MIM 4 -1-1

Return of Live Music 

Being a lifelong musician and being the parent of a musical family, I have gotten into quite a few debates about the new generation of musical artist. We are two generations removed from the birth of Rap and Hip Hop as an American art form. In the beginning, there was a massive turn away from live music, and musicians playing instruments were replaced by MC and DJ’s with turntables and the music was primarily just samples of prerecorded music.  

Now I’m beginning to see the pendulum swing the other way where there is a shift back to real music and live musicians being used by the popular Hip Hop artist today. I was watching the Grammy’s a few weeks back and saw the performance that has a lot of people in mainstream media up in arms by Kendrick Lamar. First let me say I was very impressed by his creativity in presenting a very controversial topic, and secondly, his use of live instrumentation was on a very high level. Kendrick is setting the bar pretty high for those in the Hip Hop music industry. 

I see this movement back to real live music not just in Hip Hop but in every genre of music. I see the return of the use of Horn sections and strings and songs with chord changes with more than three chords. When musical Artist begins to raise the quality of the music that they present to the masses, it raises the musical pallet of the consumers. I’m very encouraged to hear and see with this. 

As for my children and their comrades, I often debate about the quality of music that is being presented today. I say Artist like Kendrick Lamar is a definite “feather in your caps” to coin an old phrase, and I hope that his creativity and social consciousness is a great sign of things to come from you. Next generation I salute you as you return to live music.

Music in the Beginning 

There have been many arguments about the origin of man on earth. The two primary reasons being creation theory VS Evolution theory, but I wonder if you have ever considered music as a source of evidence for one of these theories.

Well, the Pentatonic scale is a high source of proof for the creation theory. When you look at the origin of man all over the world the all, have something in common "Music", and in every culture in the purest form of melody is one scale. The Pentatonic Scale, no matter where you go in the world the Pentatonic scale is encoded into the culture.

How did this happen? Why is it that someone born in Philadelphia can sing the same melody instinctively as someone born in Japan?

The most logical answer is that there is a time in history where we were all in the same place and over time the Pentatonic scale became a part of our genetic code. How is it that Asian lullabies share the same melodic tones as amazing grace?

You might think that it's a stretch for me to make a case for the creation theory because of this fact but I find it very fascinating maybe it's just the Geek in me.


Check out these videos...


Power Twins [Part 3] 

In Power Twins part 1, I talked about the Power Twin called Mentors; and in Power Twins part 2, I spoke about Role Models.  
Are you a Power Twin? Read on. 

Well, as you can see Mentors and Role Models is vital to me. Some of us reading this may ask, could I be a Mentor or Role Model or maybe even both? Well if you are a parent the answer is YES. You are indeed a Role Model and a critical one. You are in most cases their first hero. The challenge as I said in part 2 is when your child matures and see some of your flaws. It can be very hard to them.  

Not all of us can be Mentors but if you look hard enough at yourself, and what you do on a daily basis you may already be doing the things that a Mentor would do.  

When we think of Role Models, we need to see them as multi-dimensional characters with good and bad areas. We need to pay attention to how our Role Models navigate the facets of life to mature into a productive and meaningful part of the family community and the world! A Role Model is not someone without failure, but someone who can “model” what your response should be WHEN you fail (because you will fail). A Role Model should be someone that can help you understand your convictions, formulate them and give you the courage to live by them. 

Most of the time people what we see on a public stage can only be viewed as Mentors in a particular field of expertise, which is valuable. However, the most important thing is to find a Role Model that is willing to pour themselves into you. I’ve found that the best way to find a Role Model is to ask the one who created you for a specific purpose in mind to direct you to the person that is to be a Role Model for you.  

Mentors and Role Models are so critical to the development of musicians, young and old; I can not say it enough. Having a good Role Model can be the difference between a career as a musical artist or in the music industry is known as a one hit wonder. 

You learn how to make music for your community and the world and the difference between the two. You learn that the greatest artist is who they are in front of the camera as well as in front of their family. So find your Power Twins and be the Power Twins for another. It time to change the world for the better!!

Power Twins [part 2] 

In Power Twins part 1, I talked about the Power Twin called Mentors. Now in this Power Twin part 2 blog, learn about other Power Twin: Role Models. Read on. 

Role Models are the most misinterpreted of the Power Twins. There is an identity that media and society try to put on Role Models such as how and where we should look for them. Sometimes the lines are greyed between a person being a Role Model or a Mentor. My simple, definitive difference between the two is a Mentor helps you gain the skills and sharpen your talent to get into individual rooms; whereas, a Role Model gives you an example of the character needed to stay in those rooms.  

Many times people choose media icons to be their Role Models. The problem becomes knowledge and understanding of who they chose. Usually, the choice is too thin and artificially colored for public consumption to be an organic rubber meets the road Role Model on a daily basis. I believe a Role Model needs to be someone you can see feel and touch on a regular basis to be an active Role Model in your life. For most of us, our first important Role Model is our parents. Often as we mature, we see more and more of our parents flaws and shortcomings. And for some of us, it’s devastating!  

One more vital thing about this Power Twin. Most of the time they can be seasonal as to how they are to affect your life. For example, in your young developmental years, you may have one or two Role Models that are essential to that stage of your development. But as you mature their role to you may change. At this point, someone else may need to be the  
Role Model for you.  

Don't give up on finding an excellent Role Model. Don’t lament too long when you realize that someone you thought would be a good Role Model turns out not to be. Just dust yourself off and allow God to help you move on!  

Remember, if finding an excellent Role Model seems impossible, I know of one Role Model that has been the greatest I’ve ever had in my life. Yes,  it's Jesus Christ!! Check out his resume. You will be amazed at how excellent he is at being a Role Model. Whatever you do find a good Role Model, though they may not be flying like a superhero, they will be the greatest hero you could have as they walk with you through life’s most challenging moments. Which gives the “Power Twins” their most dominant superpower. I'll talk more about this in Power Twins [Part 3]. 


Power Twins [part 1] 

Role Model and Mentor 

I LOVE to watch the Marvel movies! They re-create all of the superheroes that I read about in the comics as a kid. Those superheroes gave us a sense of hope and optimism about life. That no matter how bleak the situation, our heroes would save the day!  

Well, in the lives of children, young adults, and young professionals, especially the lives of young musicians, which there are people who are real life heroes. I call them the “Power Twins” you know them as  "Role Models" and "mentors"! They are people who take on the incredible task of impacting someone's life for the better, and the ripple effect can change the course of a person's life forever.  

Let's look closely at the definition of role models and mentors: role models are people who serve as an example, e.g. values, attitudes, and behaviors associated with a role. For example, a father is a role model for his sons. Role models can also be persons who distinguish themselves in such a way that others admire and want to emulate them. 

Mentors are an experienced and trusted person who gives another person advice and help over a period. Usually related to work or school. Mentors are vital to life and for a young musician, mentors can help young players avoid years of wasted energy on systems and concepts that don’t work in the real world of musical performance.  Musical mentors help you form good practice habits and practical theory that can reduce years of musical wandering and frustration.  In other words, you don't have to be frustrated with creating the formula.  Get a music mentor! 

When you see a living musical legend such as Aretha Franklin “The Queen of Soul,” you obviously know she is extremely talented and that her talent was evident at a very young age. Did you know that her father had her interacting with the musical greats of the day - Sam Cook, Jackie Wilson, Clara Ward, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum -  which became an incredible resource in her years of development?  

The great artists from the sixties mentored a lot of the artists from the 70’s and 80’s. With this element lacking in many artists today. Mentoring I believe is vital to experiencing a great music career and I'm not just talking about having a hit record. Mentors are the part of the Power Twins that show us how to do what we do as musicians and artist. 

In the meantime, start to think and pray about whom you could pursue to be a mentor to you. Like in the superhero comic books, send out the signal for the Power Twins role model and mentor, it could change your life.
In the meantime, start to think and pray about whom you could pursuit to be a mentor to you. Like in the superhero comic books, send out the signal for the Power Twins role model and mentor, it could change your life.

Check out these two YouTube videos about mentors


Falling Gracefully  

The Art of Improvisation 


Toy story is one of my all time favorite animated movies!! Did you watch the movie? Do you remember the scene in the film where Buzz Light Year is showing off a little bit when he flies?! Woody exclaims, in discuss, “That’s not flying, that was falling in style!” Lol, funny scene! 


That is how I feel about improvisation in music. The more skilled you are at doing it gives the people the impression you are flying when in reality you are just falling with style. When improvising you really don’t know where you're going or where the journey will end. You are truly along for the ride just like the audience experiencing your performance. While there are some sign posts and rules in some cases but the music is truly being created in the moment. 


Music educators should teach some form of improvisation as early as possible in a beginner’s development, it would offset the rigid nature of music theory and rudimental music study. As soon as you get your student to take in the rules of music the faster you need to get them to stretch and be creative with them. 


Without improvisation, music can be very wooden and plastic. Don’t get me wrong there has been some very beautiful music written by decades of composers and musicians creating some incredible compositions. The theory was created from decades of composers and musicians creating some incredible composition. The problem remains; it’s still history and lacks forward motion without improvisation. 


Even with beginner, we can create exercises that build the skill of improvisation. Try this when teaching scales - use the number system and start off with simple exercises like the first 5 degrees of the scale and have your students practice soloing only using those 5 scale pitches. This is a great way to quickly get students to take the rules and create in the moment improvisational music. 


Check out this video of legendary saxophonist Ernie Watts talking about improvisation at a music workshop. It’s a little longer than my usual video but even if it takes you a few sittings I think it will be valuable to musicians of all developmental levels. Check it out and remember we may never be able to fly but we can all “fall with style” as we create great music to bless the world! 


Video-Ernie watts Melodic approach to improvisation By Brian Pace 


Do You Speak Music? 

Have you ever thought about the fact that all around the world in every gathering of human community there are two things amongst others that we all have in common? One is that we all have formulated a way to communicate to each other our wants, needs, pain, struggle, fear, and happiness. In every cultural gathering, there is a language that is understood and accepted as the spoken representation of our emotions and desires. 
The second thing that we all have in common is some musical way of communicating those same emotions and desires. Music is actually a second language that is created and mastered by special individuals within those communities. The interesting thing is that if the music is defined as a second language then why isn't it taught the same way that the tribal first language is learned? 
I've discovered that the greatesttaught the majority of the tools to communicate well on their instruments in similar ways they learned to speak their first language. 
The most articulate young person learned to use language almost from the crib.  As with my own children, my wife and I always spoke to them in the way that they would ultimately, as adults, use the language. We never spoke "baby talk" to them. Even if they couldn't understand all the words that were spoken to them, they learned to navigate from their level and grew into their ability to communicate more complex ideas. 
The same should happen in the way we teach music. We shouldn't teach them a "watered down" version of the musical language that they would outgrow "the usefulness of" like a form of "baby talk" only to have them to re-teach the musical tools that they would use as a performing musician. 
Here is a clip of one of the worlds most creative and talented Bassist explaining his musical journey to becoming the performer he is today. Check it out and make sure you share your opinions and subscribe. 
Video-Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaisland By TEDx Talks 

Could Music Be Aerobics for Your Brain? 

Do you really want to experience a good aerobic workout that is good for your brain? Well, try playing a musical instrument. Studies show that nothing gets the brain neurons fired up quite like playing a musical instrument. 
When you think of being in shape, what comes to mind? Maybe working out in the gym, or maybe yoga, or perhaps some other aerobic exercise for the body.  When you think of exercise for the brain, do you tend to think of things like reading, meditation, crossword puzzles, or maybe even listening to calming music. 


You see, the brain is basically split into two sections a left and right hemisphere. The left hemisphere which controls the functions of the right side of the body, and the right hemisphere controlling the left. Mathematical, analytical and logical processing are usually carried out in the left hemisphere, while spatial recognition, face recognition, sense perception, emotion processing and artistic functions usually occur in the right. And when playing a musical instrument, there are electrical impulses firing all over the brain in both hemispheres. [Interested in learning more about how the brain is wired, check out this great website I found]  


The left hemisphere which controls the functions of the
right side of the body, and the right hemisphere controlling the left.

Here are some benefits to playing a musical instrument: 

  • Helps young developing minds to focus 
  • Helps a young person to learn discipline 
  • Helps with cognitive alertness 
  • Helps maintain physical flexibility 


It is literally aerobics for the brain! This could help students as well as adults in many other areas of life and academics.So the next time you think about working out, why not consider learning to play a musical instrument to get the brain fired up on all cylinders. Music is aerobics for YOUR brain. 

Watch this video

ps ~ Here's a real good book to read: The Power of Music by Elena Mannes 

Back to School Jam! 

Labor Day is over. It's time for us to get back to school. Why not get back to music school? Music can help you in your personal and professional life. Music training can help you focus better, be disciplined, be creative, strategize or be innovative. Also, it strengthens your listening ear.

Let's get back to school and learn a musical jam. We do virtual lessons too!

MIM Labor Day Sale  

Labor Day is that day on our calendar we celebrate the work of our hands. "Unofficially," it marks the end of the summer. What do you think of when the calendar marks Labor Day? Perhaps...Back to School? Back to the Grind? Autumn? How about the last business quarter of the year (or it could be the first or second or third)?! 

No matter what Labor Day marks for you, for MissionZ In Music it's an opportunity to offer you music lessons at an affordable rate to enhance your personal and/or professional growth. Read the offers below and share 'em with friends

Remember, the offer ends on Monday, September 7 at 11:59 pm.