Announcements

TACO receives recognition

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TACO receives recognition

TACO Founder Cathy Humphers Smith will be honored at the Los Altos Community Foundation’s Gardner Volunteer Award Dinner on April 7th. The Gardner Award is given to outstanding volunteers in our community who have exhibited civic entrepreneurship and service. Cathy will be honored for her 5+ years of leadership and dedication to TACO, and for all of the work she has done to make TACO such a huge success. Join TACO members on April 7that 5:30 at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel (4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto). Tickets to the event can be purchased  online by clicking this link: https://lacf.smalldognet.com/erp/donate/create?event_date_id=1198 At the bottom of the Checkout page, in the Comments space, add that you would like to sit at a TACO table. This is a fun event and we can all sit together and cheer Cathy on when she receives her award. Hope to see you there!  Alison Kibrick (Piano)...

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TACO, a sight-reading orchestra, enters 6th year of fun sessions! 2016

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TACO, a sight-reading orchestra, enters 6th year of fun sessions! 2016

Prima Vista is Italian for ‘first view’ and in music it is also called ‘sight-reading’. In TACO, we sight-read as an orchestra every time we get together, playing through a piece of music for the first time as a group. How do we do it and why is it important Sight-reading is important because it helps you become familiar with a lot of repertoire. In contrast to learning one piece in greater depth, sight-reading many pieces improves your musical literacy. You learn to look ahead and predict what’s coming in the music, and with time, you get better at reading notes and rhythms faster. You develop the ability to play under pressure and the more you practice sight-reading, the better you get at it. We take for granted as musicians what the process is for sight-reading or sight-singing, however, there is a methodical strategy we go through. The first step is to relax, take deep breaths, and start to look at the music. At all skill levels, nerves can get in the way of your ability. However the basic requirement of sight-reading is the same no matter what your technical skills:  you need to know how to read the notated rhythms and pitches to play on your instrument. If you can read music, you can sight-read. Simple. Breathe again! Knowing the composer’s name tells you the period and style, from which you can make guesses about what the music should sound like. Then look at the title which may summarize the vision of the composer and give you some clues as to the intent and meaning of the piece. Then we look at the tempo, check out the time signature, note the key signature, look through the music for changes, check out the dynamics, look at the beginning again, skim over the easy parts and review the challenging parts, look at the last line of music. Then we go back to the beginning and now play it. It’s always helpful to play first at a slow tempo to get a feel for the notes, before we play a piece at the intended  tempo. Sometimes in TACO, we play through errors and the group as a whole stays together. Other times, we stop and start when we really get off or different sections are too apart to pull back together. There is value in both fixing mistakes and in being able to continue playing despite mistakes. In TACO we become familiar with huge amounts of repertoire by sight-reading through many tunes each time we meet. And with practice sight-reading, musicians of all skill levels develop the ability to play each new piece of music more easily. We’ve got lots of fun new music to play over the next six months and we always have a lot of fun doing it! Join us. And...

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Be a Part of our Pop-Up Chorus! 2015

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Be a Part of our Pop-Up Chorus! 2015

  Join TACO members on Sunday, November 29th from 4 to 5 pm. to sing-along with our orchestra! We meet at the Los Altos Youth Center (LAYC), 1 North San Antonio Road, in downtown Los Altos. The LAYC is between the city hall and the library, and next to the police station. Look for the yellow TACO banner out front. This event is FREE and open to all ages. We’ll provide lyrics for a medley of tunes from the movie Frozen. We’ll have a song sheet in both German and English to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the triumphant Finale from his 9th Symphony. Also included will be some Christmas carols, a medley of Hannukah songs, and a few other popular holiday favorites. Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer and Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas will end our hour. You do not need a trained voice and you don’t need to read music. Just come to sing-along and feel the holiday spirit. Cookies and cider to follow. Bring your families, friends and neighbors. See you there! If you’d like a flyer for this event, click on this blue title below to get a pdf which can be printed. Share and post with others! TACO HOLIDAY sing-along 2015  ...

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TACO…the Gathering by Ola Marra Cook 2015

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TACO…the Gathering  by Ola Marra Cook 2015

To understand the importance of the existence of TACO it is necessary to understand the meaning of its absence. Without TACO possibly hundreds of people will have wasted thousands of hours of music practice, rehearsals and recitals, and countless dollars on lessons. Hundreds of musical instruments would be collecting dust or rusting in closets, basements and garages. And, many people would have nothing to do on the last Sunday of every month. Musical education is often begun as part of a school curriculum, or parental insistence. Once the required lessons are completed, only a few continue to pursue music with any serious commitment. After all, music is hard; it requires a lot of practice, time and study to become professional, and it can be lonely for young people at a time when getting together with friends to party is much more fun.To understand the importance of the existence of TACO it is necessary to understand the meaning of its absence. Without TACO possibly hundreds of people will have wasted thousands of hours of music practice, rehearsals and recitals, and countless dollars on lessons. Hundreds of musical instruments would be collecting dust or rusting in closets, basements and garages. And, many people would have nothing to do on the last Sunday of every month. While parents may envision their child to be the next Mozart or Bernstein, they generally expect a “back-up” plan to become doctors, lawyers, or other professional, which defer time for musical practice. It has long been known that music does positively affect the brain in other areas of study, but at some point, most of us simply stop playing. Work, family and life all take precedence over our music, even as we tell our children to practice, practice, practice. Some tenacious souls do stick with it and continue to play an instrument throughout their lives, but mostly for personal pleasure or for family and friends. At some point we reach a plateau, that without further instruction, we never overcome. This limits the repertoire, messes with our confidence and most likely, any interest in going further wanes. Our instruments are stowed away, never to be seen again. Of course, we don’t sell them because we really believe we will play again. But, what is the motivation to play? I believe it is the delight in simply making music, not rehearsing, perfecting and performing, but getting together with others to play. For me, music is social, a team sport, and is best played with others.   Regretfully, I never played an instrument as part of a band or orchestra as a child. I taught myself to play piano, but found it to be a solitary instrument, and not very portable. Next was guitar, but I never made it past the strumming chords stage. I really wanted to play with other people, but my father insisted that I learn to play the Hammond organ—he loved Radio City Music Hall. I was not enamored with this enormous instrument—I could barely reach the pedals—so I resisted lessons. The ultimate outcome was that I gave up instruments and joined my school theater company, became a singer, performed in community musicals, and originally began college as a theater major. My desire to play an instrument with other people finally came to be in...

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Stressed out? Play music with TACO!

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Stressed out? Play music with TACO!

If you’re lucky enough to already know how to play an instrument or brave enough to want to learn to play an instrument, you’ll participate in one of the most effective ways to reduce stress: play music. Alone or with others, to play music is to transport yourself to a different place. Phone calls, health problems, bills, chores, arguments, work – it all fades into the background as you tune up and start to play an instrument. Focus on the pitch, the notes, the sounds you are making, the puzzle of putting a piece of music together and suddenly everything else is out of your mind. You are focused on something both simple and complex, beautiful and harmonious, that you are creating yourself. Playing music with TACO is especially forgiving and stress-reducing. No one will judge you, no one will criticize you. We all carry enough criticism and judgment around with us all the time, we don’t need it from our music. It takes bravery to learn an instrument as an adult. And if you are already competant on an instrument, it takes bravery to learn a second and third instrument as well. It takes compassion to accommodate our mistakes. It takes patience to accept that we don’t sound like the virtuosos we hear in our heads. It takes courage to expose our playing to others. It takes acceptance to play well with others, some who are more experienced and some who are just beginning. Music is to enjoy, to create, to be in the moment, to focus, to breathe, to smile. You can do it alone and the stress around you will evaporate. And in the right environment, you can do it with others, like in TACO, where compassion and acceptance flourish. It takes a village to make an orchestra. TACO is a village where we actively practice acceptance and create a space for joyful music making. I’m already feeling less stressed anticipating our next gathering and knowing how much I’ll enjoy it! Spring TACO sessions are April 26, May 31, and June 28. Join...

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Fall season brings new music 2014

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Fall season brings new music 2014

The TACO fall season opened with old favourites from Vivaldi to Beethoven, Borodin to Rossini, interrupted by a Flash mob dancing to You Got The Power. You never know what surprises you’ll find at a TACO gathering! Musicians who come to our reading sessions will enjoy varied new musical additions to our library, while repeating and working on some old favourites. Many thanks to the Los Altos Community Foundation and donations from our musicians which have allowed us to purchase several new pieces of music. Thanks also to our volunteers who are doing the tedious work to integrate this music into our library. It’s been two years since TACO hosted a community sing-along, so the time has come to do this fun event again. On Sunday, November 30th we welcome the community, family and friends to join us during our last hour to sing holiday favourites. We’ll rehearse, as usual at the Los Altos Youth Center from 2 to 5 pm. and the public is invited to participate in our sing-along which will start at 4 o’clock. Join us for holiday song and cheer on Sunday, November 30th! Are you passionate about classical music and want to see it be more accessible for players and audience alike?  Check out the Awesome Orchestra Collective, a new all inclusive SF-based orchestra, whose mission is, like TACO, to make classical music accessible to all....

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TACO musicians join the RTO at the Fringe Festival 2014

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TACO musicians join the RTO at the Fringe Festival 2014

TACO musicians gather on May 25th and June 29th for regular sessions to play marches, waltzes, symphonic favorites, jazzy tunes and orchestral arrangements of popular songs. Some of the planned rehearsal music will also be performed at a summer concert with the original Really Terrible Orchestra at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Each of the five so called “terrible” orchestras from around the United States have been invited to send three musicians to join the RTO at this concert. Edinburgh based RTO musicians and their families are offering home stays to the fifteen American musicians. The American musicians will participate in a rehearsal and concert with the RTO, which will be followed by a luncheon celebration the day after the concert. Before the musicians leave for Scotland, TACO will host the Really Terrible String Orchestra (RTSO-SFBay) for a joint rehearsal of the Edinburgh music. This TACO-style event will be held on August 3rd in Los Altos. The RTO Fringe concert will occur on August 23 at the Canongate Church in Edinburgh and will not be available by satellite or TV for the general public. Tickets and details are available through the Fringe Festival web-site for those wishing to...

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TACO plays with MEWE at SJSU on April 24, 2014

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TACO plays with MEWE at SJSU on April 24, 2014

TACO is performing with students from the Music Educators Workshop Ensemble (MEWE) at San Jose State University on Thursday evening, April 24th.  But you wonder, “TACO is a social sight-reading orchestra and does not perform!” As a matter of fact, TACO musicians have enjoyed occasional public performances when the audience is guaranteed to be nonjudgmental and appreciative, like last summer’s TACO on the GREEN.  And like all TACO events, participation is optional. Students in music education, as future teachers, must develop basic competency on a variety of instruments.  The Music Educator’s Workshop Ensemble gives college students the opportunity to develop such abilities. This concert is an opportunity for the members of MEWE to demonstrate their abilities to play a second instrument.  It’s a perfect venue for TACO musicians to share a concert stage with them. Some TACO musicians will jump at this opportunity and others will simply chose not to participate. Some might prefer to be part of our nonjudgmental audience.  But many TACO musicians will appreciate an opportunity to challenge themselves with a performance.  The reasons some musicians do not like to perform are varied:  shyness, performance anxiety, concern about not practicing enough, not wanting to be the center of attention, inability to stay focused while being distracted by the presence of an audience, and knowing that by performing you are setting yourself up to be judged.  A  TACO performance gives musicians a chance to confront their fears and vulnerabilities within a super safe, incredibly non-judgmental group. As conductors, we will focus on the fun this opportunity gives us. Dressed in concert black and playing on a concert stage, we can still embrace the core values of TACO music-making:  No matter your age and skill level, it is possible to enjoy the process of making familiar and wonderful music as a group and sharing that process with others. Join members of TACO and MEWE in concert at San Jose State Music Building Concert Hall, Thursday, April 24th at 7:30 pm....

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Fanfare for the Common Man

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Fanfare for the Common Man

This month TACO musicians will have the experience of playing two concerti, with two brave musicians from TACO playing the solo parts for each concerto. Our strings will play a piece composed by Antonio Vivaldi in the early 1700’s, Violin Concerto in G minor.  One of over 300 pieces that Vivaldi wrote for a solo instrument with strings, the melody of this concerto is familiar to many and each of the three movements present musicians with varied challenges. The other is a contemporary piece written by Steven Verhelst called A Song for Japan. This music was originally written for a trombone ensemble as a charity project after the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. You can read more about the project at www.trombones.jp and listen to all kinds of ensembles from all over the world, playing this beautiful tune. Our version was arranged for trombone and orchestra by Yasunori Kanazawa. The timing of our plan to play Fanfare for the Common Man makes a perfect tribute to Pete Seeger, an American folksinger who worked throughout his life to bridge the gap between performer and audience. He encouraged listeners to sing with him, showing the everyday person that they too could participate in making music. Pete Seeger’s philosophy contributed to the inspiration for our classical music orchestra for the common man. Since the Fanfare for the Common Man was premiered by the Cinncinati Symphony Orchestra on the 12th of March, 1943 at income tax time, composer Aaron Copland’s response to this fact was to say, “I am all for honoring the common man at income tax time.” TACO gathers next on February 23, 2014.  Join...

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WALTZ with TACO! 2014

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WALTZ with TACO! 2014

    TACO celebrates Vienna’s waltz month with an opportunity for friends and family to join us to dance!  Learn to waltz in place or waltz around the room while TACO plays tunes written by the most famous waltz composer Johann Strauss. One of our flute players is also a ballroom dancer and he will give dance lessons to anyone interested in learning to waltz.  Join us for our social time and dancing, 3:30 on Sunday, January 26th at the LAYC.

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