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Montclair Make Music Day is coming

in Arts/Music
Performers and residents mingle at Montclair Make Music Day. Courtesy Greg Pason.

The streets will be alive with the sounds of music on Wednesday, June 21, during Montclair Make Music Day. The event, which starts at 8 a.m. the Upper Montclair train station and ends around 10 p.m., will have more than 50 performers in over 25 venues.

Organizer Greg Pason said in an email, “There are many things happening in the US and world today that are tearing communities apart, but music bring people together. For the fourth year Montclair will host Make Music Day events, and the volunteers who are organizing this day of music event have committed ourselves to make this an inclusive event that serves as a way to bring the community together.”

For the fourth year in a row, the Township Council proclaimed June 21 “Montclair Make Music Day.” Montclair joins hundreds of cities across the U.S. in celebrating the day as party of the Make Music Alliance.

Venues include East Side Side Mags, 73 See Gallery, both Java Love locations, Heratij, Just Kidding Around, Watchung Booksellers, Local Coffee, Nouvelle, St. Luke’s Church, Smith Boring & Parts Co., Women Healing Zone, Bluff City, Montclair Bread Company, Outpost in the Burbs at First Congregational Church, The Creativity Caravan and others.

Pason, who has organized the last three Montclair Make Music Day events, is supported by a team of community activists, including Montclair High School students from Terry’s Serendipity Café.

Montclair BID has also helped promote the event, as has NJ Transit’s Music in Motion program.

There will be some pre-Make Music Day events, including Serendipity Café’s annual Festival Underground held at Edgemont Park, on Saturday, June 17, from noon to 5 p.m.

The schedule will be posted on June 15 at and via the Make Music Day phone app, downloadable from the website.

— Gwen Orel

The brain makes beautiful music: Lois Svard will speak at the Taubman Piano Festival at MSU

in Arts/Classical Music/Music

Taubman Piano Festival
Friday-Sunday, June 23-25
Cali School of Music

“Neuroscience and Piano
Dr. Lois Svard
Friday, June 23, 1-2:15 p.m., G-55
Montclair State University
1 Normal Ave.

Information: Artistic Director
David Witten, or 973-652-4217


If you love music, you’re probably right-brained. Scientists, with their love of facts and figures, are left-brained.

Except not.

Lois Svard, who will speak on “Neuroscience and Piano Performance” at the Dorothy Taubman Festival at Montclair State University on June 23, says that though popular culture books used to break down creativity that way, when she began looking into it, reading articles by neuroscientists, she learned that music is actually processed throughout the brain.

And the notion that the brain is really only plastic, or flexible, as a small child? Not true either.

“We continue to change through life in response to learning, experience or injury,” Svard says. “We can constantly rewire the brain.”

Svard explores neuroscience and music in a blog she writes titled “The Musician’s Brain.” She has received an NEA Award for Arts Commentary and Perspectives on the Arts.

The Taubman Festival, in which Svard is participating for the first time, honors the late Dorothy Taubman (1917-2013), a piano pedagogue who stressed playing without pain. The festival includes master classes, demonstrations and free evening recitals on Friday and Saturday.

Pianist Sondra Tammam will speak on “Level 2 Octaves with Speed and No Fatigue,” and Jacqueline Herbein will lead interactive sessions on relaxing and “Building Dynamic Alignment at the Piano.”

David Witten, head of the piano program at MSU, will give a lecture on “physical concepts at the keyboard and single rotation.”
Witten said in an email that the idea to bring in Svard came from Marilyn Somville, formerly dean of Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, who pointed out that neuroscience and neuroplasticity are becoming important components for musicians.

Svard has spent most of her life as a performing pianist, performing new American music. It was at Bucknell University, where she taught from 1984 to 2011, that she became interested in the creative process, and designed an interdisciplinary program for seniors about it.
She took some undergraduate neuroscience courses at the school. The jargon was challenging, she said, but “it’s like learning a different language.

“Neuroscientists say that making music is the most complex cognitive activity a human engages in, using sensory, auditory, motor, and all kinds of cognitive skills. Lots of areas of the brain are involved.”

Though scientists have been studying the subject for at least 30 years, the information hasn’t been reaching musicians, because scientists publish in scientific journals and go to scientific conferences, Svard said, adding that there are many applications of the study.

For example, the way we practice an instrument can be tweaked. “Simply repeating something over and over again does not encourage strong plasticity in the brain.

“Research has found repetition, whether with languages or motor skills like playing the piano, is the least efficient way to practice. You’re using short-term memory. You want to get something to move into long-term memory in the brain, and you have to use different strategies to do that.

“For example, if you’re learning a piece of music, practice a little bit of one section, then switch to another section. You constantly force the brain to work to try to remember. When doing that, you’re encouraging the formation of the neural circuits that have to do with that piece of music.”

Of course, you still have to repeat a lot, Svard said, but many students, particularly young ones, merely repeat a piece from beginning to end over and over.

“You have to be able to start in lots of different places in a piece of music. Musicians often refer to those as landmarks.”

Dorothy Taubman, with Rose Cali. Courtesy David Witten.

Connecting to the Taubman approach, Svard pointed out that musicians don’t just wire a piece of music into their brains, but their movement as well, and how they physically approach their instruments.

“We can wire in injuries. So if we routinely practice with a lot of stress, or not a very healthy approach to the instrument, then that gets wired in.” Neural pathways in the brain reinforce those unhealthy ways of playing, she said.

“You can change that wiring in your brain. If you’ve learned the wrong notes or rhythms you can change the wiring and correct that.”
Though Svard doesn’t have a degree in neuroscience, she pointed out that neuroscientists who study music usually don’t have a degree in music.

Combining neuroscience and music is a trend, she said, with more and more music students interested in neuroscience and more neuroscientists looking at the music connection.

Scientists have learned that human beings are hard-wired for music just as they are for language, Svard said. “It’s a very natural human instinct to be involved with music, to listen, sing, move to music.

“Musicians talk about anatomy, how we use our fingers, our arms, our muscles, to create a beautiful sound. We talk about relaxation and tension. We don’t talk about the brain. The brain controls our muscles. It sorts through all the information that enters the brain through all our senses.

“The brain is really where practicing happens.”

Playing piano on Father’s Day in Montclair, for a cause

in Arts/Classical Music/Music
The students of Thomas Parente will play for Toni’s Kitchen on Sunday. Courtesy Thomas Parente.

The young piano students of Thomas Parente will perform in a fundraiser for Toni’s Kitchen on Sunday, June 18, at 1:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, 67 Church St. Freewill donations will be accepted at the door.

The program will consist of selections by Chopin, Ravel, Mozart, Schubert, Debussy and others. Parente is an associate professor of piano at Westminster Choir College and author of “The Positive Pianist: How Flow can Bring Passion to Practice and Performance.”
A reception will immediately follow the concert.

MSU to host sixth annual Dorothy Taubman Piano Festival

in Arts/Classical Music/Music

The sixth Dorothy Taubman Piano Festival will take place at the Cali School on the campus of Montclair State University the weekend of

June 23-25.

Dorothy Taubman (1917-2013) was a piano pedagogue who stressed playing without pain. The two evening piano recitals are free and open to the public. The first, on Friday, June 23, at 8, will present students and alumni of the Cali School of Music. The second one, Saturday, June 24, at 8, will be a solo recital by the Chinese pianist Yilan Zhao.

Lois Svard, a pianist and neuroscientist, will discuss the relationship between neuroscience and piano playing on on Friday, June 23, at 1 p.m. Robert Shannon, head of the piano department of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, will give a two-hour piano master class on Saturday at 2:15.

There will be lectures, workshops, and hands-on demonstrations of the Taubman Approach to piano playing. For more information visit

For more information, contact the festival’s artistic director David Witten, at or call 973-652-4217.

Can You Sing? Competition open at NJPAC

in Music

NJPAC Announces Launch of 6th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition

For the first time, both male and female vocalists are invited to submit applications online at

For the sixth consecutive year, singers from around the world will gather online to compete in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition – a 21st century version of the amateur night at the Apollo Theater that helped launch the career of a gifted teenager from Newark, Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan, more than 70 years ago.

“We’ve spent the last five years identifying a host of brilliant new vocalists,” said John Schreiber in a release. Schreiber is president and CEO of NJPAC, which presents the contest as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival (November 4-12) – an annual autumn celebration that fills both the Arts Center and venues throughout Newark with swing.

“But for every Sarah, Ella and Billie, there was also a Joe Williams, a Jimmy Rushing and a Billy Eckstine,” Schreiber said.

“So why not double down on our mission of seeking out the best new voices in jazz by opening the competition to everyone?”

The move was welcomed by the roster of jazz luminaries who’ve been involved with the competition since its inauguration.

“The Sassy Awards – which have helped discover some of the finest young female vocalists in the world – will now, thankfully, open the competition to that all too rare species, young male jazz vocalists. Opening the competition to male vocalists will make this event more exciting than ever!” said Grammy-winning bassist and composer Christian McBride, NJPAC’s Jazz Advisor and a competition judge from 2014 through 2016.

“‘Sassy’ had a divine voice that inspired so many people throughout her career up to today. Her instrument, the voice, is the basis for the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition. Opening the competition to all voices, regardless of gender, seems like the natural progression,” added Tony- and Grammy-winning singer DeeDee Bridgewater, who served as judge during the contest’s initial round in 2012.

Past winners include Cyrille Aimée, Jazzmeia Horn (winner of the 2015 Thelonious Monk Competition), Ashleigh Smith and Arianna Neikrug, as well as last year’s champion, London’s Deelee Dubé.

The only international vocal competition of its kind in the world, the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition culminates in a rousing performance on the final day of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival, held in Newark each November.

Vocalists can enter by submitting recordings of at least three songs at The public can vote for their favorites; songs have been played, commented on, and voted for, hundreds of thousands of times over the course of the competition’s five years. Five finalists, who will be announced on October 10, will perform at NJPAC on November 12 before a panel of judges that will include legendary vocalists Ann Hampton Callaway, Vanessa Rubin and Will Downing, and composer and percussionist T.S. Monk, along with WBGO’s Gary Walker.

The competition is open to all vocalists who are 16 years old or older, and who are not presently signed to a major record label. Singers must submit audio clips online through a website powered by Indaba Music ( by September 5 at 5pm.

Think you have what it takes? The judges are looking for vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation – and the ability to swing. The grand prize winner of the coveted SASSY Award will receive a cash prize and a recording deal with Concord Music Group.
The incomparable singer Sarah Vaughan was born in Newark in 1924 and was known as “Sassy” throughout her life for her vibrant personality. After winning the top prize of $10 at the Apollo Theatre’s amateur night at age 18 in 1942, she went on to record with the greatest names in jazz, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy Eckstine and countless others.

The 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition finals will take place on Sunday, November 12 at 3 p.m. in NJPAC’s intimate Victoria Theater. For tickets, which go on sale May 19, call 1-888-GO-NJPAC (1-888-466-5722) or visit


Tierney’s Tavern’s 4th annual music festival Saturday is ‘lean and mean’

in Altruism/Arts/Community/Music
Tierney’s Fourth Annual Music Fest co-organizer Grace Tierney, center, plays along with Alan Smith of the Prochistas, left as sound engineer Miguel Rodriguez and co-organizer Dan Tierney holds the mic, outside the bar, Saturday, May 27. Adam Anik/For Montclair Local.

Tierney’s Tavern Fourth Annual Music Festival
Tierney’s Tavern parking lot and upstairs, 136-138 Valley Road

Saturday, June 3, noon- 1 a.m.

Featuring: School of Rock, 94 Proof, Watchung Mountain Riders, Dead Dog’s Eye, The Fabulous Flemtones
The Porchistas, Bern & the Brights, The Defending Champions, Lil’ Bastad

Free admission
Monetary donations and nonperishable food accepted to benefit Toni’s Kitchen


The Tierney’s Tavern Music Festival will be a little smaller this year, its fourth go-round, than it has been in the past.

That’s all right with sound engineer Miguel Rodriguez, who also plays drums with the Watchung Mountain Riders, a Grateful Dead cover band. “It’s more lean and mean,” said Rodriguez, who has provided sound for the festival since it began.

And it’s all right with organizers Dan and Grace Tierney. The siblings, who both tend bar at Tierney’s, are children of Tierney’s Tavern’s Bill Tierney.

For Dan, 25, who is working the festival for the second time, the best thing about the free festival is that “it changes people’s idea of the bar.” The festival is family-inclusive, he said.

The festival might be larger next year, for its fifth anniversary, but keeping it streamlined is a good way to keep it consistent, Dan said.

Grace, 21, said that with a smaller lineup, the entire festival can move indoors if it rains. Though she and her brother lived in Ireland for a good part of their childhood, neither sounds Irish: “I made friends with two people from New York,” Grace said with a laugh.

Grace said she loves “the community of it all, seeing people come out to support it. We work with a different charity every year.”

This year, the festival is supporting Toni’s Kitchen, the food ministry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. While admission to the festival is free, there will be donation buckets for Toni’s Kitchen, and Toni’s Kitchen will have stage time as well, Grace said. There will also be places to drop off donations of nonperishable food.

“Before talking to them I had no idea of the quantity of meals they make,” Dan said. “We weren’t aware how many customers volunteer there.”

Tierney’s is community to Alan Smith, singer with the Porchistas. Smith is so fond of Tierney’s that he even wrote a song to honor the bar: “The Tierney’s Tavern Song” is track four of “Axis & Allies,” which the group released in January.

Smith said he was inspired to write the song when a friend wasn’t sure where he’d left the car the night before.

Alan Smith of the Porchistas, left and Joe Billy of the School of Rock noodle around during the planning meeting in Tierney’s Tavern on Saturday, May 27 for the 4th annual free Music Festival scheduled for June 3rd. Adam Anik/For Montclair Local.

“I’d always had it in the back of my mind to write them a song,” said Smith. “They’re family.”

For Smith, Tierney’s is “like my living room. It’s a great room to play.”

The performers at the festival are Tierney’s Tavern regulars, Smith said. The festival is “Bill’s vision. It’s the bands that play here, year after year.” The long history of the building and bar is side by side with the history of Montclair, he said. The bar turns 84 this year; the first festival was held for its 80th anniversary.

Bands who play at Tierney’s are given an opportunity to thrive, Smith said. And unlike many venues that charge bands to play, the bar allows the band to take the door.

School of Rock Montclair will also perform in the festival: one of the performance programs featuring the blues will start off the show. Joe Billy, who teaches in the performance program at School of Rock Montclair, described the four-month performance programs as instruction organized around performances, by song.

Students learn to “interact with each other and with other musicians,” Billy said. At the end of four months, performance groups put on shows. He said that instead of teaching music so that students can perform, School of Rock produces shows in order to teach music. About 20 students will perform on Saturday, in different combinations.

School of Rock also teaches adults, he said.

Billy will not perform during the festival but will attend, as he does every year: “I love seeing the different combinations of musicians in one place.”

PHOTOS: Montclair Early Music presents May Faire at St. James

in Arts/Community/May in Montclair/Music

Montclair Early Music presented Robin Hood at the May Faire on May 20 on the front lawn of St. James Church.

Robin Hood (Jake Parker) and Maid Marion (Wren Delp) were crowned at the event. This is symbolic of crowning of the May queen and king, explained Julienne Pape of Montclair Early Music. Children danced around giving the audience pink carnations and a marigold plants.There were also Medieval-era instruments, including a harpist.

Henry VII, performed by Phil Delp, narrated the story of Robin Hood. Robin Hood’s Merry Men included Friar Tuck (Jackson Pagliaro) and Little John (Edwinn Knapp), and Simon Park assumed the role of the Hobby Horse. Fairies were Kira Hirsch, Bryony Halbert and Jasmine Halbert. Performers included Montclair Early Music Recorder Consort, Ring A-Bell Morris Dancers, Musica Tramontano – a consort of early instruments, Madrigal Singers, the St. James Shakespeare Company, and harpist Christa Patton, who was the event’s music director.

Foggy Minded Boys to play in Montclair

in Arts/Music
The Foggy Minded Boys perform. Courtesy Martha Day.

On Sunday, May 28, at 3 p.m., the Foggy Minded Boys will perform at Central Presbyterian Church, 46 Park St. The concert is free, and will include both “the Foggies” and “the Foggettes.”

The Foggy Minded Boys’ musical director Kirk Woodward said in a release, “Back in 2006 for the church’s coffeehouse, I saw talented singers and musicians with big hearts and decided to put them together and see what would happen.”

Since then, the Foggies have performed more than 100 free shows, often performing to help charitable organizations.“We perform for veterans, nursing homes, churches, and any charitable organization that can use a hand,” Woodward said in the release.

The group now performs with the Foggettes, a tight harmony trio. Audience members are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and donations of nonperishable food for the Human Needs Food Pantry.

Schola Cantorum on Hudson performs in Montclair

in Arts/Classical Music/Music
Schola Cantorum on Hudson perform at Immaculate Conception in Montclair, conducted by Deborah Simpson King. Courtesy Schola Cantorum on Hudson.

On Sunday, May 21, at 5 p.m., Schola Cantorum on Hudson will premiere choral works by Robert Schuneman and Wayne Eastwood, and present two compositions by the late Stephen Paulus, Grammy Award-winning American composer of classical music.

Artistic Director Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D., conducts.

Schola Cantorum on Hudson describes the concert as “a musical tribute to human ingenuity as the answer to the world’s need for energy and a clean environment.”

The concert will also include performances of compositions from such composers as Ivo Antognini, Janet Lanier, Philip W. J. Stopford, and Don Wyrtzen.

The concert takes place at Church of the Immaculate Conception, 30 North Fullerton Ave. For tickets or for more information, visit or call 888-407-6002, ext. 5.

Jim Lauderdale plays outside in Montclair

in Arts/Music
JIM LAUDERDALE. Courtesy Outpost in the Burbs.

Food tastes better outdoors, people say, and music sounds sweeter.

On Sunday, May 21, at 5 p.m., Outpost in the Burbs and Van Vleck House & Gardens will present Jim Lauderdale, at Van Vleck, 21 Van Vleck St. James Tristan Redding opens the show.

Lauderdale is a two-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter. He has worked as a sideman and, since 1986, as a solo artist, releasing 28 albums of music: roots, country, bluegrass, soul, R&B, and rock.

Patrons are encouraged to bring folding chairs or blankets to the show. If the weather is inclement, the concert will be held indoors.
There are three levels of tickets: the first guarantees admission to the indoor concert. The second is an outdoor-only ticket. The third is a family-pack outdoor ticket for two adults and up to three children under the age of 12. For more information, visit or call 973-744-6560.

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