Riffs: Music News from Out and About

By Patricia Myers

“Mind Over Music” is a Phoenix Symphony program that uses music to teach children science, math, engineering and other skills. Instead of learning only from textbooks, musicians bring instruments and an oscilloscope into classrooms to demonstrate those concepts via measurements of pitch and vibration.

The curriculum-based program, first of its kind in the nation, has symphony’s musicians training teachers to integrate music into the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Using music, students are provided with new and creative ways to learn science and math concepts. “Mind Over Music” also includes classroom performances of students with symphony musicians, as well as free attendance to selected concerts during the academic year for students, their parents and teachers.

The program’s inception was prompted by national studies showing that music can boost achievement in all subjects. Also, Arizona studies in 2010 showed that schools throughout the state no longer budget for arts education. Also, more than 75% of its schools spend less that $1 per student per year on the arts (less than half a penny a day). Also, more than 100,000 Arizona students attend schools without access to music or visual art.

The first pilot program was presented in 2012 at a free public charter school, ASU Preparatory Academy in the Phoenix Elementary School District. This year, a study showed that the program’s student-assessments were higher than a control group’s members: an average 17 percent higher in science, 13 percent higher in math, 10 percent higher in language arts, and 13 percent higher in all subjects combined. Since then the program has expanded to seven schools, primarily with large attendance from low-income households. Expansion to18 or 20 schools is the 2018 goal. The symphony was created in 1947 and currently in its 70th season. For more information, call 602-452-0470 or education@phoenixsymphony.org.


The Buzz: Tempe Center for the Arts has announced the EDGE Happy Hour from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The free gatherings feature live entertainment, art exhibits, food trucks, tapas-style appetizers and wine specials. The center also launched a new series of concerts following the hiring in June of Ralph Remington as the city’s first arts and culture deputy director. He previously was director for theater and musical theater at the National Endowment for the Arts, and before that Western regional director and assistant executive director for Actors’ Equity Association, a labor union for theater professionals in 14 states. The center houses a 600-seat theater, 200-seat studio-theater and 200-seat Lakeside Room, also a 3,500 square-foot art gallery. Since December 2008, TCA has been the venue for the annual Lakeshore Music concert series presented from September through May.


Musicians News: A 20-track CD of specialty songs of Margo Reed, who died April 15, 2015, has been produced by her brother Michael Reed. “This Is My Life” showcases her top repertoire, including tracks from memorable Reed Family Christmas Shows. Among the longtime fan favorites are the title track, “Sugar in My Bowl,” “My Way,” “Be Happy” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The liner notes are a personal narrative by Michael that relates the background and setting for each song. Michael previously issued “The Many Facets of Margo Reed;” info at ReedThis44@yahoo.com. Her first two albums, which I produced in 1990 and 2000, are no longer in print. Armand and Kat Boatman produced her final live CD, “Some of My Favorites,” with Boatman on piano, Dwight Kilian on bass and Dom Moio on drums, plus Jerry Donato on tenor saxophone. More information is at www.ArmandBoatman.com/margo-reed.asp. Also, Ron Falk produced a three-DVD boxed set, “Margo Reed: Celebration of Life Memorial.” These feature more than 30 of Margo’s fellow musicians who performed at the May 2, 2015, tribute event that I organized at the Rhythm Room; info at callRon@cox.net.


Tucson-based vocalist Joe Bourne has a new CD, “Upbeat and Sweet,” on Arizona’s Summit Records (480-491-6430/online at Bourne or Summit websites). The 12 tracks are mid-20th-century pop hits, re-created by an all-Arizona combo that includes Lewis Nash on drums for each track. The songs include The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends,” The Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight,” Fleetwork Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” Captain and Tennille’s “Muskrat Love” and Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.”


Several local musicians have connected with Fervor Records, a Phoenix company that produces and markets compilation CDs of original songs for commercial use in TV and films. Past audio spots have included Francine Reed’s “Good Lovin’ Woman” in an episode of “Chicago Fire” and “You’ve Got to Change” in “Graves.” The song “El Cucuy” by Andy Gonzales was in the film “Caked.” Nadine Jansen’s vintage original, “There Goes My Dream,” was in an episode of “Life in Pieces.” Four local blues musicians also had multiple small-screen credits: Big Pete Pearson’s “Real Bad Dream,” “Too Much Trouble” and “Blues Wagon” were in “Chicago Fire.” Hans Olson’s “Sail On” was in “Goliath,” “Spirit of New Orleans” was in “Chicago Med,” “Another Day with the Blues” was in “Chicago Fire,” “50 Ups and 50 Downs” and “Western Winds” were in “NCIS,” “Send You Back to Mama” was in “Justified,” and “You Wish” was in the film “Freeheld.” Chuck Hall’s “Boat Song” and “Standing in the Doorway” were in “Goliath,” “She Could Be the Blues” was in “Justified,” “Ain’t Gonna Lie to Ya’” was in “Chicago Fire,” and “Good Mind to Quit You” was in the film “Better Call Saul.” Ronnie Whitehead’s “Got to Give You Up” and “Cold Feet” were in “Aquarius.” Fervor recently contacted Arizona vocalist Vismaya about including her originals in upcoming CDs.


Final Chorus: Nat Hentoff, 91, jazz essayist-author, Jan. 7 in New York City; Buddy Greco, 90, vocalist (Benny Goodman, etc.), Jan. 10 in Las Vegas.

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