The only thing in life that is constant is change.  This wisdom was printed on a card I bought when I was in my late 20s, and I go back to that sentiment more often than I'd like.

At MYA we have had several recent changes.  Yesterday's Music & Family Fun Fest was moved inside after weeks of planning for an outdoor event.  Volunteers stepped right up and helped with the change in plans, we made the best of it, and although the inflatables and some of the "fun" was missing, our true mission, the music and rehearsals, went off well, in crowded rehearsal rooms packed with students, parents and our dedicated music directors.

Another big change at MYA is that we are saying good bye to our Volunteer Coordinator, Gena Andreasen.  We had a party at Bridie McKenna's last night after the Fun Fest to show our appreciation for her 10 years of dedication to our mission, and to wish her well as she goes back to school full-time to become an occupational therapist.  Those of you who know Gena can picture her patients laughing and trying their best to do whatever she asks them to.

We also received a phone call about a week ago that the print shop we have used for 20 years, Mumm's Print Shop in Evanston, had sold their press and was going out of business.  We will miss working with Bernice, Lester and their nice, Marilyn, who would take all those program ads and information in almost any format we gave them and deliver our program books within an impossibly short deadline.  They always pulled through and we're sorry they had to close their business.  Our Xerox copier/printer in the office does so many jobs that we used to also have them print.  If anyone has any contacts or connections to a good printer, please let us know.

What to Expect at Sunday's Music & Family Fun Fest

For those of you who are new to MYA this year or last, MYA's Music & Family Fun Fest used to be at the end of the year when it offered a final performance for all our large ensembles. This year, with conflicts with the Fischoff Competition at this time, and our prior May weather problems, we decided to make the event an opportunity to start the year out with all our families coming together for more of an open house, open rehearsal event. The goal of this event has always been to increase visibility within the neighboring communities, but more importantly this year, to build community among our MYA students and families.

This year's Music & Family Fun Fest will take the place of old parent meetings which the ensemble directors could not attend because they were rehearsing, and the parent parties of the last two years when  parents of young children found it difficult to attend an evening party.

Orchestras will have only had one rehearsal on Saturday, so the Orchestra Directors will have a little open rehearsal/demonstration and take time to talk to parents about their goals for the season and answer questions.  Voices Rising and the Big Bands will have their first rehearsals on Sunday, which will be open to the public.  At the end of each time slot or rehearsal, MYA Parent, Ann Cariola (Andrew, double bass, Concert Orchestra) has an Icebreaker game for all the students to get better acquainted with the students in their ensemble.

For everyone, there will be:

  • A NOON performance by Fred & Teddi Koch and the 'Lil Cow Band, a little rock band by MYA Faculty members, geared to pre-school through early elementary aged students.  Teddi directs our Music & Movement Classes, and Fred, our Little and Mighty Maestros.  At the same time, Ronald McDonald will be visiting.
  • A 4:30 PM JAZZ Performance by MYA Alum, Michael and John Fatum and their professional combo which includes other MYA Alums.
  • Games:  our famous Cake Walk, Bingo, a retro video game room, Bungee Run, Head to Head Basketball, Moon Rocket Bouncy Tent and more!
  • Food:  Starbuck's Southern Mac 'n Cheese Truck, Sunset Foods, and Bridie McKenna's
  • $5 RAFFLE:  Drawings every half hour!  Prizes include: Season Tickets, an iPad, and lots of other donated items. 

Alexander Technique: What it is?

When I first entered college I had heard about a class called the Alexander Technique and I had NO idea what it was. During my first few college voice lessons my teacher asked me “Have you ever tried Alexander Technique?” You see, I tend to hold all of my tension in my jaw and as a singer that is a BAD thing. It kept me from going to that next step, it kept me from practicing more because it hurt, and in general it just held me back. So even though I still had NO idea what Alexander Technique was, my voice teacher convinced me to sign up for the Alexander Technique class, which is a hard thing to schedule when you are a double music major (no extra time, anywhere!).

On my first day of class, in walks the Instructor, Jane Comfort Brown, who has been teaching the Alexander Technique since 1975. She moves with an ease and grace that you do not see in a 70+ year old. She started off with the basics and as the semester moved along she would work with everyone individually to help them with their individual problems. It was amazing. When I actually thought about what the Alexander Technique has taught me, the tension in my jaw would disappear and I would be able to sing for hours on end. I continued to take at least one class a year to keep up with the thinking and it was one of the things that got me through my Vocal Performance (and Arts Administration) Degree. Not only did I use the thinking while I was singing, but also to help me play piano, to write papers, to sit in class, and to walk from one side of the campus to another. Just thinking about the Alexander Technique helps me to relax my muscles and release whatever tension I am holding.

If you are interested in learning more about the Alexander Technique, please join the MYA Family on Friday, August 17that 10am. Alexander Technique Instructor, John Henes (from Northwestern and DePaul) will be presenting a workshop at the MYA center in the South Hall.

This workshop is made possible by the generosity of MYA Voices Rising member, Jenna Getty who fund-raised for MYA as part of her Bat Mitzvah.  Jenna Getty has been a member of Voices Rising since the Fall of 2009.

This blog was submitted by Chelsa Peterson, MYA Auditions Coordinator, Summer Program Director, Choral Program Administrator (We all wear many hats at MYA!)

Fun, Friendships, and Music at International Music Summit

The first big event of our 2012-2013 20 Years Young Season is about to start.  Charlie Liu arrived this afternoon from New Jersey with his brother and dad, and Kate Lee and her mom arrived from Hong Kong yesterday. By tomorrow six Lang Lang Scholars will have made their way to Chicago for a week of educational workshops and coaching sessions and their orchestral debuts with MYA's Symphony Orchestra next Sunday, August 19, on the Pritzker Stage of Millenium Park.  The performance is at 6:30 p.m. (after the Air & Water Show) and will feature the Grieg and Chopin Piano Concertos and Dvorak Carnival Overture.

Six MYA families and music enthusiasts have opened their homes to these young students, all hand picked by international piano superstar, Lang Lang.  Symphony Orchestra members will start rehearsals on Monday evening, and MYA Chamber Music students will rehearse each afternoon, also getting ready for a chamber music recital at the MYA Center, next Saturday, August 18, at 3 p.m.  

Tonight, MYA Alum and Jazz Pianist, Adam Kromelow, will treat the classically trained young pianists to a jazz piano recital at 7 p.m., our first Music at the Fort recital of the season.