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3 DVDs Explore the Importance of Music in Our Lives

Wish Me Away

2012

Chely Wright is a familiar name to country music aficionados. Since 1997, she has had hit records on the country charts including “Shut Up and Drive” and “Single White Female.” Along the way she established a charity, Reading, Writing, & Rhythm (RW&R), which is devoted to musical education in America’s schools and helps supply music programs with instruments and equipment.

“Wish Me Away” is a documentary of Chely’s life. As a little girl growing up in Kansas her dream was to be famous and she began performing at an early age. But “Wish Me Away” isn’t your typical “small town girl goes to Nashville and becomes a country music star” story.

For years growing up Chely prayed every day – “Dear God, please don’t let me be gay” – a private prayer she hoped would allow her to be accepted by those she loved. As an adult, she made the decision to write her candid autobiography, “Like Me” and to film the process she had coming out knowing full well she had everything to lose. Her family was religious and conservative. Would they reject her? The country music business is notoriously closeted and even though country fans are loyal to a fault, the possibility they would reject her and her music, was a very real one.

Co-directed by Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, “Wish Me Away” is a thoughtful, and frequently tearful, look at decisions almost every gay person has to face. When the filmmaker’s arrived at Chely’s mother’s home and she refuses to even open the door much less talk to them, it is understandable why the singer waited so long to take this step.

Scenes with her father and sister restore faith in human nature and finding council with a wise and thoughtful religious advisor lend positive support throughout the process not only for Chely, but the viewers.

“Wish Me Away” was years in the making and the end result is powerful. Wright is the first country music star to risk losing her career and her fans by acknowledging her lesbianism. A beautiful woman with a voice to match, Chely continues to record and has shifted her focus from the Grand Ole Opry to speaking publicly for equality for all.

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune

2010

It seems oddly appropriate to paraphrase a folk song by Pete Seeger in a review of the documentary film, “Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune” and yet one has to wonder “Where Have All the Troubadours Gone?”

Ochs was a passionate singer/songwriter during the 60′s and 70′s, actively involved in the Civil Rights movement, labor injustices, and the Vietnam war protests. Not as well known as Seeger and Ochs’ contemporary, Bob Dylan, the film introduces the man and his music through interviews and performances. Today’s comedians garner material from the headlines, but Ochs’ messages carry far more weight and are still as powerful more than forty years later with such lyrics as “I’m Not Marching Anymore”, “Love Me, I’m a Liberal”, and “There But for Fortune.”

In addition to many video and film clips, writer/director Kenneth Bowser included dozens of still photographs and interviewed many performers and friends who knew Phil well including his brother and sister. Weighing in on Ochs devotion to peace and justice are folk singing legend Pete Seeger, politician and activist Tom Hayden, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary, and dozens of others.

Later in his career, Ochs knew his dream of being famous as a performer would not be realized. But, he never turned down a benefit to sing for a cause and never “sold out” or went “mainstream” with his lyrics. Alcohol became a problem late in his career and he lost his battle with depression at age thirty-five.

“Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune” serves as a reminder that artists can and do serve as historians as well as entertainers. According to Bob Dylan’s 1962 song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, but the likes of an artist with the passion of Phil Ochs is hard to come by in 2013.

The Music Never Stopped

2011

Remember the song that was playing the first time you fell in love? The lullaby your mother sang to you? The tears that well up every time a favorite hymn or anthem is sung? Music has so much unmeasured power over our emotions and memories, it is hard to imagine what life would be like if there was no music.

“The Music Never Stopped” is a small, independent film based on a true story that brings that point home. Henry and Helen Sawyer have not seen their grown son for years. Gabriel left home during the turbulent 60′s after arguing with his father over the Vietnam war. They had little in common except for their love of music. Of course, by the time Gabriel was in his teens, he had stowed his father’s Big Band albums on the shelf and was passionately involved with The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and other rock bands and balladeers.

Jump forward several decades. An untreated brain tumor has brought Gabriel back home. So many years had passed that the tumor was now untreatable. Gone are the young man’s memories from the years apart. How can Henry and Helen now connect with their only son?

It’s all about the music.

If you don’t recognize the name J.K. Simmons as Henry, you’ll certainly recognize his face (as a long time character actor and regular on “The Closer”). His portrayal as an anguished father is so spot on you might think “The Music Never Stops” is a documentary. Lou Taylor Pucci as Gabriel brings warmth and believability to a difficult role. Supporting performances by Julia Ormond and Cara Seymour complete the multi-layered tiers of emotions dictated by Gabriel’s frustrating medical condition.

“The Music Never Stops” is about relationships, memories, parenting, and medicine. But most important – it’s all about the music.

Teaching Resources for Music Teachers

Music teachers can make use of the various teaching resources which are available on the Internet to help their students learn music better.

Music teachers make use of many different kinds of teaching resources in order to teach their students about music. The Internet contains many teaching resources which will be useful for music teachers all over the world. They get a lot of room for creativity when they make use of these resources during the music classes which are conducted. These resources are very useful for music teachers teaching instruments like the piano and the guitar. Students will also find their music lessons a lot more interesting and interactive when the usage of these resources has been incorporated into the music teaching session. Many students will start looking forward to their music training sessions when these resources have been utilized in the proper manner.

The Internet contains a large amount of music tools which can be used by music teachers for their teaching sessions. They can select the tools depending on the level of proficiency of their students in playing the particular musical instrument. The music teachers should also be able to provide the right kind of guidance when these resources are being utilized during the music teaching session. There are many websites which have been designed specifically for providing guitar lessons for people who are interested in them. There are many websites which provide music lessons and guidance in the form of video clippings.

Students who decide to learn to play the guitar from the Internet will be able to learn the basic chords of the guitar and how they can be used in order to create tunes for many different songs. Guidance will also be provided on the creation of guitar chords and harmony with the help of these online guitar classes.