Based on a true story.
Sandi was born on the bad side of town. Her mother was disabled and could not work. Her father did not speak English very well. Sandi knew hunger, and Sandi knew cold. Sandi went to school in the winter without a suitable jacket. Sandi was not off to the strongest of starts.
When Sandi was in fourth grade, someone gave her an old, used violin. It had no strings and a hole in the back, but Sandi fell in love. Sandi worked up her own money to buy strings and get it fixed. The repairmen said that the hole could never be fixed and it would never quite sound right. With tears in her eyes, Sandi begged the repairman to do what she could. She loved that violin and was desperate to make it sound beautiful.
Over the next few years, her neighbors made fun of her for wasting all of her time working on that stupid old violin that would never sound right. Sandi just kept on practicing. That old violin never quite sounded right and everyone told her to get a new one, but Sandi had a kinship with it.
When Sandi was getting ready to graduate from high school, she made a speech in front of her friends of the orchestra. Sandi stood in her second hand clothes and explained that the old violin never worked well, and never would. That old violin had a tough life. But so had she. Sandi explained that from the moment she received that “old, beat up piece of junk,” she knew it to be a reflection of her. She knew that if she could make that poor violin make music, she could get to a better place than where she was born. Sandi explained that if there was hope for that old violin, there was hope for her. The crowd was speechless.
Sandi had been crucial to her school’s music department. She graduated with one of the highest grade point averages in her class. Sandi walked across the stage to get her diploma with her old friend in her left hand. When she stopped to shake hands with the school district superintendent, she handed him that old violin. She told him to find that student who appears to have no way out. Find that student who has the odds all stacked against him/her, and give that student this old violin so it can change their life as it did hers.
Sandi is a real person. I know her as she was one of my first students. Sandi is not her name and the details of her story are not 100 percent correct, but the basic story is true. Music, as she said herself, saved her. It gave her the dedication to become an excellent student and the drive to be better. An old violin was all it took.
You can make this difference in someone’s life. IF you have an old clarinet or trumpet or violin sitting in a closet, donate it! That instrument that meant so much to you, or your child, but hasn’t been touched in years can change a life. Music is that powerful!
Since its inception in July 2012, SOStenuto, our instrument donation program, has received numerous used instruments, which we repaired and regifted to schools across the Lehigh Valley, including Freemansburg Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Spring Garden Elementary, Fountain Hill Elementary, Hanover Elementary, William Penn Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Marvine Elementary, Broughal Middle and Freedom High Schools!
We love our SOStenuto program! March is "Music in our Schools" month. Please consider donating your used instrument(s) to give a child an opportunity to cultivate the love of music! Call or e-mail us to let us know when you're planning to drop off your instrument.
By Andrew Lynn
This blog article comes with a bit of a delay; we can barely keep up with all the all the new
activities at our blossoming YOUniversity of Music and Arts! Nevertheless, it's important to take a moment to celebrate our first year in business, which was officially marked by an Open House on September 15!! It was a really busy day: more than 100 people attended music demo classes to expose dozens of children to our Musikgarten program. Beginning at 9 a.m., we opened our doors to area children and families to experience the fun of early music education. According to Valentina Jotovic, the Youniversity's CEO, demo classes were held for various age groups. The toddler class was well-attended at 10 a.m., while the preschoolers and older children arrived later in the day. “It was wonderful to meet so many local families who are seeking music introduction classes where their children will learn the basics while having fun at the same time,” Jotovic said. The award-winning Musikgarten program offers classes for babies as young as six months to children up to nine years of age. The program enables children to develop a solid musical foundation that all but guarantees future success in music lessons, Jotovic said. “Children may enter the Musikgarten sequence at any time during the first 6 years. However, the benefits of the program are most compelling when students experience Musikgarten's seamless, 9-year Path to Music Literacy, which leads from age-specific group classes to specialized training on the piano and many other instruments.”
For more information on Musikgarten classes or private music lessons, visit YOUniversity of Music and Arts or call (610) 849-2130!
I recently spoke with a parent who was apprehensive about their child’s budding love for music. The cause for her apprehension was that she was worried her child would want to become a professional musician, which she felt is a very competitive field with low chance of success. Obviously, this disturbed me. Too often people think the only thing you can do with music lesson training is become a professional musician. So I started to look up some other professions that a background in music is crucial for. Here are just some.
People will always need new instruments; musicians know how to best build them. Of course, some people will want their old instruments restored, and not many non-musicians enter the field of instrument restoration. Don’t forget that little Timmy in the fourth grade is probably going to drop his clarinet a few times, and someone will need to be qualified to make that repair.
A good friend of mine from college is a fine quality clarinetist. I am in contact with her regularly because she is one of the managers for the SteelStacks concert venue. Musicians are not only best suited for venue managing but also have the ear needed to be sound technicians not only for concerts, but for conventions and lectures. Of course there are many career openings in the recording field as well.
Another friend of mine from college is now employed in the interesting and growing field of Music Therapy. Music therapy is now used not only in schools, but in hospitals, elderly care, rehabilitation centers, special education, and I’m sure more. More and more colleges are offering studies in music therapy.
What would advertising be without music? Very dull commercials and billboards. The advertising industry is worth more money that I want to think about. A large amount of money is invested into making sure jingles are catchy. Countless songs have had their lyrics adapted for advertising purposes. I would be willing to wager that the advertising is not going to stop needing musicians any time soon.
While we are talking about music in media, I would like to consider the paychecks that film score composers make. How about the radio industry? How about the importance of music to religion? How many other careers are aided by music? But you still don’t see the benefit? How about colleges and universities?
Our neighbor here in Bethlehem is Lehigh University. Lehigh is an excellent school best known for its engineers and wrestlers. They also have an excellent music department. No music majors, but excellent orchestra, bands and choir. Obviously they value music. Other schools, such as Villanova, actually pay the students to perform in their music ensembles! Countless schools give scholarships to music students.
Who knows, maybe your child is the next Yo-Yo Ma. Maybe not, but maybe they could have a lucrative career in any of the afore mentioned fields. Maybe music will help them get through college. Maybe they will just develop a love and appreciation. But maybe it is not worth the risk not to try!
Assistant Manager and Brass Instrucor
Youniversity of Music and Arts
It has been widely said that music helps the mind’s development. Of course, as a musician and educator, I agree. I am not, however, the type of person to take sayings on at face value. Lately, I have been doing some of my own research. I have looked through history to try to find famous minds that were also musicians.
The first person I found was possibly the greatest mind in history, Albert Einstein. Einstein practiced the violin and has many great quotes relating to music. My favorite is, “Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” and he also stated that “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.” But Einstein was not nearly the first, or last, of the most brilliant achievers to have been a musician.
American history is littered with musical leaders. George Washington reportedly played the flute, as did John Quincy Adams and Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry also played the violin. Benjamin Franklin practiced at the guitar and violin and invented musical instruments of his own. But the legacy of musicians is not restricted to the American Revolution.
In our more recent history, we find Richard Nixon and Ross Perot playing the accordion. Condeleeza Rice and Harry Truman were both accomplished at the piano. Woodrow Wilson performed on the violin and we cannot forget the saxophone stylings of Bill Clinton.
Overseas, Mahatma Gandhi reportedly played an accordion-like instrument called the concertina in India. In England Sir Edward Heath, Prime Minister in the 1970’s, was an organist and even conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. I’m sure the list goes on and on, but I’m convinced.
Coincidence? Maybe. I have seen the power of music in my life, countless others have as well. Make sure you do not miss out, either for yourself or your children. It is never too late to start music lessons; who knows where music will take you!
Brass Instructor and Assistant Manager, YOUniversity of Music and Arts
“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at the sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” (Zora Neale Hurston)
Mastering the art of music, whether it be on an instrument or vocally, normally comes only after some type of formal training. Few among us are born music virtuosos. Once in a blue moon, we encounter individuals with an innate ability to write or play music, demonstrate perfect pitch or pick up any instrument and create magic -- without any training in the field.
But most of today’s music success stories speak about the opportunities they were given as young children to attend concerts, gain exposure to musical diversity and take lessons as a young child.
Children can begin at a young age at The YOU!
Young people have many opportunities for cultural enrichment in the Lehigh Valley. Dance schools, theaters, art studios all create exemplary programs. Parents often have a tough choice deciding what may be best for their kids. Add in soccer, gymnastics or softball, and parents are constantly faced with helping children schedule their extra-curricular activities.
At the Youniversity of Music and Arts, located in Bethlehem, PA, young children have the opportunity to dip their small toes in the water and explore music via an inventive and bold program called Musikgarten. This award-winning program is an introduction to music. It is not intended to teach your young child how to play the guitar or master the keyboard in six weeks. Instrumental lessons are recommended to begin at the Youniversity when a child is ready, and that very much depends on a number of factors, including the child’s maturity and willingness to persist and practice, and the choice of instrument (can you see a 6-year-old play the tuba?). Musikgarten is designed for babies through children 9 years of age. It offers a unique, progressively sequenced curriculum where young people learn, among many other things, note reading, rhythms, musical patterns, basic instruments, and have fun!
Two very different kids
No two kids are alike; no two excel in exactly the same arts or sports. When my son was 8, I enrolled him in private piano lessons. He showed an intense and sustained interest in music, had a good ear and vowed to practice. He stuck with the lessons for several years and has since learned guitar, drums and can play just about any instrument. At the time, I also decided to enroll my daughter (two years younger than my son), and she struggled through a few years of painful recitals and many tears. She only wanted to play because her brother played. Obviously, that’s not the right reason to do anything.
If there had been a program like Musikgarten for them at the time, they could have gotten a taste of musical basics and explored whether or not instrument lessons were the right way to go. They would have both learned step-by-step and had a ton of fun along the way. Ironically, as an adult, my daughter has taken vocal lessons and is mastering both the keyboard and guitar. She has even performed publicly in Minneapolis. So, you just never know where a music journey may lead!
Give your child the chance to ‘jump at the sun.’ She may just fall in love with all that she discovers and land on a star!
By Sharon McCarthy
In addition to working for the YOUniversity of Music and Arts as an
administrator and brass lesson instructor, I also teach in the Bethlehem Area School District. I began 3 years ago working at Freedom High School, a position that I love. This past year, I also began teaching instrumental music at one of the Bethlehem elementary schools. This position is also a very rewarding one, but one that presented many new challenges that I was not prepared for, the greatest of which being forced to tell a young, eager student “No.”
College courses never prepped me for this challenge, and I’m not sure how they
could have. The most heartbreaking moments of my young career as an educator were when I had to tell these students that they could not learn an instrument and be part of my program, simply because I do not have enough instruments for everyone. This was even tougher knowing that most of these students come from a family that cannot afford to buy or rent an instrument.
I cannot express to you the joy I saw in a student's eyes when one a donated instrument arrived. I remember the little girl’s face as though it was yesterday. I told her the week before that the school did not have any instruments left for her to use and she left in tears. This week, I had a flute that someone had donated, and I do not know when I have ever seen a bigger smile.
I write this blog in hopes to inspire you to donate your unused instruments to our SOStenuto program, which we launched joinly with Music 4 More
, a non-profit organization headquartered in Maryland, MD. Many people have the old clarinet in the back of their closet that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. You may have a flute that was used when you were in high school. Maybe your son or daughter just graduated from high school, and you know they will never use that old trumpet again. Think of the joy that the instrument brought you, or your child, and please consider donating it to less fortunate children. There are many students in the Lehigh Valley who need music in their lives, but cannot afford to buy or rent an instrument. By donating your instrument you will not only give that student the love of music that you have, but also help keep music in the Lehigh Valley strong!
Give us a call at (610) 840-2130, and we'll answer any questions you may have about how to go about donating your instrument.
YOUniversity of Music and Arts
I did not grow up in the Lehigh Valley; I was raised in a small town outside of Valley Forge. When I moved to Bethlehem to attend Moravian College, I never thought I would fall in love with what was to me such a big city. That was in 2004. Now, 8 years later, I have a hard time imagining moving back. The greatest reason for this is the wonderful community of music that exists here in the Lehigh Valley, and especially Bethlehem.
It amazes me how much goes on here. Concerts are available nearly every day somewhere. The school music programs are large and proud, and the community backs them. But the thing that amazes me the most is the overwhelming opportunity to perform. Obviously, as a professional, I play paid gigs on a regular basis, but what is amazing is how many performance opportunities are out there for musicians of all levels. Off the top of my head, I can think of over 5 community bands in the Lehigh Valley with open membership. This proves that music is an activity that can stay with you for your entire life.
I regularly perform with the Nazareth community band. In this group, we have a wonderful blend of musicians ranging from high school kids to professional music educators, to “Old timers.” Some of these musicians have been playing for years and hold degrees in their art, many others picked up their instruments a few years ago and play for the pure joy and love of music.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard adults say to me, “I wish I would have stuck with music,” or “I always wanted to play an instrument.” Kids, take their advice and stick with it. Adults, it is never too late to start and you will never regret it!
To find out what it's like to study an instrument or learn how to sing, take a trial lesson at Bethlehem's Youniversity of Music and Arts!
Assistant Manager and Brass Teacher
Youniversity of Music and Arts
Youniversity of Music and Arts, Bethlehem’s community music school, that offers instruction to all ages, announced today that it is partnering with the new Gallery U Center for a music and art exchange. The Youniversity, located at 700 Evans St., is provides drumming instruction to clients of the Gallery U, while the Gallery supplies artwork for the walls of Youniversity.
Gallery U, located at 314 E. Third St., Bethlehem, is part of theUniversal Institute Rehabilitation & Living Centers
. The local unit serves
individuals with traumatic brain injuries, providing a vocational training program to assist them to return to the work force. The U offers a unique art therapy program and much of the artwork displayed in the gallery space is handcrafted by the center’s clients.
“This is an excellent partnership for both organizations,” said Valentina Jotovic, C.E.O. of The Youniversity. “We were seeking inspiring artwork for our walls and the Gallery clients are enjoying the music therapy we are providing.”
Youniversity instructor Andrew Lynn
meets with Gallery U clients once a week to teach them drumming basics on conga and bongo drums.
“ Music and art therapies are both important for multiple reasons, explains Allison Smith, Assistant Director of the Gallery U’s Rehabilitation Department. “Not only do these types of therapy encourage the use of fine motor skills, but they also promote mental and emotional well-being, such as relieving stress or anxiety and improving mood. Music and art therapy also act as a leisure outlet to enhance the quality of life for individuals suffering from brain trauma.” Smith added that the clients look forward to Lynn’s weekly drumming jam sessions. Many of the clients have also made their own maracas to use as another form of percussion. “Andrew is a great instructor and really engages all the clients in the music,” Smith added.
Approximately 25 pieces of mixed media artwork are now hanging in the
Youniversity, adding color and interest to the facility, Jotovic said.
“Aside from the fact that the artwork is beautiful and inspiring to look at,
we are happy to promote the good work that the Gallery U is doing, Jotovic
said. “Music and art not only enrich, but transform our lives. Art has healing powers for the human body and spirit.”
An Open House/Art Reception will take place on First Friday, May 4th, from 6-8 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to view the works, which will be available for purchase, and enjoy light refreshments. All proceeds from the sale of the artwork will be applied to the Gallery’s art therapy program for supplies and ongoing expenses.
For more information, contact the Youniversity of Music and Arts at (877) 292-4973
, and the Gallery U at 610-625-4959
(By Sharon McCarthy)
I began playing brass instruments over 15 years ago and have been giving brass lessons for about 8 years now. In that time I also became active in the military and interested in physical fitness. I still remember the day when sitting through a trombone lesson, I realized certain similarities between physical exercises and brass training. Soon thereafter I began to research how principles of physical fitness training could be applied to teaching and learning brass instruments.
What I have found is that the mechanics of playing a brass instrument – any brass instrument - are strictly physical and can be improved by approaching them as athletes would approach their training. Runners training to compete in the 100 meter do not simply go outside every day and run 100 meters as fast as they can. Rather, they vary their workouts to include long distance running, weight training, sprinting, agility exercises, incline running, etc. This variation is what professionals call muscle confusion and is the backbone of some of the current popular commercial exercise methods. I noticed, however, there was a complete disconnect between this and how we traditionally teach brass students to develop their muscles.
As brass musicians we are commonly told to do the same routine every time we practice. While there is definitely something to be said about the value of a routine, it does not parallel good muscle and endurance development. I have started working on my own brass method and have begun testing it on my private brass lesson students. The results have, so far, spoken for themselves. Every private student I have had has met their goals. I hope to soon publish my method and in turn change the world of brass education.
Andrew Lynn, Brass Instructor and Assistant Manager
YOUniversity of Music and Arts
The other day, we received a letter from our adult piano student Jing Ding, whose 7-year old son is also taking piano lessons at YOUniversity of Music and Arts. We heartily thank Mrs. Ding for her kind words and are thrilled that both mother and son appreciate our educational values and teaching philosophy:
<<My 7 years old son took piano lessons with John Kamfonas
beginning last September. Before beginning lessons with John, my son had taken lessons with a Suzuki piano teacher for almost two years. The progress that my son made during his seven months with
John exceeded my expectations and demonstrated to me what a wonderful teacher he is. Not only did my son learned a lot of music theory from John that he had never learned before, but also he felt playing and practicing the piano was not a chore but rather an activity he performed happily and voluntarily.
John was able to impart his enthusiasm and love of playing the piano onto
my son. Rather than work directly from a piano lesson book, he would choose different pieces of music. He customized the music and lessons to my son's current skill level while at the same time providing challenges to keep the learning process going. After each lesson, John would relish in my son's accomplishments and acknowledge each newly learned measure of music.
Also, myself, as an adult student, I started taking piano lessons with John about the same time as my son started. By allowing me to choose the piano piece that I wanted to learn, I had more incentive and motivation to practice and play. I would eagerly practice at home whenever I get free time. Once a piano piece was mastered, I was very enthusiastic about beginning my next new piece. I would say that studying with John was fun and I learned a lot. I was able to play songs that I never thought I could.
I respect John for many of his qualities but most of all because he is able to connect with his students and customize their piano lessons according to their strengths. He is a perfect blend of strictness and kindness. He is capable of recognizing a student's potential as well as weaknesses. John is a very positive and encouraging teacher who is able to make confident self-motivated piano players out his students. I highly recommend John as a piano teacher!