Kids with ASD, ADHD, preliterate, and beginners in general love our Musicolor Method curriculum. They can shine with our unique visual vocabulary for music.Continue reading
Most of our students at Park Slope Music Lessons have some experience with early childhood music programs. But you can even start singing to your baby in the womb. I came across this delightful and educational infographic from the fine folks at Mom Loves Best.
Our Musicolor Method® is a fun, simple and effective next step from those Mommy&Me type programs and makes learning higher levels of music easy.
Learn more about the benefits of music for babies and kids at Mom Loves Best.com
When I was a kid, I felt like loneliness was my best friend. It’s not like I wanted to be around him. He just clung to me.
We were the only Asian family in an all-white neighborhood in a suburb of New York City. The typical question was,
“What are you, Chinese or Japanese?”
As if those were the only two options.
“I’m Thai, Chinese and Korean.” I would try to explain.
This answer was usually met with bewildered stares and silence. Mind you, this was long before kimchi tacos, Pad Thai noodles and Sriracha hot sauce were even a blip on the radar of the general public. Heck, most people hadn’t even heard of sushi back then.
My New Best Friend
Somewhere along the way, though, I discovered music, who quickly became my new best friend. It was through music that I began to feel less alien, foreign and an outsider and more like “just one of the gang.” Through the bonds of shared passion for Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, I found new friends.
Music was the social lubricant and the universal language of our tribe.
I was 14 and teaching myself to play guitar. I needed to get better fast! Thus, I began to learn how to learn and how to practice.
I dove deep into technical exercises and repetition. I studied the form and structure of music. And I improved rapidly. I began to realize that I could improve my results by focusing on the things that gave me better results and leaving the rest behind. This was before I had ever heard of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. By focusing on that high leverage 20%, I was able to improve much more quickly.
One day I realized something profound.
Practicing what I already know is a waste of time. I need to practice what I don’t know to improve!
The Practice of Practice
Now, I am a professional music teacher, and I strive to teach the practice of practice to all my students.
Last week, I held a Parents Curriculum meeting where I shared my core belief:
“Learning a musical instrument is one of the best paths for personal development.”
It requires knowing how to study, learn and focus. These skills affect everything in life. Cultivating these skills will transform your child’s life forever.
Most people, kids included, will enthusiastically start a project like learning an instrument with great enthusiasm and a lot of willpower.
But there’s a problem with willpower.
Many world leaders, CEO’s and military commanders know about decision fatigue. It’s been proven- there is a finite amount of decisions you can make in a day.
It’s why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday. He saved his decisions for designing life-changing products. It’s why President Obama didn’t choose his meals. (I don’t know about Trump.) Why waste limited resources?
It’s the same thing with practicing, and the good news is that you can design a practice routine.
Many successful people have a morning routine. New parents are familiar with creating a sleep routine for their infants.
It’s the same with practice.
By creating a practice routine that is at the same time everyday, in the same location, you begin to cultivate a habit. Willpower is required at first, but then it becomes a trigger that sets the routine in motion.
So take some time to consciously design a successful practice routine for your child that then becomes a daily habit. It will transform your child’s life and make your kids more successful. And, through the shared love of music, it may even open doors of friendship, too.
It’s less than a month to our Spring Recital.
Public performance is a huge growth opportunity and an essential skill for success in life. I’ve heard many adults say how public speaking is at the top of their fear lists.
It was mine too!
Back when I was an awkward kid, somehow, I knew that if I could get over my fear of speaking or performing in public, I would have an easier time in life. Through repeated practice in jobs, gigs and performing, I somehow got better. Eventually, to my sheer amazement, I even got a job as a host for MTV with a daily audience of millions!
Over the last ten years, I’ve seen many of my students blossom from shy wallflowers to starring in school plays – from unable to take a bow to belting out pop songs at the top of their lungs – from hiding behind their mother’s legs to standing confidently in front of a middle school interviewer…
Our recitals have played a huge part in your kid’s lives and I am immensely proud to be a part of this magical journey.
If you have never been to one, they are warm, family-friendly affairs where your children can grow. I’ve considered moving to other venues, but the intimacy and community aspect of the library space is exactly what we are after. A safe space.
So be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. You can see previous videos here.
June 10, 2017 – 11am or 2pm
Park Slope Library, 9th Street at 6th Avenue in the lower level auditorium. Wheelchair and stroller accessible. There is limited seating, so arrive early.
Please email me and let me know which time you would like to have your child perform.
You can sign up for lessons here – choose your dates & teacher and it will send a request for booking.
Please email me directly if you would like to enroll in the songwriting workshop. Wednesdays from 4:30-5:30pm. Ages 7+
As we have long had a waiting list, you will need to put down a $100 deposit/student to hold your time slot with your teacher. This ensures you will continue beginning Friday September 8th, 2017.
I will be sending invoices for the Fall deposits shortly.
Please let me know if you will NOT be continuing so we can release your time to others.
We now have 5 teachers in total! Adam Holmes, Luba Mirzoyev, Frannie Brodeur, Sean Spada and myself. We posted some new videos on Facebook of Sean and Adam recently. You can see all the bios here.
Please like us on Facebook, leave a review and check out some of the new videos there!
It’s a pleasure and honor to work with you and your children. Thank you for letting me, and all of our teachers, be a part of your world.
Owner, Teacher and fellow Park Slope parent
What can we do to help our children become successful? It’s a question that reverberates deeply in every parent.
[box] “To give our kids the best possible potential for a successful life, we need to teach and model for them how to work well.” – Cal Newport[/box]
The summer I was 10 years old, I would ride my bike every morning to my local public library. There, I would greet the librarian, Mrs. Mascolo, and take home a stack of books: everything from mysteries to biographies, science fiction, and history.
For most of the day, I would be hidden among the leaves, high up in my backyard willow tree, diving into worlds far beyond my backyard.
There wasn’t much else to do in my suburban town.
To me, the book was the ultimate escape. I could sit reading in the tree all day, until Mom would cry out, “Andrew! Dinner time!”
Today there are so many ways to escape.
I doubt I would have spent so much time reading books if I had the options available today. Every kid has a “pocket computer” that can instantly look up anything, listen to music, “talk” to just about anyone, watch movies, videos, take photos, and play games.
It’s a blessing and a curse.
As a parent, I love the ability to “find my friend” and track my son’s location. I can instantly message him and send automated reminders for appointments with the orthodontist.
But these options have made a problem. A problem of focus.
With the lure of instant gratification, our attention has become shallow and scattered. (Note the rise in cases of ADHD.)
In his book, Deep Work, Rules for Focused Success in A Distracted World, author Cal Newport states
“The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”
To be a contributing member of society today, one needs to achieve mastery of multiple areas. As the pace of innovation increases, we need to learn new skills, behaviors, and tools that didn’t exist a few years ago!
And to do this, we need to learn “how to learn.” We need to develop the muscle of concentrated focus. It’s a skill that is not inherent. Simply clearing away the noise is not going to make you a master of focus. It’s a skill that needs to be cultivated, honed, and practiced.
Perhaps because I was bored and lonely in my teens, I spent hours and hours practicing guitar. I felt like I had to “catch up” to all the other prodigies who started when they were 5 years old. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was engaging in the “10,000 hours” rule that Malcolm Gladwell describes in his fascinating book, Outliers – The Story of Success.
The basic idea is that it takes a long time, about 10,000 hours, to achieve mastery in anything.
The Zen of Practice
Studying a music instrument is like a zen practice on the art of practice! It cultivates attention skills required for deep focus. In psychology terms, they call it deliberate practice: repetitive performance of intended cognitive or psychomotor skills.
This is what will set apart your child for their future life success.
Deep work is not an inherent ability but a skill that needs to be practiced.
You can’t multi-task your way to mastery.
Multi-tasking is not a real thing.
Studies have shown that you are not actually doing more than one thing at the same time, but rather jumping between two or more things quickly. This results in a slow-down and lowering of quality of attention. So when you want to get things done, you need to go into the world of Deep Work.
Success is not about innate abilities / talent, but rather skills of focus, courage, action, and perseverance.
So the next time your child sits down to practice, take a moment to be fully present. Listen deeply, observe, and praise something specific. Your gift of attention and focus is a reward in itself. You are showing, not telling, that this is important and a priority.
And you are showing your child the path to mastery and success in life.
[box] “The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint The greats were great cause they paint a lot Ten thousand hours felt like ten thousand hands Ten thousand hands, they carry me” – 10,000 Hours by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis [/box]
“There is a lot of confusion about the 10,000 rule that I talk about in Outliers…practice isn’t a SUFFICIENT condition for success. I could play chess for 100 years and I’ll never be a grandmaster. The point is simply that natural ability requires a huge investment of time in order to be made manifest.” – Malcom Gladwell Business Insider
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.
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.
As an independent, private music teacher, I am always being forwarded studies and news articles about the benefits of music lessons. It definitely feels good to be on the right side of this issue! And it certainly validates my profession.
This weekend’s Wall Street Journal has an article, A Musical Fix for U.S. Schools, which puts music instruction higher than all other so called non-academic activities.
“Kids in sports also showed increased ambition, while those in theater and dance expressed more optimism. But when it came to core academic skills, the study’s authors found, the impact of music training was much stronger.”
This seems to be one-upping another article this week in the NY Times about how Exercise Boosts Young Brains.
Breaking the day into different activities just makes sense. You need a break from just constant focus of core curriculum of Science, Technology, English and Math. But what the WSJ article says is it’s not just a break, but actually a boost. And the most potent boost comes from learning, playing and practicing an instrument, so much so, that it could be a simple cure-all for all the ills of the school system. At a calculated cost of $187/student per year, a typical large suburban school system could turn itself around.
The list of benefits of musical training include:
- Music raises the IQ
- Music can reduce the academic gap between rich and poor
- Music does more than sports, theater or dance
- Music can be an early screening tool for reading disabilities
- Music expands your brain, physically
I highly recommend reading the complete article.
My suburban school system provided me with an excellent music education.
I give daily thanks to the late great Andy Blackett and Peter Brasch, Sal Piccolo, Charles Weinsoff, Helen Roberts, Diane Greenspan. I never thought I would be doing this but now it all makes sense.
This is very popular with my guitar students. It’s funny, I have recently acquired a bunch of young girl rockers who have switched or added guitar to their musical instrument repertoire and this is one of those songs that resonates with everyone.
It seems the new style of songwriting is to use the same harmonic structure, meaning the chords, over and over again. The only difference between the verses and choruses are in melody, rhythm or the buildup in the production.
I use stick notation with all my students and it really helps them understand rhythms separate from pitch. Here’s a good overview of how I present rhythm using stick notation.
Enjoy the hand drawn sheet music! Notice the CAPO is on the 3rd fret if you want to stay in the same key as the original recording.
Here’s a video of Melina performing at our Winter Recital on January 25, 2014.
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.
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, coordination and attentiveness. Kraus and Chandrasekaran now point out that, thanks to the brain’s plasticity (the ability to ‘rewire’ itself), musical training sharpens our sensitivity to pitch, timing and timbre, and as a result our capacity to discern emotional intonation in speech, to learn our native and foreign languages, and to identify statistical regularities in abstract sound stimuli…Read this full article
A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly reveals that music participation, defined as music lessons taken in or out of school and parents attending concerts with their children, has a positive effect on reading and mathematic achievement in early childhood and adolescence.Continue reading