A recent study published in the Oxford Journals confirms that young children who take music lessons have improved memory functions over children who do not. That’s not a huge surprise, and we’ve all heard studies like this before done on slightly older children. One interesting difference here, however, is that this is the first study to actually identify the effects on brain measurements in young children.
I once had a beginning student named Harry, who was 72 years old. He did quite well, generally, but one day I heard him playing a tune all wrong.
The tune had the rhythm of quarter, eighth, eighth, repeated four times. Then there were two quarter notes and a run of eighths.
He had played this tune fine before, but that day, he played all the notes straight through as eighth notes–da da da da da da–regardless of the written rhythms.
I said, “Harry, what are you doing? You know this tune. See the quarter notes, and the eighth notes?”
Said Harry, “I didn’t want to waste time.”
Well, maybe this says something about older students. After all, I have noticed that some of my older students allot a fixed time for themselves to “get good” at the instrument. But it’s true for kids, lawyers, business people–there always seem to be reasons to “not waste time.”
The thing is, music is time.
Sometimes I will play a tune like Happy Birthday to a student, with beautiful tone and intonation, but in all sixteenth notes. They never recognize the melody.
Then I play the same tune with the right rhythm and they light up. I even play it badly, with horrible sound and pitches but in the right rhythm. They still know what melody it is, and they still like the song.
Sometimes people get so focused on pitches and tone that they sacrifice good timing, or destroy the continuity of a passage just to fix the pitch of one note.
But in the end, it seems to me, music is timing.
Hello and welcome to the Music Teacher’s Helper Blog! We’d like to use this blog not only to post announcements and new features for Music Teacher’s Helper, but more importantly to give music teachers a resource to come to for great ideas and articles about teaching and performing music.
We have a variety of professional teachers and musicians from around the world who will be posting content. You’ll have an opportunity to comment and converse about these topics as they arise. In fact, if you like, you can leave a comment on this post and tell us (and the world) what you think about this blog, or Music Teacher’s Helper.
As always, we welcome feedback from you about what kind of articles and tips would be most useful to you, as well as new features you’d like for Music Teacher’s Helper. So comment away! (Just click the “Add Comment” link below).
This is just the beginning, with lots more to come. And what’s a great website these days without a blog, anyway?
Have a great day!