Pretty People, Boring Music

Recently I was out at a bar watching a series of performers get up and do their thing. A few of them were stuck in that middle ground between good and bad known as boring. Sure the songs were crafted fine enough. Their voices didn’t crack and their instruments were in tune. But what was missing was some sorta hook to grab the crowd and make them want to listen. As they played, the crowd would grow louder and louder. As if the music was an annoyance.

Then something happened and I wasn’t sure if I should be annoyed or angry or amused. After the unfortunate guy slinked off of the stage, a pretty young girl then got up and the place fell silent. She shyly introduced herself and started to deliver her own lackluster brand filler. As I looked around I saw this remarkably focused attention. The men would glaze over with various sexual fantasies and the women would nod in some diluted moment of solidarity.

The chauvinism was loud even to me as I thought about it. That is until another night. To my surprise I learned that this is not a gender specific trend. The crowd on this night was mainly women and the featured act was a fresh faced, boy band potential, young man. Just as the case above, the songs were boring and all sounded the same but the feminine ears and eyes were fixated. The guys in the room were quiet too I guess as a way to impress their dates.

Well, I say God bless the pretty people because if someone can get by on his or her looks, I say go for it. In any business, job security is a thing of the past. Talent can only get you so far. Take Beyonce for example. She ain’t breakin’ any musical or thespian ground. In sports Anna Kournikova is one of the best known players in the history of tennis yet she has never won a championship. Oh and let’s not forget Benji. That mut was such a ham, yet we all loved him. I know I cried when he got kicked.

The Music Means so Much

It seems cliche to say that my favorite movie soundtrack is from “Dirty Dancing”. It’s so cliche in fact, I’m embarrassed to put it in writing. But no other movie soundtrack in recent history can bring to mind a movie, or the emotions I felt watching the movie, better than this one does.

I was 13 the first time I saw “Dirty Dancing”. My best friend was having a birthday party and it had just become available at the video store in town. Back then it took forever for a movie to become available for rental, so it had been out of theaters probably close to a year before I saw it. A group of us girls sat in the floor in front of the television and we popped the movie into the VCR. From the first minute I was hooked.

Watching Baby dance around Kellerman’s and learn to dance with Johnny fascinated me. I still find myself stopping if I find the movie on television today, and I can quote more lines of dialogue from the movie than I should ever admit. But “I’ve Had The Time of My Life” has to be one of the best songs used in a movie ever. That song can come on the radio today and I still get tears in my eyes. I automatically go back in my mind to watching Baby and Johnny dance their last dance.

To me, I know I’ve connected with a movie if I still feel the emotions I first felt even years later when I hear the song. Every song in “Dirty Dancing” does that for me. Even that silly song they sang at the end of the talent show makes me smile.

I never would have realized what a great singer Sam Cooke was if “Dirty Dancing” hadn’t introduced me to his music. I might never have learned how to “Mash Potato” or how to do “The Twist”. I knew some of the songs from the movie, but they made me hear them in a whole new light. It’s almost as if the music is another character in the movie, that lives on long after the movie is over.

The Best Music in Buffalo NY

Only in Buffalo NY will you find a local bar band that plays great rock and roll at all the local bars, carnivals and festivals and promotes itself with cd’s and t-shirts for its local beer tent tour. Not since the days of the Goo Goo Dolls, Ani DiFranco and RIck James has this town had any doubt that the most talented, successful names in the music business never fail to make Buffalo NY proud.

Hit N Run is such a band. They have been around for over 20 years playing locally and on the big stage as an opener for The Kinks, Frankie Valli, The Tubes, Honeymoon Suite, Jeff Healy, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter, Blue Oyster Cult, Steppenwolf, Asia, Little River Band and many more, Thanks to their recent induction into the Buffalo Music Hall Of Fame in October 2009 and countless other People’s Choice Awards for best keyboardist, drummer and guitarist as well as nominations from Rhapsody they have also won Buffalo’s Music Awards 9 years in a row as best cover band. Hit N Run has just been announced as Brett Michael’s opening act for his upcoming Buffalo show as well as The Fabulous Thunderbird’s opener for our Thursday In the Square concert series finale .

Hit N Run has a huge fan base in Buffalo NY and covers the best rock bands such as AC;/DC, Poison, Styx, Boston, Goo Goo Dolls, Def Leppard, MotleyCrue, Cheap Trick, 3 Doors Down, Journey, Boston, Lynard Skynrd, Van Halen, Train, Nickelback, Queen and also some outstanding female vocals from Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Pat Benatar and Meatloaf. This band really draws a huge following as the best sing a long party rock band in the Western NY area.

If you are in the Buffalo NY area, check out the beer tent at your local carnival, festival or lawn fete for HIT N RUN ,. Their sets usually last 4-5 hours so be prepared to party well into the night!

4 Easy Ways to Make Music a Part of Your Classroom

So many teachers want to integrate music into their teaching. But they just don’t know how. Or they think it will be too difficult and time consuming. It can be really simple. These are four ways that I’ve used to make music a part of my classroom.

1. Teaching Songs- 
There are all sorts of songs that you can use to teach. Some teaching songs are based on simple tunes that students already know, like “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Three Blind Mice”. Mailbox Magazine is a great place to look for these. The other kind are original songs, written by people like Dr. Jean. You can use them to teach anything from the alphabet to synonyms and antonyms to forms of matter. It is extremely easy to find these tunes. And you can write your own songs, too.

2. Get Up And Dance!- 
When you have a few minutes, put on an upbeat song. Have your students get out their wiggles by dancing. If you want, you can even teach them line dances or other choreographed dances. This is a great way for your kids to get out some energy and have a good time. Plus, even teachers can join in the fun!

3. Transition Tunes- 
A quick and simple song can let your students know when it’s time to transition to a new subject. Whether you need your students to clean up or move to a new location, a recognizable tune can do the trick. It can have words about circle time or cleaning up. Dr. Jean has some great songs for transitions. But you could also use a short, simple tune as a signal. What an easy way to tell your students it’s time for a change!

4. Mood Music- 
When your students are working, reading independently or in centers, play some music. It’s that simple. Classical music is great for this purpose, but any type will work. It can help your students relax and keep them on task. Background music is an easy way to get a little music in your room.

Now, go try it!

Conya Doss: “Just Good Music”

In a little school in Cleveland, one wonderful woman gives herself to children of special needs, but after-hours, her voice may be the cure for the special needs of R&B; and Soul aficionados. Conya Doss finds that sweet spot of soul on the R&B; tip with a sound that is diligently modern, but tastefully classic. Her lyrics exude what you’d demand of an educator; thoughtfulness, intelligence, generosity and understanding. The music is a delicious spread of soft jazz guitar, hip-swaying rhythms, firm, snappy beats and slick Hip Hop styled production.

Doss has the delicacy of a Jill Scott, the depth of Erykah Badu and the flow of Indie Arie or Lauryn Hill, though the comparisons don’t do her right. It’s not that Doss outshines these songstresses of Soul; it’s that she takes us down her own side roads, on the way to groove.

For instance, the title track on her 2006 album, Love Rain Down (Conya Doss Songs-Unique Beat Recordings), is a funky little track that pours over Doss’ subtle vocal work that peaks and valleys throughout an almost hypnotic chorus. Love Rain Down is the third album after a highly acclaimed debut with A Poem About Ms. Doss in 2002 and her sophomore release, Just Because in 2004.

She’s lovingly referred to as Soul Music’s best kept secret, but often regard as a leading voice in the Nu-Soul arena. It’s easily understood once the pulsing guitar riff of “Tell Me Why” gives way to Doss asking “Tell me why is it always the ones you love…” The song is a gentle release of sadness that beautifully builds into a burning question of the inevitability of love’s paradox.

Love won’t let us forget, and Doss is a voice that sticks just the same if you dig the sounds coming out of the Nu-Soul movement. Though, her influence is broad, across the seas of classics from both Jazz and Rock, along with modern songwriters like Tracy Chapman, Mary J Blige, or Ani DiFranco. It’s a whirlwind sound that will dazzle and seduce you at a soul-gathering gala of influence; meaning, it’s music-lovers music, or as Doss says “Just good music.”

A Music X-Press Magazine, Who’s Got Next?, feature.



Musicians on Call Piece

“Musicians on Call”

Please take a second

to imagine what it’s like

to be terminally ill

The hospital becomes such

a routine place

All you want is to see

A familiar face

Your smile grows cold

Your soul grows old

At the same time

I want you to imagine

what it would be like

to have some of your favorite

musicians come visit you in this

lonely space.

The music opens up your heart

moves your soul

and puts a smile on your face

Your eyes light up

and represent pure bliss

This is something you don’t want to miss

Please do us a favor and donate!

Any dollar amount will do!

For we want Jason to have a great birthday, too!

How to Download Free Music Beats Online

If you’ve been trying to find a place to get pre made beats that you can add your lyrics to, I’ve got a great place for you to check out. has a great selection of beats and music to check out and a lot of it is free. They have tons of music and some that already have a hook with them. Some can be downloaded for free, some can be bought so that you have the exclusive rights to them. Read below and I’ll tell you how to find them, download them, and run them.

** Going to and picking a genre**

1. Log onto 
2. Scroll down to the “Music Charts and Genres” section 
3. Click on “Beats/Instrumentals”

** Finding a beat you like **

1. Once you’re on the new page, scroll below the “Instrumentals Music Charts” list 
and locate the “Sub Genres” area. 
2. Pick a sub-genre and click it (Beats General, Classical, Jazzy beats, Instrumentals with hooks etc) 
3. On the new page you’ll have a list of beats within the sub genre that you’ve chosen. On most of them you’ll see Free Download or Free DL within the title. Obviously these you can download for free. 
4. Click on the title to preview the beat and see if it’s something you like.

* Downloading the beat ** 
1. Once you’ve previewed a beat that you like, click on the artist name. 
2. Scroll down the new page until you find a list of tracks by this artist. 
3. To the left of the song title, you’ll see three arrows. The first will be a downward facing arrow = Download. 
4. To Download, click this arrow. A download box will appear and check Save File.

** Accessing your new download ** 
1. Once it has finished download, locate the file to wherever it is that you have your downloaded files sent to. 
2. There you go, you now have your new beat on your computer to use. 
3. If you have a music program, like Acid, Mixcraft, fruity loops etc., you can open your new beat in that program and layer in some vocals on top of it.

Colleges & Universities Offering Music Degrees

There are a number of colleges and universities offering music degrees. The colleges and universities include Kent State University, Santa Monica College, Florida State University, Julliard and the Musicians Institute.

1. Kent State University 
There are a number of students that are choosing online institutions to future their education. Kent State University offers a Masters of Music in Music Education online. The college was listed on the 2011 US. News & World Report’s Best Colleges.

2. Santa Monica College 
Many community and junior colleges offer an Associate of Arts in Music. Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California offers an Associate of Arts through their Applied Music Program. The program is geared towards those interested in transferring to a four year college to pursue a Bachelor’s of Art in Music. 

3. Florida State University

The College of Music at Florida State University provides six Bachelors of Arts degrees in their undergraduate program and nine in their graduate degree program. The degrees cover many areas including music education, performance, composition and philosophy. Florida State University also offers a number of certificates.

4. Julliard

Students interested in receiving a degree in music can apply to the Julliard School in New York. Julliard offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in music.

5. Musicians Institute

Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music located in Hollywood, California offers a number of different programs which include performance, industry, alternative as well as the degree program. The degree options are an Associate of Arts and Bachelors of Music. The Musician Institute College also offers certificate and non-certificate programs.’

Classic ’90s Music Review

I’m a Fiona Apple Maggart McAfee fan. I have been a Fiona Apple fan since the release of her album Tidal in July of 1996. As a teenager it was the dark relatable lyrics that drew me to Fiona’s music. As an adult it is her powerful voice, her talented songwriting abilities, her amazing piano skills and of course the still relatable dark lyrics that continue to draw me her music today, especially her 90’s album Tidal.

There are so many ways to describe Tidal: powerfully deep, romantically dark, emotional, funky, jazzy, raw, poetic, realistic…I could go on. Not one song from this album is disappointing to listen to. Each and every one is rich with lyric and melody. From the first track, Sleep to Dream to the last track Carrion I am swept into a long moment of anger, self discovery, pain, empowerment, lost love, thought and finally relief.

The instruments alone are something to applaud. The continuous and melodious presence of the piano in songs like Never Is A Promise or in Sullen Girl and the drums beat in Sleep to Dream make these songs as powerful and poetic as they are. The realistic and poetic lyrics give each song its depth and Fiona’s sultry voice makes and completes each song.

Individually the instruments, the lyrics and Fiona’s voice are great, but combined the instruments, the lyrics, and Fiona’s sultry voice are spectacular. Each song draws me in and takes me into a depth I don’t mind being in. Filled with emotions of a hard life and dark romance, I can relate to this album and I sing along with Fiona and ride the emotional roller coaster with her, releasing all those repressed emotions through her music.

I can definitely understand why this classic 90’s album is so popular.

5 Best Sondheim Musicals

In the history of musical theatre, there are names that have become legend. Rodgers and Hammerstein usually ring bells for even the casual audience member. Stephen Sondheim was a student of Hammerstein and learning at the hands of a master helped turn Sondheim into one of the most complex musical theatre composers ever. His shows test the usual constraints of what many are used to seeing and hearing in musicals. Let’s take a look at five of his best musicals.

5. “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984) Inspired by a painting, this complex musical follows an artist as he works on his masterpiece. Sondheim served as both lyricist and composer.

4. “Assassins” (1990) Always toying with edgy characters, Sondheim turned many famous assassins throughout history into a musical. Sondheim both composed the music and wrote the lyrics.

3. “Company” (1970) A concept musical, “Company,” really showed Sondheim’s willingness to take chances. It bounces around in time and follows a guy named Bobby as he balances wives and girlfriends and friends. Sondheim wrote the lyrics and composed the music.

2. “Sweeney Todd” (1979) A complex, operatic musical, “Sweeney Todd” soars in a terrifying way. It follows a demon barber who seeks revenge. Sondheim wrote both the music and lyrics.

1. “Into the Woods” (1987) Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics to this beloved musicals that turns well known fairy tales on their head and shows what happens after happily ever after ends.

Stephen Sondheim has many incredible shows not on this list, but I think this is his top five best shows that he created both musically and lyrically. Definitely, check out these amazing shows!.