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Berklee College of Music is kicking off a brand new a Kids/Family Concert Series beginning this Saturday, January 9th with Debbie and Friends!

The shows will be held in Berklee’s newest performance venue, The Red Room at Cafe 939 located at 939 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for kids, and can be purchased online via Ticketmaster or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

Buy 10:00am show tickets here.

Buy 11:30am show tickets here.

Everybody goes home with Debbie and Friends’ tattoos and a free new song download card!

In honor of this new series, the Cactus Club is offering 20% off lunch entrees for anyone with a Debbie and Friends’ concert ticket! The Cactus Club is in the same building as Cafe 939, so you won’t even have to put on your coats to go to lunch!

The band and I hope to see you on Saturday!

- Debbie

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Debbie and Friends

I’m delighted to announce the new Berkleemusic online learning environment will be unveiled this Fall term. Our new learning platform has been tested in a number of courses over the past few semesters with great success. The feedback from students and faculty has been extremely positive, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with the rest of our student body this Fall term.

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The new Berkleemusic learning environment makes its debut this Fall 2009 term.

The new learning environment will contain an enhanced feature set with many of the tools our students have been asking for, including:

- a real-time “Web Conferencing Tool” that allows for text, audio, and video-based meetings.

- the addition of “RSS” feeds.

- enhanced communication features including a student “Quick Nav.”

- a “Polling Tool” to help establish weekly chat times and to weigh in on course-related topics.

- a “Calendar Tool” to assist with planning and scheduling of both course-related and personal dates.

- a “Flash-based Recording Tool” to record and submit assignments, and for instructors to provide audio feedback.

- a brand new “Look and Feel” for the learning environment that has been designed and tested for readability and ease of use.

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Funk/R&B Guitar topic in the new Berkleemusic learning environment

All of us at Berkleemusic are incredibly excited about the new learning environment and look forward to sharing it with our students this Fall Term beginning September 28!

Pat Pattison is a world-renowned lyric writing instructor. In addition to being a Professor at Berklee College of Music, he presents songwriting clinics all around the world. Pat has taught thousands of aspiring songwriters and several of his students have won Grammys, including John Mayer and Gillian Welch.

Every time I have the good fortune to see Pat “in action” with a student and a song, I’m amazed by his ability to transform songs from good to great in a matter of minutes with very practical techniques. Here’s one example:

We are very fortunate at Berkleemusic to have three online Lyric Writing courses authored by Pat. I can tell you firsthand they are outstanding courses that will change the way you write and provide you with a powerful songwriting toolkit to use for years to come.

Classes start on Monday!

Stefan Shepherd is the man behind one of the most popular and well-regarded “kids and family music” blogs in the industry called Zooglobble. I highly recommend following Zooglobble whether you’re a parent looking for music for your family to enjoy, or a musician interested in keeping your finger on the pulse of this thriving genre. Here is recent Debbie and Friends interview on Zooglobble.

Interview: Debbie Cavalier (Debbie and Friends)

DCavalierWeb_01.jpgDebbie Cavalier leads a double life — not only is she behind Debbie and Friends, which offers a bunch of songs (and animation) squarely aimed at preschoolers (and maybe their older siblings), she’s also the Dean of Continuing Education at Berklee College of Music’s online division. So she’s got a pretty broad perspective on life as a musician, educator, and entrepreneur. (She’s also a really nice person.) Read on for her inspiration for Debbie and Friends, some music education tips, and the worst part about playing keyboards.

Zooglobble: What music did you listen to growing up?

Debbie Cavalier: My mom always played a lot of Tom Jones and Neil Diamond in the house when I was a kid. She also played my grandfather records a lot: The Marty Gold Orchestra. My grandfather has been a huge influence on my musical life. I just wrote a blog post about this.

Upon getting my own record player in elementary school in the mid 70s, my favorites rotations up were Elton John, Carole King, Billy Joel, the Bee Gees, Carly Simon, and Bruce Springsteen. Elton John definitely got more airplay in my room than anyone else.

What was the path that led you to your current job at Berklee and what does that job entail?

I was a music education major at Berklee and had a wonderful time as an elementary music teacher and choral director for a several years. During that time, I became involved with music education publishing and developed some music methods and choral arrangements for CPP/Belwin and Warner Bros. Publications. After a few years, they offered me a full-time position as an education editor to develop music education publications. I had the wonderful opportunity to develop music education publications with authors such as Shari Lewis and Buffalo Bob Smith before they passed away. I also did a lot of work with Bob McGrath from Sesame Street. Those experiences have had a tremendous impact on the work I do with Debbie and Friends.

After about five years at WB, I was hired by Berklee as the managing editor for Berklee Press. Shortly after that we started to develop plans for an online school, Berkleemusic.com. We became accredited in 2004, and now five years later we have the largest online music school in the world serving 30,000 students from more than 80 countries. Berkleemusic.com is the online continuing education division of the college. We have 100 fully-accredited online courses and certificate programs in music production, music business, songwriting, film scoring, arranging, and more. I’ve been the dean of continuing education at Berklee for the past five years. My job entails working with Berklee’s esteemed faculty in developing new online courses to serve a global community of musicians with music education opportunities. We have a team of 30 people at Berkleemusic and our enrollment is growing each semester. Our students tend to be adult learners who have a passion for music and want to further their career opportunities by studying with Berklee faculty and other students from around the globe. I love my work at Berklee and am very thankful for the flexibility it affords me with Debbie and Friends. Most of Berklee’s faculty and staff are involved in one kind of music project or another in their own musical lives. It’s a wonderful environment filled with opportunities to collaborate and grow.

What made you decide to do a kids’ CD?
As a music educator, I’ve always enjoyed sharing music with children. As my career path development and opportunities came my way, I found myself further and further removed from children. Debbie and Friends brings that back. But I have to say it was my nephew Will who inspired me to write my first children’s song just a few years ago when he was only 3. He told me the story of the Three Little Pigs one day with such enthusiasm that it sounded just like a song form. It occurred to me that the Three Little Pigs story would make a great song, and it just grew from there. I began writing “story songs” and other music for children, then performing, then recording, and I just loved it! The fact that Debbie and Friends started with my nephew Will makes it extra special to me. And whenever we play shows in Boston or Philadelphia, Will comes up on stage with his brother Ronnie and sister Rebecca to join us on a few songs. They and their brother Teddy are a constant source of inspiration for me!

I made a little Web site for Will about the inspiration he provided. (I just happened to have a handy cam while he told the story to my mother — his grandma). Here’s a link to the story and the song on Will’s site:

DebbieLogo.jpgWhat group of kids are you targeting with Debbie and Friends?
The target age is pre-school and kindergarten children ages three to six. However, we have lots of fans at our shows who are seven, eight and even nine years old. Babies and toddlers seem to enjoy themselves too. But, the songs, activities, skills, lyrics, and interactions are targeting 3-6 year olds and the grownups who love them.

Which main aspect of the music process (writing, recording, playing live) do you enjoy the most? The least?
Playing live! I love the interaction and connection I share with the kids and families through live performance, and the shared musical experience the concerts provide for families. I believe children’s music is not about performing for kids, but rather, interacting with them and I enjoy that aspect so much.

My other favorite thing is collaborating with my producer Michael Carrera and all of the wonderful musicians who contribute to the Debbie and Friends recordings. They take an idea and make it better. Making music with others is a wonderful experience.

What do I least enjoy? That’s easy… carrying equipment before and after a show. My keyboard is very heavy!

Your videos are pretty high-quality — is the video-creation process something you enjoy, or do you just have lots of talented friends?
Thank you! It’s both. I love the process and I have wonderfully talented friends who have been very generous. My dear friends Amy Schrob and Sharon Lynch made the “Hangin’ Around” movie for me as a gift. I also discovered a terrific animation company in the UK through Craigslist. The owner is Greg David and the company is Planet Sunday. They produced an animation based on the “Three Pigs and a Wolf” and just finished another one based on “I Got a Laugh.” They are starting to work on a third. The videos have been a wonderful way to reach new fans and has even opened some doors in licensing and TV placements.

Have you learned anything from making and playing the first album (Story Songs and Sing Alongs) that’s affected what you’re doing for the second album?
Oh yes! I learned that the story songs concept is a big hit with families. There is something about the familiarity of a well-known storyline set to music that makes for a fun interactive experience. The kids know where the story is going and are excited to assume the parts and roles throughout. So, there will be more familiar stories to sing about, including “I Think I Can” from The Little Engine that Could. That particular story is not in the Public Domain, but we were able to negotiate a fair license.

I also learned that stylistic variety is enjoyed by families. I feel very fortunate to have my Berklee colleagues to call upon to record and perform in a variety of styles. We recorded the rhythm section for five new songs in a Boston-based studio last week (piano, organ, bass, drums, and guitar) and I’m more excited than ever about the second album CD.

Having been a classroom music teacher and choral director for many years, there weren’t any huge surprises. Interaction and active participation for kids and their families seems to be most important and so all of the songs are written with a collective music making experience in mind.

DCavalierWeb_02.jpgIf you had one piece of advice for parents wanting their kids to develop basic music competency, what would it be?
Make music a natural part of your every day. Don’t be afraid to sing in front of your kids. Studies show that a parent’s voice is a baby’s favorite sound. Sing with your child every day, and don’t worry about how you think you might sound! The important thing is that you are modeling a love of music and a non-judgmental approach to making music.

Play music-related games such as:
– Make Up Your Own Songs (Parodies): Make up new words to familiar songs. Make up songs about a pet, friends, family, the morning routine, school, putting toys away, or anything at all.
– Name that Sound Game: Play a sound from the kitchen and have your child name it while listening from the next room. You can play sounds that are as easy as running water and as challenging as pouring cereal into a bowl.

Also, participate in Kindermusik and other early childrood-related music programs in your area. And, go to concerts, recitals and other musical performances whenever possible!

What’s next for you?
With Debbie and Friends the next step is to write, record, and make more music, play more concerts, and reach as many kids and families as possible. We’re working on new songs, booking more shows in different areas of the country, and having lots of fun!

oscarandmatt
Matt Marvuglio, Flautist, Prof. Performance Division Dean, Berklee College of Music

Memorizing music is an important function for all musicians. Matt Marvuglio, Berklee’s Dean of the Professional Performance Division, has developed a multi-modal approach to memorizing music that can be put into practice and applied immediately.

Below is an excerpt from his Artisthousemusic article entitled Memorizing Music. In addition to being a dean at Berklee, Matt is also a Berkleemusic online instructor and course author. Basic Ear Training and Basic Improvisation are two of his online courses.

The biggest fear of memorizing music is forgetting. Forgetting usually happens when a retrieval strategy breaks down. It happens to everyone if you don’t process the music in a number of different ways. We need to process music in a number of different ways so you will be confident that you will not forget. This way, if one system breaks down, the other one can take over. Maybe a better way of describing playing music without reading it would be “internalizing” the music. Let’s talk about the different ways that you can internalize a piece of music through different memory systems.

Visual is the most common memory system through which we all relate to the world. For some of us, this is the way we learn music. We read it. When you close your eyes, you can visualize the part and see the page in front of you.

Tactile is the memory system through which we can feel the music by fingering the instrument. You can remember how a passage feels and you can reach for it. Through this system you can recognize familiar patterns such as scales and arpeggios. Musicians who don’t read can rely upon this memory system.

Aural is the memory system through which we can hear the music. Solfege is a system of study that clearly identifies the pitches in a systematic way and helps us build our aural perception. Scale degrees are assigned numbers or syllables and you identify chromatic alterations and key changes.

You need to use all of these systems and be aware of what you are seeing, feeling, and hearing when you practice. Also, it is important to isolate each system to fully understand what’s happening. This is a great way that you can put your music theory and solfege to use. Everyone will have a different memory system that is stronger based upon how you practice and learn music. Click here to look at a passage from the J.S. Bach Minuet in G and put it through the different memory systems.

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As I finish grading the last of my Music Theory 101 assignments from the Fall 2008 term, I’m reminded of something John Mayer said to the Berklee College of Music undergrads at a recent clinic he conducted.

“The reason that you learn [music theory] is you’re taking something that began as impulse or sentiment, something very impalpable, and are learning to turn that into musical information, so that it can travel from person to person…take that math and turn it into color as fast as you possibly can.”

For those who apply themselves, Berkleemusic’s Music Theory 101 online course actually takes students from learning basic note names and rhythms to voice leading seventh chord inversions, creating accompaniments, and writing melodies… all in the span of just 12 weeks. The course is nothing short of incredible.

Every time I teach a section of Music Theory 101 online, I’m in awe of the solid music theory foundation the students build, and how quickly they are able to use their new tools to create art. That foundation will continue to serve them in all of their musical pursuits for many years to come.

Berkleemusic’s Music Theory 101, authored by Chair Emeritus Paul Schmeling, is a proven path to turning your inspiration into art with pragmatic tools of the trade. Check out a sample lesson to learn more.

Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee College of Music, shares his thoughts on the importance of music for child development, cultural awareness, communication, and family connections.

Berkleemusic was recently reviewed in Information Week’s article entitled “Learn To Play Guitar Online” by Ivan Schneider

According to the article, there seems to be more and more options available these days for online guitar instruction of varying formats and quality. However, there’s only one credited in Ivan’s article as the Professional Choice for high quality, college-level, accredited guitar study online: Berkleemusic.

Thanks, Ivan. I’m a huge fan of Berklee’s Continuing Education faculty, staff, and online courses and I couldn’t agree more!