NRE Music

Welcome to Music!!! 

21st Century Skills and Readiness Competencies in Music 
 Colorado's description of 21st century skills is a synthesis of the essential abilities students must apply 
in our fast-changing world. Today’s music students need a repertoire of knowledge and skills that is 
more diverse, complex, and integrated than any previous generation. Music is inherently demonstrated 
in each of Colorado 21st
 century skills, as follows: 
Critical Thinking and Reasoning – When students demonstrate musical knowing, they are able to 
integrate varying perspectives when expressing themselves in a variety of ways, creating new musical 
works and analyzing musical works. Producing a quality musical performance requires a synthesis of 
creative, expressive, and technical skill; self-adjustment; listening; and adjustment of tone, pitch, and 
volume to create a balanced and effective sound. Music constantly challenges students to use multiple 
processes and diverse perspectives when performing, analyzing, or making informed decisions. 
Information Literacy – Musical knowledge acquisition requires students to analyze scores, 
performances, genre, and style. Source discernment is vital in these endeavors because it allows 
students to interpret musical messages differently including points of view. When students research 
music using inquiry through critical listening, describing, and evaluating, they become educated 
consumers and aficionados. 
Collaboration – Music education requires students to collaborate within a variety of instrumental and 
vocal ensembles. The synergy and discipline that musical ensembles foster create leadership skills and 
self-awareness. When students communicate the language of music to a variety of audiences through 
response to conductor’s cues and interpretation, they demonstrate collective problem-solving skills 
that are readily transferred in all aspects of life. 
Self-Direction – Students that participate in music develop self-discipline, persistence, and resilience. 
The ownership of their compositions and performances provides mastery of skills and a passionate 
work ethic to continually strive for excellence. Through improvisation and adaptability, students 
demonstrate initiative to use their interpersonal skills to influence others, identify and define authentic 
problems, and produce innovative and imaginative new compositions. 
Invention – The diversity in musical style, form, and genre would not exist without the underlying 
promise of innovation and the possibilities of creating something new. Students integrate ideas to 
create original works through personal or group expression. They construct knowledge and challenge 
choices when arranging, orchestrating, improvising, and using technology to develop musical 

brainconcepts 300x245 New Research: Music and Language share the same Pathways In The Brain

Music educators, researchers and clinicians have suspected links between music and language learning for a long time, but now there’s even more evidence.

Researchers based at Liverpool University have just confirmed that musical training can increase blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain, suggesting that the area of the brain responsible for music and language share common pathways. And the findings have just been presented at an Annual British Psychological Society Conference (7th-9th May 2014).

Amy Spray, who conducted the study stated in the University Press Release:

“The areas of our brain that process music and language are thought to be shared”

The research consisted of carrying out two studies. In the first study, Amy supervised by Liverpool Psychologist, Dr Georg Mayer, took 14 Musicians and 9 Non-Musicians and looked at activity in the brain while they completed both musical and language tasks using a type of ultrasound (functional trans cranial Doppler ultrasound) which measures blood flow in the brain.

The results showed that patterns in the musicians’ brains’ appeared the same on both tasks suggesting that the same neural pathways were being used, but this was not the case for non-musicians.

So then they took the group of non-musicians and measured them before and the after they gave just 30 minutes of musical training. Amazingly after the training had taken place, similarities to the previously tested musicians were found.

Amy commented:
“It was fascinating to see that the similarities in blood flow signatures could be brought about after just 30 minutes of simple musical training.”

Liverpool Psychologist, Dr Georg Mayer, who supervised Amy concluded;  “We can therefore assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechanisms utilized for music perception, and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language.”

So what this means for music teachers is the evidence showing more activity in the same regions of the brain used for music and language indicates that the same pathways are being used. When this happens it’s only going to strengthen connections in both musical and language recognition. So learning to play music and participating even in a short amount of time is going to in turn help to strengthen language pathways…… Just another reason why music is still relevant and important in our current school curricula.

A Contemplation on Music

Welcome address to parents of the incoming freshman class at Boston

Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of the music

division at Boston Conservatory.


One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not

properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had

very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and

they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I

might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still

remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to

music school-she said, "you're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level,

I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music

was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to

classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its



So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society

that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the

newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in,

has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's

the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and

how it works.


The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient

Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music

and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the

study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects,

and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible,

internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible

moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the

position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this



One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet

for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940.

Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi

Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across

Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.


He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper

and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a

cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet

with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941

for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is

one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.


Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps,

why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or

playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food

and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture; why

would anyone bother with music? And yet, from the camps, we have poetry,

we have music, we have visual art. It wasn't just this one fanatic

Messiaen; many, many people created art.




Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare

necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow,

essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without

commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not

without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit,

an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in

which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."


On September 12, 2001, I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I

reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world.

I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my

daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I

lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands

on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought,

does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the

piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems

silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a

musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I

was completely lost.


And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of

getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in

fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano

again. And then I observed how we got through the day.

At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We

didn't play cards to pass the time, we didn't watch TV, we didn't shop,

we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity

that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People

sang around fire houses, people sang We Shall Overcome. Lots of people

sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I

remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center,

with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of

grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a

concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US

Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by

music in particular, that very night.*


From these experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part

of "arts and entertainment," as the newspaper section would have us

believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers

of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass- time. Music

is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make

sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we

have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we

can't with our minds.


Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heart-wrenchingly beautiful piece,

Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you

may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone

movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of

music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open

like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had.

Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really

going on inside us the way a good therapist does.


I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely

no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have

been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And

something very predictable happens at weddings - people get all pent up

with all kinds of emotions, and then there's some musical moment where

the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or

something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't

good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at

a wedding, cry a couple of moments after the music starts.




The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of

ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel

even when we can't talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones

or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it

about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all

the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I

guarantee you, if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it

wouldn't happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the

relationship between invisible internal objects.


I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert

of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand

concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were

important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris;

it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have

played for people I thought were important; music critics of major

newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my

entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years



I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We

began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written

during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a

young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our

audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing

them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the

concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the

program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.


Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the

front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was

clearly a soldier-even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair,

square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his

life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would

be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece,

but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert and we went

on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to

talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the

circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its

dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience

became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly

figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage

afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.


What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was

in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I

watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the

Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across

the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and

I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was

lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that

first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly

that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this

was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this

piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little

more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find

those feelings and those memories in me?"


Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships

between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important

work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him

connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of

their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is

my work. This is why music matters.


What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman

class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will

charge your sons and daughters with is this:


"If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student

practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because

you would imagine that some night at 2:00 AM someone is going to waltz

into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life.

Well, my friends, someday at 8:00 PM someone is going to walk into your

concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is

overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will

depend partly on how well you do your craft.


"You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell

yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician

isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies. I'm not an

entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue

worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a

spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who

works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if

we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and



"Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I

expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on

this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual

understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come

from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even

expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem

to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future

of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these

invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come

from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration

camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able

to help us with our internal, invisible lives."