NEW The Language of Music Revealed: A Real Easy Way for Anyone to Learn to Read IN SPANISH!

NEW The Language of Music Revealed: A Real Easy Way for Anyone to Learn to Read IN SPANISH! Finally, a music fundamentals book in Spanish for the non-musician: first of its kind, now available in the US.

EL LENGUAJE DE LA MÚSICA, AL DESCUBIERTO: Un Método Tan Fácil Que Cualquier Persona Es Capaz De Aprender A Leer Y Escribir Mú




Get Rid Of Those Old Musicians!

Recently, a colleague was asking advice of the proper way of “firing” the older musicians of his regional orchestra. His complaint was that these seniors were just not up to the high standards he was trying to achieve with his orchestra. Nothing wrong with raising the bar, but at what cost?

When I first arrived 25 years ago, my Orchestra was an amateur group with members of various degrees of achievement. Now, my Orchestra consists of excellent area professionals as well a select group of fabulous music students. So how did I get rid of those old guys who were dead weights and contributed absolutely nothing to the Orchestra? A horrible statement to make and one that is so wrong.

If it wasn’t for those older musicians, there wouldn’t be an Orchestra in the first place. My Orchestra was for the community to enjoy and if anyone felt they wanted to be a member, far be it from me to say you can’t come in.

What happened over the span of two decades was a complete transformation of the Orchestra through a natural process. I’ve had so many beautiful, sweet people in my orchestra through the years. Some of them have passed on and some have switched roles and became audience members. I have never fired a community player. On the contrary, community players have religiously, before each season, come to me and quite apologetically ask me if “you still want me to play?” I respond always by saying, “See that chair? That’s yours forever. You play when you want.”

Seniors are not stupid people. They are to be revered and respected. They truly understand when it is time to leave the orchestra. No fanfare. They enjoyed the time with the group and it’s time to move to the audience. As the standards rise and the size of our audience increases along with an expectation that the concert they are about to hear will be of a certain high quality, members know when it is time for their final bow.

Recently, I learned of a former cellist who passed away. He was a friend and a great supporter of the Orchestra. Awhile ago, a violist died and last year a bass clarinetist had a fatal accident. These people were my friends. Get rid of them? How cruel! A violinist, who has been on the Orchestra longer than I and plays when she can, always gives me a hug and thanks me for bringing such quality music to the community. I am humbled by that simple act.

These seniors are gold; they will be your biggest supporters. They are all a buzz at Sunday Church about Saturday’s concert. You can’t buy PR like that.

There is so much emphasis on youth these days; we forget that those sitting in the back have so much to offer. Do not ignore them. You can’t buy such experience and dedication. You might learn a few things from them; treat them with respect and be honored that they wish to become part of something they hold so dear. They have enriched your life.


Van Cliburn, Cold War Musical Envoy, Dies at 78

Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 -

Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 –

An international legend for over five decades, a great humanitarian and a brilliant musician whose light will continue to shine through his extraordinary legacy. Van Cliburn was the American pianist whose first-place award at the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow made him an overnight sensation and propelled him to a phenomenally successful and lucrative career. Perhaps it was the pressure of stardom thrusted upon a 23-year old was too much and as a result, by 1978, he retired from the stage. He was praised for his technical strength, musical poise, and manly lyricism unmarred by eccentricity.

Autism (ASD) and Music–Insights and Lessons for All of Us

“Emmanuela reported feeling more confident about being part of the school band. She showed pride when she received her report card with a “B” in music.  Emmanuela for the first time in her life felt part of a group. She complained about other situation when she was not accepted, even during lunch break when students still move when she comes to their table. Emmanuela feThe Kolman Familyels like she belongs to the band, and even brags about being much better than other band members.”

– Grace Y. Kolman, M.A. in Counseling; Early Intervention Graduate Assistant, University Health Center’s Substance Abuse Prevention, James Madison University

 Teaching children and adolescents with ASD to play an instrument is a matter of inclusion more than performance. The ability to recognize emotion in music is preserved in their brain, and it would not be an issue.”  – Grace Y. Kolman

School counselors need to work close with music teachers to support them and the children during the learning process. Music is an open avenue to communication due to its universal language.”  – Grace Y. Kolman

” Be aware of ethnic and cultural differences is very important. Repertoire should be sensitive to these differences.” – Grace Y. Kolman

Quotes from Emmanuela:

“It is difficult to learn how to play, but you don’t give up.” 

“Mamma and Daddy, I got a B in the band, are you proud of me?” 

“You never give up” 


Postscript to A Family Project–Music for Autism Therapy

On November 16, My wife, Grace, and I presented our findings regarding Autism and Music. This concluded a four month investigation of the effect if any clarinet lessons would have on my daughter Emmanuela, who has been diagnosed with highly functional autism, and me as her father, conductor and clarinet instructor. I kept a journal of each lesson and Emmanuel also kept a journal.

My wife presented a case for music and its regenerative powers of certain portions of the brain. “Mano” explained how difficult it was to play the clarinet but expressed her happiness of finally being accepted into a group, her school Band with a grade of a “B!” She is very proud of her accomplishments as we are.

It was difficult to hold back the tears when we talked further about Mano’s many challenges in middle school, socially (she is often a target of bullying) and scholastically with English intense subjects like history.

As a grand finale, Mano and I performed two duets from her Band book. Mano performed very well and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. This was a special experience for me as a parent and my ties with my daughter have never been stronger.

It was a family affair of collaborating with Grace, a counselor, and myself, a musician. This was Grace’s idea that was first suggested during the summer. It was a great journey that still has not ended.

My take on A Late Quartet … No passion, no reason to play


In STEPHEN HOLDENs New York Sunday Times (Nov 4, 2012) music review of the film, A Late Quartet, he states the credo of any musician worth being called a true musician:  The film “has an important point to make about classical music. For the musicians who play it, especially intimate chamber works in which the group members have to think, feel and breath as one, their instruments are vehicles for conveying strong emotion. Without passion, a performance, no matter how impeccable, is just a technical feat.”

Whether it is chamber music or a Mahler symphony, if there is no passion, no commitment, no personal understanding, no love, then there is no reason to be playing.