Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Playing Music Affects the Developing Brain

NPR Classical featured this story that I thought I'd share.
Remember “Mozart Makes You Smarter”?
A 1993 study of college students showed them performing better on spatial reasoning tests after listening to a Mozart sonata. That led to claims that listening to Mozart temporarily increases IQs — and to a raft of products purporting to provide all sorts of benefits to the brain.
In 1998, Zell Miller, then the governor of Georgia, even proposed providing every newborn in his state with a CD of classical music.
But subsequent research has cast doubt on the claims. 
Ani Patel, an associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and the author of “Music, Language, and the Brain,” says that while listening to music can be relaxing and contemplative, the idea that simply plugging in your iPod is going to make you more intelligent doesn’t quite hold up to scientific scrutiny.
“On the other hand,” Patel says, “there’s now a growing body of work that suggests that actually learning to play a musical instrument does have impacts on other abilities.” These include speech perception, the ability to understand emotions in the voice and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
Patel says this is a relatively new field of scientific study.
Link to the full article: HERE.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Which Musical Era Best Suits You?

Congratulations to the Advanced Suzuki Group Class at Sherwood for creating a Musical Era Personality Quiz to demonstrate their knowledge of music history!  You can take the quiz here: 

Summer Contest 2014

All students of mine at Sherwood or FaithSlaker Music:

I hope you're all having a great summer so far!  Though I hear it is raining in Chicago....  Since you're not having summer weather though, you can spend a little more time at the piano!  Care to show us all what you can accomplish on your own?  

This summer there are two contests.  The first contest is to play something using technology as an accompaniment and perform it via video.  Have fun with this one.  Surprise me!  The second contest is to learn and perfect a piece entirely on your own.  This may not be a piece we have previewed in lesson and it may not be a part of the Suzuki repertoire if you are a Suzuki student.  The piece needs to be performed with beauty and accuracy, but does not need to be memorized.  As always, winners will be selected based on accomplishment within their playing level, musical expression and daring choice. 

Entries must be received by midnight on August 31st (via youtube, vimeo or mp4) and winners will be announced via blog/twitter/facebook during the first week of classes.  There will be one winner and one runner up for each category (technology or repertoire) and the winners will be awarded fun sheet music to work on in lessons as well as the privilege of having their performance shared and admired.  

Now, head on over to the piano, warm up with your performance pieces, and see what you can do!  I look forward to watching all the entries!