The 2017 William J. McCormick Teacher Grant Awards

This past Saturday, October 14th, the Maryland State Music Teacher’s Association presented the William J. McCormick Jr. Teacher Grant Awards to four area teachers. These grants are designed for the continuing music education of the teacher, or as a scholarship opportunity for a student in need.

The awards were presented at the annual MSMTA Conference at the University of Maryland this past weekend, and recipients were:


Sylvie Beaudoin

 


Immanuela Gruenberg

 


Matthew Palumbo

 


Bonnie Pausic (MSMTA President Junko Takahashi receiving the award in our absence).

The award is funded by Jordan Kitt’s Music as a way to help foster the continuance of excellence in music education in the Washington Metropolitan area, and is named after the modern founder of Jordan Kitt’s Music, William J. McCormick Jr.

Jordan Kitt’s provides the new organ for National’s Park

For Matthew Van Hoose, the Washington Nationals’ playoff run will start on a low note. In the way that only a music professor can be, Van Hoose is psyched about the ultra-deep, bleacher-shaking registers of the team’s brand-new stadium organ.

“This thing has a ton of extra bass,” said Van Hoose, the Nats’ official organist, as he twiddled a few foghorn notes from the bright red, W-emblazoned, three-keyboard instrument that was installed last week at Nationals Park. “It’s good to have a little time to get used to it before the playoffs.”

Van Hoose was running the Viscount Sonus 60 through some test riffs during the Nats’ low-stakes final game of the regular season Sunday. This was basic baseball organ-izing: a little of Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” to goose a placid crowd during a visit to the mound.

But come Friday, he knows the mood will shift from the carnival calliope of regular games to the “Phantom of the Opera” drama of a post­season sell­out against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. When 41,000 fans stand to shout “Charge!” at that classic stadium prompt, Van Hoose will be playing an organ of 41,000 pipes.

And just in time, the front office has equipped him with an instrument boasting considerably more musical muscle than the Hammond keyboard he was tickling before. This is an organ a guy can be proud of.

The Viscount was made to order in Mondaino, Italy; shipped to New York; tuned up in Harrisburg, Pa.; and, during the Nats’ final road trip, fitted in a former radio booth on the second floor of the press box high above home plate. Above the three tiers of keys are rows of tonal couplers (“tremolo,” “piccolo,” “vox humana,” etc.). Below are crescendo and swell pedals and, just off the floor, a fan of skinny pedal boards spreading out from Van Hoose’s busy feet. It is an instrument fit for an octopus.
Van Hoose musically responds to the action at Nationals Park on the new organ. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
He uses his eyes, hands and feet when he plays. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

“I’m thrilled,” said Van Hoose, 46, who was dinking away at a kiddie keyboard when he got into baseball at age 3 in Norfolk. “It’s kind of like going from a plastic bat to a wooden bat.”

[Waiters, students and veterans belt out the national anthem for the home team]

The upgrade included a room of his own. Before, his portable keyboard was tucked into a corner of the control room with the crew that pumps sound effects and recorded music through the stadium speakers.

Now Van Hoose sits alone, following the prompts of DJ Daniel Zacharias through a video monitor and a headset. They take turns mixing sounds into the action, a sample of “The Price Is Right” uh-oh music when the Pirates’ first baseman drops a foul ball, a little polka ditty by Van Hoose for the crowd to clap to as Anthony Rendon steps out of the batter’s box.

“Rendon steps out a lot,” Van Hoose said, looking down at the field, his hands on the keys. “He gives you a lot of opportunities for prompts.”

Van Hoose’s bench is within leaning distance of the open window at his shoulder. If he were to start rockin’ it Ray Charles-style, you could imagine him pitching himself down to the club seats.

“I really feel like I’m in the park now,” he said as fan noise and fall air wafted in.

The team wouldn’t say what the instrument cost, only that the desire for a true stadium organ came from “the highest levels of the organization” and that they acquired it through a partnership with keyboard dealer Jordan Kitt’s Music, now “the official provider of pianos and organs for the Washington Nationals.” The same model is advertised for about $20,000 on European websites.

Nats owner Mark Lerner said his family has long wanted to pump up the pipes as part of the game-day soundtrack.

“My family has always valued the role of music in the overall experience of attending a baseball game,” Lerner said. “We have always wanted to upgrade our organ, and we are all so thrilled about this amazing instrument and how it will contribute to our fan experience.”

Organist Matthew Van Hoose plays the new instrument high above the crowd at Nationals Park. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Lerner’s 91-year-old father, principle owner Ted Lerner, was a Washington Senators fan back when Merv Conn played his electric accordion over the loudspeakers between innings.

“Ted is old enough to remember when they had marching bands at ball­parks,” said Phil Wood, a Washington baseball historian and commentator who has a picture of Conn on his office wall. “This is an ownership that cares about the traditions of the game.”

It can be hard to gauge whether younger fans, raised on walk-up music and video clips, feel the same thrill of an instrument so redolent of Cracker Jack and 50-cent beer. A brief survey of ticket holders Sunday suggests that many assume those quick organ takes on the “Mexican Hat Dance” and “Zorba the Greek” are just buttons on a synthesizer.

“I had no idea it was a real organ,” said Sadie Cohen, a fan from Fairfax at the game with her brother. “They should show him on the scoreboard.”

Wood said he settled a bet recently when a couple stopped him in the stadium. She thought the organ music was live; he thought it was canned.

Read more here

Jordan Kitt’s provides Yamaha CFX grand for Chick Corea performance

Jordan Kitt’s was chosen to supply the Yamaha CFX concert grand piano for the upcoming Chick Corea/Steve Gadd performance from Thursday, October 5th through Sunday, October 8th at Blues Alley in Washington, DC.

Here what artists have to say about the CFX:

Chick Corea and Steve Gadd’s musical partnership is the stuff of legend. But the music is always new. Since Gadd became the very first electric Return to Forever drummer (true story), these two have turned out one game-changing record after another: The Leprechaun, My Spanish Heart, Three Quartets and Friends. Now, co-leading a band for the first time, they pick it up where they left off, this time with young guns filling out the lineup: Lionel Loueke, the Benininan genius on guitar; Steve Wilson, Chick’s Origin protege, on sax and flute; the great Carlitos Del Puerto on bass; and Venezuelan master Luisito Quintero on percussion.

For tickets, visit here

Teenage pianist faces Harvey with courageous piano performance

HOUSTON (KTRK) —
In the aftermath of Harvey, heartbreaking tales of destruction and loss across Houston were countered by those of individuals and organizations that put their lives on hold to shelter, feed, and console the thousands that lost their homes, possessions, and sense of security.

Houston’s music scene was no different.

The video below, filmed during floods caused by the hurricane, profoundly captures a small experience of what many of the city’s professional and amateur musicians faced during and after the storm.

Ever see a robot play a piano?

Automatica – Robots vs. Music from musician Nigel Stanford is a follow up to 2015’s viral video, Cymatics – Science vs. Music which showcased a brand new synthesis of music, art and physics.

For this latest visualization, it explores how close we are to seeing AI robots performing instruments and blending in with normal human activity.

Stanford is seen rocking out with his KUKA robots, where the mechanical arms move with accuracy down to 0.03mm, and are programmed with a software called Robot Animator that allows them to strum a bass, scratch on a turntable, and tickle a synthesizer.

Stanford also shared, “I’m sure that in the future it will be possible for AI to write great music but it shouldn’t concern musicians or anyone else for that matters.”
Read more here

Brain damaged musician makes music again through technology

A brain damaged violinist has performed in concert with her best friend 29 years after they last played together after her mind was wired up to a computer to allow her to play notes using only her thoughts.

Rosemary Johnson, 51, was a leading member of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra but her promising career as a soloist was cut short when she was involved in a devastating car accident in 1988 while travelling to a concert.

Miss Johnson was left in a coma for seven months and suffered a debilitating head injury which robbed her of speech and movement, confining her to a wheelchair and leaving her unable to lift, let alone play, her beloved violin.

Alison Balfour 
Alison Balfour 

But in a groundbreaking project led by Plymouth University and the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London, her brain was linked to a computer using Brain Computer Music Interfacing software, allowing her to compose and play music again.

This month, for the first time she was able to perform with her best friend Alison Balfour, with whom she last played when they were both violinists in the Welsh National Opera Orchestra in the 1980s.

Rosemary Johnson, aged 19, before the accident 
Rosemary Johnson, aged 19, before the accident  Credit:  Paul Grover

“The idea with playing with Rosie again after so many years was something I never imagined would be possible,” said Mrs Balfour, who now plays with the Bath Philharmonia.

“I felt honoured to be doing this with her, to be her sound, her music, her violin and to have her next to me again was wonderful, really wonderful.

“Music has an extraordinary power to move people. It can give them a voice, it can give them a chance to express themselves. It can be a release of emotion and a connection with other people.”

“I can remember the first day Rosie came in. She had the kind of musical look about her that gave us confidence in what she was doing.  I am a rank and file but she was a solo player, she was a numbered position.

“She had everything ahead of her. After the accident I remember the orchestra felt broken. That lasted a long while.”

Read more here

The 2017 NAMM Music Education Advocacy Fly-In to Washington, D.C.

Jordan Kitt’s Music was proud to take part in the 2017 NAMM Music Education Advocacy D.C. Fly-In, which was a great success!

Fly In NAMM

The week started with more than 50 NAMM members attending the Day of Service at Jefferson Middle School Academy.

Day of Service

On Tuesday, ninety-eight delegates prepared for their efforts on Capitol Hill by participating in advocacy training at the Newseum and a lunchtime keynote by David Brooks, New York Times columnist and Turnaround Arts artist.

David Brooks

The next day, the Country Music Association, VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and three-time World Series winner, Bernie Williams joined NAMM members for a day of advocacy. Over 170 meetings took place with Members of Congress or their staff to advocate for music education.

Riley Williams CAS

(pictured from left to right: former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley, Jordan Kitt’s Music CEO Chris Syllaba, and former New York Yankee Bernie Williams)

Jordan Kitts Music was once again proud to take advantage of this opportunity to work with NAMM to create a larger and more vibrant presence for music education in schools throughout the country.

For more information, visit NAMM.org

The mystery of music and the mind…

via nature.com

Whether tapping a foot to samba or weeping at a ballad, the human response to music seems almost instinctual. Yet few can articulate how music works. How do strings of sounds trigger emotion, inspire ideas, even define identities?

Cognitive scientists, anthropologists, biologists and musicologists have all taken a crack at that question, and it is into this line that Adam Ockelford steps. Comparing Notes draws on his experience as a composer, pianist, music researcher and, most notably, a music educator working for decades with children who have visual impairments or are on the autistic spectrum, many with extraordinary musical abilities. Through this “prism of the overtly remarkable”, Ockelford seeks to shed light on music perception and cognition in all of us. Existing models based on neurotypical children could overlook larger truths about the human capacity to learn and make sense of music he contends.

George Pickow/Three Lions/Getty

How the human brain processes music remains a mystery.

Some of the children described in Comparing Notes might (for a range of reasons) have trouble tying their shoelaces or carrying on a basic conversation. Yet before they hit double digits in age, they can hear a complex composition for the first time and immediately play it on the piano, their fingers flying to the correct notes. This skill, Ockelford reminds us, eludes many adults with whom he studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music. Weaving together the strands that let these children perform such stunning feats, Ockelford constructs an argument for rethinking conventional wisdom on music education.

He positions absolute pitch (AP) as central to these abilities to improvise, listen and play. Only 1 in 10,000 neurotypical people in the West have AP — the ability to effortlessly, without context, name the note sounded by a violin or a vacuum cleaner (“That’s an F-sharp!”). Among those on the autism spectrum, the number rises to 8%, roughly 1 in 13. For people born blind or who lost their sight early in infancy, it is 45%. AP, Ockelford argues, enables children to sound out and tinker with familiar tunes; that experimentation leads to a deep grasp of musical structure.

Read more here

Live Webcast with Jim Brickman

Songwriters, lyricists, and all music lovers are invited to celebrate Summer with a special songwriting showcase featuring Jim Brickman! He’ll play some of his chart-topping hits and share the stories behind songs we know and love. Learn insightful tips to bring your songs to life and helpful tools every songwriter should have. Plus, Jim will feature some new songs performed by aspiring artists on the Roland Spotlight Channel, which he is hosting throughout the month of July.

RSVP today to view this interactive concert with Jim Brickman and enter to win a Roland FP-30 Digital Piano.

During the live webcast, Jim will giveaway Roland piano accessories and the grand prize: a Roland FP-30-WH complete with stand and pedals in white finish, autographed by Jim Brickman himself. You can only win if you are watching!

Register Here!
(registration closes July 18, 2017)

The Montgomery County Music Teachers Association recognizes Jordan Kitt’s Music

(pictured left to right: Cynthia Cathcart, President of the MCMTA, Ray Fugere, CFO of Jordan Kitt’s Music and Alice Ma, President Elect of the MCMTA.)

Jordan Kitt’s Music was pleased to have been recognized by the MCMTA (The Montgomery County Music Teachers Association) in appreciation of recent service to the their education community.

Jordan Kitt’s has worked closely with the Montgomery County Music Teachers Association for years in helping to provide its teachers and students with special resources, including the use of its 10,000 square foot piano sales and Music Education Center on Parklawn Drive in Rockville.

The MCMTA is a non-profit organization of independent music teachers representing private music teachers of all instruments and is affiliated with the Maryland State Music Teachers association (MSMTA) and the Music Teacher National Association (MTNA). Membership in MCMTA is available to all members of the state organization.

MCMTA was founded in 1965 with 25 members as a local chapter of the MTNA. With a current membership over 225 teachers, MCMTA is the largest chapter in Maryland.

For more information about the MCMTA, visit here…