Lorin Maazel, an American conductor, composer, and violinist, passed away on July 13, 2014. Born in France, Maazel moved to the US early in life. He was recognized as a child prodigy and made his conducting debut at the age of eight, beginning a career that would see him leading many of the world’s great ensembles. His appointments included conductor or manager of the Cleveland Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, the Deutsch Oper Berlin, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, and the New York Philharmonic, among many others.

Read more: Lorin Maazel: 1930-2014

The U.S. House of Representatives' Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies has just approved a spending bill that includes cuts to valuable federal arts programs. The proposal, which allocates federal dollars for the upcoming 2015 fiscal year, would cut $8 million from the National Endowment for the Arts and an equal amount from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is a decrease of roughly five percent from current funding levels. 

Read more: Congressional Panel Proposes Cuts to Federal Arts Funding

Arts advocacy group Stand for the Arts, an initiative launched by arts network Ovation, recently released a PSA in support of the arts:

 

  

 

Stand For The Arts is a national initiative to raise awareness, protect access, and encourage action on behalf of the arts.

 

 

Music making celebrated around the world on June 21st

The world's largest annual music event, unified as the Make Music Day celebration (www.makemusicday.org), was held on the summer solstice – June 21st. This international event began in France as Fête de la Musique, and now takes place in 800 cities across 110 countries. This year the number of participating cities in the U.S. doubled to nearly 20, including the additions of major markets such as Austin, Nashville, and Boston. Celebrations of music also took place in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. A full list of all participating cities can be found at www.makemusicday.org

Read more: Make Music Day 2014

First new standards since 1994 define the future of music and arts education

The National Coalition for Core Arts Standards has released the first new guidelines for arts education since 1994. With specific recommendations and guidelines for curricula across the spectrum of the arts, including New National Core Music Standards, the new standards can be found in a searchable format on the NCCAS website. The full PDF of the standards can be downloaded here.

The result of a two-year process involving music teachers, music administrators, and college researchers, as well as professional teaching artists, the standards have undergone three rounds of public review, with input from over 6,000 educators. 

Read more: NCCAS Releases New Standards

Rising summer sales of school band and orchestra instruments trumpet encouraging signs

A current bright spot in music instrument sales also reflects steady support for school music programs, reports NAMM, the National Association for Music Merchants. For the fifth consecutive year, summertime sales of school band and orchestra instruments are on the rise. The year-over-year increase indicates that, bedeviled as they may be by budgetary threats, school music programs are tenacious during challenging economic times.

Back-to-school season retail sales of traditional school band and orchestra instruments including brass, woodwind ,and strings have consistently risen over the last two decades, except for a hiccup at the recession’s peak in 2009. Sales during the July-September timeframe have more than doubled over the last 20 years, increasing another 6.2% in 2013.

Read more: Instrument Sales Up

Drummer, singer, and band leader Phil Collins recently came out of semi-retirement to play his first gig in over four years. It wasn't a Genesis reunion, though. Instead, Collins took the stage with a group of students from the Miami Country Day School, a middle school in North Miami attended by Collins' sons – one of whom is the young drummer who nails the iconic drum fill from "In the Air Tonight." 

See the video for yourself here:

222 educators selected from 208 cities and 41 states

A total of 222 music teachers from 208 cities across 41 states have been announced as quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. In total, more than 7,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (K– college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

Read more: Quarterfinalists Announced for 2015 Music Ed Grammy Award

Coalition Descends on the Capitol to Lobby Congress About Making Music Education Available to All Children

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), music industry leaders, educators, and musicians preached to Congressional leaders about the importance of providing quality, comprehensive music education to all children during NAMM’s annual D.C. Fly-In, which began on May 21. The event allows the music industry to perpetuate the vision of a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught – and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right. This year’s Fly-In, the largest ever, included a day of service at Savoy Elementary, advocacy training at the Kennedy Center, a celebration of Turnaround Arts at the Library of Congress, and more than 100 meetings with Members of Congress.

Sixty-five NAMM members, STEAM Caucus co-chair Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, auditory learning expert Dr. Nina Kraus, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith, former New York Yankee, Latin GRAMMY-nominated musician Bernie Williams, and actor Doc Shaw fortified the tenth annual event, which reinforces the importance of music education for all children.

Read more: NAMM's 2014 D.C. Fly-In

Arts-Intensive Curricula Designed to Help Improve Low-Performing Schools

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) announced the launch of a new arts education initiative to help turn around low-performing schools. Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Turnaround Arts initiative is a new public-private partnership designed to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts. Working in some of the nation’s lowest-performing elementary and middle schools, this program will test the hypothesis that high-quality and integrated arts education boosts academic achievement, motivates student learning and improves school culture in the context of overall school reform, announced the committee’s co-chairs, George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion.

Turnaround Arts will work in eight “turnaround schools” across the country – public schools in the lowest-achieving five percent of their state that are receiving School Improvement Grants through the U.S. Department of Education. Over the course of two years, Turnaround Arts will bring intensive arts education resources and expertise into these schools and support the school leadership in using the arts as a pillar of their reform strategy. An external evaluation of the program will measure the impact and effectiveness of this approach.

Read more: PCAH Launches 'Turnaround Arts' Initiative

On the Road

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