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Archive for the ‘Simply Music’ Category

Tonight I received an interesting article that I thought I’d share, entitled, ” ‘Mozart effect’ or not, music is beneficial” by Mike Saelee of the UCLA Daily Bruin. 

Saelee writes about research being done at  UCLA Semel Institute’s Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to study brain activity while people listen to or create music.  The hope is that by applying the use of fMRI and music to study emotion processing in the brains of children with autism, a developmental disorder of the brain, researchers may learn more about the possible use of music as a tool to help autistic children with social engagement and communication, noted key areas of the disorder. 

“The study will examine how the brain processes emotion in children with autism by measuring blood flow while listening to pleasant and unpleasant music,” said Istvan Molnar-Szakacs, a neuroscientist at the UCLA Semel Institute’s Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity. 

The positive therapeutic effects of music are also being harnessed and used in hospitals and other types of health institutions, such as rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes.   Vanya Green, a music therapist at UCLA, is quoted as saying, “Music enables an emotional level to be reached that may not be done in other modalities.”   The type of music therapy used depends upon the assessment of the client’s specific needs  derived by the music therapist. 

The simple process of remembering and producing a familiar tune such as “Here comes the Bride” occurs because the centers of the brain that process music and sound evolved from processing sounds of danger and/or threat to human life.  Due to the importance of understanding and comprehending sounds for survival, sounds have a direct route to the limbic system, which is a set of brain structures involved in emotion processing and to areas important for processing reward.  This also explains why so many of us actively turn to music we enjoy, that gives us pleasure. 

Molnar-Szakacs of UCLA is quoted as saying, “These pathways are now used for processing all sounds, from a lion’s roar to a Beethoven symphony, allowing us to listen to music and feel incredibly moved.  There is music at the mall, music at the gym, music in the car, and music on our phone. We pretty much live with a permanent soundtrack.”

I don’t know about you, but I think my “permanent soundtrack” sometimes needs a good “shuffle” in it!  🙂

 

To read this article in its entirety, please visit the UCLA Daily Bruin here.

Thanks goes to Remy Moore, Media Projects Assistant at Simply Music.com, for providing this article to us.  Thanks, Remy!

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I was fortunate three years ago to attend the Kindermusik national convention held in Nashville, Tennessee.  I went, not really knowing many people, but content to sit and learn and absorb as much as possible of the Kindermusik experience.  What I didn’t realize was that it would be something totally new and different there that would shift my musical “paradigm” in ways I never could have anticipated.

I first met Lynn Frank and Karen Gibson, both Kindermusik educators, through our online KM Loop, made up of licensed Kindermusik educators.  When a question was posed on the loop about beginning piano methods, they both brought up Simply Music – a piano method that I had never heard of.  Having taught piano now for over 35 years, I’ve pretty much heard of most of them.  This was something new.

Developed by Australian-born Neil Moore and based in Sacramento, California, it was something that they raved about – as teachers, as musicians, as pianists.  They both mentioned how it freed not only their students from the written page, but also themselves.  Intrigued, I began to look into it and attended their information workshop in Nashville.

I was so impressed with not only what I saw, but also heard there, that I began checking into Simply Music more closely via the internet, spending hours pouring over the website, viewing their videos, and following links to licensed Simply Music instructors.  I also emailed these instructors, asking further questions about their decision to teach this method.  After a week of investigation, emails and conversations, I took the plunge and signed up for training.  I’ve never regretted it.

Simply Music is a revolutionary, Australian-developed piano and keyboard method that presents a breakthrough in music education.  Students of all ages are playing great-sounding blues, contemporary, classical and accompaniment pieces – immediately – from their very first lessons.  And they’re enjoying themselves tremendously in the process!

Simply Music sets a new standard in music education, and explores learning piano, playing piano, and teaching piano from a completely different perspective.  It presents the possibility of a new era in music education, learning, and self-expression. 

It is not the Suzuki method.  It is not rote memorization.  It is not a reading-based, traditional approach.  It is simply – music – taught in such a way that even teachers, long trained in traditional piano methods, find themselves transformed not only in how they teach piano, but also in playing and composing piano pieces for themselves. 

For your enjoyment, I present one of my beginning piano students, Alex, who is eight years old.  He has been studying piano with me since mid-March of 2008, just five (5) months ago, using Simply Music.  He has not had any previous formal piano or music study of any kind.  The piece he is playing is called “Alma Mater Blues” and is the final piece of the Level I Foundation book of Simply Music.  Enjoy! 🙂

There will be a *FREE* Information Session about Simply Music on Tuesday, August 26th, at Zion Baptist Church in Covington, Georgia, beginning at 7PM.  Interested in learning more about Simply Music and playing the piano?  Come join us!  Questions?  Email us at info at masterworks studio dot com or call 404-395-5247.

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Many times in our Village classes (for infants 0 – 18 months), during our exercise time, I will often tell the parents that by providing the cross-lateral movements between opposing hand and foot, they are stimulating the corpus callosum which contains the nerve pathways between the two hemispheres in the brain.  This area is also linked to future academic success, such as learning to read, being able to write, and eye-hand coordination.    Recently published findings now indicate that the consistent, faithful practice of a musical instrument also provides further lifelong benefits. 

boy playing piano

In ScienceNOW Daily News, an article entitled Music Builds Bridges in the Brain by Greg Miller was published this past Wednesday, and gives even more weight to those parental reminders “Have you practiced your music today?”  It documents the release of a study by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical College and Boston College who studied 31 children from the age of 6 to 9 who had all been involved in musical instruction at some time during the course of the study or were continuing in their ongoing musical studies. 

Detailed magnetic resonance images (MRI’s) were taken of the children at ages 6 and 9.  Of the original thirty-one, six children were faithful to practice each week, averaging at least 2.5 hours weekly in the time between scans.  (Side note here: this is the same amount of time I require of all of my beginners – one half hour for five days each week.) 

In these children, “a region of the corpus callosum that connects movement-planning regions on the two sides of the brain grew about 25% relative to the overall size of the brain.”  Those children who practiced less than this or dropped their instrument entirely showed no growth.  Consistent, faithful practice doesn’t just improve your playing; it also strengthens and builds your brain! 

All of these children involved in the study did study an instrument which involved the use of two hands, such as the piano or violin.  (Possibly even flute? 🙂 )  We will have exciting news about our piano studio up in the next few days, so stay tuned! 

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WordPress.com is an amazing group of people who constantly seek to give their members the best, the newest, the greatest tools for blogging that you can find anywhere.  Recently, I was able to upload video clips from my piano studio’s Spring Recital to Youtube.com, but I didn’t want to place them in a series of separate posts on this blog.  WordPress.com has made it possible for me to create a separate page on this blog for the sole purpose of my piano students and their Spring Recital.

pianist

If you will look up at the very top of the page here, just above the boy with the red shirt, you will notice a tab that says “Piano for Everyone!” Click on that tab and you will find, for your listening pleasure, video clips of my students’ performances in recital.  The first set consists of their piano solos, and the second set is our “Singspiration” time, consisting of pieces chosen by the students themselves for the purpose of playing music that family and friends could sing along while they played.  I hope you enjoy their performances.  It was an enjoyable evening for everyone there.  We had a blast!

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