Posts Tagged ‘blues’


Raoul Bhaneja coming to St. John’s Friday August 12th

August 8, 2011


Music’s Effects on The Brain and Learning

June 16, 2011

Image by flyzipper via Flickr

By Jonathan Hicks

“If you get in music in school you’ll make more friends and it’ll make you smarter!” Most of us have heard that at some point in our lives haven’t we? But is it really true? Will music actually make you smarter? Does it actually have an effect on how your brain works?

The simple answer is yes, it does have an effect on the brain. Studies show that even from a young age listening to and being involved with music will result in a child having a higher IQ than a child who is not exposed to music on a regular basis. Although this may seem far-fetched, in reality it is quite truthful. Even at a young age learning music makes a child use a great amount of brain power. Learning how to read rhythms and pitches is not an easy task for a young child and putting the two together to read both at the same time is even harder! If you think about the amount of thought and brain power a 5 or 6 year old child has to use in order to learn their first piano piece (or learning to play with TWO hands) you will surely agree that this has to make them smarter in the long run. At such a young age, learning to make your brain tell your fingers what do while reading notes off a page is a great feat. In fact The New York Times states that a significant amount of study on a particular musical instrument can cause an enlargement of the Cerebral Cortex (a part of the brain “associated with higher brain Function”).

It is also quite true that music has a profound effect one’s memory. If you think about it quite simply you will realize the memory capacity needed to be a successful musician is not by any means small. A musician is forced to remember an extensive number of things in order to be able to even play music properly; everything from note names and durations, fingerings, dynamics and tempo markings. Even then a musician is sometimes required to memorize full pieces of music for specific performances. In a case such as this the musician has to memorize all the aspects previously listed in an exact way pertaining to the piece they are required to play.

Along with memory, music can have a very positive effect on the brain’s ability to have a quick reaction time. This ability is achieved by the daunting, hated task of sight-reading. Sight-reading is an aspect of music education that takes a long time to conquer and which I, along with some of my fellow musicians still struggle with from time to time. Although many musicians find this hard it is an essential skill to have and undoubtedly this skill alone would do wonders for the development of one’s brain. The ability to look at a brand new piece of music and play it right away takes a tremendous amount of concentration and dedication to learning this skill.

Music is also used in the medical world to stimulate the brain. In the case of some Alzheimer patients music can be used to stimulate the brain in order to bring back lost memories. It was also proven that by subjecting Alzheimer patients to music therapy it caused a secretion of the hormone melatonin which helped calm even the patients who were hard to deal with. Jane Vail states that “Music therapy might be a safer and more effective alternative to many psychotropic medications. Like meditation and yoga, it can help us maintain our hormonal and emotional balance, even during periods of stress or disease.”

Personally, after having a very serious brain tumour at the age of ten I was faced with a hard task of getting back to school. Before returning home from Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital both myself and my parents were told that I may not be able to perform well in school and that due to the effects the tumour had left me with, I may not have be able to continue playing drums well because I would not be able to use my motor skills as well as I used to. When I got home I was determined not to lose music from my life so I started to relearn how to play drums. Both my parents and I very strongly believe that if it wasn’t for music I most likely would not have recovered as quickly as I did and I probably would not have had the ability to learn and get back into my routine at school as easily. Basically, if it wasn’t for music I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Music continues to be a very important part of my education as I am completing a Bachelor in Music Degree at MUN’s school of music.

I strongly believe that music is a great learning tool and that by involving children (or anyone) in music we are giving them the opportunity to broaden their minds and their education. Not only will music give a child or adult the opportunity to become smarter and increase their brain function but it also provides an individual with an amazing sense of accomplishment. Believe me when you finish a challenging piece, whether it be a level one piano piece or a piece you are preparing for an audition, you will feel so good about yourself (this is the case no matter if you are 4 years old or 40!). Music is an outstanding, fun way to broaden your horizons, increase your brain function, relieve your stress and have fun while doing it!

Related websites:


2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival Volunteer Rally!

June 14, 2011

From July 13-16, 2011 the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival will celebrate its 10th birthday by bringing four days of great jazz, blues and world music to fans in Newfoundland & Labrador.

WJB is thrilled to announce its Volunteer Rally, where any and all persons interested in volunteering at the upcoming 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival can sign up to volunteer at their favorite Festival events!

The Volunteer Rally will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Swilers Rugby Football Club on Thursday, June 23rd.  The Swilers Club is located at 100 Crosbie Road.

At the rally there will be sign-up sheets for the volunteer positions at each of the concerts scheduled to take place during the 2011 Festival, which runs from July 13-16.  It’s first come, first serve, and the positions will likely fill up quick!  You can check out the full Festival schedule and lineup here.  There will also be information about Festival venues as well as volunteer policies and procedures.

If you would like more information about the WJB volunteer program you can visit the volunteer page of our website or contact Marketing & Operations Manager Ben Waring via telephone (739-7734) or email (

And if you do attend, bring a friend!  As the Festival grows, so does the need for new volunteers.

Hope to see you out there on June 23rd!



June 1, 2011

St. John’s, NL – May 31st, 2011 – As the summer is fast approaching, Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues (WJB) is preparing to announce the artist lineup for the 10th annual Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival (WIJBF). Executive Director Liz Dunbar will be releasing the highly anticipated lineup on Wednesday, June 8th at 10:30am at the Rocket Bakery on Water Street. She is extremely excited to reveal to the public all of the details regarding this year’s festival taking place from July 13th – 16th as once again downtown St. John’s will be flooded with the rhythms and sounds of different styles of music from all across the globe.

In what is sure to be the most exciting year yet for the festival, Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues gives the people of St. John’s a unique opportunity to experience music and culture from all around the world during 4 jam packed days of concerts, workshops, and events. Since the festival began in 2001 it has grown exponentially in size and numbers, having an increase in audience of almost 400% in previous years. In this milestone year, the WIJBF promises to be the biggest event on the St. John’s Arts and Entertainment scene in 2011!

This year’s festival is sure to have a wider variety of international music than ever before, adding to the musical diversity in St. John’s. Featuring over 100 internationally acclaimed artists and the best talent Newfoundland has to offer, the 10th annual Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival is sure to be one to remember.

Come join WJB on June 8th at 10:30am at the Rocket Bakery for some fantastic live entertainment as the exciting lineup for the 2011 Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival is announced, running from July 13th – 16th in downtown St. John’s.

To keep up to date with the latest festival details, check out WJB on our website,  facebook, twitter, myspace, and wordpress.


For more information please contact:
Ben Waring at 709-739-7734


The Nickel Gets Jazzed & the Jazz Festival Gets Framed

June 1, 2011

6th Annual Super 8 Series co-presented by the Nickel Film Festival,

Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival


Canadian Federation of Musicians – Local 820

(Newfoundland and Labrador Musicians’ Association)

During the 2011 Nickel Film Festival, filmmaker Roger Maunder will facilitate a workshop on Super 8 film-making for the festival’s annual film series that brings together filmmakers and musicians. The end result will be a screening of three original films with a live-recorded performance by musicians at the 10th annual Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival, as well as a screening of the film with sound the following year at the Nickel Film Festival.

How it works

Composers are invited to apply to participate in this program. One composer has already been selected. Two more will be chosen by a selection committee of the provincial musicians’ association.

On Tuesday June 17, three filmmakers will be chosen to create Super 8 films.

The three musicians will each be matched with a filmmaker at the workshop facilitated by Roger Maunder on June 21, from 1-3pm. Participating composers must be available to attend this workshop.

Once paired up, the composer and filmmaker collaborate on an idea for a short film. The filmmaker will be supplied with a camera and 3 minutes of Super 8 film for a one-day shoot during the festival. The film is edited in camera. It is then processed and the composer will be given a copy of the film to compose music. The composer will have 24 hours to complete the music and get it ready for a live-recorded performance during the Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival. The musical performance will be recorded and then combined with the film. The Nickel Film Festival will screen the result the following year at their festival.

To qualify

To qualify for this project, filmmakers must have had a film screened at a past or the current Nickel Film Festival.

To qualify as a composer, you should have experience composing music for film as well as confidence and ease performing in an improvised manner. You must also be a current member of CFM 820 or a performer at this year’s Wreckhouse Jazz and Blues Festival. A selection committee has been formed by our association’s Executive Board to assess the submissions.

If you wish to apply, please submit a sample of your musical work and your artist bio OR an EPK OR a website address that includes a musical sample + bio.

Deadline for submissions is Monday June 6, 2011.


Should you have any questions, please contact Rozalind MacPhail at the Canadian Federation of Musicians – Local 820:

The office phone number is 709-722-8005 and Roz’s email is:


The Importance of Early Musical Involvement: A Retrospective

May 31, 2011
Santa Teresa High School  Jazz Band

Image by San Jose Library via Flickr

Article by: Devin Grant

Music. For many of us, imagining a world without it is unthinkable, almost tantamount to losing a part of ourselves. But while music is now so clearly a part of our lives in one way or another, it’s important to remember the gifts that it has given us along the way, and the benefits that it can bestow early in life. Finding myself working with music for the summer has made me think back on all of the ways that music has affected my life to this point, and being thankful for that past I feel the need to share these benefits, in the hope that young (potential) musicians can experience the same friendly, supportive helping hand that music has granted me.

Academic Benefits

In this section I aim to speak not from personal experience (that would be a tad pompous) but from the much more persuasive statistics. Many studies have shown a strong correlation between participation in music and academic success, particularly in mathematics. The links aren’t hard to find; it doesn’t take much effort to connect rhythms and fractions, mathematical formulae can be (and have been) written to mimic melodies, and the complexities of a skilled composition are mirrored in the many facets of a complicated equation. However, the academic benefits are not limited simply to mathematics; one study conducted in Southern California showed that students involved in musical extra-curricula’s such as band or choir on average had a GPA over half a point higher than their non-musical counterparts. Some studies have gone as far as to say that music majors have the highest SAT scores in all areas (as a math major I find that hard to believe, but we’ll leave it to the experts). Regardless, it is undeniable that music positively impacts academic success and it’s not hard to see why. Between building analytical skills from reading and understanding musical scores, to the work ethic gained by the necessity of regular practice, music teaches children many important skills for academia.

Social Benefits

While a somewhat obvious benefit, this certainly merits mention considering its importance. Anyone who has been involved in musical groups can tell you that it is practically unavoidable that you will make new friends through music. Many of my friendships started and matured through music, resulting in some of my very closest friends, as well as having friends living all across the country. They say that an important part of a friendship is having common interests, and when meeting through music this first requirement is already met. Regular practices as well as performances and other occasions provide the perfect grounds to foster a new friendship. Speaking from personal experience, music offers a venue for many otherwise shy, introverted people to break out of their shell. Whether it be playing solos, belting out a spectacular note, or simply performing as part of a group, music allows these people to make themselves heard in a venue where they can feel accepted and comfortable with themselves.

Personal Benefits

This is perhaps one of the more overlooked benefits granted by musical involvement. As mentioned in the previous section, music offers a place where people can begin to express themselves socially and break out of their shell. What comes with this opportunity is a means to grow as a person, especially where confidence is involved. I for one was very unconfident throughout my elementary and junior high school years, until jazz band, choir, and musical theatre performances gave me a chance to push myself into roles that I had never seen myself filling up to that point, making solo performances and even resulting in performing a 60’s love song in a white tuxedo (anyone who knows me well remembers this event, whether fondly or not is a point of contention). It’s hard to find a medium other than music that allows someone to push and improve themselves as much as music does. Of course emotionally, music has always been an incredibly important mode of self-expression, whether one is performing, composing, or simply listening. The connection between music and the human psyche is one of the strongest there is, and having music as a part of one’s life is truly a gift at a time filled with emotional turmoil. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but often the way to your own heart is through your ears.

Despite everything written above, the effect music can have on a young person truly can’t be expressed in words. Those of us who have lived it know how it feels, and we can only hope that many more of future generations will experience it for themselves. My message to today’s youth: play early, and play often.

Related Articles: (Children’s Music Workshop)


Denis Parker & Scott Goudie Acoustic Blues at S Lounge (Majestic) Saturday May 28

May 10, 2011


Jazz it up at the AC Hunter Library May 25th!

May 4, 2011


Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival Line-up Announced Soon

May 4, 2011

Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival are proud to announce their 10th anniversary!  Since beginning in 2002, we have been bringing jazz, blues and world musics culture and tradition to Newfoundland and this year is no exception.

We will begin to announce the 2011 performers in the days and weeks to come so keep your eyes and ears open.  On June 1, the full line-up will be announced during our Media Launch and Festival Passes and select tickets will be available online.  For further information on Media Launch please contact Ben at 709.739.7734 or by email at

Keep up to date with the latest Festival news @…….

The Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues website

WJB Facebook page

Twitter feed


The Folk Arts Society 2011 Concert and Workshop Series Featuring Blues Workshop

February 17, 2011

Dennis Parker (above) & John Clarke will be holding the Blues workshop

Due to the popularity of the small stage workshops at this years Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival and repeated requests for hands on learning opportunities, The Folk Arts Society is pleased to launch a new series of workshops and concert presentations.

Each 1 1/2 to 2 hour workshop will be preceded by a 1 hour acoustic concert presentation. The short performance will give workshop participants a chance to familiarize themselves with the style of the performer and isolate any areas of particular interest such as chord progressions, techniques, melodic ideas, etc. These ideas can then be explored in the workshop that follows the concert.

We encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities by registering early as space will be limited!

To register or for more information contact the Folk Arts Society at 576-8508, email, or go to

April 3rd, 2011

Blues Guitar 101 with Denis Parker and John Clarke

LSPU Hall Second Space

1:00pm to 4:00pm

A 1 hour acoustic blues concert followed by 1 and 1/2 hours of blues inspiration and instruction! This blues ain’t all about feelin’ bad; actually it has much more to do with playing guitar! And we will be playing Gibson’s, dobros, and a steel bodied National Tricone that is probably the loudest, bluesiest, and coolest thing you have ever seen or heard! This workshop is all about jamming the blues and enabling participants to jam in any key and some of the topics covered will be blues scales, blues turnarounds, transitioning between chords, and lead licks and fills. There will be a crash course in slide guitar as well!

Denis Parker has been the mainstay of the local blues scene since his arrival to St. John’s in the 1970s. Primarily known as a Dobro player and slide guitarist, John Clarke has been a sideman to many local songwriters and blues musicians over the last 10 years.


All ideas can be adapted to using a flat-pick but basic finger style guitar is the focus.

Participants should be able to change chords fluently in the keys of E and A.

Knowledge of music theory is not necessary.

Bring is your own guitar and slide, and a tuner is always helpful!

Doors open at 12:45, concert session runs form 1pm to 2pm.

Workshop and concert cost is $40 and the concert only is $5 (all HST included).

Workshops must be paid in advance; concert admission is by cash on the door only.

To register or for more information contact the Folk Arts Society at 576-8508, email, or go to

John Clarke
Events Coordinator
Folk Arts Society
35th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival
Office: (709)-576-8508
Alternate (709)-579-5755

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