The Score

Does Playing a Musical Instrument Make A Child Smarter?

posted Mar 18, 2017, 8:09 AM by Jeane Goforth

By Wendell Harrison
Musical Instruments Make Children Smarter

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain

posted Mar 18, 2017, 7:43 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 18, 2017, 7:44 AM ]

Basic Care of String Instruments by Russell Hopper - Violin Maker

posted Mar 9, 2017, 10:30 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 9, 2017, 10:33 AM ]

Russell Hopper Violin Maker

Hopper Violins
Basic Care of String Instruments

Keep the instrument in the case when not using it and latch it. One of the more horrifying events for a violinist is to pick up a case by the handle and see the violin fall to the floor when the lid flies open! If the case is not nearby, the instrument may be placed on a towel or case blanket on a flat surface for short durations. Never set the instrument on its side (except cellos and basses). It may easily fall over or damage the delicate edge.

Hold the instrument by the neck or if using two hands, horizontally by the neck heel and the bottom end by the end-button. Hold the instrument in front of your body, especially when passing through doorways.

The best way to keep the instrument clean is by wiping with a soft cloth after every use. Accumulated rosin dust will eventually eat away at the varnish, especially when combined with sweat and air-borne moisture. Sweat also eats at varnish and dislodges glue joints. Cleaning solutions and polishes are best avoided. Never use any commercial household cleaners on the instrument.

Clean the rosin off the strings with a separate soft cloth. Some people use alcohol to clean the strings, but it exposes the varnish to unnecessary risk from drops of alcohol. A cloth is good enough.

Never remove all the strings at once. The sound-post may fall. If it does fall, take the instrument to a violin shop for the violin maker to re-set. This is a very inexpensive procedure.

NEVER leave the instrument in a car or trunk of the car. Hide glue gels at 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the varnish will bubble at those temperatures within an hour.

Store the instrument in a controlled temperature area if possible, ideally between 60-75 degrees and 45-65% humidity. This will prevent the fragile top from cracking due to expansion and contraction of the wood. A good rule of thumb is if you are comfortable, so is your instrument. Do not store the instrument case near a AC vent or radiator. Most cracks occur due to sudden changes in humidity. A humidifier is especially important for musicians that travel. The average relative humidity in varies widely from city to city.

Do not attempt any repairs by yourself. Home repairs only make the problem more difficult and more expensive to repair by a professional.

If the instrument is damaged, don't fuss with it. Place it the case and take it to a reputable shop as soon as possible. A clean crack is easiest to repair.

For more information from Russell on caring for your violin, viola, cello, bass or bow, please check out his white paper below.
Also check out Russell's instrument care tips on our Youtube channel.

Ted Talk by Michael Merzenich on Brain Plasticity

posted Mar 7, 2017, 9:29 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 9:29 AM ]

Six Reasons Not to Start a Non-Profit Organization

posted Mar 7, 2017, 8:32 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 8:37 AM ]

This article was written by Kimberly Richardson, author of The Official Federal Grants Prep Guide and President of Kimberly Richardson Consulting, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama. KRC specializes in providing granting writing, grants management, training and technical assistance to non-profits, government agencies and other organizations eligible to receive grant funds. For more info go to:

As a grant writing consultant, I frequently receive calls from individuals who are interested in securing grants for various ideas and activities. As a way of securing support, they often want to start a non-profit organization. Sometimes there’s a legitimate need, but more often there is not. So just in case you’ve been pondering whether you should start one, here are my top six reasons why you should NOT start a non-profit organization.

1.      To Get Grant Funds

By now, everyone pretty much knows that grants are awarded to non-profit organizations for a variety of purposes. Some individuals see this and think it’s an opportunity to “score” cash from organizations that are just “giving it away.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Grant awards are made through a variety of processes, some simple and some extremely complicated.  Any experienced fundraising professional will tell you that grant seeking is a strategic and ongoing process. If soliciting grant funds is your primary motivation, then you’ve got it all wrong!

2.      Others are Already Doing It

Everyday people identify problems and issues in their community that need to be addressed, and this becomes their basis for wanting to start a non-profit. Although this is a legitimate reason, nine times out of ten there is an organization that already exists to address that very problem. Before you attempt to re-create the wheel, do a little research to see if there is an organization that’s already doing the thing you want to do. If so, lend your support (time and/or money) to their efforts.

3.      Organizational and Personality Conflicts

Sometimes people want to create a new organization because there’s been a rift within an existing organization or there’s dissatisfaction with the way that organization operates. Sometimes this can be a legitimate reason for starting a new organization, but most often it is not. It will probably take less work to attempt to resolve the differences and find ways to collaborate than to create an entirely new entity. Give peace a chance!

4.      Job Creation - For Yourself

The basis for the creation of a non-profit organization is that it serves a public or charitable purpose. However, some individuals are motivated by what’s in it for them. They feel that they can create an organization, appoint themselves Executive Director and collect a salary. This is probably the worst motivation of all. Every non-profit must have a mission and your mission cannot be YOU.


5.      Your Need Requires an Immediate Solution

Anyone who has gone through the process of establishing a non-profit can tell you that it’s not a quick process. If you have identified a need that requires an immediate response (e.g. disaster relief or a short term need) you’ll definitely be more effective working through the infrastructure of an existing organization which has a mission of meeting the identified need and already has boots on the ground.

6.      Your Planned Activities Aren’t Typically Grant-Funded

Some activities are routinely excluded from receiving grant support from foundations and other funding agencies. They include special events, support for athletic teams, banquets, scholarships, and many other endeavors. If these are the types of activities for which you’ll primarily be seeking support, you’ll be better off seeking out a sponsor to help offset expenses or raising funds through other activities like auctions, raffles, candy sales, or car washes. A non-profit is not the appropriate mechanism for funding certain types of activities.

If you’ve been seriously thinking about starting a non-profit, hopefully none of these reasons reflect your motivation for doing so. If by chance one does, you will definitely want to re-think your plan. On the other hand, if you’ve identified an ongoing need, done your research and found that there is a legitimate gap for addressing the issue, then you just may be on the right path. 

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail: Practicing Smart

posted Mar 7, 2017, 8:27 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 8:30 AM ]

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”  We all understand that practice is crucial for successful performance. However, it is important to realize that, actually, success comes much more smoothly if students practice smart. The quality of practice is more important than the quantity. Thirty minutes of quality practice is much more productive than two hours of aimless, thoughtless practice.

Cindy Orcutt rehearsing with Chamber Ensemble

Successful practice leads to successful performance. Here are some tips to help you practice smart:

Ask questions!

1.       Where? Where am I having problems? Where do I want to be in the score by the end of the day, the end of the week? Where should I start practicing today?

2.       Why? Why am I having difficulty with this part? Why did the composer give the piece this title, change to a minor key, vary the dynamics, write legato and then staccato, write an accent on this note, etc.?

3.       What? What does _______ mean? What do I feel/see/think when playing this piece or passage? What does it remind me of? What am I doing well? What can I do to improve? What do I want to accomplish today, this week? What are some strategies I can use to solve a problematic passage?

Slow it down! Slower practice leads to faster progress, I promise! Slow it down to a tempo where you can play perfectly without hesitating, varying the tempo, or second-guessing yourself. Then, gradually increase the tempo. If you make a mistake, go back and decrease the tempo again!

Break it up! Set a goal for the week with your teacher, and then break up the passage/piece and set daily goals that help you reach your weekly goal. For example, if your goal is to learn 20 measures by the next lesson, your practice plan might look like this:

Day 1: learn 5 measures

Day 2: review previous 5 measures, learn two new

Day 3: review previous 7 measures, learn 3 new

Day 4: review 10 measures, learn 2

Day 5: review 12 measures, learn 3

Day 6: review 15 measures, learn 2

Day 7: review 17 measures, learn 3

Day 8: practice all 20 on day of lesson, starting with problem areas

For problematic measures, pianists can break up hands, playing left and right hand separately until completely fluent and then adding hands together slowly. For difficult transitions, students can break up the measures, playing the last part of one measure and the first part of the other until a smooth transition between the measures is accomplished. Then, students can practice both full measures together.

Break routine and begin practice in different places, not always from the beginning.

Break up practice time so that you maintain your concentration at all times. For example, you could play 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.

Listen! Listening is putting into practice what you hear from your teacher, analyzing the sounds as you or others are playing, comparing the sound you are producing to what’s written on the page, and noticing the details.

Practice regularly! As my mom used to say, “You can eat an elephant one bite at a time. However, you can’t eat it all at once!” If you practice thirty minutes every day with thoughtfulness and concentration, one measure, one bite at a time, with a goal in mind,  I guarantee that you will accomplish much more than practicing many hours in one or two big chunks while skipping other days.

How are you practicing? Now, go practice smart!

Scrollworks Bookshelf - Part 3

posted Mar 4, 2017, 10:30 AM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 9:11 AM ]

The Music Parents' Guide: A Survival Kit for the New Music Parent by Anthony Mazzocchi
This small book is highly recommended by teachers David Verin, Cindy Orcutt and other staff. We give a copy to new parents in our program.

Join the Club - How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World by Tina Rosenberg

Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't by Jim Collins

Good to Great and the Social Sectors - Why Business Thinking is Not the Answer by Jim Collins

How Children Succeed - Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough

The Power of Habit - Why We do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Links about the Brain and Practicing for PlayUSA Collaborative Action Research

posted Mar 3, 2017, 1:39 PM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Mar 7, 2017, 9:23 AM by Jeane Goforth ]

Maud Powell's Ten Practice Rules from The American Girl and Her Violin, Published in The Etude, July 1909
From an amazing website about violinist Maud Powell (1867-1920), America's first great master of the violin.

Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives - How to fine-tune the internal monologue that scores every aspect of our lives from leadership to love. 
Featuring the work of Carol Dweck

Making the Grade: A BBC Radio Documentary on older students learning the piano and preparing for UK's the graded exams.

The Practice of Practice: How to Boost Your Music Skills by Jonathan Harnum
This book has a website with lots of great additional materials including:

Ethan Bensdorf: NY Philharmonic Trumpeter on Practice

The Scrollworks Bookshelf - Part 2

posted Feb 24, 2017, 10:26 AM by Jeane Goforth

Scrollworks Books
Releasing the Imagination - Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change by Maxine Greene

Leadership and the New Science - Discovering Order in a Chaotic World by Margaret Wheatley

Nexus - Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks by Mark Buchanan

Predicitably Irrational - The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Whistling Vivaldi - How stereotypes affect us and what we can do by Claude M. Steele

Work Hard. Be Nice. How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America by Jay Mathews

To Sell is Human - The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

Three Keys to Development - Defining and Meeting Your Leadership Challenges from the Center for Creative Leadership by Henry Browning and Ellen Van Velsor

Trapped in Half Position by Dixie Huthmaker

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson Edited and with Commentary by Sidney Rosen

The Scrollworks Bookshelf

posted Feb 20, 2017, 1:16 PM by Jeane Goforth   [ updated Feb 20, 2017, 1:47 PM ]

Scrollworks Books
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

The Practice of Practice by Jonathan Harnum

The Practice Revolution by Philip Johnston

Building Social Business : The New Kind of Capitalism that Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs by Muhammad Yunus

African Fractals : Modern Computing and Indigenous Design by Ron Eglash

How Music Works by David Byrne

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