The Flute View
Hello out there in cyberspace! Is that an echo we hear or is that the sound of cheering from fabulous friends and fans? It’s been too long since last we met and we just want to tell you about all the great things that are happening in Green Golly Land. First of all, Green Golly herself, Barbara Siesel, along with flutists Viviana Guzman and Fluter Scooter have just launched a brand new online magazine called The Flute View! It’s a refreshing and contemporary take on all things flute and includes articles and interviews from flutists known and un – all the world over. In addition – along with each edition – there are live broadcast chats with the three Flute View hosts and special guests. To subscribe visit us at: www.thefluteview.com
The Green Golly Illustrated Storybook
“Green Golly & Her Golden Flute” the BOOK, by Keith Torgan and Barbara Siesel, illustrated by Suzanne Langelier-Lebeda, is finished and funny and fabulous and is being released this September by Eifrig Publishing! You – our nearest and dearest, may pre-order your copies today. This will be a classic. If you and your children enjoyed the performance and the CD you’ll go wild for the illustrated Green Golly storybook. Pre-order your copy today at www.greengolly.com or www.eifrig.com
Of Pixies, Green Gollies & Spellcasters!
You may know this already and if you do we’re telling you again – The Green Golly line of flutes for new flutists has a new maker and partner – namely Di Zhao! Now all Green Golly Flutes including the Pixie, a Suzuki style flute, The Green Golly, a beginner flute with curved and straight headjoint, The Green Golly Open, add open holes, and the Spellcaster, a step up for the ascending young flutist, are made and backed by the wonderful Mr. Di Zhao! (Although some folk believe they’re made by elves – deep in the dark green wood!) To try out one of these sparkling music makers contact email@example.com.
Barbara’s New CD
Barbara’s CD “Of Water and Clouds” was released in January and is a lovely and exciting performance of sonata’s by contemporary tonal composers. Her collaborative pianist, composer, Elisenda Fabregas plays as well. This marvelous CD is now available on CD Baby or you can go to www.greengolly.com and order it.Check out this review!
“The most compelling element in the entire CD is Siesel’s captivatingly shimmering sound and supreme musicality that soar throughout this richly diverse album as well as the impressive dialogue between the flute and piano ensemble.” Viviana Guzman, the Flute View
Summer Tour Highlights
This summer you’ll be able to see the Green Golly Project perform in San Francisco, show off their wares at the Flutes by the Sea Master Class in Half Moon Bay, CA, lead workshops at The International Flute Symposium on the campus of UVW in Morgantown, WV, do great things at the Imani Wind’s Chamber Music Festival Symposium and share flutes and fun at NFA New Orleans. For more info click here http://greengolly.com/calendar.html
Green Golly Rehearses Habanera with the Oakland Civic Symphony (by GreenGollyProject)
Who could resist that big old shiny spinet? I climbed up onto the creaky brown piano bench filled with years of sheet music lifted the lid and slid it back into the piano casing. Low and behold eighty-eight gleaming black and white keys! PLANNKK! My ears were alive with the sound of PLANNKK! Ya hoo mommy! PLANNKKK! What wonderful noise! PLANNKKK! Hmm — what’d happen if I did this one key here?? DINK. Oooh nice. How bout this one? DUNK. Even better. And these three white ones — KALOONK — ahhh!! It held me tight with all its might! I can make music mommy! Mommy I can make music! And make music I did. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Sometimes what I heard on the radio — sometimes what I heard in my head. Better than, better than, better than — anything!
There’s nothing more magical than HEARING your first music — unless its MAKING your first music. Tell us about your first time — or your child’s!
Are the new “cultural entrepreneurs” raising significant investment for their projects?
Artists have been strongly urged to develop entrepreneurial ideas as a way to combat shrinking performance opportunities, and shrinking foundation and grant support. To that end, conservatories and university music departments have been creating centers for music entrepreneurship. The Institute for Music Leadership at Eastman School of Music, the Center for Entrepreneurship at Manhattan School of Music, and the Entrepreneurship Center for Music at the University of Colorado, are but a few of the places addressing this situation for artists in the 21st century. Students attending these programs, are given some useful tools that will help them negotiate a 21st century arts career, and are challenged to create new ventures through competitions and more. But to my mind there are some problems with this formula: first, there is the not-for-profit, foundation and philanthropic world set up in this country to fund ideas of worth — artistic, educational, historical, religious etcetera. The arts especially, rely almost entirely on this kind of funding, with its hierarchical set of rules and guidelines. It’s a difficult way for artists to find support for new and ongoing work.
Meanwhile back at the entrepreneurial school, students and working artists trying out these new idea’s, have to figure out how to fund their new entrepreneurial projects. This is where it gets interesting. Generally speaking, we have a system where the arts are funded by wealthy individuals and foundations having a genuine interest in the arts, or in giving back to their communities. The fact that this is helpful to their tax return and to their status and power in the community doesn’t necessarily obviate their contributions. I’m only stating this to illuminate different aspects of the arts funding community.
To help us figure out how to survive in these difficult economic times I’m sharing some thoughts about ‘for’ and ‘not-for-profit’ funding. Artists, embracing a business model, are creating new ways, Kickstarter for one, to reach audiences and build independence from the not-for-profit model. To be successful they need capital, just like anyone starting a new business. But when they want real investment they run up against an interesting prejudice: the wealthy who are on the boards or who are funding not-for-profit arts groups are often the same folks who may be interested in investing in a music entrepreneur’s new project. But it seems that it is hard for them to see these projects as possible moneymakers, due to their experiences on the not-for-profit side of the music world. You might say – “there is more risk involved in investing” but actually there is less as you stand a chance of making your money back and more. When you donate money to an arts group you don’t make anything back, ever, except for feeling good and gaining recognition for the success of the group and contributing to the health of our culture! Well you say – go find some new investors! But how do business people view the arts? Do I have to answer this question for you? Some have respect and love for the arts, but even if they do, how comfortable are they in seeing the arts as moneymakers? Might they in some way be emotionally invested in keeping the arts in a weak position economically? Art is powerful, it moves and inspires people, so what happens if artist/entrepreneurs have economic power as well?
How inclined are investors to see this economic change happen? It may be the only way we can save our arts institutions overall. Since our country has embraced a hyper capitalistic system, our arts institutions, in order to survive have to find ways of changing into income generating enterprises. And while it may be true that many of these projects might not need large investment yet, and will only exist to increase the income of those directly involved, there may be some projects that merit real investment. We are working hard to re-train musicians and other artists, but I believe we have to educate and inform investors who might otherwise think that an arts project is an impossible investment. It would work better if it became more of a two way conversation since it seems everyone is telling artists that this is their new path, and a one way conversation about this it is!!
So how do we change this paradigm? I think artists are changing or perhaps being forced to change their outlook and way of being artists. But do artists have receptive partners for these changes? How can we create real dialogue that takes all positions seriously?
It’s the holiday season and so I, like many of you, have been getting hundreds of requests for donations from cultural groups. This got me thinking about money and funding and NYC and Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street and the arts (hereafter known as The Arts).
You might wonder – how is she going to link all of these together? Well, I just read Diane Ragsdale’s latest blog about arts institutions and artist’s pay, and then happened to see a post in the LA Times about the latest NEA cuts (there have been two this year, totaling 12.7%). Then I began thinking about NYC and the question “what are the engines that drive the NYC economy”? I think we know that two of the most important engines are Wall Street and The Arts. How does Wall Street support NYC? They pay taxes, invest in businesses, buy real estate, luxury goods, eat in restaurants, and attend concerts and plays, among other things. How do The Arts drive NYC’s economy? They are a magnet for tourism, which support hotels, restaurants, stores, Broadway and concerts. Add to that all the New Yorkers who also spend money on all of these things and you’re looking at around Six Billion Dollars a year!
Why would anyone want to live in this crowded, noisy, expensive place, where they probably can’t afford a large apartment or a house?? It’s all the great stuff that The Arts provide!!! And how could all those great restaurants, bars, jazz clubs, concert halls, museums, galleries, theaters, etc survive here without the critical mass of Artists to create all of this great art?? A Chronicle on Philanthropy article says that the cultural budget from the city to arts groups is down to about 100 million dollars for this year. For more information read this Crain’s New York Article.
“Where is she going” you wonder? Hmmmm?? Several places it turns out. While we bailed out Wall Street when they were about to fail, and we pay bankers an obscene amount of money, we continue to grossly underfund and underpay The Arts and The Artists. In the same city where those bankers were saved, we argue about saving The Arts and paying the artists. Check out this article in the New York Times that compares bankers salaries with everyone else in the private sector. The average artist’s salary is about $46,000 a year!
Why are we are willing to lose the NYC Opera, the Brooklyn Phil, and many other important arts groups, but not willing to ask the banks to give back to the community by keeping these and other groups alive in these times? If we funded our cultural treasures at a small percentage of what we were willing to give Wall Street in the bailout we would be talking expansion of The Arts. At the national level the NEA is barely a tenth of one percent of our federal budget (which we just cut again). Why are we so unwilling to fund this engine of growth and subsequently pay artists a living wage? Why is government so unwilling to see The Arts as both an engine of economic development (Rocco Landesmann our NEA chief understands) and as important for the well being of our communities?
Clearly most artists are a part of the 99%. If the 1% would like all those people to keep eating, drinking, buying and investing in NYC then they need to find a way to keep The Arts healthy. NYC has a symbiotic relationship with its artists and moneyed class, we all have to work together to create, fund, and support our great city.
“Music is important for the development of cultural understanding; it nurtures growth – spiritual, physical and intellectual growth – all of which lead to the greater enrichment of humanity.”
Vivianne Asturizaga, Bolivia, Flutist
People know the reasons that music has value – it’s said again and again; good for the brain, aids in math, soothes the soul. Teachers and parents and scientists and artists all insist that music has value – but does it – really?
We’ve just returned from the National Flute Association Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in truth it was a tooter’s dream. There wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that music had value. There were fabulous concerts every hour of the day, newly minted sonatas and concertos along with the composers who created them, recordings from the sublime to the more sublime, flutes for all level of flutist fashioned from metals and woods both common and uncommon. If you happened to need a new case for your flute or a bag for your case or a swab to de-goop your flute or a metronome to hone your timing or a flute-shaped charm for wrist or neck or whatever accessory the mind of man could conceive for flute they were decorously draped on tables and racks on hooks and hangers and cast across the convention hall like holiday goods in December! It was a veritable festival of flute. Actually it was a festival of flute – and we all had a fabulous time! Tooting and hooting and rebooting!
I am not a flutist (or a flautist) and in truth I went to the convention kicking and screaming – so loud and angrily that my wife the flutist (or flautist), was, for the first time in our marriage, considering divorce! Barbara is quite committed to making music and leading children to the love of music. She’s a true visionary. From the time we met and started creating stories and songs for children, Barbara has maintained the belief that the situation in the schools and in our culture at large, as it pertains to classical music in particular, is dire – and that nothing short of a full throttle movement is needed to drive home the point that indeed music is all the things those teachers and parents and scientists and artists say it is. Frankly all I’ve ever wanted to do is write funny songs and make kids laugh – but after four days on the floor of the NFA convention in Charlotte I’m a believer too.
I’ve been to many a music trade show and believe me when I say – I hate them! Why? Because for the most part the people who come to them want either to sell or stay far away from sellers – and it’s often just one awful experience after the other. Of course we came to this convention with a brilliant marketing strategy – yup we have something to sell too. A new and wonderful beginner flute that Barbara and our flute partner Jason Blank designed – along with Green Golly ( a different girl in a different tower) and her stories, and award winning CD’s, and sheet music and an animated TV show in development – but also with this brilliant strategy that Mister Blank came up with. The strategy was just this – lure people into our booth with a promise of free Green Golly ice-cream and once having secured their time ask them to write in a few words or many “why music is important – for children, for life and for our culture?” I don’t have to tell you how transformative this question is – I’ll show you. Below are just a few of the things people had to say …
“Music gives us the opportunity to express parts of ourselves that can’t be expressed with words. Music makes a society more civil.”
Nan Raphael, Gemeinhardt Piccolo Specialist: Washington, DC
I watched as people turned from cynics to celebrators. I watched hard faces soften and dull eyes sparkle as men and women, young and old engaged with this question …
“Music gave me my voice when I couldn’t find it – something every person deserves.”
Jennifer Shanahan, Flutist, Forest Park, IL
Not that everyone was interested. Some did that usual trade show boogie of uncomfortably smiling and looking elsewhere as they walked on. Some stopped and scribbled unintelligibly just to get their free ice-cream. Some were too embarrassed to take the time to say something for fear of disapproval or bad grades.
“!$%# !! # %^ % $%^!!”
An annoyed and/or embarrassed NFA participant
This is a critical time for Americans in so many ways but I want you to consider what happens to a culture when a generation is trained only in a very narrow spectrum of subjects.
“Music is a function of all human brains – some more than others. To neglect this area of education is to deny many children the “brain fuel” they need in order to be successful in other areas … Picasso would not have been successful in the current educational environment.”
Karen Franks: Band Teacher, Salisbury, NC
When we eliminate the much-needed beauty that the arts experience brings to developing minds, not to mention music’s ability (some studies are now saying) to improve the functioning of a child’s brain we short change a child’s potential in so many ways.
“Learning to play a musical instrument teaches skills that can be applied to anything difficult in life – like math class!”
Eden Dunning, Flutist, Cincinnati, OH
There’s nothing like a good question to get a conversation started – and as Barbara said in our last blog entry – it is our hope, our desire, our goal – to get you into this conversation so that the future of classical music and of our culture and education will be a bright one. We can write and sing and play the songs but you have to buy them – and you have to buy this argument that music has value – and not only for its beauty and the joy it creates – but for the lasting impact it has on children, life and culture. Please join in the conversation. We’ll meet you at www.greengolly.com and see you at the concert hall.
“Music is a great blessing to our family. It brings us closer together. I love seeing my children realize that they can make music – and do it well.”
Preston Holley, Musician and father of 5, Limestone, TN
Music is a vital part of life. Do you ever wonder why? We do. We wonder. That’s why we started Tugboat Music, turned into Flute Sweet & Tickletoon, created Green Golly & Her Golden Flute – (a tale of a different girl in a different tower who was so inspired by life she simply had to make music) – and have now become a project – The Green Golly Project! The Project’s mission is to get kids – big ones, little ones, old ones, young ones — listening to and playing music! Live music, unique music – music that can express all the things that kids feel and think and aspire to! We began doing it through live storytelling, classical music, comedy and musical theater; turned the live performance into an award winning CD; embarked upon the creation of an animated series; and in the next few days we’ll be introducing the Green Golly Flute, a fine instrument designed especially for beginning young flutists!
What’s important now is you! What you wonder and think! And so we’re putting the question to you: Why music? Why learn it, read it, play it? Why is it so important to all of us?
We’re on the road now performing all over America! This summer alone we’ve been in Chicago, San Diego, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, and Maryland – but you can Twitter us, Facebook us, email us, even give us a call. We want to talk to you. We want this to be an ongoing and creative conversation. Why music? Why is it important? In our daily lives? In our children’s lives? What is its value beyond simply entertaining us and keeping us occupied? How can it enrich us, make us better, smarter, more effective? Can it really do any of these things? What is it to you? Why music?
The new NEA study talks about diminishing experience of the arts in the general society, which is only the summary of what we have all been experiencing for some years!! For me the solution has been to be willing to lose the generation with no experience and go directly to the children with classical music, musical theater and new music. I think that we need to think out of the box in our approaches- if children only hear kindie rock when they are young – they are not apt (with exceptions) to be excited by new music, and classical music. Although many are reaching out to children, there are hundreds of artists in other musical genres who are making a more concerted effort to create programs that kids love. Check out Kindiefest – the conference for kindie rockers, and CMN- Children’s Music Network, to see what I mean. Let’s invite the industry to create the same for classical and new music (sorry I can’t figure out what terms to use to describe us!) Let’s reach out to schools, libraries, museums and get this music heard (and usually, appreciated by young children) Remember, children don’t know what they like and are usually amazingly open. We might consider creating a festival/conference that highlights classical music for kids. We must try as classical musician’s not to think of concerts for children as “kiddie concerts” which is the term that was used when I was a freelance musician in NYC and got hired to play one! The children are our best mine for new audience.
So, I’ve been thinking about our new NYC chancellor Cathleen Black and her opportunity to create change in the NYC schools. What might be the fastest and easiest way? What are our goals in educating the next generation? The press has been endlessly discussing our education system, our competition with China and our need for a creative, innovative flexible future work force to enable us to compete nimbly with the rest of the inter-connected world. In addition we hear about the death of classical music and in particular the struggle that our symphony orchestra’s and other performing arts organizations are going through. You might wonder what is the connection between these subjects, why would I juxtapose them? Well I think they are related and important as representing what is going wrong in our world view. We have spent the last 30 years de-valuing so-called elitist culture and cutting and denying our children access to some of the great genius of the last 500 years by de-emphasizing the study of classical music and art. We teach to the test now and in our rush to overhaul the education system we cut out the very subjects that might contribute to the much vaunted creative and innovative work force. Meanwhile the Chinese and other countries are working hard to create a more creative work force. Several weeks ago we read about the city of Shanghai coming in number one on the PISA test and that the Chinese students do not participate in extra-curricular activities, and instead spend much more time studying in school and doing homework, the same week the Times had an article about how so many Chinese students are studying music- 60 million piano students and 40 million violin students. And studying classical music at that! So here comes the crux of my argument- research begins to show that the study of a musical instrument actually alters a persons brain – it improves their overall ability to make connections and think creatively. Maybe because of the number of brain centers that are activated and needed to play an instrument as well as the physical coordination required. In addition practicing an instrument requires discipline and concentration and can help students learn how to do that. It also helps them learn how to listen, which is a requirement for learning well in school. Here’s an interesting story that I’ve heard for years- Business schools often accept former music majors (without the usual degree’s) because they know that music majors know how to be disciplined, study and work with others, they make very successful business people since they understand and have learned how to work.
So here we have the Chinese with their huge pool of talent, studying hard and at least 100 million of them studying music. Combine those two things and you get a well educated AND creative work force.
So what would I tell our new Chancellor to try in NYC (or any where else in the country) – What’s the fastest most cost effective way to create that innovative, creative work force? How about give all NYC kids music lessons – one-on-one lessons for five years? There is a ready and able work force in NYC to take on the task of teaching these students. (See the NY Times article about free-lance work in NYC dying out and how the music schools in NYC alone are graduating upwards of 500 music students a year) Take on this grand experiment – the Chinese are doing it!! Let’s try something that will help with our new vision of a flexible work force and in addition address the important subject of keeping our cultural flame glowing.
For the last few weeks there has been much written about the arts and humanities programs being shut down in our nation’s colleges and universities. Both Stanley Fish, and the president of Cornell University, David J Skorton had articles on the subject in the NY Times. This week the Boston Globe weighs in: “College Leaders Work to Increase Interest in Humanities” – The Boston Globe
The articles and discussions describe how universities, to save money, are cutting out humanities and arts departments – justifying it by saying students aren’t filling these classes. Is it really possible an educated person in the United States doesn’t need to know anything about the arts, literature, history, philosophy, language? Why is it that places like China and Singapore are adding these subjects to their universities if they aren’t needed?
Haven’t we been saying that if we want an innovative and creative work force we can’t all be specialists? That we need flexible educated minds? The Boston Globe article talks about students not signing up for humanities and arts classes. Why? Here’s the elephant in the room. They haven’t had these classes in any comprehensive form in their first 12 years of school. If you cut music, art, language, specialized literature classes, theater, poetry and the like from elementary school to high school and you teach only to the “test”, students will arrive at college without the necessary skills and knowledge to even begin to know what they want to learn. Learning these subjects can enhance one’s ability to function in any profession. I studied at The Juilliard School (a very special trade school) for both my Bachelors and Masters degrees. It’s different today but when I was there our studies of subjects other than music was sharply limited. I realized that if I wanted to understand the many references in the music I was studying I needed to become much better read in both world literature and history. I procured reading lists from several liberal arts colleges and proceeded to read through the lists. It was invaluable to me and became my habit in all my artistic projects. When I became a professor I required the same of my flute students. The point is that if we continue to cut the arts and humanities from our public education system we will inevitably lose students and eventually vital core departments in our universities nationwide. This is something that we can’t afford if we want to remain competitive.