Skyscraper Yoga

Yoga For Busy People and Families

Creativity Takes Courage and Imagination June 28, 2013

Filed under: Art and Movement,Body and Spirit,Sound and Music — skyscraperyoga @ 4:09 am

Rebecca Brandt, NYU graduate, NYC based composer shares about her work, beliefs and her debut music album “Numbers and Shapes”. By Lena Green
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“Rebecca Brandt is a Brooklyn-based composer, classically trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist. On May 1st, 2012 she released her debut album “Numbers and Shapes” composed of 14 original compositions, written and orchestrated for over 30 instruments. While Rebecca’s sound can be classified as an instrumental pop/classical crossover, “Numbers and Shapes” blends a variety of genres, mainly focusing on electro-acoustic, contemporary classical and electronic styles. Yet, each song is unique and has its own little world, often toying with jazz, rock and more traditionally classical concepts.”
The amazing grace of the album is apparent and by listening to the album you are inevitably involved in the world of beautiful images, appealing harmonies, upbeat rhythms and soothing sounds that distinguish Rebecca’s musical style from the style of other composers. I am glad that we met and spoke about so many issues that are dear to our hearts.
My special thanks to Rebecca for her commitment and her work on her new song that she recently wrote for me. I am very excited to include this song to the list of the songs that I am working on and recording at the moment! Here I want to share our conversation with Rebecca as we discussed music, education, Rebecca’s debut and much more:

Lena:
1. Your first album “Numbers and Shapes” received a top-25 shortlist nomination for the 2013 Grammys. Tell us more about this achievement and what was the requirement for your music to acquire such recognition?
Rebecca:
The Grammy shortlist nomination came as a total surprise. Each member of the Grammy Awards and Nominations committee is allowed to submit one artist or album for consideration that fall under certain guidelines (like the artist having never been nominated in prior years). A particular committee member decided to use his one vote for “Numbers & Shapes.” The record ended up in the “Best New Age Album” category, which is broadly defined as music that is acoustic, electronic, jazzy, and folky and incorporates classical and pop elements. It really meant a lot that a committee member would use his one vote to nominate my record. Making it past several cuts and on to the top-25 shortlist was just icing on the cake.
Lena:
2. You graduated from New York University with a degree in Music composition and Film scoring. Tell us more about your decision to become a composer and about your years at NYU. What does it take to become a composer?
Rebecca.1
Rebecca:
I had been writing little songs ever since I was very young, mostly instrumental. I was never big into lyrics. I started playing piano at around age 6 and violin at 8 so I always identified as a musician, but I guess I didn’t really identify as a composer until studying at NYU. I was at the Gallatin school, which is an individualized study program, so I was able to create my own concentration based on my interests. I loved composing, music theory, and was fascinated by film music – in part to my Dad’s own fascination with film music – so my concentration was kind of a no-brainer. I took all kinds of composition and film scoring courses and honed my composing skills from many different angles. One class in particular, taught by composer and orchestrator Sonny Kompanek, had us re-score scenes from famous films for each class; he said the only way to improve was to just keep writing. I think that’s really what it takes to compose well, just keep writing all the time. Maybe half of what you write ends up in the trash, but the other half can become something.
Lena:
3. The public and some private schools often diminish art and music education. Do you agree that early music and art education is important for the health and overall development of a well-rounded personality?
Rebecca:
I absolutely agree that studying music and the arts shapes young people in a very significant way. Not just in the creative sense, but intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Art gives children a way to express themselves that perhaps they would have never explored and provides new ways of looking at the world or solving problems more logically or creatively. Personally, music was always a major part of my social life and helped me connect with my peers. I absolutely would not be who I am today had it not been for my music and arts education from an early age – and not just in the sense of my career, but my personality, relationships, and probably
my mind. It seems like arts education is always one of the first to go during school budget cuts, and my heart breaks for those kids who don’t have access to instruments or paintbrushes or creative writing classes. I wish administrators would take a closer look at the merits of the arts before diminishing the whole curriculum.
Lena:
4. What do you think about these quotes: “Creativity takes courage” – H. Matisse, and “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – A. Einstein?
Rebecca:

I do think creativity takes courage; it’s very easy to blindly follow patterns of what people have done in the past or mimic commercially successful music and call it a day without putting in any real thought. It’s important to put yourself out there and try different concepts or ideas that pop into your head – maybe they’ll end up sounding terrible but at least you tried! Creativity and imagination certainly go hand-in-hand. Every idea, theory, scientific method, piece of art, EVERYTHING had to be imagined at some point before it was actualized and put into the world.
Lena:
5. I personally like the last song on your album called “The Moment”. Is there any visual image behind this song, an idea or a composer whose music might have influenced your composition?
Rebecca:
“The Moment” is actually one of my favorite tracks on the album, too. It definitely took on a mind of its own and drastically changed over the course of recording – I just kept adding to it and adding to it and it became this huge thing. A large inspiration came from Ravel’s “Bolero.” That piece is just so special and emotional for me, I cry every time I hear it. What’s so moving for me is how that piece starts so small and just builds and builds with more instruments to become this gigantic, epic monster and you can’t even remember how the piece started anymore. It uses repetition with the gradual introduction of instruments in such a perfect way – the same melody is repeated throughout, there really is not much development, yet it never gets boring – and I love playing with repetition and fun orchestrations in my own work. I like to think “The Moment” follows a similar structure, starting out very small with new instruments joining in every few bars, until there are nearly 30 instruments playing together at the end. I wanted people to listen and think, “Wait, what just happened?” and then listen again.

Lena:
6. Tell us more about your work in film scoring. Do you have any further plans?
Rebecca:
I really love writing music to visuals, especially narrative films or films that tell a story. It’s awesome how music can completely transform a visual and vice versa. A scene can feel emotional or scary or funny entirely based on the background music, and I like having that control! I like telling this story – I once re-scored a scene from “The Shining” for fun, it’s this disturbing scene where Jack Nicholson is going insane and talking to his son, and I wrote this really upbeat, fun piece that made the scene feel like a warm, loving family moment. Music has that kind of power. I do have some new films in the pipeline, so stay tuned!
Lena:
7. What does it take for a female composer, singer or musician to survive and compete in the male dominated entertainment industry in USA? Do you believe that we should continue discussing this particular topic in the future?
Rebecca:
I think women still do struggle to break into the composing world. Unfortunately it isn’t easy for anyone, regardless of gender, to make it in the entertainment industry. Though it does seem women have a difficult time gaining recognition in film composing (of course I base my opinion solely on personal experiences, and I’m sure everyone has their own take). I’ve been flat-out denied several gigs because I’m female; one director commented he was going with another composer because he didn’t want a flowery, romantic score, and I hadn’t even sent him samples of my music yet! I’ve thought of submitting my music under only my last name as to ward off any initial biases, but I haven’t actually done this yet –I still want to be true to myself. I guess I would tell other women looking to compete in the music world to just keep at it! That’s really all you can do. If you let the criticism or rejection gets to you, you’re in the wrong industry.
Rebecca Brandt _ pic

Obviously, we will stay tuned for more news from Rebecca so that we can learn about her upcoming projects, plans and ideas. We are happy that we had a chance to meet, talk and collaborate with this multitalented composer and pianist and we are looking forward to continue our discussions and talks in the future. Best of luck, Rebecca! For more info about Rebecca Brandt please visit: http://rebeccabrandt.bandcamp.com/

Lena Green -In addition to teaching and performing, she is a media contributor, publisher and an editor for her newspaper “Perfect Pitch Media” where she discusses music, fashion, zen, health, female leadership, ethical peoplehood & soft humor.
Her Master’s degrees in Music and in Education and her BA in Enterprise Business Management led to extensive working experience from consulting at the World Bank to teaching at NYC Private Schools and performing on stage. Lena has traveled around the world and she now resides in New York City, thrilled by the new possibilities and perspectives that this marvelous city has to offer.

 

Plans June 21, 2013

Filed under: Art and Movement,Body and Spirit,Sound and Music — skyscraperyoga @ 2:12 am
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Posted by Lena Green.

New piano student

The summer is beginning and most of the schools have already celebrated their ‘last day of the school year’! Kudos to all of the teachers and responsible parents who made it!
What does summer mean for the majority of caring parents worldwide? It means traveling with their family, finding a summer school for kids, a new high school or a college, a soccer team, a teen fitness camp or a private teacher to make the best out of the summer time!

When I recently met one of my new piano students, I asked him why he wanted to spend time playing piano in the summer, while other kids are playing lacrosse, swimming and taking karate lessons.
The answer was unique: “Because I like Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins and I want to study how to play the guitar and the piano this summer so that I can audition and play in the school band next year.
WOW, such a big dream for a 7 year old! I was inspired, I like these musicians myself! But my next thought was -” I should make a customized curriculum for this pianist so that some of his beloved melodies will be included in our lessons”.

When I spoke to the parent of the student and he asked me about the books and our program, I mentioned that there is no such thing as “one size fits all “in my approach. I do not appreciate the method when the instructor offers his only book to all of the students. This kind of approach is scholastic machinery. It does not reflect on the student’s personality. We all are different and what is brilliant for one, maybe hated, ridiculed or ignored by another.

So, following my humane views, I am making customized packets for each of my students. They include samples from different books of different publishers, my own improvisational sketches, and some theory notebooks that are essential for music practices worldwide. I am making sure that my student can practice or listen to an easy version of Phil Collins during the lesson, since this singer had such an impact on my newbies’ music taste, creativity, his future plans and perhaps, his future career or path in life.

And one more thing that I mentioned to that parent and that I want to share with other ladies and gentlemen. “I never take a student who wants to practice only one simple song, like “Old McDonald had a farm”. This “lesson plan B” seems ridiculous to me. Surely with this attitude, this student does not belong to the cast of my little versatile geniuses, with their big dreams and smart hearts, that I love to deal with.

Follow us for more radiant news, up beat interviews, perfect pitch music and some healthy recipes.

 

“ABC” -Factor, or How Yoga & Music go hand to hand in my Music and Yoga Workshops June 14, 2013

Filed under: Art and Movement,Body and Spirit,Sound and Music — skyscraperyoga @ 2:05 am

By Lena Green.

ABC factor _ voice warm up.

Holding auditions for my new cast is fun! I’ve got a group of very bright and super artistic members who will perform in our upcoming Musical. They are not newbies in music and they are eager to sing, act and go on stage tomorrow! But I realized that I needed to create a special voice warm up session in order to bring all these smiling stars, their emotions and inspiration into ‘working’ mode so that we could start talking more about the “music in us” rather than talking about “us in music”.

Following one of Constantin Stanislavski’s sayings “Love the Art in yourself and not yourself in the Art.”, my stars started working on their voices and liking their voices without shouting or elbowing their neighbors so that their voices might own a soothing quality that we can only imagine.

But how can yoga help?
Breathing exercises and vocal stretching on vowels that are similar to those in “Om – Mani – Padme – Hum” create what we call Unity Consciousness.
After about 7-10 minutes of warm up practice my cast realized that they had learned a new skills, they learned how to enjoy themselves while enjoying others. “When is our next rehearsal? Let’s do it several times a week!”- shouted one of the singers.

Obviously, my little stars do not want to flee from or hurt this theater, and that just confirmed another one of Stanislavsky’s quotes: “Unless the theatre can ennoble you, make you a better person, you should flee from it.”
Sure, after my well-deserved weekend I will get back to work. Next week, I will meet my stars again for some “Yellow Submarine warm up exercises”- which has a lot of smart vowels and heartfelt chord progressions.

Follow us for more radiant news, creative ideas, lovely smiles, ethical business advice, perfect pitch sounds and MUCH, MUCH more!!

Lena ( Green)- In addition to teaching and performing, she is a media contributor, publisher and an editor for her newspaper “Perfect Pitch Media”. In this newspaper and in her blogs she discusses music, fashion, zen, health, female leadership, ethical peoplehood & soft humor. Her Master’s degrees in Music and in Education and her BA in Enterprise Business Management led to extensive working experience from consulting at the World Bank to teaching at NYC Private Schools and performing on stage. Lena has traveled around the world and she now resides in New York City, thrilled by the new possibilities and perspectives that this marvelous city has to offer.

Follow her on Twitter and read the weekly Newspaper “Perfect Pitch Media” http://paper.li/GlbGreen/1360300762

 

When can you start music lessons? June 7, 2013

Filed under: Art and Movement,Body and Spirit,Sound and Music — skyscraperyoga @ 2:37 am
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Posted by Lena Green.
elf

Teaching music is gut-boosting. I can tell you this with all confidence, especially now when my little jazz musicians after months of practice finally performed on stage in front of a big and very supportive crowd. Talent Show, 2013, yes- we did it!
To my surprise I have some new applicants this year who are only 2 .5 years old but are already demanding an immediate audition! Smart.

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So when can you start music lessons? Can you teach a child piano or voice at 5? Can you teach him/her to listen to Mozart and the Beatles at 1? Can you start practicing Jazz at 32? These kinds of questions are the most common questions that I have to answer any time I meet a new potential adult student or the parent of a child /student.
After getting my formal education at the conservatory, teaching music and performing throughout the years, I have learned that whenever you or your child take any music appreciation class or start actual private lessons, the benefits are huge. I believe that music is a part of our human nature and that the appreciation of music is something that is already ‘installed’ in us, whether we like it or not. The questions that you should face are what is your goal, why do you want your child to study music or why have you started practicing music in your 30s, 40s or later?

You probably read that according to many studies and pediatrician’s observations music will boost your child’s brain power, improve their memory, improve reading skills, help them socially if they collaborate in a group, and that music is a confidence builder that also teaches patience.
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For grownups music is something that helps to reduce stress and fulfill artistic desires that were left behind early in life. I would like to say that for an adult student who decides to partake on new endeavor- music is something that she/he should truly enjoy doing and it has a tremendous positive impact on daily life.

smoke

Practicing music can be exhausting and hard work, since you need to learn a lot of skills prior to your musical performance. Sometimes it takes hours and hours of preparation, doubts, disappointments, or even conflicts. But as Russell Simmons noticed –“It’s very simple, when you’re working your hardest- the world opens up to you”.
Last week I spent several consecutive days practicing and recording a new song that was written for me by a talented NYC based composer. Her vision and music helped me to get connected to a world that is as huge as you can possibly imagine.

Was this collaboration easy?
Yes.
Was the work on a new song difficult?
It was incredibly difficult.
Did I like it?
Yes.
Why am I doing this?
I have no idea, but I love each second if it. “Thank you for the Music”!!

Follow us for more updates and talks on music, NYC Jazz, interviews and some teaching advice.

 

Creativity Takes Flight May 17, 2013

Filed under: Art and Movement,Beauty and Fashion,Body and Spirit — skyscraperyoga @ 1:58 am
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Posted by SY.

Hello Everybody and Welcome to our Newsroom!

We are happy to announce the beginning of our “Perfect Pitch Media” Discussion Forum where you will meet our friends, colleagues and inspirational people from all over the World. We believe that all of our guests –from musicians, composers, or music recording studio owners to fashion designers, filmmakers, wellness professionals or ethical business developers are a truly moving creative force and are exemplary across borders, cultures and generations.

Our first guest is designer Daria Razumikhina- Russian born, London based Fashion Designer who was trained at Central St Martins, London (1995-1998) and launched her own label in 1999.We are grateful for an opportunity to introduce Daria and her fascinating enterprise to our readers and to share about our conversations that started about two months ago, and that will continue in the future.

Razumihina

I came across Daria’s fashionable skirts and tops when I was searching for an outfit, for my ongoing music recording sessions and for my upcoming (second) charity concert. I felt inspired by Daria’s work and some of the folkloric motifs that are an essential part of her clothes. Her creative design reminds me some familiar landscapes and colors from my childhood, and it speaks to me in the language of fairy tales and songs that I heard when I was a little girl.

” What Daria’s creativity made of” and “How she become an Artist and a Fashion Designer after having a prestigious education and a sound career in Journalism?”
Daria: “I grew up in Russia and I was educated in the Russian public school system in late 70s and early 80s when fashion design, sewing and cooking class was mandatory and was included in school curriculums countrywide. So, I created my “first sewing ‘project’ – my first skirt when I was 10 years old. Then I continued sewing throughout my following school years and into the University without naming it “Fashion Design” or my “Future Career”. After I graduated from the University with my PhD in Linguistics (1991) I start working as a political Journalist, often going to Chechnya and other areas to make my reports. I felt that I wouldn’t like doing this kind of work for a long period of time. So the change came when I got to London and when I was luckily accepted into the one of the most brilliant schools of Fashion Design- Central St Martins.

Me: “There are plenty of upcoming questions about your style, inspirational sources, your future plans and shows. When will I hear from you again?
Daria : “As soon as I am back from Spain “

Daria is Russian and was born in Moscow in 1965. She studied at Moscow State University and has a PhD in Linguistics (1991). She worked as an interpreter and journalist for foreign TV channels and newspapers before going to London to study Fashion Design. She was admitted to Central St Martins to study Fashion Print. After returning to Russia in 1998 she created her own label Razu Mikhina, her surname split in two. Her first show was held in Moscow in January 1999. Daria stages all her shows in Moscow.

Razu Mikhina exhibited at Pret-a-Porter Paris (Atmoshere sector), WHO’S NEXT and INDIGO (Paris), at London Designer’s Exhibition (London), WHITE (Milan), JFW International Fashion Fair (Tokyo) etc From 2000 to 2006 Razu MIkhina collaborated with the show room Glenos, Milan. (Stockists included Barneys NY, SAKS, Takashimaya NY (USA), 2Link and Cavalli&Nastri (Milan), Joyce (Hong Kong), Liberty and Browns (London), Victoire (Paris), The Bay (Canada), Barneys Japan, Aquagirl, Epoca, Isetan, Shiseido The Ginza (Japan), OFF& CO (Germany), Podium and Tsvetnoy (Moscow) etc… ) From 2007 Razu Mikhina concentrates on the Russian market.
For more info go to -http://www.razumikhina.com/en/about/

 

Voice Loss Remedy- Sea Buckthorn Oil May 3, 2013

Filed under: Art and Movement,Beauty and Fashion,Body and Spirit,Sound and Music — skyscraperyoga @ 2:21 am
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skin and voice 1
skin and voiceThe Food for Better Voice & Radiant Skin
• If you are concerned about voice loss -first of all, stop talking, especially on the phone, avoid yelling and do not whisper because your vocal chords will be experiencing even more tension.
• Simple voice loss remedies might include the following. Drink any milk along with mineral water. The best mineral water for this recipe would be “Borjomi” offered through selected Whole Food markets. This mineral water contains natural salts and many minerals that are essential for your well-being.
• Reading is very important. Dr. Oz in his book ” You being Beautiful” offered useful advice that is based on his true business expertise, relevant education and on decades of his sound experience.

Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) is one of the most useful plants on Earth. Its orange colored berries are not only yummy; they are an unsurpassed natural source of vitamin E, A and several other carotenes. Sea Buckthorn, which contains vitamins B1, B2, K, and P has the quality of healing stomach ulcers, burns, sore throats, and voice loss, and it can also treat your skin so that it looks royally radiant. Take a 1/2 of a table spoon or 1 tea spoon of Sea Buckthorn Oil and swallow as slowly as possible or just let it run down your throat. For more tips click here and see the video clip.

If you have any further questions – just ask us.

 

Music is Painting in the Air

Filed under: Art and Movement,Body and Spirit,Sound and Music,Uncategorized — skyscraperyoga @ 2:15 am
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Posted by SY.

 

MD _boat1

The last week of April in New York was influenced by a plethora of extraordinary music events dedicated to the International Day of Jazz and to the celebration of the Birthdays of Barbra Streisand, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Many gifted singers and musicians showcased their talents on various stages including Lincoln Center, Blue Note, and other Jazz & Blues halls and clubs.
What an extraordinary occasion to learn about blues & jazz and, if you’re lucky, to jam with some renown jazz musicians who gathered together to pay a tribute to music!!
During one of our ‘after-concert’ coffee hours the question: “Are Gospel music and Blues the same thing?” was asked.
While there is an evident distinction between Gospel Music and the secular solo Blues, Blues is also an important root of jazz music and to this day is considered to be an essential part of a jazz repertoire.

“Blues is many things: a musical form of bars and measures, a whole body of melodies and themes. It is a harmonic system. It is a system of call and response. It is a bunch of moans and groans, and shouts and cries, dissonance and consonance; and it can interface with music all over the world”. Wynton Marsalis in “Jazz, a History of American’s Music”
“The Blues is a feeling and when it hits you, it’s the real news.” – said Huddie Ledbetter (1888-1949) who was called the” King of the twelve –string guitar” and had a repertoire of some 500 songs.
I would also add that Blues is Improvisation – the ability to find a new fresh and radiant melody (motif) and avoid being repetitive, simple, ill-mannered or predictable. Developing the motif and improving voice is not something that is done overnight. Listening, practicing and respecting the standards of notorious Jazz Kings and Jazz Queens is a time-consuming but an awesome and luxurious entity. It is also important for jazz students, teachers or well-known jazzmen and jazzwomen to create new music that is in harmony with our recent time, human values and our hearts.