brain research on musicians

Who has not heard a teenager, a parent or adult beginner, or an administrator or politician wonder out loud what the point of learning music is, for those who are not planning on turning pro?

Apart from the obvious personal benefit from enjoyment, social connection, and artistic expression, there is scientific research about learning music that is well worth keeping in mind and passing along to others — especially as a music teacher.  I emailed my son a link to a great little animated video from TED-Ed-Lessons, which presents an excellent summary of how learning to play music helps develop higher brain function.  It was written by Anita Collins, who has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Music Education.  We’ll discuss this more, below.

But first, it’s worth noting that only in the last couple of months, MIT researchers have published findings that certain neurons in our brains are tuned in specifically to processing the sound of music, suggesting that music may have played an important role in the evolution of the human nervous system.  Taken together with the finding of musical instruments from as far back as 70,000 years ago, it’s clear that music is essential to human society.
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Posted in Music History & Facts, Music News, Practicing

Leila Viss

How will you play it forward?

December 14th, 2015 by

 

Two weeks ago, my student Addison entered my studio and declared, “I wrote a song for Paris!”

A little puzzled by what he meant, I probed further and learned that he improvised a piece on the piano based on his feelings about the terrorist attacks in Paris and posted it on his YouTube channel. It was Addison’s way of processing the tragedy, paying tribute to the victims, communicating his sorrow and as I thought about it more, this was Addison’s way to give what he could: he wanted to play it forward.

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music News, Performing, Press, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

talk to the experts

On Monday, November 16th at 12 p.m EST, join Brandon Pearce, David Cutler, and Kristin Yost for a one-hour live talk answering your pressing questions about running a music teaching studio.

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to gain insight that will help you to flourish as a music teaching studio owner! Head over to the page to learn more about the panelists and ask questions in the comments section. The panelists will answer your questions during the talk. 

Here’s the link again: http://blog.musicteachershelper.com/livetalk/.

Don’t want to forget the date and time? Text savvy to 38470 to receive two event reminders to your phone.

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Posted in Financial Business, Music News, Press, Professional Development, Studio Management

Screenshot 2015-09-23 at 9.57.11 AM

 

NoteRunner Piano Jam! 2015 – Learn a song. Submit a video. Win cash.

The NoteRunner Online Piano Competition is a contest where participants of all ages have the opportunity to learn fresh new music by up and coming artists and receive feedback from talented musicians. Participants are required to learn a song from the song list and submit a video performance. Winners earn a cash reward of up to $150, a gift voucher to NoteRunner.com or feedback from accomplished musicians. Share your performance with friends and family for an extra bonus prize!

This contest is a great opportunity for music students, music teachers, or both!

Early Registration deadline: Sept 30, 2015

Late Registration deadline: October 15, 2015

Videos due: Jan 15, 2016

Website – www.NoteRunner.com (Check out results and performances from the NoteRunner Launch! summer contest)

Contest Details – http://www.noterunner.com/contest-details-for-noterunner-jam-2015/

Song List – http://www.noterunner.com/noterunner-piano-jam-song-list/

Music Teacher’s Helper is a proud sponsor of the NoteRunner Piano Jam! 2015.

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Posted in Music & Technology, Music News, Press

wide paper LB

Last month I wrapped up my first year of chairing the inaugural Creative Pianist Track at NCKP 2015, the National Conference of Keyboard Pedagogy under the auspices of The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy.

It was an honor to work alongside master improvisation teachers Bradley Sowash and Forrest Kinney and the patriarch of piano pedagogy, Dr. Samuel Holland. Their wisdom and insight continually influence my philosophy and approach to teaching.

The session that I presented on Friday afternoon was entitled “Finding Time to be Creative.”  My presentation offered ideas on how to find TIME to BE CREATIVE, but ultimately it morphed into the importance of FINDING a CREATIVE STATE of MIND.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’m wondering if you are like me and are enjoying a renewed sense of purpose beyond the page? Do you find yourself encouraging students to play by ear, read lead sheets, improvise arrangements and compose their own pieces? If not, are you at least wondering if you should include more of these activities in your lessons? Personally, I’ve never felt so strongly as I have right now about equating eye skills and ear skills. I believe this combination will encourage the development of well-balanced and lifelong musicians. Many of my new friends made at NCKP seem to feel the same way. Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music News, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

whiplashIs there a takeaway for music teachers from the movie Whiplash?

**Spoiler alert!   If you haven’t seen the film yet, check it out on DVD, and then come back and join the discussion. **

First things first.  There’s no doubt that the character of Fletcher is nothing short of mentally ill, but more of that later.  Let’s look at what the movie can tell us about music and teaching.

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Posted in Music News, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

fairyland_in_treble_coverThe King and the Dragon!

The King’s trusted advisor came bursting through the door! “My Lord, we are being attacked!”

“Fear not,” said the wise old King. “We shall use my secret weapon, The Great Red Dragon!”

To cut the first of eleven fairy stories short, that appear in composer Nikolas Sideris’ brand new piano duet book, the King saves the day through clever trickery and wins the respect of his people!

After I finished reading this two paged story, one of eleven written especially by Nefeli Tsipouridi, I couldn’t wait to turn over the page and start playing the first composition in the book. I was inspired!

But oh no! I was alone at the piano and this is a duet book!

Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, each primo part has a QR code on the side of the title, so all I needed to do was hold my tablet up and the next moment a well-recorded performance of the composer playing the secondo part began to my delight. (There is a link in the introductory pages of the book that you can visit to download the mp3 files if you prefer)

And wow, what an adventure! With the words of the story I had just read still ringing in my ears, I was transported to the centre of the scene with composer, Nikolas Sideris’, evocative music. We battled evil forces with every twist and turn Read more…

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Posted in Composing & Arranging, Music & Technology, Music News, Product Reviews, Professional Development, Teaching Tips

We made a visual to show the impact our users had on a recent Donorschoose.org Giving Page to benefit music school classrooms.
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Posted in Music News, Press

Yiyi Ku

National Piano Month

September 22nd, 2014 by

Did you know September is National Piano Month?!

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Alfred Music has teamed up with Making Music Magazine – Engaging and Inspiring Musicians to give away Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Piano Complete Starter Pack.

One lucky winner will receive the Teach Yourself to Play Piano Complete Starter Pack courtesy of Alfred Music.

This prize package includes:

  • high-quality Firebrand™ electric keyboard—full-size keys, 136 preset sounds and 128 rhythms, an illuminated LED keyboard display, built-in speakers, recording functionality, and sheet music stand.
  • Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Piano book
  • Audio CD with demo and performance tracks
  • DVD instructional video and software (Mac & PC compatible)

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Posted in Music & Technology, Music News, Press

Make-it-stickA ten-year study of learning, just published 6 weeks ago, has come up with some surprising conclusions.   One is that drilling a passage of music over and over is not the way to master it.  For some students and teachers, this will come as a shocker!

Below I’ll discuss details about the book, its authors, and a link to a summary article online, but let’s get into the meat.

It turns out that working in a focused way on one thing yields results, but they’re only temporary.  One example is the way someone might cram for a test and get by, but then forget most of the material soon after.  But it applies to learning music or any other subject as well.

A couple of other strategies work much better than single-minded practice, if the goal is mastery and long-term results.  Read more…

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Posted in Music News, Practicing, Teaching Tips