There is a beautiful 9-mile trail that runs between the town I live in and a nearby town. The trail is constructed from a former rail bed and is extremely popular with walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. It’s an idyllic place for an early morning walk, and I try to walk some portion of it several times a week. We all exercise for a variety of reasons: to get out and enjoy nature; to burn calories in order to lose weight; to spend social time with friends; to keep ourselves healthy. But now, as musicians, we have another reason to exercise – it actually improves memory. Continue reading
Today is Make Music Day! Last year there were celebrations in over 700 cities worldwide. This year – who knows! It all began in France in 1982 as Fête de la Musique. Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture, had discovered that one out of two French children played a musical instrument, and he thought that having an all-day musical celebration on the day of the summer solstice would be a wonderful way to bring people out on the streets to make music. Continue reading
As musicians, we often talk about connections: connecting emotionally with certain pieces of music; connecting (or sometimes not) with the audience; connecting with one another when we perform together; and about connections, or networks, within our profession. And on this blog site I have often written about music and brain connections.
So I was delighted to be invited to give a presentation this past October at the 37th conference of the European Piano Teachers Association (EPTA). The conference theme was Key Connections, and it was hosted by EPTA Netherlands and held at the Amsterdam Conservatory, which as you can see in the photo, is housed in a beautiful new building (opened in 2008). Continue reading
Something different for this blog – a post to be listened to, not read. On March 11, I presented a webinar for the College Music Society titled A Musician’s Guide to the Brain: What We Need to Know and Why. This was the second in a series of webinars hosted by the CMS Committee on Musicians’ Health. If you click on the link embedded in the title, you can watch the archived version of the webinar. The archived quality isn’t quite up to the excellent streaming quality of the original, but the content is all there. Continue reading
Within days of my last post about babies and interactive music classes, a study came out saying literally the same thing about babies and language – that interaction with a parent is key to language development for babies just as the interactive music making was crucial in developing music skills for babies.
Researchers have known for years that reading to infants as young as six months is crucial for language development, and that parents who consciously babble with their babies accelerate language learning. But they haven’t been sure what it is about reading to infants that helps develop language. Continue reading
What better way to begin the new year than by talking about new lives and musical beginnings! Babies and music are a source of endless fascination – and the subject of a lot of research. We know that babies like to be sung to (think lullabies), they like bouncing or waving their arms when they hear music, they like toys that make musical sounds, and if musical toys aren’t available, they find their own musical instruments.
Newborns have a wide range of musical abilities, some of which I’ve written about in Are we hardwired for music? Now a recent study from McMaster University shows that babies benefit from musical training even before they can walk or talk. One-year old babies who participated with their parents in interactive music classes communicated better, showed more sophisticated brain responses to music, and even smiled more. Continue reading