Brain scans show marked difference before and after music lessons

There has been a lot of attention towards the affects of music instruction on brain development. But I think this is the first time I’ve seen actual scans of the brains of young children.

Fibers belonging to the greater forceps pre-musical training are observed (A, B, C). Fibers belonging to the same patients after 9 months of musical training are observed below (a, b, c). Credit: Radiological Society of North America

Studies have already shown that learning music can be beneficial to children with brain development disorders like autism. Researchers from the Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez in Mexico City wanted to understand more specifically what changes happen in the brain due to musical instruction.

“When a child receives musical instruction, their brains are asked to complete certain tasks. These tasks involve hearing, motor, cognition, emotion and social skills, which seem to activate these different brain areas.These results may have occurred because of the need to create more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain,” explained Dr. Dies-Suarez.

See full article.

 

 

music lessons for kids 4 years old and up in Park Slope

What makes our preschool piano lessons better?

Our preschool piano lessons are virtually unmatched.  Most teachers will not accept a student until 7 or 8 years old.

Why is that?

There is a gap in most music curriculums that do not cover the pre-literate preschool aged child.

The curriculum we use with our young preschool students is what makes us stand out.  It was developed in house by our founder, Andrew Ingkavet and is called the Musicolor Method.  It is currently being taught to music teachers all over the world through an online training course and curriculum.

What makes the Musicolor Method unique?

musicolor-2000-white-boxThe Musicolor Method is the first music curriculum aimed at teaching piano to preschoolers (aged 3 1/2 to 6 years old) that aligns with principles of human development, early childhood education and information design.  Over a ten year period, the curriculum and method have codified into a dynamic and flexible program that has been used successfully with hundreds of children.

Direct Labelling

By labelling keys, fingers and notation with color, we create a direct labelling that allows children to bypass all the abstract symbolic knowledge required in most other curriculums.

It is the best curriculum for bringing preschool beginners up to a level where they can then begin to read music on the staff and can branch out to other curriculums, methods and styles of music.

Here are some of the key components of the Musicolor Method:

  • It doesn’t rely on the need to read
  • Unique musicolor notation is clutter-free and designed specifically for this age group
  • Begins with piano/keyboard which allows for easier understanding of theory
  • Transferrable to other instruments such as guitar,

Spring Recital 2014 is on June 7 at 2pm

 

Our Spring Recital will be June 7, 2014 at 2pm
June 7 at 2pm, Park Slope Library

I’m looking forward to our upcoming Spring Music Recital on June 7 at 2pm.  It will be in our usual location, the auditorium of the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.

We have a great program of diverse music from folk classics to Suzuki standards to pop songs from Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons, One Republic, jazz standards in the style of Frank Sinatra and film and Broadway soundtracks all played by kids ages 5 to 13.

The show is free and open to the public.   You can see previous recital videos here.

Also, if you haven’t already signed up your child for summer lessons, I have some openings for our short summer session which runs 4 weeks in July from the 7th to 31st.   More info.

I’m also offering music lessons via internet (Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts) over the summer and into the Fall too.  This may be a good opportunity to continue practicing whilst at Grandma’s house.

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

 

Why Memorizing Music Is So Important

By Andrew Ingkavet

With all of my students, I stress the importance of memorizing their pieces, especially for performance at a recital. Here’s some of the reasons why.

Repetition is the Mother of Skill

How many times did Tiger Woods hit a golf ball before ever entering a competition? Apparently he was already golfing at age 2 when he made an appearance on the Merv Griffin show with his Dad. He turned professional at age 21 after winning many competitions along the way. That’s 19 years and probably 30,000 to 40,000 hours of practice! In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers,  he discusses the theory that it takes an applied 10,000 hours of practice to mastery in any field. No wonder Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer that ever lived!  He’s simply played 3 or 4 times much as anyone else before he even turned pro!

Tiger Woods golfer
Now, I’m not demanding 8 hour practice days for my students, but five minutes the day before the lesson is just not going to cut it. It’s unfair to the student who is going to sound awful and not enjoy the wonderful process and sense of accomplishment of learning a song to a masterful level.

Technique

As we use our muscles to achieve the production of sound, we need to train them to move in specific ways. Fluidity can only be achieved by repetition. By consciously practicing the repeated motions at the same time being mindful of proper alignment of back, wrists, hands, we can create smooth, fluid motions that create beautiful sounds without repetitive stress injuries.

How to Play London Bridge on the Piano

I’ve started making videos of songs I’m teaching my students as so many of them are visual learners and have the technology to view this at home.  This video is not meant to be a step by step instruction but a reinforcement/memory aid for after the lesson when practicing at home.

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.

Essential Reading for Parents of Music Students

Talent is not inherited. The first month in a nightingale's life determines its fate...I had always thought that a nightingale's incomparable song was instinctive or inherited. But it is not so. Nightingales to be used as pets are taken as fledglings from nest of wild birds in the spring. As soon as they lose their fear and accept food, a "master bird" is borrowed that daily sings its lovely song, and the infant bird listens for a period of a about a month. In this way the little wild bird is trained by the master bird...It is not a matter of being born a good singer or a bad singer...the life force has a wonderful power to adapt to environment.

At What Age To Start Music Lessons?

As a teacher of music, this is a common question I hear.  Every child is unique and while there is no one right answer, I can offer a few guidelines.

ABCs

One of the first “games” I play with my younger students is to have them order the letters of the alphabet.  This is a chance for them to show off their knowledge, build confidence and break the ice with their new teacher.  I do this by giving them a stack of flash cards, each with one letter on it.  By connecting this to the musical alphabet, there’s usually an “a-ha” moment.   So if you’re child knows their ABCs, it will be easier to connect the dots to the musical alphabet.

Interest

Having a child who is passionate about music is probably the most important thing.  The amount of time required to master these new skills and concepts is great.  Has your child been asking about music lessons?  Do you listen to music around the house?  Does your child sing spontaneously?  If so, these are all great signs that your child is ready for more musical challenges and instruction.

Fine Motor Skills

Many kids, especially younger ones, have difficulty controlling different fingers.  With these children, I usually spend more time on singing, clapping and movement activities designed to internalize basic music concepts.  With piano, these kids can play melodies with one finger.  Other instruments may need to wait.

Which Instrument?

Voice is the instrument we already own.  With all of my students,

The Goal of Beginning Music Lessons

My goal with my beginning music students is to

  1. Ignite the passion, fun and excitement of music within
  2. Introduce the names of the notes
  3. Connect those notes to their location on their instrument
  4. Connect those notes to standard written notation
  5. Through achievements, build their sense of self confidence and self worth.
  6. Have fun

To go through these steps, I have a variety of techniques and methods.  Steps 1 and 2 are usually not a problem.  If you know only the first 7 letters of your ABCs you know all the names of the notes in music.  Connecting those note names, A-B-C-D-E-F-G to where they lie on a guitar or piano or xylophone can be a challenge, especially for 3 to 5 year olds.  Once students know where the notes are on the instrument, we can make music and the fun begins!

I have experimented with many methods out there.  One method is to use color to correlate note names to keys.   I’ve been doing this with some of my younger students with great results. This is not synesthesia, where a person actually perceives one sense with matched with another like say “middle C is always a certain hue of red.”  It’s using what is readily available as a transmission system that is highly developed in all but the color-blind.

However, there is a caveat.  One has to know when to remove the “crutch of color” to allow the student to walk on their own.  Otherwise they never progress to the next level.