Posts Tagged ‘music’

Research done by Nina Kraus at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Lab provides a fascinating look into why  musical training as a child will actually enhance your child’s language skills.  And you don’t have to become a professional musician to benefit!  Enjoy!

Many thanks goes to Debby Pool, Vice President of Product Development at Kindermusik International, Evanston, Illinois. 


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Recently, a Kindermusik colleague of mine, Michelle Jacques of Canada, flew to South Africa for a joint venture between Kindermusik International and Kindermusik educators in South Africa in an Outreach program that takes Kindermusik into the orphanages there.   These videos are from some of the classes that she participated in.  Watch and see the beauty of the children, hear their laughter and giggles, and you will realize that music is truly the universal language.  Enjoy!  🙂

And, from the Our Time unit “Fiddle Dee Dee” that we will enjoy next semester, beginning in January, watch the children learn American Sign Language through music.  🙂


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Most babies come into this world with only a few notable abilities at first, namely eating, sleeping, crying, and, well,……elimination, to be blunt, although not necessarily in that order.  One of the constants in that first year of life is growth – physically, mentally, and emotionally – on a scale that is only matched again in the early teen years when, yes, they’re again extremely good at the same basic skills.  Well, at least the eating and sleeping parts!  😉

However, in an article from the Daily Mail Online, dated 23rd September, 2008, researchers now tell us that even from day one, infants have a strong sense of rhythm as well as pitch and melody.   Experts now say that introducing a child to music at an early age could possibly enhance these innate musical abilities and also help them learn to talk.

The fledgling musical talent was discovered by Hungarian researchers during a study of more than 100 boys and girls who were only one or two days old.

They played the babies music as they slept and measured their brain activity.

The researchers found that their brains computed changes in beat, tone and melody.

For instance, if a key beat was missed from a rhythmic pattern, the baby’s brain registered the change.

A change in pitch, similar to that between male and female voices, also provoked a reaction.

The Hungarian Academy of Sciences study was part of a three-year European project on how the brain processes music and other sounds, co-ordinated by Dr Susan Denham, of Plymouth University.

She said: ‘What is perhaps most significant is that not only do babies’ brains register changes in beat, pitch and simple melodic patterns but they do so more or less automatically, as they are fast asleep during these experiments.

‘People come into the world with brains that are wired-up to detect patterns’.

Dr Denham added: ‘A lot of music reflects the rhythms and contents of speech. If you are listening to music you will also probably be more sensitive to speech rhythm.’

This really does make sense when you think about it.  After all, a baby spends 9+ months in utero, listening to a steady beat 24/7 of his/her mother’s heart.  I’ve also had numerous Village moms tell me that their babies seemed to recognize not only their mothers’ voices shortly after birth, but also other voices heard consistently pre-natally, such as dad or siblings. 

One Village mom in particular told me just last year that when she was pregnant the previous year, she tended to listen to one particular artist on a regular basis, almost daily.  She had an album she enjoyed listening to, with one song that was a favorite, listening to it over and over again. 

After the birth of her daughter, with all of the adjustments and changes in the family routine that results from a firstborn, listening to albums was not high on the daily schedule – until the day that mom turned on the CD player for some badly needed relief from a crying, inconsolable baby. 

Without really consciously thinking about it, she chose the album and song she had listened to frequently during the pregnancy.  Amazingly enough, the baby stopped crying within a few seconds of the beginning strains of the song.  I don’t honestly remember the song title, but I do remember laughing with Yolanda at the time; both of us agreeing that it wasn’t the usual lullaby-type song you would expect an infant to enjoy and relax with. 

Give your baby a head-start by joining us next Saturday, October 25th, or Monday, November 3rd, as we begin Dream Pillow  in our Village classes.  Online registration is available for your convenience here.

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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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Years ago, when my oldest child was very small, I was introduced to Sesame Street as well as the Muppets.  I soon learned that I enjoyed it as much as Matthew did.  Consequently, when I found this on my Facebook page today, I wanted to share it with all of you.  It looks like the 39th season may just be the best one yet!

Parodies in this video (known so far):
“30 Rocks” (based on 30 Rock)
“Pre-School Musical” (High School Musical)
“Are You Smarter Than an Egg Layer” (Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
“Plain White T’s” (Plain White T’s)
“Feist 1234” (1, 2, 3, 4)
“Dirtiest Jobs with Mike Rowe” (Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe).

Celebrities (known so far):
Jessica Alba, Will Arnett, David Beckham, Jack Black, Kim Cattrall, Lorena and Lorna Feijoo, Leslie Feist, Neil Patrick Harris, Jonah Hill, Randy Jackson, Heidi Klum, LL Cool J, Jenny McCarthy, Megan Mullally, Sandra Oh, Mike Rowe, Jason Taylor, Tilly and the Wall, Patrick Warburton, Brian Williams, Chandra Wilson

The new season begins August 18th.   Thanks goes to Lauren Shankman, one of my Imagine That parents, for the video.  Thanks, Lauren!

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One of the perks of being married to another music educator is that we share professional journals with each other.  Sometimes I even snag the latest issue of MENC’s official magazine for music educators – Teaching Music – before he even gets home! 😉

The latest issue of Teaching Music  (June, 2008, Vol. 15, No. 6) arrived today, and as I was skimming through the pages, I ran across a very interesting article by Catherine Applefeld Olson, entitled “Music Testing Success Crosses Ethnic Lines” (p 20).  It details the results of a “first-of-its-kind standardized test in Florida which reveals that among music, reading, writing, and math, music is the only subject in which students have an equal chance to succeed regardless of ethnicity.”

In May, 2007, almost 9,500 fourth graders in Florida took the Florida Music Assessment (FMA).  The student population came from 42 of the state’s 67 counties.  The ethnic distribution of the students was exactly compatible to those who took the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).  The disparity on the FCAT between highest and lowest scores ranged from 29 to 34.  On the FMA?  The point spread was 20 points, almost one third less among ethnicities than the FCAT. 

Other findings included “a significant positive relationship between school performance on the FMA and the 2007 FCAT reading, writing, and math scores.  The better a school performed on the FMA, the better it performed on the FCAT tests, particularly with regard to math.”

Correlations with writing and reading were in the high 90 percentiles, not an unusual finding.  However, in math, it was 99.997 percent!  “While we expected a correlation, we had no idea the correlations would be that high,” says James Perry, executive director of the FMEA (Florida Music Educators Association). 

Timothy Brophy, associate professor of music education at the University of  Florida’s School of music and chairman of the project, is quoted as saying, “Schools with higher music scores tend to have higher reading, math, and writing scores.  We shouldn’t ignore the significant implications of these results.”

Music and the arts, both fine and dramatic, have long been favorite targets of number crunchers amongst the public school systems nationwide.  When standardized test results indicate children are struggling, one of the first cries heard are “More academics!  Back to basics!” 

But are our children instead paying the price for this cost-cutting, academic-intensive mindset? 

Where does your child’s school stand in regards to music instruction?  Does your child’s school even offer music? 

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As of my last post, my external hard drive that basically was the repository of all of my data – business, music, jpegs, everything – had crashed and I was rapidly learning that it was going to take *BIG* bucks to recover what was lost. 

Well, the big bucks part hasn’t changed.  This week as I drive to Tennessee for my son’s wedding I will be dropping off the hard drive at a company in Marietta whose sole existence is the recovery of data from scores of crashed computers and computer-related equipment.  Thankfully, the first 24 hours will cost me nothing as they examine my hard drive and figure out what needs to be done.  It’s the *next* 24 hours that will probably shock the pants off of me!

As I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I must now pay out *BIG* bucks to regain what I mistakenly thought was safely stored, I’ve also resigned myself to the fact that I must have a back-up for the back-up.  If all goes according to what I hope will happen, I do plan on having my data transferred over to another hard drive.  Then  I will have to  buy a second external hard drive as a back-up.  Think *super* mega-flash drive.  This one won’t fit in your pocket.

However, in the meantime, back at the ranch, my 17yod, Rebekah, who has often been an assistant in my ABC classes over the years, came to me last Friday night with an amazing statement.

“Mom, you know you can copy all of your music off of your iPod back onto the computer, don’t you?”


What’d you say?

“Yes, you can.  It’s not hard,  I did it when I moved all of my stuff off your iTunes onto my laptop.”

Whoa!  We can recover *ALL* of my music off of the iPod?! 

We’re talking over 12G of music – mostly Kindermusik, VBS music, Children’s Choirs, but also some beloved classics – Southwest DeKalb High School Band 1970 and 1972 – the year we won the Virginia Beach Band Festival – not to mention Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, Joshua Radin, Simon & Garfunkel, Kai Winding, and Paul Desmond, just to name a few.  Oh, yeah, there was some of Napoleon Dynamite left on there from Bekah, too. Not to mention all of the purchases I had made through Sonific.com which is now defunct.

Bekah assured me that it could be done, but I was too leery of doing it Friday night before my last classes on Saturday morning.  I decided to wait until the semester was over.  I also decided that I was not going to put it back on our desktop – already slow and slowing.  12G would just about fill this baby up *again* – which is why I bought the dang external hard drive to begin with last year!

Well, last night, with the aid of my extremely knowledgable 17yo, we successfully transferred *ALL* of my music files from my iPod onto a new laptop.  HURRAY! 

I was one *extremely* happy person right then.  When I finally released Bekah from a massive bear-hug dance, she grinned and said, “You have to thank PC Magazine, too, Mom.  That’s where I learned it.”

So, *THANK YOU*, PC Magazine! 

(Now, if I could only recover my stored website information that easily as well!) 🙂

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