81. The Voice, American Idol, and Duets

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Music…The Voice, American Idol, Duets, Smash, Glee, and Nashville


If you go to lunch or dinner with anyone from your school’s or university’s music department, some time during dinner, the discussion is going to come around to The Voice, American Idol, Duets, Smash, Glee, or Nashville. Bach and Mozart have for some reason faded from the music table. They, however, along with Enya are still great for sleepytime music. Or not Grateful Dead fans!


It seems that the world of music and the study of music has been reinvigorated by these shows. The all draw big numbers with their varying formats. The Voice has been gaining in all areas because it has great singing and music judging like the others, but, also, has an increasingly insightful look at what happens backstage with singer preparation and grooming. This season these same features with the judges highlighted have been a pleasurable surprise.

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Duets, with its smaller audience, has a concept that has each performer singing with one of the four judges on the panel. It has the team selection format that The Voice uses as the judges build their teams of singing companions.


The dessert conversation always comes around to: “If you could pick any musical mentor living or dead who would it be?” Please don’t use the joke that if he or she are dead, they can’t help you. My selection would be Jennifer Nettles on Duets. She is known for her country background. She sings and writes as the lead vocalist for the award winning Sugarland. On Duets she sang with her ‘students in song’ jazz, country, rock, classical, church, and rap. She could sing the Philadelphia billboards and make them sound good. God touched her with the gift of song and caring for the youngsters she mentors on Duets. Add the show to your check-it-out on television list.


Movies…Mud With Matthew Mc Conaughey and Reese Witherspoon

Did you ever leave a movie and ask yourself if you liked it? Mud is one of those kind of movies! You go to it because you expect this great romance between Matthew Mc Conaughey and Reese Witherspoon for point one. For point two, you can’t wait to see Reese Witherspoon play someone nasty.


Everything with Witherspoon and Mc Conaughey must be on the cutting room floor. If they spent four minutes together in the movie, that would be on the high end of the count. They story is about love, trust, failing relationships, and the importance of understanding who does and does not love you. Mc Conaughey (Mud) loves Witherspoon, defends her everywhere with terrible consequences, and is waiting for her to show him some sign of forever.


Two boys played by Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland steal the movie as they help Mc Conaughey connect with Witherspoon and learn who women (first loves, girlfriends, mothers, new acquaintances) may or may not be. Sheridan is sixteen but looks twelve in the movie. Is he going to change Mud or is Mud going to shape the way the impressionable boy sees life is a great theme that runs through the picture.

Games…Matt Witterick Is The Gamer’s Guru

There are many video games that are popular right now. Realize, though, that popularity varies depending on the device you use to participate in the world of gaming. Right now the most popular games would be (not in this order) Far Cry 3, Bio-shock Infinite, League of Legends, Dishonored (a little old), Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (also old), Minecraft, and Counter Strike Global Offensive. I play or have played most of these games and I hear my friends talk about them constantly. Some of the older games just never die!


This is just on a personal level if you are a new gamer. Save money and find the great selection of games you can play on your computer rather than on a system you have to buy and restock. I, of course, play mostly on the computer. Many people play sports games and the most popular are anything in baseball (MLB) and basketball (NBA). My suggestions and favorites are NHL 13 and Madden 13. All of Canada loves NHL 13.

Seven Separations In The Art World…From Elena Gold To Vermeer


Elena Gold sent a large number of ideas that this column that readers would enjoy. However, what really was intriguing is the sequence of painters that she learned from and who taught them their art craft. It read like Seven Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon. As you talk to and research artists around the world, you wonder how many traced their teachers as far back as they could go.

Here is what Elena said about her “art separation” from Karl Kreuger back to the Wyeth family and her painting vision:
“With confidence, I know exactly where I am going. The finished painting? Take it or throw it away, I could not care less. But in the process, I am in love with it. I kneel in front of it, smother myself in green and yellow. Before I am ready to clean up, take me to a clown party, I am covered with paints. This is why I paint at night, the night will keep my secret safe.

What is it about this silly painting that pulls me so? I want to look at it, refine it, pick colors just right, and apply techniques to create contrast and depth just right. I put my whole soul into it, and when I am done, I will not care where it will end up. I will be content to have created the whole at the end, but I feel fulfilled as soon as I touch the canvas and leave the first trace in sienna on white.


My art teacher, Karl Kuerner who in turn was taught by the Wyeth’s, used to describe his relationship to his artwork, “Each painting is a new child to me. I create it, raise it, and let it go into the world.”



The research from Wyeth back is about to begin.


Museums…The Brandywine Museum And Longwood Gardens


Elena showed her connection to the Wyeth family of painters. That is a great opportunity to suggest a trip to The Brandywine Art Museum in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania. Chadds Ford is an hour south of Philadelphia and an hour north of Baltimore. This small art museum is a great stop along the way to the Chadds Ford winery or vice versa. After seeing three generations of Wyeth’s and their paintings at the museum, it is a jump down the road to the Longwood Gardens.

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An afternoon of wine, art, and picturesque gardens is a great way to spend vacation time or a day off from work. This is a good trifecta, but not as good as the payoff for the trifecta and superfecta in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Writing…Three Mini-Writing Challenges To Start Your Week


  1. Hidden Music by Gloria Kamen is the story of Fanny Mendelssohn’s life.  Highlight in poster or diary format the lives of three famous wives of other artists or musicians.  Remember to include what their husband fame was and how it affected their life in your analysis of your topic’s life.


  1. The Pirate Queens by Jane Yolen is an historical account of the lives of two female pirates.  Anne Bonney and Mary Reade. Its unique feature is that the story is told in verse. Spectacles by Anne Beattie is another example of this format.  Select an historical woman or artist and chronicle her life in illustrated poetry format.


  1. Classic stories that are retold, changed or revised are an excellent writing and discussion topic.  Rapunzel retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky won the 1998 Caldecott award.  Investigate the three top reasons for its success and use your list with three other award winners to see if your reasons are universal.  Design a new artistic cover for a retold storybook like Rapunzel.


Community Service And More…

Helping Local Businesses And Individuals


Service Dogs…A Click Of Your Mouse Button Will Help Someone In Need

Vote to Help Veterans Get Service Dogs!

Colleen McLaughlin Intervention Specialist at Blind Brook School District wrote me and asked for help. If you have a friend that has a service dog, you know how important their training is. Here is what Colleen asked:


I’m asking for just a few seconds of your time to vote for an organization that helps veterans get the service dogs they need.

Home Depot will give $250,000.00 to the nonprofit organization with the most votes. Stiggy’s Dogs is a nonprofit organization that transforms shelter dogs into individually trained service animals for military veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries at no cost to the veteran.

Please go to https://apronsinaction.homedepotfoundation.org/ and vote for Stiggy’s Dogs! You can vote every day until the end of May.
Many thanks,
Colleen McLaughlin

New Visitor’s Greeting…Welcome to Let’s Talk, a freewheeling column on movies, theater, television, books, educational practices, the arts, current events, and the Internet. If you are a first time visitor to the column, I recommend that you start with the About topic in the Index Bar at the top of the page. Follow About with the Let’s Talk column in archives. It was the first column of the New Year. Proceed to Let’s Talk II and then work your way up to today’s column. These columns will introduce a plethora (a better word choice than myriad) of new ideas and old delights you may have missed. It will give you a strong foundation for some of the issues we are introducing and following up in newer columns.


New visitor’s comments are welcome, too. They are immediately placed on this page in the contributor’s comment section or are shared with the column’s readers on Sunday. You are welcome, also, to suggest topics for discussion or enlist help from the site’s family of readers. I am a compendium of useless information. Challenge me, please, with great theater, travel, history, books, movies, and educational issues that would interest a wide audience of readers. The “compendium comment” was stolen from Orson Bean. Bean used the quote many times on television talk show interviews. Please recommend my column to your friends and other lovers of discussion.


About tjpalumbo

Tom Palumbo is a nationally known and award winning author, teacher, technology designer, administrator, and grant writer. He has taught for thirty-five years in preschool through 12th grade classrooms throughout the quad state area. His ideas have made a difference in the way thousands of teachers, parents, and children read, write, do mathematics, use technology, and think creatively and critically. Tom’s twenty books on reading, writing, critical thinking, and mathematics have won four national book awards. 5,000 teachers and home schooling parents have matriculated through his graduate courses/lectures. 12,000 have signed up for his website. As Director of Pennsylvania’s Parent Information Center and New Jersey’s Citizen’s For Better Schools Resource Center, Tom received over two hundred commendations for his presentations to thousands of teachers, parents, and administrators throughout the Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland area. Workshop participants receive idea loaded CD’s, access to hundreds of videos, PowerPoints, curriculum links, games, and lessons on his website, and an activity booklet filled with common core curriculum in line with local, state, and national standards. Instruction, on each of these resources, is presented during his presentation. Mr. Palumbo has over two hundred learning centers, bulletin boards, and project developers in reading, writing, poetry, literature, and math in make-it/take it item format that can, also, be part of any workshop program. Call or email Tom to set up a workshop for your organization. Tom Palumbo tjpalumbo@aol.com 215-262-9986 aimtjp.wikispaces.com
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One Response to 81. The Voice, American Idol, and Duets

  1. Jenny says:

    I love the wide range of things you talk about…there is something for everyone!
    Thanks…I follow your column all the time.

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