Is Music Education The Key To Success in Life?

Is Music The Key To Success?
Is Music The Key To Success?

This past Sunday, there was a NY Times Article on the importance of music education in everyone’s life.  I feel like it was written specifically for music teachers!  The author interviewed some of the top performers in numerous  and diverse industries and has found a surprising number had deep musical training from Condoleeza Rice to Allan Greenspan to Paula Zhan to James Wolfensohn to Steven Spielberg to Woody Allen and Paul Allen.

[box] “I’ve always believed the reason I’ve gotten ahead is by outworking other people,” he says. It’s a skill learned by “playing that solo one more time, working on that one little section one more time,” and it translates into “working on something over and over again, or double-checking or triple-checking.” He adds, “There’s nothing like music to teach you that eventually if you work hard enough, it does get better. You see the results.” – NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd[/box]

See the full article, Is Music The Key To Success at NYTimes.com

 

Music Lessons Make For Grittier Kids

the path to success in life

2 Types of Students

Some of my music students will naturally wrestle with a new challenge.  They’ll go over and over a specific passage until they  have a break-through.   Sometimes I have to bite my tongue as they doggedly work out the solution in front of me.  Sweet victory!  These kids have tenacity a.k.a., grit!

And then there’s the other kind.  They sit placidly and wait for the answers to be handed to them.  If I present something new, they almost always says, “I don’t understand, it’s too hard!” and then give up immediately.    When I do give them the answer, they’ll do it once and then say I got it, but then want to move on to something “new.”    As I tell all my students, “repetition is the mother of skill,” –  Tony Robbins.

The ones who have the tenacity or “grit” as they now call it, have been shown to be the ones who become better students, not only in music but also in almost every aspect of life. There have been studies showing that later success in life is better predicted by emotional qualities such as “grit” than academic scores.

It seems that if we as parents and educators can instill more “grittiness” in our kids, then they’ll be better prepared for the future.

A path to grittiness

So how does Music Lessons develop this quality called grit?

Any repeated practice can be used for building grit.  Whether it’s music or sports or juggling.

[box] Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do,

Music Practice As A Discipine For Life

I read this great article about how music lessons became a great discipline for success in life.  What really resonated with me was the fact that none of the writer’s 4 daughters were natural “prodigies” and had to struggle with daily music practice.  I too did not just fall into playing piano and guitar and alto saxophone.  But once I found my favorite teacher(s) and repertoire it started to flow easier.

Flash-forward 20 years from that first Suzuki lesson, and three of my four kids have put away their violins in favor of other pursuits. But those early lessons stuck. All four have had the courage to embrace long-term, large-scale projects outside the realm of their formal academic training. All of them credit their Suzuki days for ingraining in them the habit of patient practice that has seen them through the long, slow development of mastery.

Sure, talent matters. Talent is the difference between good art and great art, between proficiency and virtuosity. But talent alone is rarely enough to get by.

See the whole article here at Philly.com

 

The Everlasting Positive Effects of Music Lessons

It seems every year there’s a new study that confirms the positive benefits of music lessons in early childhood.  This one has some great findings:

From the NY Times Well Blog:

By PERRI KLASS, M.D.

Joyce Hesselberth

When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills. Recent studies suggest that these benefits extend all through life, at least for those who continue to be engaged with music.

But a study published last month is the first to show that music lessons in childhood may lead to changes in the brain that persist years after the lessons stop.

Researchers at Northwestern University recorded the auditory brainstem responses of college students — that is to say, their electrical brain waves — in response to complex sounds. The group of students who reported musical training in childhood had more robust responses — their brains were better able to pick out essential elements, like pitch, in the complex sounds when they were tested. And this was true even if the lessons had ended years ago.

Indeed, scientists are puzzling out the connections between musical training in childhood and language-based learning — for instance, reading. Learning to play an instrument may confer some unexpected benefits, recent studies suggest.

We aren’t talking here about the “Mozart effect,” the claim that listening to classical music can improve people’s performance on tests. Instead, these are studies of the effects of active engagement and discipline.

What Music Should My Child Be Listening To?

A Playlist for Young Music Students – or anyone who appreciates a wide eclectic listening palette.

I hope you are having a super summer and getting some much needed recharging.
As you know, listening to quality music is one of the most important parts of being a music student. Hearing comes before sight as well as our ability to talk.  Music is a language and the more your child listens to a wide variety of quality music, the wider your child’s view of the world. With that in mind, I wanted to let you know of an amazing resource called Spotify.  If you didn’t already know, this a free software app/website that allows you to listen to about 90% of all recorded music for free – http://www.spotify.com.  It’s like an internet radio station/library.

This is an amazing resource for teachers, students and fans.  There are a few commercials, but you can pay for a premium version without commercials – which is how the musicians and composers get paid by the way.  The best part of Spotify is the social aspect in that you can easily share songs and playlists with friends…and my students!

I’ve made an Essential Listening Playlist for my students.
It covers folk, jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass, country, film soundtracks, Colombian rock including one vallenato and some classical.  It’s quite eclectic, and is chosen for quality of music, composition, styles and appropriate lyric content.  You will never hear this on commercial radio – no Justin Beiber here!  Once you subscribe to this list, you’ll receive updates as I add them,

A Typical Music Lesson – My Approach to Teaching

4 hands are better than 2!

Apologies for the site being down all of last week.  But we’re back!  Here’s a quick update and enjoy the week off for Thanksgiving!

 

As many of you know, in each of my lessons, my aim is to address 3 main areas: repertoire, reading and music theory.

Repertoire

This is building up a collection of pieces that your child can play from memory and perform in public.
It allows us to work on technique and bring music to life whilst giving a great confidence boost and joy in playing. This material I often present using my own color notation which enables your child to learn a piece as quickly as possible and then memorize it. Many of you are using Suzuki material for this repertoire whilst others are working on a combination of Suzuki with jazz, blues, pop and world music.

Reading

To  learn to read music is truly a great skill. To be musically literate opens a whole door to deeper appreciation. Reading music is not as difficult as it seems, but requires a steady practice diet.   I will usually not start this until we’ve been playing a repertoire of about 7 to 10 songs.  I use a proprietary method of notation to get them up to speed quickly with simple and then complex pieces.

Music Theory

This is the nuts and bolts of music. We get under the hood and see how music is structured and built through games,

Why Music Recitals Are Like Life Skills 101

Or things I wish I knew when I was 8 years old…

We had such a great recital last Saturday and it made me think of how important these events are for so many reasons.
Spring Recital 2011

Deadlines

Recitals are like so many things in life. It’s a due date when you need to really know something well and you need to show it in public, in this case 100 of your friends, families and peers. Think of the times when you had to present a paper or a case or a sales pitch at a specific time and day. The recital is preparation for that. It’s a deadline.

Discipline and Mastery

Preparing for the recital is also like life. The discipline required to learn, memorize and perform the pieces is the same discipline you use when you are in college working on a term paper, at your job preparing the big powerpoint presentation to your clients, presenting your court case to the judge and jury and so on. There’s a level of mastery that needs to be achieved in a recital. Nowadays, it seems there’s less encouragement or paths to mastery with all the instant gratification of digital downloads and games and apps. We don’t let our children go 5 seconds before we step in to help them with a frustrating problem. Mastery requires discipline and a commitment to “do it again…and again.” Self-help guru Anthony Robbins speaks of the 10,000 hours it required to master a skill. Malcolm Gladwell describes some great outliers including Bill Gates in Outliers: The Story of Success.

Glenn Gould’s Finger Tapping Exercise for Piano Technique

Many of you are struggling with playing cleanly and smoothly. This simple technique can help you to relax your fingers to pay more fluidly. Developed by Glenn Gould’s mentor and longtime teacher Chilean pianist Alberto Guerrero, it aims to retain a relaxed muscle memory. You can learn more about this in the wonderful documentary Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould.

Winter Music Recital 2011 – Pictures and Video

Winter Music Recital 2011 at Carroll Gardens Library

What a great success our Winter Music Recital was last Saturday!  I hope you all celebrated the great achievements of your children.  No matter if they played some notes that were not intended, the entire process of going on stage, in public, in a crowded room of at least 80 people, and performing the piece they practiced for months – priceless!

I noticed many parents who were much more nervous than their children!  And, by starting your kids early in this process of focus, practice and performing publicly, you’ve started them on the road to success in life no matter what professional path they choose.  And the benefits of developing an appreciation for beauty, form, structure and communication through music is why I do what I do.  I love teaching your kids and thank you for supporting us on our journey!

You can see more photos on Flickr and here’s our YouTube Channel.

Below are some of the videos on YouTube.

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Jan 22, 2011 Winter Music Recital

We’ll be having our recital at the Carroll Gardens branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 2pm. The space looks nice and they even have a grand piano – though so out of tune it is unusable!

It’s located at the corner of Clinton and Union Streets.  The recital, as always, is free, and open to the public, so come early to guarantee a seat and to help me set up the room!  I appreciate your help in putting away the chairs afterwards as well.

So we continue our tour of the Brooklyn Public Library spaces as weekend hours have been cut at Pacific Library and Park Slope is still under renovation for another year! Please support your/our public library!
Brooklyn Public Library - Carroll Gardens branch

Winter Semester for Music Lessons

The Fall semester is fast coming to an end with the last lesson on Saturday November 20, 2010. We’ll have a break for Thanksgiving with the new Winter session starting Tuesday November 30, 2010 and running until Saturday February 19, 2010.

The cost for the new semester is $550 with an early bird discount of $50 if paid before November 15, 2010.

There will be no lessons the week of

* December 24 – January 2 – Winter Holiday Recess

If you are not currently studying with me, space is extremely limited, but you may register on the waiting list here.

How To Read Music: Rhythm using Stick Notation

When teaching to read traditional music notation, I separate the 2 parts of pitch and rhythm.  Rhythm is easy to teach using stick notation.

[update-12-3-12] Stick notation is taking traditional notes and removing the note-head.  The note-head is the round dot at the bottom of the stick.  The dot is placed on the 5 lines of the staff and depending on where it is, tells us which pitch to play.  By removing the note-head, we focus only on the rhythm.

The use of hand movements, words and sounds enable us to get the music in our body, mind, eye and ear.  Multiple modes of experience!

This method is created by Michiko Yurko and you can find her and her books/games/workshops at MusicMindGames.com.

Here’s a little video I made with the help of Ava.

Music lessons & effects on the brain

EVANSTON, Ill., July 21 (UPI) — Musical instruction can “prime” the brain to improve human skills in language, speech, memory and attention, U.S. researchers say.

A study at Northwestern University found the effects of musical training on the nervous system can build meaningful patterns important to all types of learning, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers studied music training’s effect on neuroplasticity, defined as the brain’s ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person’s life… read the rest at UPI.com

And here’s a snippet regarding the same study from The Sun UK.

Dr Nina Kraus, who headed the research at Northwestern University in Illinois, said: “The beneficial effects confer advantages beyond music. This argues for an improvement in the quality and quantity of music training in schools.”

Musical training has long been linked to intellect. But until now experts believed it was because children who played instruments were more likely to come from wealthier backgrounds where they got extra help.

The study showed musical training benefited children from all backgrounds.

It claims music “stretches” the brain by forcing it to recognise pitch and rhythm.  Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3062237/Learning-music-will-make-you-cleverer.html#ixzz0vNLGNKsP

And another take from the journal Nature.

We can hardly be surprised, meanwhile, that music lessons improve children’s IQ7, given that they will nourish general faculties such as memory,

John Lennon’s Imagine

This is from a concert at Madison Square Garden in 1972.  Essential listening for anyone!

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

I’m starting a songwriting class in September and we’ll be analyzing some of the greatest rock, pop, jazz songs of all time as part of the curriculum.  Stay tuned or get on my waiting list on the registration page.

Buy this song at Amazon

Video from our Spring Music Recital

Last Saturday’s Spring Recital was a great success and I am so proud of all of my students!
Performing in public is a skill that only a small minority of people in this world have developed a comfort and ability with.  It is such a huge accomplishment even to get up onstage and then to perform a piece that they’ve worked hard on for months.   You as parents should be happy and proud of this achievement and I hope you celebrated this milestone in your child’s life.  Whatever small mistakes they made in the performance were greatly outweighed by the entire experience of publicly performing.

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Free Piano Checklist for Beginners

Many of my students have been forgetting some of the basics around technique.  Here’s a handy chart that you can post by the piano or on the first page of your music notebook.  Probably the most important one I’m finding is sitting the proper distance away from the piano.  Many kids like to sit almost with their bellies touching the piano.  This makes it so much harder for their fingers to be in the right shape to play well.   You should be sitting so that your forearms are about level with the floor, elbows bent and shoulders not hunched or lifted.

Curling the fingers can take some time to remember for the youngest students.  I usually tolerate the flat-fingers for a while until they get a few pieces memorized.

You can download this piano checklist as PDF to print out.

Hope this helps.

Enjoy, make music and have fun!

Andrew

The Beatles, Let It Be

Let It Be
By Lennon & McCartney

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be, …..

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, …..

Lean On Me by the great Bill Withers

One of the greatest songs of all time by probably my favorite songwriter of all time, Bill Withers.

Lean On Me

Words & Music By Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives
we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Chorus
Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things
you need to borrow
For no one can fill
those of your needs
That you don’t let show

Chorus

If there is a load
you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’d understand
We all need somebody to lean on