Test scores are important, but so is music education

Test Scores and music education

Test scores and music education


Despite glitzy talent shows like “The Voice” or “American Idol,” music is less a road to riches and fame than it is a path to real learning for countless kids in communities across the nation.

When children study music, they are developing the part of their brains they use for language and reasoning. Music education is linked to spatial intelligence and creativity. It requires listening, then learning how to weave disparate ideas. Again and again, research shows music education is a critical component of the overall learning process.

At New Haven Community Schools, we’re seeing firsthand how music is helping our students learn and achieve.

This is happening as too many policymakers and communities are forced to treat music education as a luxury in times of tight finances and budget cuts in the classroom. To protect core academic programs, local public schools must make tough choices every day. Music is often the first to go.

Four years ago, New Haven was in that position. Much loved as it was, our music program could not escape the difficult cut.

Then something extraordinary happened. People in the community stepped forward and began working with New Haven Community Schools to bring the music back. They dug up old sheet music. They donated old clarinets, flutes, guitars, drum sets and more that had been gathering dust in attics, spare bedrooms and garages. In addition to musical instruments, the community gave our students their time and financial support.

We heard the same chorus again and again: These community residents, many of them products of New Haven Community Schools, kept saying how music had been such an important part of their education, how music had helped them become who they are today.

Our community came together with educators and students to help provide a solution to a challenge all public schools in Michigan face, and that was how to save a program the community wanted but could no longer afford.

Today, what had been an abandoned music room at the high school is alive with music, transformed into a space for learning where music and ideas are being harmonized and shared.

When New Haven was recognized nationally in 2014 for our commitment to music education by the National Association of Music Merchants, that award validated our community’s support and our commitment to musical education. Our children are not only better learners, they are more attentive and creative ones. They are solving problems, collaborating with one another and learning life skills with help from music.

Music education has been linked to so many singularly successful people that its impact cannot be ignored. Google co-founder Larry Page (high school saxophone), former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (clarinet), Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (guitar), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (piano) and so many other highly successful individuals credit their music education for giving them the courage to create, to collaborate for success, to see solutions where none may be immediately obvious.

Test scores are important. So are music and other forms of learning that may not appear on a standardized exam. Music is not on the MEAP, yet our experience in New Haven leads us to believe that musical education should be offered in all schools across Michigan.

Music may not make every child the next Bruce Kovner, Juilliard-trained pianist and billionaire investor behind Facebook. But what it can do is give all Michigan kids a better opportunity to succeed as learners.

Keith Wunderlich is the superintendent of New Haven Community Schools.

Brentano String Quartet with Vijay Iyer, piano

Saturday, May 16, 2015, 8 PM


Seligman Performing Arts Center

Brentano String Quartet

Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. Beginning in July, 2014, the Brentano Quartet succeeded the Tokyo Quartet as Artists in Residence at Yale University, departing from their fourteen-year residency at Princeton University. The Quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” the intended recipient of his famous love confession.

Grammy-nominated composer-pianist, 2013 MacArthur Fellow and recently appointed Harvard professor Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) has been described by The New Yorker as one of “today’s most important pianists,,, extravagantly gifted… brilliantly eclectic,” and by the Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star.”

“Perfection may be an impossible goal in art, as in life, but the Brentano comes close….The performance was supple and sweeping…a collaboration of intense cohesion, which allowed the music to soar and sing as if it were being performed for the first time.” 

— The Cleveland Plain Dealer


How to Listen like a Songwriter

How to Listen like a Songwriter


How to listen like a songwriter

When’s the last time you sat and listened wholeheartedly to a piece of music?

The first thing to do as a listener is to stop whatever else you are doing.

Find a comfortable place to sit.

Choose a song — any new or old favorite is fine.

Settle in, take a few deep breaths, and press play.

As the song plays, listen. Try to hear every note.

One song is only a few minutes long – while the song plays, everything else in your life can wait.

How to listen like a songwriter

Listening like a songwriter means paying attention to the song as a song – using what you know about the craft to understand how the song was made. To do this successfully, we must listen repeatedly.

During your first listen, just take in the sounds of the music and the words. Close your eyes, if it helps. Try to really be here for the song, and to hear everything it has to offer.

During your second listen, try to listen like a songwriter. What ideas drive this song? What is this song about?

Of all the myriad ways the songwriter could have expressed the song’s ideas in words, and of all the ways she could have set those words to music, she chose those exact words, and that exact melody. She chose those chords and that rhyme scheme.

What choices did the songwriter make, and why? What obstacles did the songwriter face, what missteps did she avoid, and in what ways did she succeed? How did the songwriter’s choices differ from the way you would have developed the idea?

During third, fourth, and fifth listens, you may choose to focus on specific aspects of the song. For example, maybe you’ll listen to the whole track while focused entirely on the guitar part. You may listen to the way the vocal melody brings the lyric to life. Or you may listen to understand the song’s structure; its pattern of verses, choruses, breaks, and bridge sections.

To focus more closely on the song, you may find it helpful to keep a notebook open in front of you so you can jot notes about what you’re hearing. You may also want to print the lyrics and mark them up with a pen. Underline sections. Write your observations in the margin.

Over time you can learn to listen like a songwriter, and to hear the songs you’ve written the way a listener hears them. You’ll listen like a writer, and you’ll write like a listener.

Listening makes you a better songwriter

Collect albums, and begin listening to them.

When you set aside time to listen, you become more insightful about your own songs and you improve more quickly as a songwriter. You become adept at developing ideas into songs, and when an idea isn’t coming across well you become quicker at understanding why.

Schedule a little time to listen every week. All chefs must eat; all painters must paint; and all songwriters must listen.

 photo credit: Markus Spiske. Resized by Nicholas Tozier.

Super Singer Contest

Super Singer Contest


Super Singer Contest


How old do I have to be to audition?
You must be at least 7 years of age as of May 1, 2015, to audition for SUPER SINGER. Remember, if you are under 18 on the date of your audition, you must have a parent or legal guardian submit your audition video on your behalf.

When can I submit my audition video?
The time period to submit your online audition starts at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on May 1, 2015 and ends 11:59 p.m. ET on May 11, 2015.

What if I am part of a group?
We are only auditioning solo artists and duets.

What am I supposed to include on my video?
Please state your first and last name, the title of the song that you will be singing in your video and then sing your song! Please make sure that the total length of your audition video is no more than 2 minutes. Songs should be performed a cappella, with no backing tracks.

Can I sing my own original song?
Yes, but we’d prefer you sing a cover. For the call backs and show performance, you’ll be required to sing a cover song.

Can I sing only a part of a song?

Can the song have background music?
No, the performance must be a cappella.

How long should it be?
It can be any length up to 2 minutes (including a 30 second introduction that includes your name, the title of the song that you will be singing in your video and your age).

Can I use a pre-existing video of myself singing?
You may not submit a pre-existing video.

How will I find out if I’m selected?
If you are selected to move forward to the callback auditions, a producer from Local 4 will contact you via phone or email by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, May 20, 2015. When submitting your audition video, you will be asked to provide contact information so that producers can reach you. Please double check that all of your contact details are accurate.

What if I am selected?
Callback auditions will be scheduled for Thursday, May 21, 2015. If you are a minor, your parent or legal guardian must accompany you to any audition callback.

Where will my callback take place?
If you are selected to move forward, you will be contacted by a producer from Local 4 via phone or email. The producer will let you know the location of the callback as well as the time and date of your callback audition.

The Voice 2015

The Voice 2015


“The Voice” is the Emmy Award winning, number one series on NBC, featuring the country’s best unknown artists and four of the biggest names in music as coaches.

We are looking for solo artists and duos that perform all types of music: pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, alternative, latin, country, blues, indie. We want to know your story and why you are The Voice.

Auditions for “The Voice 2015″ will be sweeping the nation again beginning June 2015!

To audition you must be legally present in the United States, be 15 years of age or older, and meet all other eligibility requirements.


The Voice 2015

How To Audition

Audition Process

Step 1: Create an Artist Account

Sign Up HERE at nbcthevoice.com to create your Artist Account.

You will receive an Artist Account number and once you’ve confirmed your e-mail address, you’ll be able to customize your Artist Profile and register for an audition city.

Step 2: Choose An Audition City

Once you’ve created your Artist Account, you must select the city you’d like to attend for the Open Call Audition.

You will be able to select a city, date, and time group of your choice. Only come to the audition on the day & time you’ve registered for.

Step 3: Print Your Artist Audition Pass

ONE WEEK before your audition day, you will receive your personal Artist Audition Pass. It will be e-mailed to you. You will also be able to download your pass by logging into your Artist Account.

You MUST PRINT and BRING your Artist Audition Pass along with a photo ID in order to audition.

Step 4: Auditions

Your selected city, date, time & location will be printed on your Artist Audition Pass.

Only attend your selected audition day and time.

DO NOT FORGET: Your printed Artist Audition Pass and your Photo ID.

Open Call Audition Cities & Dates

You may be asked to a callback – please plan accordingly.

Please plan to be at the audition all day. We suggest bringing snacks and water.