Sunday, March 01, 2009

Aiken PSA Lauds Music in Schools

WHY MUSIC? -- Singer records PSA for "Music in Our Schools Month" festivities. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photo by Katy4Clay.

Weather Aids Movie Marathon

Clay Aiken Celebrates MIOSM

Throughout much of North Carolina, March is roaring in like a lion as students -- and teachers, too --are reviewing rarely used snow dance steps in hopes that schools will be cancelled on Monday.

Thnx to my recent intallation of DIRECTV and the oncoming weather pattern, my weekend movie marathon has a "3-5 inch" probable chance of a one-day extension. More on this in a bit.

Learning music opens up the mind like nothing else. -- Clay Aiken

That is really the lead, and this musician/private instructor could not have said it better: Learning music opens up the mind like nothing else.

A former band and orchestra teacher, I am proud that North Carolina singer Clay Aiken is helping in the March celebration of Music in Our Schools Month (MIOSM). One of four new spokespersons for 2009, Clay has joined a host of pop, country, and classical musicians recording special radio messages -- Why Music? -- that remind all of the importance of the arts.

Other newcomers to the roster include Steven Van Zandt, singer, songwriter, producer; Mark O'Connor, fiddler, composer, author; and Mary Stuart, platinum mandolin artist.

Download/listen to Clay's PSA at the above link. Here is what he says:

Wanna know one of the best ways to help your kids do better in school? This is Clay Aiken from Monty Python's "Spamalot." I visit a lot of schools both at home and when I'm on the road, and I hear too many students say school is boring. But what about music class? You know, learning music opens up the mind like nothing else.

Performing in a school music ensemble is fun and challenging for kids. It encourages creativity while instilling self-discipline. And learning music even develops something called spatial I.Q., which helps students tackle the challenges of other subjects like math and science.

Some night this week sit down as a family and play your kids some music you really love. Then listen to what your kids like and compare notes. Even better, sit down at the piano and sing some songs together. Help your kids learn to love music.

Like those of the many participating artists, Clay's bio is compressed but impressive:

Born in Raleigh, NC, Clay Aiken sang his way up from school choirs to the American Idol stage. Since then, Aiken has released five well-received albums, and has appeared in the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway musical Monty Python’s Spamalot.

A current ambassador for UNICEF, Aiken has pursued his mission of bringing primary education to all children. Throughout his career, Aiken has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for children in need.

World Concert Highlights MIOSM

First celebrated in 1973 by the state of New York, MIOSM has expanded into a national month-long occasion raising awareness in the importance of music education for all children. A cornerstone MIOSM event since 1985, the World's Largest Concert (WLC) is a sing-along linking up to six million students around the world in recent years.

Slated for 1 p.m. EST March 12, the 2009 WLC can be viewed on most publc access TV stations. In the Age of Technology, teachers link to downloadable sheet music and mp3s to teach students the songs. For more info and the 2009 song list, see this WLC link.

Coming from a long lineage of music teachers, I believe the artist PSAs and MIOSM emphasis are wonderful reminders to the public -- parents, young people, and school board members quick to slash arts programs -- that participation in music class is key to a student's education.

Ancient Greek philosophers believed music to be essential and beneficial in learning other subjects. In addition to the joys of singing or playing an instrument, music class is where students discover their own creative voice, learn about cooperation and how it feels to make real harmony.

Creativity, cooperation, harmony, and beautiful music -- what the world needs now!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Graphics by Amazing_CA (1, 3, 5) and cindilu2 (2, 4) are featured in this clickable set with photos by PermaSwooned, 3, and Katy4Clay, 5. Widescreen versions of cindilu2's March calendar and graphic are available on her Yuku page.

Potholes of a First Time Pollster

When I posted the previous blog entry, the March 31 drop date for The Very Best of Clay Aiken had just been announced. Based on past history, most longtime CA fans agreed it would be a while before fans learned the album's tracklist.

Never having created a poll with Blogspot's gadgetry before, I decided this might be an excellent first time. To establish a consensus of "favorites," I asked a few friends to send me their wish list, the most popular titles of which made the poll.

For spacing and an assortment of other double-checks, I always test a new entry in a private duplicate blog before uploading the post to the Carolina site. True to form, I set up the poll on the dummy site, too. Everything worked like a charm ... until I routinely moved the works to the Carolina site.

One Little Check Mark

Even before I could ping the blog, frustrated readers began commenting that they were only allowed one choice rather than the stated multiple votes. Unfortunately, I inadvertantly missed checking that option in the final upload.

I immediately learned you cannot change a poll once participation begins, so I promptly posted that voting was on hold until I could replace the survey, this time with the multiple vote option checked.
After that, everything clicked along smoothly with a steady stream of song selections in the side bar.

Around midnight, tradition broke rank and the actual playlist for TVBOCA was released, making the Feb. 24 Carolina poll somewhat obsolete. The saving grace is that voting, which continues in the sidebar song list and via reader comments, will provide a comparative list on March 3, Blogspot's pre-dermined closing date for the poll.

Reckon I will think twice before setting up a poll again? Knowing me, probably not!

Movie Marathan Rolls On

Even if there is no snow day in this area Monday, I have certainly enjoyed a weekend of back-to-back movies. So much so that I received several emails and PMs asking why I wasn't online.

I like a wide variety of genres -- drama, mystery, comedy, romance. I think I have even programmed a western. So far, in my short time with DIRECTV, some of my favorite films include:

The Great Debaters
Freedom Writers
The Touch
The Visitor
Mad Money
Miss Potter
No Reservations
Music of the Heart

Among those recorded but not yet viewed include:

The Bucket List
Beyond the Sea
Becoming Jane
The Producers
Taking Chance
Mrs. Brown
Copying Beethoven
A Mighty Heart

Most often, once-viewed movies are not immediately deleted from my cache. Perhaps that's the reason my DVR scheduler is already down to 75% available space. Oops, there goes another orange light -- make that 74%!

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Allegra said...

Caro, Terrific blog as always. Sorry that your poll was not-working properly, but at least you worked out the kinks for next time. :)

I love your movie list. Some of my favorites are on it:
Miss Potter
The Bucket List
Becoming Jane
Mrs. Brown


Ashes said...

Caro, great blog..full of news, and leisure :)I'll be back to read it again after I watch James Stewart in Vertigo!

Wow for the snow in NC and areas--on the TV news. March came in like a lamb here..a rare thing.

SueReu said...

Ashes - I LOVE Vertigo!! but I prefer Rear Window *sigh*

GREAT BLOG CARO!!! Your poll story was too funny (sorry, I know it was probably frustrating, but it made me chuckle). One of the most important things I've learned in the past six years is that sometimes ya just gotta go with the flow (and always look on the bright side of life)

Hope you're having a great Sunday and have a wonderful week!!

fgs said...

Beautiful graphics, right click and save. The graphics with a calendar make a great wallpaper for the month.

The poll was a fun idea. Wonder if any artist has ever had a poll on their fan club of all their songs and then make a CD that was of fan voted songs? That would be something different. We know fans could never agree, but a poll would settle it.

Sandy said...

Snow southerners! LOL! I hear that NYC is getting over a foot of snow. I sure hope it doesn't come this way! I can only imagine what it's like for snow plows to try and snowplow a city the size of NYC!

At least you tried with the Poll. Practise makes perfect!

Speaking of movies, we are watching a real classic - The original Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Cable (1935)

Have a great week!

Sandy :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,

Sounds like a fun movie marathon weekend you had...they were some really great movies! I just heard on the news we are supposed to get between 8 and 10 inches of snow just may be a movie day for me tomorrow! lol It's snowing now!! So time will tell.

I loved your poll idea, look at all you learned. I know I would not know where to begin.

AS ALWAYS....I LOVE all the blends of OMC...AWESOME!!

Have a great week.


musicfan said...

Caro.........Your blogs always make me feel good. I love that there is a bit of this and a bit of that.

Polls are fun, but also can be a pain. You will be ready for the next one.

Thanks again for the great blog.

T said...

Caro, I really admire how you put together your blog. Excellent! I really enjoy reading the news about Clay combined with your own experiences. This is the first time I've read Clay's quote - "Learning music opens up the mind like nothing else" - I like that!

Your poll was such great fun and thanks for sharing what transpired in creating it and the problems involved.

Enjoy your movies Caro! Have a nice day & a wonderful week ahead. Take care.