Come Witness an Historic Event

Summer is the time for great music and outdoor events, so come witness an Historic Event as our students show their talents!

What: Musical Expressions Sizzlin’ Summer Showcase

When: Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Performances begin at noon

Where: Two Brothers Roundhouse

205 N. Broadway

Aurora, IL 60505

Who: You, your family and friends

Why: Because it’s going to be awesome!

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Make Warming Up A Part Of Practice

Runners stretch before a race; baseball players stretch before getting up to bat: dancers stretch before a performance and practice.

But beyond the comical image of a maestro cracking his knuckles and stretching his arms before hitting the keyboard of his piano, have you ever seen musicians stretch?

If the answer is yes, then your mission at the end of this post is to help other musicians understand the importance of stretching and other physical prep before practice, and to help remind them (by example, at least) of the importance of keeping their body in good shape as a part of good musicianship.

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March-April Newsletter

March/April 2016 Newsletter

 Keep Calm and Play On

 Spring is approaching and that means longer days, warmer weather and…  recitals! Recitals are taking place on Saturday, May 14th and Saturday, May 21st at Koten Chapel – North Central College.

 This year there are two new additions to our recital line up. For our students that participate in the District 204 Fine Arts Festival, we have a recital on May 14 at 5:00 pm. If you would like to participate in the recital and you have a conflict due to the Fine Arts Festival, this recital is for you. Let your teacher know if this is the case.

The other addition to our lineup is an Adult Recital. This will take place on May 21 at 4:00 pm. All the performers in this recital will be our adult students. If you are interested in participating, let your teacher know.

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How to help your child practice

Practice makes perfect.

That’s the standard wisdom, but like a lot of “standard wisdom” it really isn’t true. And furthermore, that kind of statement can set up an immediate road block to what practice is really supposed to be. Playing music is about joy, not perfection!

“Perfection is an awesome expectation to drop onto the shoulders of a kid who is forcing his first squeaks and squawks from a clarinet,” writes Jeff Bredenberg in a Better Homes & Gardens article.

Instead, he prefers the much truer (and more helpful) statement: “Practice makes you better,” provided by Rebecca Weingarten, an educational consultant.

Weingarten explains that if you start practicing with that goal in mind–to simply get better–all of a sudden the pressure is off to be perfect. And that’s a great beginning to a rewarding way to approach the discipline of practicing an instrument.

And to dovetail into that spirit of practicing to improve rather than to attain perfection, there are other ways to make practicing an instrument rewarding and fun.

Here are some tips from the pros:

Mark Corey is the band director at Addison High Trail School, and president of the Illinois Music Education Association. He tells columnist John Keilman of the Chicago Tribune to get creative when setting up practice time with the kids. For example, instead of mandating that your child go practice her viola for 30 minutes, ask her to play for you instead. Corey says that most kids will want to perform well, and will go off by themselves to practice before they perform for you. You’ve just got your child to practice her instrument, and you never used the “P” word! Music-lessons

In the same article, Brayer Teague, chairman of the fine arts department at Downers Grove North High School suggests that brief but consistent rounds of practice are extremely beneficial, even sessions as short as 10 minutes each.

As part of that approach, Anastasia Tsioulcas writes in an article published by NPR: “Instead of packing up the violin after each day’s practice, we leave the instrument and bow out all the time (albeit in a safe place), so that as our daughter goes about her day, she can pick it up and play whenever she likes. This way, it’s as easy to grab as a book or a toy.”

Make practice goal oriented, advises Tsiouclas further. A short practice session devoted to learning three short passages may be enough for the beginning or younger child. So, instead of setting a predetermined amount of practice time, which can automatically start the “can-I-be-done-now?” clock-watching, set a demonstrable goal like learning those three passages. And, using Corey’s advice from above, ask your child to demonstrate when he’s done.

Brendenberg makes sure he leaves his daughter time for playing, too. Practice has goals as we’ve discussed, and those goals are necessary to enhance what we all really want from music—enjoyment and fun! So, make sure you leave time, or make time, for your child to simply enjoy playing her instrument. Ask her to perform for you if she enjoys that, or have her play along with a favorite recording, or just let her improvise and noodle away after she’s completed her technical practice. If you play an instrument, jam with your kids if that’s something they would enjoy.

Taking the trash out is a good chore for kids, and teaches them responsibility, the value of helping out, and the discipline of doing what needs to be done. But taking the trash out will rarely ever become fun.

Not so with practicing music. When your child practices the technical aspects he becomes better (not perfect), and with those new skills he can realize the joy of making music—alone or with others, and that is a great reward!


Music lessons are enjoyable

Joshua has been a member of the Musical Expressions family since 2012. Currently, he is taking music lessons with Ed Breckenfeld (drums), John Melnick (piano), Jered Montgomery (trombone), and Patrick Dugan (Rock Ensemble Director).  When we caught up with Joshua a few months ago he had just finished a drum lesson with Ed Breckenfeld. As usual, he was smiling from ear to ear and his expression was one of real enthusiasm. He was very excited to share some thoughts on Ed and about his experiences at Musical Expressions.
What would you like to share with us?
Mr. B. is amazing! He is always happy and really helpful. He is an amazing drummer and teacher!
What is the best piece of advice that you have received from Ed?
The best piece of advice is to play with meaning. With drumming, you can’t just bang away, you have to put spirit into it. Mr. B. helped me add more spirit and life to my drumming. It’s now much more than just noise.
What do you love best about learning at Musical Expressions?
I love the feeling it gives off! Everyone is always happy and helpful. The teachers are super nice!
What is your favorite musical activity?
My favorite musical activity is to perform! I love going up on stage and really making music!

Joshua and his Melodica

We also took a few moments to talk with Joshua’s teachers. Every one of them had tremendous things to say about this talented young musician.

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