Jordan Kitt’s goes to the Capitol to promote music in schools…

DC group picture 6-15

The 11th Annual “NAMM DC Advocacy Fly-in” Delegation with a view to the US Capitol

Jordan Kitt’s Music, the DC area’s oldest piano retailer, again advocates for music education on Capitol Hill.

In May 2015, Chris Syllaba, President & CEO of Jordan Kitt’s Music, again joined members of NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in advocating for the importance of music education in our public schools. This year, a record 76 members from the music retailing and manufacturing industry joined forces to meet with Members of Congress and their legislative staff to encourage the reauthorization of ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act), including identifying “music” as a core academic subject. There was significantly more optimism among Members of Congress and their staff this year now that the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee has voted unanimously to approve the bipartisan re-draft of the ESEA re-authorization bill titled the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015.”

As with last year, the nearly week-long effort started with a “day of service” on Monday, May 18. This day was dedicated to Fly-in delegates spending time making music with fifth grade students at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington DC. Former NY Yankee and Latin GRAMMY-nominated musician Bernie Williams and opera singer Carla Dirlikov kicked off the effort with a brief musical performance. Nathan Diamond, Director of Arts for DC Public Schools, made remarks along with Joe Lamond, NAMM President, and Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Director of Public Affairs. Following this, delegates assisted the kids in three different music making experiences: A guitar class was facilitated by GRAMMY-nominated music educator Glen McCarthy, a ukulele class was led by award-winning folk duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer and a drum circle was headed up by John Fitzgerald of Remo Inc.

On Tuesday, delegates participated in a day of advocacy training starting with comments by Larry Morton, NAMM Chairman, and an address by Darrell Ayres, Vice President of Education, at the John F. Kennedy Center. One of the day’s presentations was made by Peter Grunwald, founder and President, Grunwald Associates, introducing the results of a recent and exhaustive study indicating the overwhelming support of school music programs by two key constituencies – parents and teachers. Among numerous findings in this study titled “Striking a Chord”, 77% of teachers and 64% of parents say access to music education is “extremely important” or “very important”. Also, 87% of teachers and 79% of parents “strongly believe music education has a positive impact on overall academic performance.”

This was followed by further training  throughout the afternoon and evening at the Capitol Hill offices of of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, NAMM’s tireless advocacy partner and consultancy. The sessions there were kicked off by Leo Coco, Senior Policy Advisor at Nelson Mullins. Also joining the group again as in past years was Richard Riley, former US Secretary of Education. He provided the delegates with invaluable insights and opened doors for the group on Capitol Hill. These training sessions were key in preparing the NAMM Fly-in delegation for a full day of congressional meetings the following day.

On Wednesday the real work commenced early in the morning on Capitol Hill. NAMM delegates organized and attended over 130 meetings with Senators, Representatives and their staff, representing a majority of the States of the Union. The message from the over 9,200 NAMM member companies representing the views of almost 430,000 employees and constituents was that music and arts education in American schools is of the utmost importance.

In the evening, a dinner and reception followed a successful day of music education advocacy at Nelson Mullins. The guest of honor was Congressman John Lewis (GA) who shared a powerful message about music’s role during times of change. “Without music the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings” said the Congressman. NAMM President Joe Lamond presented Congressman Lewis with a SupportMusic Award. The Fly-in culminated with a celebration of music overlooking the Capitol on the 9th floor terrace of Nelson Mullins with Bernie Williams and his band. Here Mr. Williams was surprised with SupportMusic Award as well.

Thursday morning concluded the week’s efforts with a SupportMusic Coalition call. Hundreds of individuals from around the country listened in on the call as the delegation summarized the week’s activities and proclaimed another overall successful advocacy effort.  For more information, visit http://www.namm.org

The sad truth is, some used pianos are better off like this…

piano on fire

A bar owner celebrates the Summer Solstice each year with the burning of an older upright piano. While sad that a musical instrument of this complexity and craftsmanship is departing in such an incendiary way, the truth is that many older pianos that not been properly cared for are no longer capable of providing the beauty of tone and touch that make a piano such a joy to play. That’s why you should always rely on a respected dealer or technician from which to acquire a used piano, vs. Grandma’s or the neighbor’s old Kimball, which may, depending on many factors, be better off this fundraiser burning party. See Jordan Kitt’s current selection of Certified Used Pianos here…

Here is the story via the Journal Sentinal:

Julie and Dale Bladow looked on with even more interest than the rest of us. It was their piano that was about to be cremated.

Respectfully, of course. With all the dignity you can muster in the backyard of a saloon. And — this is the dangerously delicious part — while being played amid the smoke and flames. A final song or two, and then great balls of fire.

A crowd of maybe 75 assembled Sunday afternoon on lawn chairs and picnic tables outside the Roxbury Tavern, which is northwest of Madison near Sauk City. It was time for the 11th annual burning of a piano to mark the summer solstice.

Julie and three of her four children played this Kimball spinet, purchased used by the family about 1982. But the kids grew up and lost interest, and the piano was pulled from the living room during remodeling of their home in Mazomanie.

“We put it in the garage for what we thought would be a couple of months. It ended up being 13 years,” Julie said.

It’s a common story, said Tom Gresser, 72-year-old owner of Roxbury Tavern. Lots of people have pianos they don’t play anymore, though admittedly not all want them incinerated as a spectacle.

“Usually, we have more offers than we can accommodate. We could burn a half-dozen pianos a year,” he said.

The tradition began with Tom’s worn-out piano. He didn’t want to pay someone to haul it away. Someone suggested burning it, so they did.

You may be getting the sense that Roxbury is not your typical bar. Its motto is “Cognitive dissonance since 1989.” Early on, Tom took out the televisions, pool table and jukebox. He wanted this to be a place of conversation. He banned smoking before Wisconsin passed the law, and he doesn’t allow cursing.

But, damn, I just had to witness this piano burning party. It’s actually a fundraiser for Northwest Dane Senior Services to help older people maintain well-being and independence. Executive Director Paulette Glunn told me not everybody is crazy about the idea of torching rather than tickling the ivories, so they just say “hot piano” in their promotions.

Last year, they burned dueling pianos. They’ve never done a grand piano, but there’s always next year. Tom put a cheap Radio Shack microphone inside the piano one year to amplify the crackling until the heat got to it.

Music for Sunday’s event was presented by The Dang-Its. At 5 p.m. they packed up their instruments before anyone got any ideas about diversifying the musical fire. The band joked that attendance for the party would be even higher if the bar burned a banjo.

It was time for the main event. Larry Collins, a retired Presbyterian minister and jazz musician, took the microphone and delivered a brief eulogy of sorts. He said there’s a tradition in France of burning worn-out pianos as an honorable send-off, which may or may not be true. Wikipedia says something about the Royal Air Force doing it.

Larry also explained why a turkey wrapped in foil was placed atop the piano. There’s a burning ordinance banning bonfires. “So we put a turkey on top and call it a cookout.”

A few logs doused with an accelerant were placed against the back of the piano and ignited with a flaming section from The New York Times. Larry sat down on the bench and began to play, starting with “On Top of Old Smokey,” a bit of “Fire and Rain” and the beginning of “Summertime” until the keys stopped working.

“I think it’s about time to get out of the kitchen,” he said, backing away from the growing fire. “It’s not the heat that I worry about so much. It’s when those strings snap. When they get hot they can be almost like whips.”
Read the full story here

Tony DeSare pays tribute to the 40th Anniversary of Jaws with the Yamaha Disklavier

via PRWeb
As the 40th anniversary of the classic film “Jaws” approaches, a unique, humorous take on the movie and its iconic theme song is growing in popularity on YouTube, thanks to a trio of creative artists who tapped into groundbreaking Yamaha piano technology.

“Jaws Theme—All Piano Version – 40th Anniversary Tribute” (http://4wrd.it/DISKLAVIERJAWS) highlights an artist’s keyboard mastery and the state-of-the-art capabilities of the Yamaha Disklavier piano. The clip brings the piano to life both musically and visually by adapting John Williams’ classic score for piano and showcasing the performance in a cinematic short featuring projection mapping in and on the piano using video clips from Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about a Great White shark terrorizing the waters around an idyllic summer vacation spot.

The video is a collaboration between Yamaha Artist Tony DeSare, an acclaimed pianist, singer and composer; cinematographer Robbie Vicencio and Craig Knudsen, creative consultant.

“We wanted to come up with a fun way to mark this milestone anniversary of ‘Jaws,’ and what better way to honor the film than to use the instantly recognizable music signaling the shark’s approach in a fresh way,” DeSare explained. “The visual effects are all practical effects, meaning that no CGI was used and the Disklavier piano not only provided all of the music, but also served as the screen itself for the projected clips from the film. We think this fun little video shows that the Disklavier is a game-changer in piano technology, just as ‘Jaws’ was a game-changer for movies.”

Disklavier pianos very accurately record a piano performance, capturing every keystroke and pedal move, then play it back note-for-note, with all the sensitivity and nuance of the original performance.

DeSare used a Disklavier E3 to compose this version of the “Jaws” theme through a combination of methods—playing the keyboard, strumming the piano’s strings with his fingers, even running a pen along a string—to perfectly recreate the dramatic elements of the song that sparked fear in millions of moviegoers.

Then, by using the unique recording and playback features of the Disklavier, the music could be “played” back by the piano itself, and with DeSare out of the way, the film clips and animation could be projected onto the instrument for the clever results seen in the video.

Knudsen created the special “key animations” which allow the keys to move up and down in a very precise and controlled way but not actually strike a string. For instance, the keys are controlled in such a way as to capture a panning shot of the shark’s fin menacingly cutting through the water.

“Only the Yamaha Disklavier has the ability to move the keys and hammers in this fashion and hold them in place, which lent itself to some cool effects in this video. This is significant and amazing from a performance perspective, as any discerning pianist will tell you,” Knudsen said.

The under the keys “underwater” shot was obtained by using the translucent keys of another Yamaha piano, an EZ-220 Yamaha keyboard—which normally lights up note for note to guide students learning to play.

June 20th marks 40 years since “Jaws” first hit the big screen. The 1975 blockbuster, starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss, will have a limited release this summer in honor of the anniversary.

Also, hear Tony DeSare’s commercial for Jordan Kitt’s Music Here

25 Jingles on a digital piano using the products they advertise…

via Adweek

Love ’em or hate ’em, jingles are effective for recall. In fact, I bet you can recall all 25 of the popular jingles that YouTube artist Grant Woolard has collaged together into this impressive earworm.

The piece, which is technically a quodlibet—a piece of music combining several different melodies, usually popular tunes, in counterpoint—is made all the more impressive because each jingle is played with an object representing the brand.

Woolard has been playing piano since age 7, but only started hammering out tunes with objects a year ago when he mashed up Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” and Katy Perry’s “Firework,” playing each tune with a telephone and a firework, respectively.

Woolard told AdFreak that he “wanted apply the same concept to jingles, which are easier to work with and more instantly recognizable.” But he is saddened by the fact that “this video is completely lost on my international audience. Even in countries where these products are sold, the jingles used to advertise them aren’t necessarily the same.”

Read more here…