3 Simple Words – KEEP AT IT!

How Are You Spending YOUR Time?

 

FoxsFiresides

This is probably the most important message we can share with you during this period of coronavirus self-isolation.

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No matter what this pandemic throws at us, or how long we remain away from close human interaction and participation in our ensembles or classes at the now closed “brick and mortar” schools, let’s keep a focus on maintaining our “chops,” building on our “musical momentum,” and practicing every day.

From an eco-friendly (“save our natural resources”) slant as well as an economist’s perspective, you have invested too much time and money on playing an instrument to give up now! So, nature and the COVID-19 have thrown you a few curve-balls these past seven weeks?

The only way we should respond to the challenge is to meet it head-on!

Take advantage of all of this available “free” stay-at-home time to further your artistic enrichment and make “new and improved” musical goals!

dual graphics

crying-146425_1280No teacher will have any patience listening to your whining or remarks of “could have,” “would have,” or “should have been” excuses. What have we always wished for? “If only I had enough time to learn that new scale, étude, or song!” “With all of my other academic assignments, sports events, and extracurricular activities, how can I fit in moments for listening to bands, orchestras, or classical virtuoso artists performing on the web?” “When am I ever going to have the chance to compose…” (or “arrange” or “record” or “memorize” or “conduct” or “choreograph”) “…that piece?” “When will I get around to learn this new technique, practice sight-reading, or dive into those drills designed to improve my key literacy, rhythmic precision, tone, intonation, range, form, coordination, embouchure, stick rudiments, or bow control?

The answer is… now only one word: NOW! 

What are you waiting for? You have too much at stake here, and soon, this crisis will pass, and we will all come back together – only much stronger and wiser for making good choices in the use of our time!

SHJOclips

We divided up the SHJO.clips into categories to develop your “well rounded” musicianship:

  • C = Create, invent, explore
  • L = Listen
  • I = Inspire, read, analyze
  • P = Practice, perform
  • S = Share, show others, play for fun

(Download the interactive CLIP JOURNAL here!)

How many of these have you accomplished? In your clip journal, do you show progress in all focus areas? Can you advise SHJO family members and directors on your recommendations on future projects to further our “collective” knowledge, skills, and appreciations in music? (We would LOVE to hear from you!)

Now get out there and learn, create, and share meaningful moments in music!

PKF

 

hi-res logo 2018The mission of South Hills Junior Orchestra, which rehearses and performs at the Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, PA, is to support and nurture local school band and orchestra programs, to develop knowledge, understanding, performance skills, and an appreciation of music, to increase an individual member’s self-esteem and self-motivation, and to continue to advance a life-long study of music. Members of the Orchestra learn, grow, and achieve positions of leadership to serve their fellow players.

(For more information about SHJO, please visit www.shjo.org.)

This and all Fox’s Fireside blog-posts are free and available to share with other music students, parents, directors, and supporters of the arts.

Click here for a printable copy of this article and the Interactive Clip Journal.

Other “Fox Firesides” are available at https://paulfox.blog/foxs-firesides/.

 

© 2020 Paul K. Fox

Photo credits from Pixabay.com:

“Campfire Stick Fire Flame Camping” by Free-Photos

“Learn Student Laptop Internet” by geralt

“Crying Smiley Emotion Sad” by OpenClipart-Vectors

Tis the Season for Musicals

Support and Participate in Your School Productions!

And now… a non-paid advertisement in support of MS/HS music drama programs… also perfect for celebrating “Music in Our Schools’ Month!” Please pass this on!

The coming springtime brings birds, flowers, bees, and… the magic of live theater! Lasting from early March to late May, the season of school musicals is now upon us! Here’s a friendly reminder from a retired public-school musical director/producer to attend one or more of your local shows! I guarantee it: You won’t be sorry! (For singers and instrumentalists already in a youth, church, or community ensemble, this is message is probably “singing to the choir!”)

dance-430553_1920_ bigter choiThe school musical allows all of the Fine and Performing Arts the chance to collaborate, create, communicate, and “come together” in the presentation of a new transformed art form… everything from acting, dancing, choral, chamber, and solo singing, and instrumental accompaniment… to costumes, make-up, sets, props, lighting, sound, and special-effects. The music and stage crafts “make the magic” to stir your imagination for an evening or matinee of wonderful entertainment and enlightenment!

Many of our local high school musicals secure the rights for the same licensed productions that you see in downtown professional productions (like Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and PNC Broadway series in my area) – one might say “professional grade” intended to be performed by seasoned professionals and not “watered down.” But, regardless of the incredibly challenging vocal ranges, dance steps and athleticism, virtuoso musical passages, and instant scene changes, the students always “rise to the occasion,” and perform amazingly artistic, realistic, funny, serious, romantic, thought-provoking, and inspiring numbers, providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share with your entire family!

supercharge the musical box
https://paulfox.blog/2015/08/18/52-creative-tips-to-supercharge-the-school-musical/

The scripts and scores for each show provide only the barest information on how to put everything together. The directors, choreographers, and set designers have to determine the selection and placement of the cast on the stage (defining their blocking and all entrances/exits) as well as the kind of backdrops, props, and platforms to build, position, and move (in and out) from scene to scene. Because of this, I can offer you the assurance that no two presentations of a single production will ever be the same. In addition, no two shows performed at different sites will even be remotely similar. The variety and unique talents of the leads, chorus, dancers, pit orchestra, and production crews, as well as the vision and leadership of the artistic staff, will assure that the audience will experience many surprises and excitement every time they come to the theater!

Support your talented musicians, singers, dancers, and production-crew members. Buy a ticket. Invite other members of your extended family, coworkers, and neighbors to escape their wintry doldrums and enjoy an outing. Do you love theater? Consider volunteering to help the musical, assisting in the peripheral such as sewing costumes, distributing posters, selling tickets, building sets, painting the scenery, buying a program advertisement or well-wisher announcement, or chaperoning the parties. Contact the school’s musical director or Performing Arts chairperson to find out additional ways to help “make a difference” in your school’s Performing Arts.

ShrekThe school district at which I am proud to have served for 33 years as music teacher, 30 years as HS producer, and 7 years as Performing Arts Curriculum Leader is putting on SHREK – The Musical. Their “grand opening” for two weeks of shows is March 6, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. in the Upper St. Clair HS Theater, 1825 McLaughlin Run Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15241.

What else is happening in our southwestern PA area? At the time of this blog-post, we learned of a few of these upcoming HS musicals. (Be sure to check in with your local district to find out what is playing, dates, and times, and how to reserve show tickets. If all else fails and you cannot find the announcement on their school website, call the building principal’s secretary who usually knows “what’s going on!”)

Sampling of High School Spring Musicals

(Southwestern Pennsylvania from March 5 to May 9, 2020)

  • Ringgold HS: Thoroughly Modern Millie on March 5-7, 2020
  • Upper St. Clair HS: Shrek – The Musical! on March 6-8, 12-14
  • Thomas Jefferson HS Disney’s Newsies! on March 12-15
  • Bethel Park HS: Guys and Dolls on March 18-21
  • Bentworth HS: Shrek – The Musical on March 19-21
  • Peters Township HS: Big Fish on March 19-22
  • Chartiers Houston HS: Beauty and the Beast on March 20-22
  • West Allegheny HS: 9 to 5: The Musical on March 20-22, 27-28
  • West Mifflin HS: The Addams Family on March 26-29
  • South Park HS: Chicago: High School Edition on March 26-29
  • Baldwin HS: The Addams Family on April 1-4
  • Burgettstown MSHS: The Music Man, Jr. on April 2-4
  • Brentwood HS: Annie on April 2-4
  • Elizabeth Forward HS: Drowsy Chaperone on April 2-5
  • Mt. Lebanon HS: Once Upon a Mattress on May 7-9

PKF

 

hi-res logo 2018The mission of South Hills Junior Orchestra, which rehearses and performs at the Upper St. Clair HS in Pittsburgh, PA, is to support and nurture local school band and orchestra programs, to develop knowledge, understanding, performance skills, and an appreciation of music, to increase an individual member’s self-esteem and self-motivation, and to continue to advance a life-long study of music. Members of the Orchestra learn, grow, and achieve positions of leadership to serve their fellow players.

(For more information about SHJO, please visit www.shjo.org.)

This and all Fox’s Fireside blog-posts are free and available to share with other music students, parents, directors, and supporters of the arts.

Click here for a printable copy of Tis the Season for Musicals.

Other “Fox Firesides” are available at https://paulfox.blog/foxs-firesides/.

 

© 2020 Paul K. Fox

 

Photo credits from Pixabay.com: “Staging” by Mauricio Keller and “Dance” by bigter choi

Life Hacks for Musicians

The Laws of Practicing & More Tips on Preparing Music

foxsfiresides

Many of the early South Hills Junior Orchestra “Fox’s Firesides” are about developing new techniques to solve musical problems, dispelling the myth that all you need to do is put in the time. Is there any truth in “practice makes perfect?” Not really. It is more critical that all instrumentalists set-up a regular schedule for focused practice, limiting all distractions, defining and working on goals, and then the truer adage can be modeled: “perfect practice develops perfect playing.”

Perhaps since January is the first month of The New Year, this would be a good time to review the different practice techniques we have already published at https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/foxs-firesides/, especially #1, #4, and #8.

Here are a few more ideas, “borrowed” from my former place of employment – the Upper St. Clair School District Performing Arts Department.

 

THE LAWS OF PRACTICING

The 24-Hour Law – It takes 24 hours for yesterday’s lesson to be learned.

The Perfect Attendance Law – Practicing a little every day always beats cramming.

The Three Musketeers Law – Never practice without a metronome, tuner, or recording device to hear how you sound.

The “Elephant in the Room” Law – One must “face the music,” specifically, the musical passage with which they are struggling the most.

The Sloth Law – When in doubt, play it slower.

 

LIFE HACKS (Practice Edition)

Sloth Hack – Playing slower, to the point that it is impossible to mess up.

Jaws Hack – Slur a passage with which you are struggling.

seriestoshare-logo-01Karaoke Hack – Play the passage in conjunction with your favorite recording of the piece.

Time Trial Hack – Put a timer on for a few minutes and see how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time.

Drop the Bass Hack – If a passage is too high, play it down an octave.

Cheat Code Hack – Simplify a rhythm if you are struggling to learn it.

Here are several additional websites with excellent “hack” recommendations for developing better practice skills, but don’t forget to ask your school music director and private teacher for more advice!

 

Keep up your commitment to and PRACTICE towards real self-improvement, creative self-expression, making beautiful music, and participating in your school and community bands and orchestras!

PKF

hi-res logo 2018

 

The mission of South Hills Junior Orchestra, which rehearses and performs at the Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh, PA, is to support and nurture local school band and orchestra programs, to develop knowledge, understanding, performance skills, and an appreciation of music, to increase an individual member’s self-esteem and self-motivation, and to continue to advance a life-long study of music. Members of the Orchestra learn, grow, and achieve positions of leadership to serve their fellow members.

(For more information about SHJO, please visit www.shjo.org.)

This and all Fox’s Fireside blog-posts are free and available to share with other music students, parents, directors, and supporters of the arts.

Click here for a printable copy of LIFE HACKS for Musicians

Other “Fox Firesides” are available at https://paulkfoxusc.wordpress.com/foxs-firesides/.

 

© 2019 Paul K. Fox

Photo credit from Pixabay.com: “Fireplace” by judenicholson