February 2011

Mike Lawson • Archives • February 16, 2011

NAMM Seeks Best Communities for Music Ed

Amid a backdrop of arts education budget cuts, The NAMM Foundation has announced that it will continue its effort to recognize schools across the United States that support music education and provide opportunities for children and young people to learn and grow with music.

This year marks the Foundation’s 12th annual Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) Survey, a nationwide search for communities whose programs exemplify a strong commitment to music education. Established in 1998, BCME recognizes and celebrates schools, their administrators, teachers, board members, parents and students for their support and commitment to music education.

The 2011 survey will remain open through Friday, March 14, 2011. Each school district or school is allowed to fill out one survey, which must be completed by a school administrator and/or teacher who has access to school and district demographic and budgetary information. The BCME final roster will be announced on May 2, 2011, a date that will commemorate Music Monday, a national celebration of music education and music making.

A copy of the survey can be downloaded for review at

Disney Expands Student Performance Opportunities

Disney Magic Music Days program has been renamed Disney Performing Arts OnStage. Along with the new name comes an expanded program roster that includes performing opportunities for dance groups at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. The name change reflects Disney’s constant commitment to providing new talent showcases for groups around the world.

Disney Performing Arts OnStage provides participants the chance to perform in front of thousands of guests visiting Disney theme parks and resort locations around the world. Bands have the opportunity to march down Main Street U.S.A. at the Disneyland Resort or the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, while singing groups might take to the stage at Disney California Adventure or at one of the Downtown Disney shopping and dining complexes.

Disney can bring an educational component to the performing experience with a variety of workshops geared to specific performance types. Disney Performing Arts Workshops are appropriate for any skill level from novice to expert and are taught by professionals in fields such as acting, choreography, singing, dancing and conducting.

For more information about Disney Performing Arts, visit For more information about Disney Youth Programs, visit

Ten Years Later, NSO Records Again

Under newly appointed music director Christoph Eschenbach, The National Symphony Orchestra is recording for the first time since 2001. The ensemble is taking excerpts of its recent live concerts at the Kennedy Center on January 22-24, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, and releasing them on CD through the Finnish record label, Ondine. The release date is scheduled for May 31.

The program includes Peter Lieberson’s “Remembering JFK (An American Elegy),” narrated by actor Richard Dreyfuss, which is part of a highly anticipated, multi-genre celebration of Kennedy’s presidency. Leonard Bernstein’s “Fanfare for the Inauguration of JFK” and Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story,” and Gershwin’s Concerto in F major, with pianist Tzimon Barto, a frequent Eschenbach collaborator, will also appear on the disc. As a special bonus, alongside the upcoming concert, the May album will also include a bonus disc with excerpts of a concert held by the NSO on January 19, 1961, for which the Kennedys were in attendance.

Eschenbach has nearly 20 releases on the Ondine label, including performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestre de Paris, among others. The conductor’s first NSO recording project is partly supported by the NEA.

For more information, visit

New Study Says Music Improves Mood

A recent study suggests that listening to one’s favorite music triggers the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting good moods. The study, reported in Nature Neuroscience, found that the chemical was released at moments of peak enjoyment. Researchers from McGill University in Montreal said it was the first time that dopamine had been tested in response to music.

Dopamine is also linked to such diverse stimuli as food, money, and love.

More information on the study can be found at

New Marching Band movie, “The Sound of Perfection,” in Production

Anew movie about the improbable rise to success of Georgia high school band director Bob Barr and his students is currently in production. This major motion picture is based on a true story and its producers hope to “inspire many of our future musicians and keep the spotlight burning brightly on the critical need for music education,” as well as using proceeds from the film to, “set up a foundation that will raise millions of dollars and help stem the epidemic of school music department cuts across the country.”

To learn more, visit

El Sistema USA to split with NEC

It appears that El Sistema USA, the program which aims to bring to the United States the socially uplifting music education movement founded and successfully implemented in Venezuela, is looking for a new home. The project has been housed for the last two years at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Mass., and spearheaded by Mark Churchill, a retired dean of the youth and extension division of the NEC. However, recent votes by the Conservatory’s administration to deny a request for increased funding and staffing have led El Sistema USA to begin hunting for a new place to establish its nationwide headquarters.

The NEC will continue to offer a graduate training program for future leaders of music education programs, called the Abreu Fellows program, named after El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu.

Visit for more information.

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