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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weaving Music Through Life and Learning | Coronado Times Newspaper

Music enhances the education of our children by helping them to make connections and broadening the depth with which they think and feel. If we are to hope for a society of culturally literate people, music must be a vital part of our children’s education.” ~Yo-Yo Ma

"While most people seem to agree that music education is of great importance and value to teaching a well-rounded child, school districts across the country are cutting music programs. Typically, it’s one of the first areas to go when budget cuts loom over schools" continues Christ Church Day School.

Photo: Christ Church Day School

At Christ Church Day School, we believe participating in music helps stimulate the brain in unique ways, which help children learn and grow. This activity in itself helps them academically, but when you infuse music into all aspects of learning, the benefits are exponential. That’s why we’ve made music education part of our curriculum and learning environment.

Twice a week, our music teacher teaches a half-hour class where students learn rhythm, music history (including lessons on classical composers), and songs that they will sing for chapel and around the flagpole daily. They also prepare pieces for the Christmas program and the Spring Sing in May. This year’s Spring Sing will include music from and around 1957 to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary.

Music class is not limited to singing. Our kids love the hands-on opportunity to play music as well. Upper grades are taught to use recorders and large hand bells, and students use the smaller hand bells, which sound beautiful when ringing through the chapel.

Students who enjoy the performance aspect of singing can join the after-school choir club. This choir sings prepared pieces at chapel services on Tuesday’s communion service. In a very special opportunity last December, the choir sang at the Hotel del Coronado. At this holiday kickoff with Santa and tree decorating, the CCDS choir sang festive and meaningful holiday tunes as one of the choral groups invited from the community.

Drop in on CCDS any given day and you’ll hear music at some point. Around the flagpole we sing patriotic songs as well as more standard songs that are great for kids to learn and carry with them as they grow older.

Each classroom has their own ways they infuse music into their academic schedule. Older students like to listen to classical music on their earphones while they work, while the younger kids love to sing songs that help them learn things like the days of the week or practice their math skills.

Source: Coronado Times Newspaper 

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Are Computers Becoming Better at Composing Music than Humans? | KQED - Arts

Photo: Rachael Myrow
"Artificial intelligence is all the rage these days in Silicon Valley  – and no wonder. There appears to be no end to the possible applications" according to Rachael Myrow, KQED’s Silicon Valley Arts Reporter.

Some say AI is simply freeing humans of the boring tasks, so we can pursue activities that bring us joy. But what if AI is better at those things, too? Like, writing music?

For starters, we’re way past the advent of computer-composed music. That hurdle was crossed back in 1957 when professors Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign programmed the “Illiac Suite for String Quartet,” on the ILLIAC I computer.

Another big moment in computer music history: 1996, when Brian Eno’s album “Generative Music 1” was released on floppy disk, an old form of data storage familiar to Baby Boomers.
Here’s Eno back in the day talking about it on the now defunct BBC Radio 3 program, Mixing It. “To explain this simply, in the computer there’s a little synthesizer, basically. What I do is provide sets of rules that tell the computer how to make that sound card work,” Eno says.
The music his programming generated was different every time the program was run, but the code essentially dictated the output.

Today, scientists at lots of tech companies are working on something a little more sophisticated. Neural networks develop their own rules from the materials they’re fed.
Research scientist Doug Eck runs a group at Google called Magenta. “I think that what we’re doing that’s different from previous attempts to apply technology and computation to art is really caring about machine learning, specifically. Deep neural networks. Recurrent neural networks. Reinforcement learning.  I guess the best way to put it is: it’s easier to help a machine learn to solve a problem with data than to try to build the solution in.”... 

Music with Artificial Intelligence 

It’s not bad. It’s not quite my cup of tea, either, but a lot of what makes music exciting to me is messy, idiosyncratic and specific to time and place. Then again, wait a few years, and it’s possible AI will be able to replicate that, too.

Source: KQED and Andrew Huang Channel (YouTube)

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New England Music Academy is a hidden gem | Community Advocate

Melanie Petrucci
Photo: Bonnie Adams
"Tucked away in an inconspicuous location in Westborough, the New England Music Academy (NEMA) is situated in a warm environment where children and adults can learn and explore music in a fun and accessible way" notes Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter.

A NEMA instructor  with a student.
Photo: submitted

Located in the Westborough Shopping Plaza, 30 Lyman Street, Suite 50, NEMA welcomes anyone who wants to learn and experience music, to come for a visit, check out a class and “grow together in music.”

NEMA founder Deanna Wong was looking for a music program for her son who was four at the time.  She wanted the best of both worlds.  She wanted real music theory for her son but didn’t want it to be intimidating, heavy and complex.

“We found a music school that did just that while living in Colorado.  They taught a parent-child team where the parent would learn everything with their child and it was real music,” Wong enthusiastically shared. They were learning about quarter notes and time signatures and all elements of music and it was geared toward the young child – the four, five and six-year-old.

When her family moved back to the East Coast, she wanted the same experience for her younger son.

“Every child should have this opportunity,” Wong said, adding, “To have this much fun learning about real music, its foundational.”

Wong was at a turning point in her life and knew that opening her own school was what she wanted to do. She found a curriculum very similar to the one in Colorado which was first and foremost, fun, because that’s how children learn. The New England Music Academy was born.

In business since 2005, NEMA has flourished. It continues to grow and classes fill quickly.  They are also continuing to hire experienced teachers to better serve their students’ needs.

Source: Community Advocate

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Kids learn better through play | Cyprus Mail - Entertainment

"Kids normally have to get physically involved to learn, enjoy the process of learning and want to continue learning" inform Maria Gregoriou, Author at Cyprus Mail.

Next Saturday the capital will offer kids three choices to get involved with a hands-on way of learning, that will have them discover what negative space in art is, dive into the wonderful world of music and see how pictures can become animated.

The workshop dealing with negative space in art will run at the Loukia and Michael Zampelas Art Museum from 10am until 1pm. Children from seven-years-old will investigate the aesthetic and conceptual abilities of the negative space while using plaster.

Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject – not the subject itself – forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space occasionally is used to artistic effect as the real subject of an image.

Artist Rebecca Efstathiou will help participants explore the plastic properties of gypsum – a soft sulfate mineral that is the main substance in plaster – by using various moulds. By the end of the workshop, the children will have created a series of small sculptures.

Efstathiou, who studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, primarily works with abstract oil paintings and oil on paper. In recent years her work has explored the boundaries of brush marks and surface relationship, where an inner event occurs simultaneously with an outside one to create a constant battle of control.

The music workshop of the day, under the name One Love, will welcome children from five to 10-years-old to get involved in the world of reggae music with musician Elenitsa Georgiou.

Georgiou will get the kids involved in musical games that will get their energy levels up as they move to reggae vibes. The two-hour workshop will include a small introduction to the genre, a chance for the kids to see how the guitar plays a part in reggae music, choreographies that will have the kids dancing to the rhythm while also enjoying the funny side of dancing, improvisation with percussion instruments, while also enabling the kids to become an orchestra with their bells.

Music teacher Georgiou received her bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki. She then went on to receive a masters in Music and Creative Arts in Education from the University of Exeter. Georgiou has also attended workshops in mime, physical theatre, teaching music to children and folktale storytelling. She has organised and participated in theatrical performances for adults and children and musical concerts, singing traditional songs.

Source: Cyprus Mail 

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What History And Fiction Teach Us About Women And Power | NPR - Culture

Photo: Tania Lombrozo
Psychologist Tania Lombrozo considers two books: In one, we learn what ancient Greece can tell us about Twitter trolls and, in the other, we're shown a world in which women have power over men. 

Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Two recent books, one a manifesto by British classicist and Cambridge professor Mary Beard, the other a work of fiction by novelist and game designer Naomi Alderman, address — in different ways — the difficult relationship between women and power. 

When are women's voices heard? When and how do women have influence in public and private spheres? 

On the face of it, their messages are starkly at odds. Beard points to a possible future in which we reconceptualize what it means to be powerful, and in so doing create room for women to make a greater difference in the world. Alderman paints a possible future in which women have power — but their power comes with the subversion of the other sex, ultimately no different from the power men wield today. 

Yet, in more subtle ways, both books reveal a common truth: that things can change. Looking at the historical and at the hypothetical are both ways to appreciate that the current structures of power are not permanent features of human experience, but structures that we perpetually create and transform.

Women and Power:
A Manifesto

Beard's slim but potent volume, Women and Power: A Manifesto, is based on two lectures that she delivered in 2014 and 2017, both focusing on the silencing of women's voices in the public sphere. Early in the book, Beard recounts the story of a second-century lecturer who asked his audience to consider the following horror:

"An entire community was struck by the following strange affliction: all the men suddenly got female voices, and no male — child or adult — could say anything in a manly way. Would not that seem terrible and harder to bear than any plague?"
Beard tells us that in likening female voices with a plague, the lecturer wasn't joking. Public speech — and the right to speak — were regarded as defining features of masculinity. To strip men of their manly voices was to strip them of power, a power that was not extended to women.

Beard's volume draws on ancient roots, but its aim is not to describe a foreign past. In fact, the past she describes is distressingly familiar. In tracing continuities between Medusa and Hillary Clinton, between the rape of Philomela and the trolls who violently threaten outspoken women on Twitter (including the author herself), Beard hopes to reveal "just how deeply embedded in Western culture are the mechanisms that silence women, that refuse to take them seriously, and that sever them...from the centres of power." 

And yet, her message is ultimately optimistic. "You cannot easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male," she writes. But what you can do — what we must do — is change the structure...

The Power
Naomi Alderman's novel The Power begins with a premise that recalls the transformation that struck such horror in Beard's second-century lecturer. But in Alderman's work of fiction, it is the women who have changed. All over the world, teenage girls are developing an electrostatic ability that allows them to shock and sometimes even control their (potentially male) victims.

The result is a radical shift in power. At the start of the book, a young girl kills her rapist. In Moldova, victims of sexual slavery kill their captors. As the power spreads to younger and older women, it is men who must be fearful in dark alleyways at night.

With women's greater capacity for physical domination comes greater power in multiple spheres of influence, including politics, religion, and organized crime. But the result is decidedly not a more nurturing and harmonious world. The atrocities remain familiar: corruption, misappropriation, harassment, even rape. It is simply that the victims are men, and the perpetrators women.

Source: NPR 

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Deep Learning Could Help First Responders Offer Critical Aid in the Wake of Disasters | Futurism - Artificial Intelligence

In Brief  
The World Bank, in collaboration with WeRobotics and OpenAerialMap, has challenged developers to craft deep learning algorithms that can assess the conditions of roads and food production trees following natural disasters.

"Artificial intelligence could help us deal with the aftermath of hurricanes and wildfires" reports Aylin Woodward, Section Editor at Futurism.

Photo: Pixabay

Applied Deep Learning 
From hurricanes to wildfires, 2017 brought the world a number of natural disasters — as well as some tech to deal with them. We have more information than ever following a disaster thanks to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sophisticated satellites that can capture images of disasters from the air, but we are still working on ways to process the data so it is valuable for relief efforts. That’s where deep learning comes in, says the World Bank in collaboration with WeRobotics and OpenAerialMap.

On Jan. 10, 2018, World Bank issued an artificial intelligence (AI) challenge to explore how deep learning could be used in the wake of natural disasters. Deep learning  is what enables AI to recognize patterns in images, sounds, and other data using a neural network that mirrors our own grey matter. This deep learning software is what helps Alexa recognize speech patterns, Google Translate to interpret entire sentences, and Facebook’s AI labs to automatically identify and tag users in uploaded photographs.

AI could be used to catalog aerial images in the critical periods following disasters and help first responders and humanitarian aid agencies aggregate information. Sorting images quickly en masse would make it easier to assess which areas need immediate assistance, what the clearest paths in and out of a disaster site are, and where the most infrastructure damage is.

The AI challenge announcement by WeRobotics founder Patrick Meier focuses on Pacific Island countries, which are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis, storm surges, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and droughts. In the last decade alone, major cyclones have caused millions of dollars of damage in hundreds of islands, including Fiji and Samoa, Meier wrote.

Identifying Trees and Roads 
The World Bank’s UAVs for Disaster Resilience Program captured about 80 square km (31 square miles) of high-resolution aerial imagery in the island of Tonga. Now, the World Bank is challenging participants to develop machine learning algorithms that will analyze this imagery without human assistance. In future, that learning will be “applied to new imagery to speed up baseline analysis and damage assessments,” according to the announcement

Source: Futurism

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AI Definitions: Machine Learning vs. Deep Learning vs. Cognitive Computing vs. Robotics vs. Strong AI…. | EnterpriseTech

"AI is the compelling topic of tech conversations du jour, yet within these conversations confusion often reigns – confusion caused by loose use of AI terminology" according to Doug Black, Managing Editor.

Photo: EnterpriseTech

The problem is that AI comes in a variety of forms, each one with its own distinct range of capabilities and techniques, and at its own stage of development. Some forms of AI that we frequently hear about, such as Artificial General Intelligence, the kind of AI that might someday automate all work and that we might lose control of – may never come to pass. Others are doing useful work and are driving growth in the high performance sector of the technology industry.

These definitions aren’t meant to be the final word on AI terminology, the industry is growing and changing so fast that terms will change and new ones will be added. Instead, this is an attempt to frame the language we use now. We invite your feedback in the hope of encouraging discussion and greater clarity, and we plan to update this list over time.

Our source for all but the last of these definitions is a company well-versed in AI: Pegasystems, for more than 30 years a developer of operations and customer engagement software and a company that studies the implications and impacts of AI in the workplace...

Whether AI, broadly defined, remains applied/narrow/weak, as it is today, or becomes general/strong/super/full is the great technology debate of our time.

Source:  EnterpriseTech

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Google’s Self-Training AI Turns Coders into Machine-Learning Masters | MIT Technology Review - Intelligent Machines

Photo: Will Knight
"Automating the training of machine-learning systems could make AI much more accessible" insist Will Knight, senior editor for AI at MIT Technology.
Photo: Google

Google just made it a lot easier to build your very own custom AI system.

A new service, called Cloud AutoML, uses several machine-learning tricks to automatically build and train a deep-learning algorithm that can recognize things in images.

The technology is limited for now, but it could be the start of something big. Building and optimizing a deep neural network algorithm normally requires a detailed understanding of the underlying math and code, as well as extensive practice tweaking the parameters of algorithms to get things just right. The difficulty of developing AI systems has created a race to recruit talent, and it means that only big companies with deep pockets can usually afford to build their own bespoke AI algorithms.
“We need to scale AI out to more people,” Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist at Google Cloud, said ahead of the launch today. Li estimates there are at most a few thousand people worldwide with the expertise needed to build the very best deep-learning models. “But there are an estimated 21 million developers worldwide today,” she says. “We want to reach out to them all, and make AI accessible to these developers.”

Cloud computing is one of the keys to making AI more accessible. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and other companies are rushing to add machine-learning capabilities to their cloud platforms. Google Cloud already offers many such tools, but they use pretrained models. That limits what they can do—for example, programmers will only be able to use the tools to recognize a limited range of objects or scenes that they have already been trained to recognize. A new generation of cloud-based machine-learning tools that can train themselves would make the technology far more versatile and easier to use.

Several companies have been testing Google Cloud AutoML for the past few months. Disney used the service to develop a way to search its merchandise for particular cartoon characters, even if those products are not tagged with that character’s name.
Joaquin Vanschoren, a professor at the Eindhoven Institute of Technology in the Netherlands who specializes in automated machine learning, says it’s still a relatively new research topic, though interest in the area has been heating up lately. “It is impressive that they can release this as a production service so quickly,” he says.
Read more... 

Source: MIT Technology Review

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5 Innovative Uses for Machine Learning | Entrepreneur - Technology

"They'll be coming into your life -- at least your business life -- sooner than you think" summarizes Aj Agrawal, Contributor / Growth Marketer, Entrepreneur, And Content Creator. 

Photo: shutterstock

Though its time horizon can't be predicted, artificial intelligence (AI) promises to foundationally influence modern society, for better or worse. A sub-genre of AI -- machine learning -- has garnered particular attention from the pundits for its potential impact on the world’s most important industries.

Due to the resulting hype, massive amounts of talent and resources are entering this space.

But what is machine learning and why should we care about it in the first place? The answer is that, in the broadest sense, machine learning models are an application of AI in which algorithms independently predict outcomes. In other words, these models can process large data sets, extract insights and make accurate predictions without the need for much human intervention.

Numerous value-generating implications result from the accelerated development of this technology, and many are poised to radically streamline the business world. Here are five of the most innovative use cases for machine learning. They'll be coming into your life -- at least your business life -- sooner than you think.

Source: Entrepreneur 

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I let a machine critique my novel | TechRadar

  • Cat Ellis has turned to technology to help write her first novel. Follow her progress in her Sculpt Fiction column.

Photo: Cat Ellis
"I've enlisted a little artificial assistance to help edit my first draft – and it's harsh" notes , TechRadar's downloads editor.
Photo: TechRadar

After letting my novel mature/fester over the Christmas break, I started the new year by putting it on a dramatic weight-loss plan. Reading the first draft in the cold light of January, there are clearly rolls of flab to be burnt away and replaced with lean, muscular prose before it’s ready to be exposed to the public. The metaphors might need toning down too.

It’s part fun, part painful. Does it really matter what that fancy hotel looks like? Nope – away it goes. Who cares about that car journey? Nobody – ditch it. Why on Earth is everyone drinking so much tea? Time to cut back.

Nit-picking with Autocrit 
As a former copy editor, I like to think I have a reasonable grasp of language, but editing your own work is quite different to working on someone else’s. It’s easy to skim over your mistakes and written tics.

That’s why I decided to give Autocrit a go. Billed as “manuscript editing software for fiction writers”, it goes through your work with a red pen, highlighting potential issues with ruthless efficiency.

The software (a web app – it runs in your browser) can’t assess your story’s overall structure or tell you if your main character is an irritating wet blanket. Instead, it alerts you to issues like repeated words and phrases, 

It’s by no means infallible – following all its suggestions could leave your writing sounding unnatural and, frankly, like it was written by a robot – but it can highlight some problems you’d otherwise miss. It's up to you as the author to decide if and how to act on its suggestions.

First, you’re given an overall score based on the quality of your writing. Mine was 86.64. 

This is a pretty arbitrary figure – the interesting part comes when you drill down to reports on pacing and momentum, word choice and readability.

These are broken down further into categories including repeated uncommon words that might stick out in the reader’s mind, repeated phrases, sentence length and dialogue tags (particularly those other than 'said' and 'asked')...

For now, the robot editor's going back in its box, red pen and all.

Source: TechRadar

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