Youth Orchestra of Venezuela

October 28, 2007

Today’s New York Times magazine published this profile on 26-year-old conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who will succeed Esa Pekka-Salonen as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009-2010.

He will be in San Francisco conducting the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela on Sunday, November 4.

The unique music education system in Venezuela, with an enrollment of 250,000, is referred to as el sistema.

“The most remarkable feature of the Venezuelan music-education system is its instant immersion: the children begin playing in ensembles from the moment they pick up their instruments. Their instructors say the students are learning to behave as much as they are discovering how to make music. “In an orchestra, everybody respects meritocracy, everybody respects tempo, everybody knows he has to support everyone else, whether he is a soloist or not,” explains Igor Lanz, the executive director of the private foundation that administers the government-financed sistema. “They learn that the most important thing is to work together in one common aim.” Across Venezuela the sistema has established 246 centers, known as nucleos, which admit children between 2 and 18, assign them instruments and organize them into groups with instructors.”

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More on sleep and learning

October 23, 2007

Here is an article from today’s New York Times on what the brain might be doing to consolidate memory during sleep.


ANNOUNCING: Performance at Stanford Shopping Center, Saturday, November 10, 2007

October 15, 2007

The Music Within Us students will be the featured performers for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Stanford Shopping Center! Nineteen students, ages 3 through 8, will perform a program of both classical and holiday music selections.

Event: Performance at the Stanford Shopping Center Tree Lighting Ceremony

Date: Saturday, November 10, 2007

Time: 3:00PM

Location: Central Pavilion (outside La Baguette and Tiffany & Co.)

Following the concert, please join a procession for children and families to view the lighting of the Christmas Tree, beginning at Santa’s Village in the Central Pavilion at 5:00PM. The ceremony will conclude with special family-friendly holiday activities including hot chocolate and goodies.


Sleep and Learning Ability

October 8, 2007

Here are two interesting links to an article in New York magazine by Po Bronson and Ashley Merrymon.

How to Get Kids to Sleep More

Full article: “Can a Lack of Sleep Set Back Your Child’s Cognitive Abilities?

Some excerpts:

“Dr. Matthew Walker of UC Berkeley explains that during sleep, the brain shifts what it learned that day to more efficient storage regions of the brain. Each stage of sleep plays a unique role in capturing memories. For example, studying a foreign language requires learning vocabulary, auditory memory of new sounds, and motor skills to correctly enunciate new words. The vocabulary is synthesized by the hippocampus early in the night during “slow-wave sleep,” a deep slumber without dreams. The motor skills of enunciation are processed during Stage 2 non-rem sleep, and the auditory memories are encoded across all stages. Memories that are emotionally laden get processed during R.E.M. sleep. The more you learned during the day, the more you need to sleep that night.”

“Sleep is a biological imperative for every species on Earth. But humans alone try to resist its pull. Instead, we see sleep not as a physical need but a statement of character. It’s considered a sign of weakness to admit fatigue, and it’s a sign of strength to refuse to succumb to slumber. Sleep is for wusses.

“But perhaps we are blind to the toll it is taking on us. The University of Pennsylvania’s David Dinges did an experiment shortening adults’ sleep to six hours a night. After two weeks, they reported they were doing okay. Yet on a battery of tests, they proved to be just as impaired as someone who has stayed awake for 24 hours straight.


Parent involvement

October 4, 2007

Here is a link to an article in today’s NY Times regarding one New Jersey high school teacher’s bold and interesting approach to keeping parents involved in their teenagers’ educations.

He asks parents to read their children’s assignments and post their own comments to a blog maintained for the class.

Whether or not you agree with the mandatory level of involvement, it makes sense that generating meaningful dialog between parent and child can begin with the simplest daily activities, like, “What did you do at school today?”