"To be able to witness the music being perfected in the White House,
to be requested to bring my band here," he said, "is a wonderful

The first lady was joined at the afternoon concert by her mother and
her daughters — because, she said, she wanted to introduce the girls
to "all kinds of music other than hip-hop."

As Marsalis and D'Rivera swung into Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in
Tunisia" to bring the day of jazz to a close, the first lady bobbed her
head to the music, and 150 students had an experience they're not
likely to forget.

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Featured Instructor: Joe, Drummer from Brooklyn

Here at TakeLessons we work hard to identify and hire only the best instructors that have the right charisma, character, and chops. We do this to guarantee a FirstClass Experience for our students – one that helps them stay involved in music.

We are continuously rating our instructors with an interal TakeLessons Quality Score that consists of timeliness, character, charisma, initiative, and results. We also receive feedback from our students on how they are enjoying the lessons and if they feel they are learning and accomplishing their goals.

We are proud to feature our TakeLessons instructors that receive rave reviews from their students. Today, we'd like to introduce you to Joe – drum teacher in Brooklyn, NY.


Joe specializes in rock, jazz, funk, and Afro-Cuban styles of playing. He comes from Chicago originally and has been playing for many years. He received his degree in Jazz Studies from NYU and is also the house manager for Jazz Gallery, a non-profit culture center in NYC that gives a stage for emerging artists.

Here is feedback from a couple TakeLessons students that Joe teaches:

"Joe is great. He is patient and makes my son want the lessons to
continue. My son gets extremely excited when he sees Joe. He not only
has learned to play the drums, but he is gaining confidence in himself
and is slowly learning to be more focused through Joe's mentoring.
Great teacher!

— Robert S. on February 09, 2009

"Joe, I just want to thank you so much for all the hard work and
effort you put in with Kareem (reem) to help him accomplish what he
need to learn in six weeks….Reem battles with
ADHD and I just wanna
say you did and excellent job…..I looked into a lot of different
teachers/schools. Youself and TakeLessons were the only ones who showed
great confidence right off the back that reem would be able to
accomplish what he needed to know in six weeks….so thank you again!!!!

I also would like for you to continue to work with reem to highest
level possible. I would like him to be able to play anything thing
(sheet of music) that is put in front of him. So please work with him
until you feel he has accomplished what he needs to know te be a
professional drum player (that may be a little to much…lol…but you
understand what I'm getting at)….once again THANK YOU!!!!!!

Kindra M

— Kindra M. on March 09, 2009

Thanks, Joe, for doing such an awesome job! TakeLessons mission is to inspire an entire generation of people to play music, and Joe is doing an incredible job of making that happen!

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