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 →
You are the music while the music lasts. T.S. Eliot
I once heard a masterclass in which the artist teacher spoke about the necessity of memorizing the choreography of the piece as well as the notes. I confess that, prior to that class, I hadn’t thought much about choreography of music – except in relationship to dance. But since then, I have thought about it a great deal.
And recently, in an extraordinary concert by pianist Jeremy Denk and violinist Stefan Jackiw , choreography of the music took on new meaning. It is rare to witness a performance in which you feel as though you are actually “seeing” the music itself – not just hearing it – but experiencing a performance in which the performer actually becomes the music in some indefinable way. Continue reading →
Any musician who performs has been in the position of having to play a concert with too little sleep. We may be traveling and don’t sleep well in hotels. Or perhaps a performing opportunity has popped up unexpectedly and the only way to have the music learned and memorized is to work well into the night. Students are known to cut sleep in order to try to accommodate all of the other demands of university life. Occasionally sleep-deprived performances are unexpectedly good. More than one pianist has told me that because she was so tired, the critical, judgmental voice in her head that often monitors performances was less active and she more easily entered a flow state. But more likely, we musicians don’t talk about the performances that didn’t go well when the reason was lack of sleep. Continue reading →
Most of us enter the world with the ability to hear sounds, and we don’t remember the process of learning to differentiate one sound from another or learning that certain sounds or sequences of sounds communicate thoughts, ideas, emotions. We learn to hear and respond to language without being aware that we are doing so. But if we learn a second language at a later time, we are well aware of the struggle to match sounds with meanings and context. But what if you had to relearnhow to decipher all sounds, whether it’s the doorbell or the sounds of your native language? Continue reading →
And continuing our practice strategies to ensure effective learning and memory:
Sitting on an outdoor bench in a scenic spot may not be your idea of practicing, but it depends on what you’re thinking about while you sit there.
7)Reflection. Psychologists speak about reflection as a learning strategy – thinking about what you have learned and asking yourself questions to solidify what you know. Find a quiet place to sit away from your instrument and quiz yourself on what you know about the piece or about the segment you just learned. What are the key relationships, what’s the structure, where are the sections, patterns, motifs? The more you have to struggle to remember or perhaps check the score to verify, the more your brain fills in the missing information, consolidates, and makes the neural networks stronger. Continue reading →