Art and About
Engaging with the creative force in everyday life

April 21st, 2010

Word-based brains and Visual-based brains

Posted by christina in Web Columns

My favorite columnist, Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle, assembled some thoughts on how word-based people feel when asked to go visual. It ran on my birthday, which was perfect because he could have been describing my life. Not only is drawing, painting, and even photography a frustrating and often daunting experience for me, but I also have trouble understanding why many visual people think what I do with words is magic.

The column also reminded me of when I was writing arts stories for the newspaper. I became wary about interviewing visual artists. So many of these wonderfully creative, intelligent people would have so much trouble describing what they do. Even basic facts about their lives were often hard for them to articulate. They would become flustered and embarrassed. I did my best to assure them that all they had to do was talk — my job was to organize the nuggets and write the story. Sometimes that helped, sometimes it didn’t. I’m sure both sides came away shaking their heads about how the other half lives.

Here’s the column that sums up how my half lives.

January 20th, 2010

The Big, Invisible Moving Pieces

Posted by christina in Web Columns

I have titled this post with someone else’s title. I’m hoping it is not construed as plagiarism, since I do it only because I cannot improve on the brilliance behind it, and trying to paraphrase it or do a catchy headline for my blog would be demeaning and insulting. Please read the words of Dr. Karl Paulnack in his welcome address to the parents of the freshman class at The Boston Conservatory. Dr. Paulnack is Director of the conservatory’s Music Division.

The Big, Invisible Moving Pieces

January 20th, 2010

Thinking Outside the Tool Box

Posted by christina in Web Columns

I am constantly in awe of when, where and how art will spring forth in our world. This article ran in the San Francisco Chronicle last November and I continue to think about it as an inspiration that no endeavor in our lives needs to be merely mundane: Artist whose medium is hardware store windows

January 20th, 2010

Graffiti — creative expression or vandalism?

Posted by christina in Web Columns

One form of creative expression about which I contemplate occasionally is graffiti. Mostly, I’m talking about the mural-like paintings that appear on large public structures, and not simple profanity or scribble scrabble. I believe that someone picking up a paint can and creating art is, at its essence, engaging the creative force in everyday life. However, the goody-goody in me can’t ignore that it is marring someone else’s space, someone who was not consulted in the artistic process, and therefore is disrespectful.

An article in Stanford Magazine has helped me to reconcile my emotional vs. intellectual response to graffiti. It tells the story of a woman in Philadelphia who has found a way to harness the creativity in tagging and channel the positive force behind the vandalism. It seems most cities could follow her lead. Have a read:Painting the Town

August 24th, 2009

Art: People Who Get What It’s All About

Posted by christina in Web Columns

Here are a couple of people who get it, and when I read their prose, I shouted, “Hear, hear!”

Why California must fund music education

Ted Barone

Friday, July 31, 2009

The budget straits the state of California is facing are forcing our leaders to make a series of pernicious choices with legacy implications. One such choice is whether to fund music programming or refocus our funding priorities to the “core academics” (which happen to be those subjects tested in the statewide testing system).

I propose that we really don’t have a choice. We must fund music.

From the rhythm of our breathing as infants and the comforting lullabies that helped us sleep, to the cacophony of song and sound that envelops our modern everyday lives, music is an essential factor in what defines us as human. Music is a messenger that carries the history and collective experience of a people across time and space. Music also helps develop our brains in a way that will increase our ability to address and solve the extraordinary challenges that lie ahead of us as a people. The musical key is the proverbial key. In other words, the structure and organization of music is exactly what makes it so important for brain development. From the notes, chords are built. Chords determine keys, within which a skillful musician creates an experience, a message, a movement. Mix in rhythm and a new order of time emerges.

Music is all about creating neural networks and expanding the speed and capacity of the pathways that determine skill and memory. A key finding from brain research is that once a neural pathway is established, and the more that pathway is used, especially with passion and emotion, the greater the “bandwidth” and strength of the connection. Memory is improved, processing speed is increased, and better, more sophisticated decisions are a result.

Music is all about the structural connections that are used to support memory. It’s much easier to remember something that follows a familiar structure or pattern than something random and unfamiliar. These familiar structures serve as the foundation for building greater knowledge and even stronger and more extensive neural networks that support learning of all kinds.

In a world of extraordinary complexity, a premium is placed on one’s ability to quickly process massive amounts of wildly varying types of information. Musical instruction helps young people develop the brain capacity to process a lot of information and to organize and present it.

Playing music cultivates a mind that is prepared to process and make sense of the rush of information and problems that have come to characterize the 21st century. Music is a core subject. We can’t cut funding for music any more than we can cut funding for math.

Ted Barone is the principal of Albany High School.

This article appeared on page A – 15 of the San Francisco Chronicle
© 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.

A New Day of Joy!

Dear Members,

There are over 70 pieces in the Choristers Guild catalogue that contain the word “joy” in the title. Choristers Guild composer, Larry Schultz’s A New Day of Joy is among the newest, published as part of the Spring 2009 packet. Terry York’s text for this anthem posits, “This third day of sadness is a new day of joy!” I love that reassurance.

It is easy to name all of the things that seem to be going wrong around us. We seem to be living at a time when there is clear, palpable and global recognition that our planet is crossing a tipping point. No one can make the claim that they are not affected by or connected to social, ecnomic or ecological changes. Now more than ever, we may wonder, where is the joy?

As musicians, we are poised to be catalysts of change. Music, song, and singing connect us to a life-blood creativity that we must not forget. Most of us began this work because of the pleasure we felt making music. Have you stopped recently to consider the physical sensation of singing? It is a pleasurable experience! It is natural and in its purest form, it is easy!

We at Choristers Guild are here to inspire, nurture and support you as leaders in your diverse settings. Spend some time with our music and resources, take advantage of one of the director’s workshops this summer, and then dare to share the joy you experience.


David Hein, Choristers Guild, National Board President

Printed in The Chorister: Volume 61, Number 1, page 3

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