Learn Now Music, Inc.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royal Wedding Music

The music for the 2011 Royal Wedding of Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton has today been announced by representatives of Clarence House.

Two choirs, one orchestra and a fanfare team will provide the music at the wedding, which is to take place at Westminster Abbey on Friday April 29th 2011.

The bodies involved in providing the music for the ceremony are:

The Choir of Westminster Abbey
The Chapel Royal Choir
The London Chamber Orchestra
The Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force & The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry

The choirs will be directed by Mr James O’Donnell, the Organist and Master of Choristers at Westminster Abbey.

The Choir of Westminster Abbey is made up of 20 boys, who attend the Abbey’s residential Choir School, and 12 professional adult singers known as Lay Vicars.

The Chapel Royal Choir is made up of 10 Children of the Chapel – boy choristers who attend the City of London School under scholarships – and 6 professional singers known as Gentlemen-in-Ordinary. The Children wear distinctive unifroms which date from the reign of King Charles II.

The London Chamber Orchestra shall be conducted by Mr Christopher Warren-Green, the Musical Director and Principle Conductor. The orchestra will comprise 39 musicians located in the organ loft of the Abbey. The London Chamber Orchestra is the longest established professional chamber orchestra in Britain.

A Fanfare Team of seven musicians from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force will perform under the direction of Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs. The Central Band was established in 1920 and provides musical support to the Royal Air Force throughout the UK. Musicians for The Royal Air Force also serve overseas for the UK Defence Force.

The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry comprise musicians from both The Band of The Life Guards and The Band of The Blues and Royals. The Fanfare Team of eight Trumpeters will be led by Trumpet Major Grant Sewell-Jones of The Band of The Blues and Royals. In addition to their musical duties, all Army Musicians can be called upon to act as individual augmentee soldiers in support of operations across the world.

Following the Wedding Service at Westminster Abbey, Claire Jones, the Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales will perform at a Reception hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The music, which has been carefully selected by Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton for their Service, will include a number of hymns in addition to some specially commissioned pieces.

Copied from: Royal Wedding 2011: Music For Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton Announced | The Global Herald http://theglobalherald.com/royal-wedding-2011-music-for-wedding-of-prince-william-catherine-middleton-announced/13527/#ixzz1KsMvzZ7b


Music's Affects on the Human Body

Music does many things for the human body including, masking unpleasant sounds and feelings, slowing down and equalizing brain waves, affecting respiration, affecting the heartbeat, pulse rate, and blood pressure, reducing muscle tension and improving body movement and coordination, affecting the body temperature, regulating stress-related hormones, boosting the immune function, changing our perception of space and time, strengthening our memory and learning, boosting productivity, enhancing romance and sexuality, stimulating digestion, fostering endurance, enhancing unconscious receptivity to symbolism, and generating a sense of safety and well-being. The next few paragraphs will address each way that music has an affect on our body so one can get a more full understanding of how something like music can affect our bodies in such a large way. (Campbell Index)

Music masks unpleasant sounds and feelings in many ways. A simple example of how this is done is when you take a trip to the dentist. If you're going to get a root canal or something else that would involve a drill, you usually don't want to get it done because most people are terrified of drills, and the sound of the drill. And we all know the music the dentist plays in the office. We all dread it. But what we don't know is that it is this music that can most of the time disguise or even balance out the sounds of the dentist's drill. But what the music doesn't necessarily do is calm you down while you're in the waiting room waiting for the moment you go into that room, sit in the chair, and have the doctor start to drill away on your teeth. (Campbell 64)

Music can slow down and equalize brain waves. There are 4 kinds of waves that the brain has. Beta waves, Alpha waves, Theta waves, and Delta waves. All of these waves are measured in hertz. Beta waves range from 14-20 hertz, Alpha waves range from 9 to 13 hertz, Theta waves from 4 to 7 hertz, and Delta from .5-3 hertz. When we focus on daily activities, or experience emotions that are strong, that's when Beta waves occur. Calmness and having a heightened awareness are part of the Alpha waves, and if you're in meditation, sleeping, or in an inspiring mood where you're very creative, that's when you're using theta waves, and when you're in deep sleep, and deep meditation, that's when delta waves are used. The slower the brain waves, the more relaxed, contended, and peaceful we feel. Common household music, medium paced music, generally has a pulse of about 60 beats per minute, which in turn can shift from the beta waves to the alpha waves. This is in certain types of music like Baroque, and New Age type music. This will increase alertness and things of that sort. If you're listening to a Shamanic drumbeat, your waves may drop into the theta range, which would in turn, alert your state of consciousness. Because a Shamanic drumbeat alters your hearing, because it's so different than other types of music. Different types of music, alert different waves, which then react differently, which makes you react differently. “If you are daydreaming or find yourself in an emotional, unfocused mood, a little Mozart or Baroque music in the background for ten to fifteen minutes can help to steady your conscious awareness and increase your mental organization.” There isn't any bias or opposing viewpoints on this part, mainly because it's all proven fact. One can't argue with what has already been proven, because it's right. Scientists now know that the brain reacts differently to different types of music. (Campbell 65,66)

Music affects respiration, there's no doubt about it. Everyday breathing is rhythmic. When one breathes deep, and at a slow rate, this helps calmness, and lets you have a better control of emotions, you can think deeper, and speeds up your metabolism. If one breathes fast, quick, and shallow, it leads to that person having shallow scattered thinking, and you'll have more of a tendency to make mistakes in what you're doing while you're breathing so hard. (Campbell 66).

The music you listen to affects the way you breathe and react to the music. If you react by dancing and banging your head around, you're usually listening to fast paced music, which will then speed up your breathing. (Campbell 67) Bias in this is that this doesn't happen for everybody. Some people listen to fast music and relax to it. I am one of those people. But that doesn't mean that the music still doesn't have an affect on my breathing. It really just depends on the music you listen to and who you are.

Music affects the heartbeat, pulse rate, and blood pressure. It's pretty obvious how this works. From the previous paragraph where the breathing was affected, it's nearly the same thing. The heartbeat responds to sound and music just as we would. It picks up on the frequency, tempo, volume, and it tends to speed up according to the pace of the music. It's not necessarily going to go with the beat, but it will slow down or speed up to a fast or slow song, but only within a certain range. Because the heart can only go so fast or so slow and still be safe, and it sure wouldn't kill itself. Just like the breathing rates in the last paragraph, the slower heartbeat makes it so the mind is calm, it reduces stress and tension, and helps the body heal itself. There are studies on this particular statement, but nearly all the studies are the same. Two groups do one thing, one is exposed to either silence or a neutral music, and the other to the music you're trying to prove something for, and it comes out positive for the hard rock, or the elevator music, or whatever music one may have tested. The heartbeat, affects the pulse rate, because they're related, so that's how it affects the pulse rate. Music can change the blood pressure also. �Dr. Shirley Thompson, an associated professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health, reports that excessive noise may raise blood pressure by as much as 10 percent.� It's not likely that all the types of music you listen to will raise your blood pressure until it's unhealthy, these are just minor changes that don't really mean anything; it just shows what music can do to our body. (Campbell 67)

Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination. There was a study conducted in Colorado State University in 1991. twenty-four undergraduate women had to swing their arms and hit a target with an object on completion of the downswing. They played music during this and the researchers found that when the women coordinated their movements and swings with the beat, instead of going at their own rate, they had more control over their muscles, and it also enhanced their mood and motivation. (Campbell 69)

Music affects the body temperature. For a very common example, think of a creaking screen door, or fingernails on a chalkboard, and how those noises send chills up your spine and give you Goosebumps and often make you shiver. All sounds and music can put out an influence on our body temperature and make our body adapt to changes in heat and cold. �Transcendent music can flood us with warmth. Loud music with a strong beat can rise our body heat a few degrees, while soft music with a weak beat can lower it. Music does this by influencing blood circulation, pulse rate, breathing, and sweating.� (Campbell 71)

Music can regulate stress-related hormones. The level of stress hormones in the blood declines significantly in those listening to relaxing, ambient music report anesthesiologists. Sometimes this music can overcome the need for medication. People with hard stress related jobs often times go to music for relaxation. (Campbell 72)
Music and sound can boost the immune function. Current research in immunology suggests that an insufficient amount oxygen in the blood may be a major cause of immune deficiency. Music comes into this problem simply. Music, can actually oxygenate the cells. “Buddha Gerace, a voice researcher in Lake Montezuma, Arizona, has developed vocal exercises that can increase the lymphatic circulation to as high as three times the normal rate. In fifty years of teaching voice, Gerace has witnessed many remarkable changes, and he credits his exercises with helping actor Henry Fonda boost his immune function and recover from vocal trouble during the Broadway production of Mister Roberts.� (Campbell 73)

Music changes our perception of space. Music can do all kinds of wonderful things for us. It's a wonder why most people don't realize that music helps them that much. Some people listen to music all day, all the time, and they just think its music. It does something for them. That's what they say. But more people should fully understand that music might be the reason they haven't been sick in a year, or why they have such a low blood pressure for the way they eat.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

History of the Flute

History of Instrument

The early Latin word for flute was "tibia", the same word for a shinbone. The early flute was made of bone, rather than wood which could split or break. It was associated with the recorder about 5,000 years ago. A flute held sideways existed in China 3,000 years ago, and may have existed in ancient Egypt. It kept changing until it was used in an orchestra in France in the 1600’s. It has been popular in modern times as well, with many solos written for it.

Flutes descended from the recorder, and were once made of wood (most piccolos today are still made of wood). They can be made of all types of metal, including silver, gold or platinum, or a combination. A favorite flute of the Chicago Symphony’s principal flutist some years ago had the head and main body of platinum, the chimney (hole into which the air goes) of gold, and the foot joint (small third section) of silver.

Have you ever blown over an empty Coke bottle? It’s the same principle with the flute. But the flute’s much prettier to look at. And it’s more complicated to play, too! It’s the highest of the woodwinds (with the exception of the piccolo, which is not always included in the orchestra). The flute is the soprano of the woodwinds, and is 27 inches long. It is held sideways, and tones are made when air is blown across the sharp edge of a hole near one side. The fingers of a flutist are placed on pads which open or close other holes, hopefully creating the sound you want. The flute it thought of as being sharply pitched, but at the high end of its range it is soft and mellow.

A piccolo is a small flute, the word "piccolo" being the Italian word for "little". It’s half the size of a flute, and its notes are one octave higher. The sound is quite brilliant and can be heard over the sound of the entire orchestra. It is the highest pitched of all orchestral instruments, and is still often made of wood.

Guess who was the first major composer to use the piccolo in his orchestral music? It was Beethoven!

Range of the Flute:
The flute range is from middle C up three octaves. The piccolo is pitched an octave higher.


The History of the Flute VIDEO

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

In-Home Group Music Lessons

Interested in having in-home music lessons but looking to also cut costs?

With 2 or more children you can have in-home group music lessons on any instrument with any age at any level.

Get more info here

Monday, April 25, 2011

Technological Music Education: Computers Taking Over Instruments?

There is no doubt in how important technology has become in music education. Especially during a time when music education is under attack by state budget cuts, technology has helped tremendously in bringing music back to students outside of the classrooms. With these changing tides, music educators are teaching less in the way they were taught, and are instead taking the role of entrepreneurship in order to devise lesson plans and strategies that are modern and appealing to children of both today's and the future's generation. However, with that, certain technology has become more than just a complement to the pre-existing forms of music education. In some recent developments, the traditional, or "Classical" style of music is gradually becoming succumbed to popular genres and digital products, replacing acoustic instruments, music theory, and people altogether. Because of this, music educational technology has earned its criticism and has recently gained more opposition. Although these critics claim that technology is a potentially dangerous form of entertainment that can detract from real learning, music educational technology has its advantages as long as it is used as a way of embracing relevant, existing paradigms related to constructivist learning and a postmodern society.

Studies prove that the use of technology in music education aids students to think and learn better on their own without an instructor or textbook. This is not to say that technology replaces the teacher or classroom. But rather, instead of a teacher-centered lesson plan where the student copies the teacher, technology allows for students to reflect on their individual needs and freely create music on their own. An excellent tool that allows such education and creativity is the iPad. This mini computer fixed in a tablet form, makes learning portable, accessible, and enjoyable for students. With a touch of the fingertip, users have access to the Internet and encyclopedia of unending resources and lessons. Among the many apps provided for the iPad, Garageband is a very popular program that is free to download and suitable for the novice to expert musician. With this program, users can play with a variety of instrumental sounds, create, and record music. When students interact with music in this format, they can be fully engaged in the process. Webster described the use of technology in music education, "There is no better way to teach music as art than to routinely encourage our students to create music thoughtfully through performance, improvisation, composition, and active listening." Students can now create music as easy as playing in a sandbox and they can do it effectively at home on the computer.

Although the iPad is a great platform for music learning and creativity, it is by no means, a replacement for instruments as shown in the video, "iPad Orchestra", to the right. The ease of use of the iPad and other technology, has allowed computers to take over many "real" things including instruments and even people/musicians. There is no clear indication that these iPads are a major threat to Classical instruments just yet, but this growing trend of digitalizing real things has been a growing concern in not just music but all other industries.

Another piece of technology used in music education is the use of video recording. With video recording and the Internet, music lessons are more accessible and affordable than ever. Music educators and advocates post videos of tutorials and lessons on sites such as Youtube for free. Videos and other forms of technology is an attractive medium for students and much of the technology used in a music technology classroom can be purchased and utilized at home. Therefore learning via web can appeal to students more than learning in strict private lessons. In addition to posting videos on the web, many instructors utilize video recording to assess the progress of their students. From my own experience as a private instructor, I found this tool to be very effective in not only keeping track of students' progress for myself, but also in teaching the students because I can point out certain things while they listen and watch themselves perform. Since utilizing video recording, I saw drastic improvements in my students not only because they are teaching themselves as they listen and watch themselves play, but also because they enjoyed utilizing their video cameras and smartphones for better uses such as these
In conclusion, technology should be a complement that adjusts to the already existing elements in music education. It shouldn't replace or dictate how teachers instruct their students but rather aid teachers to effectively utilize the given resources on the web and elsewhere to the students.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

6 Ways to Help Save Music & the Arts in Schools

The notion of entirely losing arts education in public schools in the creative beacon of Los Angeles should be shocking, but is chillingly real this year. This threat is critical - cutting arts education from the curriculum not only will decrease the quality of local artistry, it will also be a blow to fostering the creativity and innovation required to continue the growth of avant garde, life-changing industries that keep California on the cutting edge of progress.

Here's the Hard Math on the Plight of Music Education:

· California students lag behind the national average in hours of arts instruction -- up to 50% less in music and visual arts instruction at the elementary level.

· January 2010 - In the midst of the budget crisis, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) proposes to eliminate 50% of its current arts teachers in 2010-2011, and the remaining 50% by 2012.

· ETM-LA strives to fill in the gaps so 100% of the children enrolled in its partner schools receive music as part of their core curriculum.

In our fourth year, ETM-LA commits to fighting alongside the principals, district and community to maintain sustainable, standards-based music programs reaching every child in our partner schools. You can help ETM-LA keep music in schools, and ensure that Los Angeles' tradition of innovation and creativity continues to flourish. Music should be a core subject, and part of a well-rounded education that all children deserve. Please join us in this vital campaign!


1) Send a letter to your school board representative: http://www.artsforla.org

2) Sign a petition created by LAUSD arts educators: www.petitiononline.com

3) Learn the facts about why kids need music education: artsedge.kennedy-center.org

4) Know and share the story with friends and colleagues: latimesblogs.latimes.com

5) Adopt a class at an ETM-LA partner school, or make a donation: www.supportetmla.org

6) Volunteer with ETM-LA: www.etmla.org/how_to_help


Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Education and Gender

Gender Bias in Education

"Sitting in the same classroom, reading the same textbook, listening to the same teacher, boys and girls receive very different educations." (Sadker, 1994) In fact, upon entering school, girls perform equal to or better than boys on nearly every measure of achievement, but by the time they graduate high school or college, they have fallen behind. (Sadker, 1994) However, discrepancies between the performance of girls and the performance of boys in elementary education leads some critics to argue that boys are being neglected within the education system:

Across the country, boys have never been in more trouble: They earn 70 percent of the D's and F's that teachers dole out. They make up two thirds of students labeled "learning disabled." They are the culprits in a whopping 9 of 10 alcohol and drug violations and the suspected perpetrators in 4 out of 5 crimes that end up in juvenile court. They account for 80 percent of high school dropouts and attention deficit disorder diagnoses. (Mulrine, 2001)
This performance discrepancy is notable throughout Canada. In Ontario, Education Minister Janet Ecker said that the results of the standardized grade 3 and grade 6 testing in math and reading showed, "...persistent and glaring discrepancies in achievements and attitudes between boys and girls." (O'Neill, 2000) In British Columbia, standardized testing indicates that girls outperform boys at all levels of reading and writing and in Alberta testing shows that girls, "...significantly outperform boys on reading and writing tests, while almost matching them in math and science." (O'Neill, 2000) However, the American Association of University Women published a report in 1992 indicating that females receive less attention from teachers and the attention that female students do receive is often more negative than attention received by boys. (Bailey, 1992) In fact, examination of the socialization of gender within schools and evidence of a gender biased hidden curriculum demonstrates that girls are shortchanged in the classroom. Furthermore, there is significant research indicating steps that can be taken to minimize or eliminate the gender bias currently present in our education system.

The socialization of gender within our schools assures that girls are made aware that they are unequal to boys. Every time students are seated or lined up by gender, teachers are affirming that girls and boys should be treated differently. When an administrator ignores an act of sexual harassment, he or she is allowing the degradation of girls. When different behaviors are tolerated for boys than for girls because 'boys will be boys', schools are perpetuating the oppression of females. There is some evidence that girls are becoming more academically successful than boys, however examination of the classroom shows that girls and boys continue to be socialized in ways that work against gender equity.

Teachers socialize girls towards a feminine ideal. Girls are praised for being neat, quiet, and calm, whereas boys are encouraged to think independently, be active and speak up. Girls are socialized in schools to recognize popularity as being important, and learn that educational performance and ability are not as important. "Girls in grades six and seven rate being popular and well-liked as more important than being perceived as competent or independent. Boys, on the other hand, are more likely to rank independence and competence as more important." (Bailey, 1992)

This socialization of femininity begins much earlier than the middle grades. At very early ages, girls begin defining their femininities in relation to boys. One study of a third grade classroom examined four self-sorted groups of girls within the classroom: the nice girls, the girlies, the spice girls and the tomboys. Through interviews researcher Diane Reay found that 'nice girls' was considered a derogatory term indicating, "...an absence of toughness and attitude." (Reay, 2001) Furthermore, the girlies were a group of girls who focused their time on flirting with and writing love letters to boys, the tomboys were girls who played sports with the boys, and the spice girls espoused girl-power and played 'rate-the-boy' on the playground. Reay's research shows that each of the groups of girls defined their own femininities in relation to boys. (2001)

The Reay study further demonstrates how socialization of girls occurs at the school level by tolerating different behaviors from boys than from girls. Assertive behavior from girls is often seen as disruptive and may be viewed more negatively by adults. In Reay's study, the fact that the spice girls asserted themselves in ways contrary to traditional femininity caused them to be labeled by teachers as "real bitches". (2001) This reinforces the notion that "...girls' misbehavior to be looked upon as a character defect, whilst boys' misbehavior is viewed as a desire to assert themselves." (Reay, 2001)

A permissive attitude towards sexual harassment is another way in which schools reinforce the socialization of girls as inferior. "When schools ignore sexist, racist, homophobic, and violent interactions between students, they are giving tacit approval to such behaviors." (Bailey, 1992) Yet boys are taunted for throwing like a girl, or crying like a girl, which implies that being a girl is worse than being a boy. According to the American Association of University Women Report, "The clear message to both boys and girls is that girls are not worthy of respect and that appropriate behavior for boys includes exerting power over girls -- or over other, weaker boys." (Bailey, 1992)

Clearly the socialization of gender is reinforced at school, "Because classrooms are microcosms of society, mirroring its strengths and ills alike, it follows that the normal socialization patterns of young children that often lead to distorted perceptions of gender roles are reflected in the classrooms." (Marshall, 1997) Yet gender bias in education reaches beyond socialization patterns, bias is embedded in textbooks, lessons, and teacher interactions with students. This type of gender bias is part of the hidden curriculum of lessons taught implicitly to students through the every day functioning of their classroom.

In Myra and David Sadker's research, they noted four types of teacher responses to students: teacher praises, providing positive feedback for a response; teacher remediates, encouraging a student to correct or expand their answer; teacher criticizes, explicitly stating that the answer is incorrect; teacher accepts, acknowledging that a student has responded. The Sadkers found that boys were far more likely to receive praise or remediation from a teacher than were girls. The girls were most likely to receive an acknowledgement response from their teacher. (Sadker, 1994) These findings are confirmed by a 1990 study by Good and Brophy that "...noted that teachers give boys greater opportunity to expand ideas and be animated than they do girls and that they reinforce boys more for general responses than they do for girls." (Marshall, 1997)

Beyond teacher responses, special services in education appear to be applied more liberally to boys than to girls. Research shows that boys are referred for testing for gifted programs twice as often as girls, which may be because, "...giftedness is seen as aberrant, and girls strive to conform." (Orenstein, 1994) Boys represent more than two-thirds of all students in special education programs and there is a higher the proportion of male students receiving diagnoses that are considered to be subjective. While medical reports indicate that learning disabilities occur in nearly equal numbers of in boys and girls, it may be the case that, "Rather than identifying learning problems, school personnel may be mislabeling behavioral problems. Girls who sit quietly are ignored; boys who act out are placed in special programs that may not meet their needs." (Bailey, 1992)

Gender bias is also taught implicitly through the resources chosen for classroom use. Using texts that omit contributions of women, that tokenize the experiences of women, or that stereotype gender roles, further compounds gender bias in schools' curriculum. While research shows that the use of gender-equitable materials allows students to have more gender-balanced knowledge, to develop more flexible attitudes towards gender roles, and to imitate role behaviors contained in the materials (Klein, 1985) schools continue to use gender-biased texts:

Researchers at a 1990 conference reported that even texts designed to fit within the current California guidelines on gender and race equity for textbook adoption showed subtle language bias, neglect of scholarship on women, omission of women as developers of history and initiators of events, and absence of women from accounts of technological developments. (Bailey, 1992)
Clearly the socialization of gender roles and the use of a gender-biased hidden curriculum lead to an inequitable education for boys and girls. What changes can be made to create a more equitable learning environment for all children? First, teachers need to be made aware of their gender-biased tendencies. Next, they need to be provided with strategies for altering the behavior. Finally, efforts need to be made to combat gender bias in educational materials.

A study by Kelly Jones, Cay Evans, Ronald Byrd, and Kathleen Campbell (2000) used analysis of videotaped lessons in order to introduce teachers to their own gender-biased behavior. Requiring in-service programs to address gender bias in the classroom will make teachers more aware of their own behaviors: "As a teacher, I was struck by the Sadkers' research on classroom exchanges and was forced to acknowledge the disproportionate amount of time and energy, as well as the different sorts of attention, I give to male students." (McCormick, 1995)

Once teachers have recognized their gender-biased behaviors, they need to be provided with resources to help them change. In their study focusing on how the effects of a gender resource model would affect gender-biased teaching behaviors, Jones, Evans, Burns, and Campbell (2000) provided teachers with a self-directed module aimed at reducing gender bias in the classroom. The module contained research on gender equity in the classroom, specific activities to reduce stereotypical thinking in students, and self-evaluation worksheets for teachers. The findings from this study support the hypothesis that "...female students would move from a position of relative deficiency toward more equity in total interactions...." (Jones, 2000) This demonstrates that teachers who are made aware of their gender-biased teaching behaviors and then provided with strategies and resources to combat bias are better able to promote gender equity in their classrooms.

However, beyond changing their own teaching behaviors, teachers need to be aware of the gender bias imbedded in many educational materials and texts and need to take steps to combat this bias. Curriculum researchers have established six attributes that need to be considered when trying to establish a gender-equitable curriculum. Gender-fair materials need to acknowledge and affirm variation. They need to be inclusive, accurate, affirmative, representative, and integrated, weaving together the experiences, needs, and interests of both males and females. (Bailey, 1992) "We need to look at the stories we are telling our students and children. Far too many of our classroom examples, storybooks, and texts describe a world in which boys and men are bright, curious, brave, inventive, and powerful, but girls and women are silent, passive, and invisible." (McCormick, 1995) Furthermore, teachers can help students identify gender-bias in texts and facilitate critical discussions as to why that bias exists.

Gender bias in education is an insidious problem that causes very few people to stand up and take notice. The victims of this bias have been trained through years of schooling to be silent and passive, and are therefore unwilling to stand up and make noise about the unfair treatment they are receiving. "Over the course of years the uneven distribution of teacher time, energy, attention, and talent, with boys getting the lion's share, takes its toll on girls." (Sadker, 1994) Teachers are generally unaware of their own biased teaching behaviors because they are simply teaching how they were taught and the subtle gender inequities found in teaching materials are often overlooked. Girls and boys today are receiving separate and unequal educations due to the gender socialization that takes place in our schools and due to the sexist hidden curriculum students are faced with every day. Unless teachers are made aware of the gender-role socialization and the biased messages they are unintentionally imparting to students everyday, and until teachers are provided with the methods and resources necessary to eliminate gender-bias in their classrooms, girls will continue to receive an inequitable education.

Departments of education should be providing mandatory gender-equity resource modules to in-service teachers, and gender bias needs to be addressed with all pre-service teachers. Educators need to be made aware of the bias they are reinforcing in their students through socialization messages, inequitable division of special education services, sexist texts and materials, and unbalanced time and types of attention spent on boys and girls in the classroom. "Until educational sexism is eradicated, more than half our children will be shortchanged and their gifts lost to society." (Sadker, 1994)


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Music Therapy for the Hearing Impaired

Hearing impairments are believed by many to be the most devastating of the sensory handicaps. While visual impairments are environmental handicaps that keep us from things, hearing impairments are communication handicaps which keep us from people (Darrow, 1989), Communication is the basis of our social and cognitive being, and without it we are cut off from the world. For this reason, clinical practice in music therapy with the hearing impaired has focused on those areas closely related to communication: auditory training, speech production, and language development. Through working on these communication deficits, music therapy has the secondary effect of improving socialization and self-esteem.

Music therapy still seems impractical to many people. This is largely due to misconceptions regarding the hearing impaired individual's capacity to hear and appreciate musical stimuli. As Darrow (1989) points out, only a small percentage of hearing-impaired individuals do not hear at all. She further suggests that, because of the variety of frequencies and the usual intensity, the perception of music is often more accessible to the hearing impaired than the complexities of the speech signal. Music is also highly flexible and can be modified to suit the client's hearing level, language level, maturity, and music preference.

Robbins & Robbins (1980), who have designed a comprehensive resource manual and curriculum guide for music therapy with the hearing impaired, approach the subject with the attitude that musicality is inborn in every individual. By musicality they refer to our inherent sensitivities and capacities that respond directly to the experiences of rhythmic and, tonal variety and order described as "music." They stress that music is many sided in its effect on the human being. It is a medium of outward activity and inward experience, and it relates directly to speech and language, communication and thought, as well as to bodily expression and a wide range of emotions. Rather than excluding them, music therapy embraces and enhances the habilitation and overall development of those persons who are hearing impaired.

For persons with hearing impairment, music therapy can:

Enhance auditory, training and expand the use of residual hearing

Auditory training is an integral part of the habilitation process with hearing impaired persons. These individuals must learn to interpret--and attend to the sounds--especially speech-in their environment, in order to increase the rate and quality of their social and communicative development. The central goal in auditory training is to develop the hearing impaired client's residual hearing to the maximum possible extent. Persons with hearing impairments must learn to listen, a complex mental and aural process. Auditory training attempts to develop focused and analytical attention to sound in the hearing impaired client, and it can become a tedious and uninteresting process. Music, therefore, becomes a useful tool with which to motivate and enliven the sessions.

Speech and music contain many common properties. The auditory perception of speech and music involves the ability to distinguish between different sounds, their pitches, durations, intensities, and timbres, and the way in which these sounds change over time. These properties aid in the listener's ability to interpret sounds and attach meaning to them. These commonalties between music and speech allow music and music therapy to provide an alternative and pleasurable tool to enhance traditional auditory training techniques (Darrow, 1989).

Music therapy procedures can effectively address a number of objectives in auditory training. Attention to sound, attention to differences in sound, recognition of objects and events from their sounds, and use of hearing to determine distance and location of sound can all be trained through musical experiences (Darrow, 1989). Further, Robbins & Robbins (1980) found that suitable music is more easily heard and assimilated than speech and thus is more likely to stimulate a natural motivation to use residual hearing.

Amir & Schuchman (1985) employed a music therapy programme to develop and improve skills in awareness of musical sound, awareness of tempo and perception of simple rhythm patterns, awareness of intensity contrasts, recognition of musical sounds, and comprehension of musical sound patterns. An investigation into the effectiveness of such a programme indicated that certain aspects of a profoundly hearing impaired person's residual hearing may be measurably improved through a systematic programme of auditory training in a musical context.' Specifically, subjects' discrimination levels significantly improved and the practice the subjects received in the music setting generalized to environmental sounds as well. Amir & Schuchman further supported the use of music because it provided an interesting diversification and positive learning experience, reinforcing the clients' use of the auditory modality. Enhance speech development and improve speech prosody.

The speaking voices of persons, who are hearing, impaired are often described, as awkward and unnatural. These individuals commonly lack the internal feedback mechanisms necessary for monitoring and adjusting, for instance, pronunciation of words, vocal inflection, or speech rhythm. Consequently, their speech production is often unclear or distorted. Hearing impaired speakers tend to demonstrate fewer variations in pitch and intonation than normal hearing speakers, which results in a monotone. They often prolong syllables and/or sentences and frequently pause inappropriately. These rhythmic and intonation problems often affect speech intelligibility.

Music therapy techniques and activities can effectively aid the development of these prosodic features of speech, the rhythm, intonation, rate, and stress. Darrow (1989) discusses the use of music therapy in addressing speech intelligibility, vocal intonation, vocal quality and speech fluency. The breathing processes, rhythmic and timing requirements, and pitch and articulation needed for singing songs provide important structure and motivation for the clients. Darrow also stresses the importance of constant feedback by the therapist.

Darrow & Starmer (1986) studied the effect of vocal training on the fundamental frequency, frequency range, and speech rate of hearing impaired children's speech. Hearing impaired speakers tend to have a higher fundamental frequency and vary pitch less, producing problems in speech intelligibility. The results of this study suggest that specific vocal training and singing songs in appropriately lower keys may help modify the fundamental frequency and frequency range of hearing impaired client's speech. Another study by Darrow (1984) points to the role of music therapy in training rhythmic responsiveness, thereby refining responsiveness to rhythmic elements of speech.

Staum (1987) also successfully used music notation to improve speech prosody in hearing impaired clients. She employed a visual notation system devised to help clients to match familiar and unfamiliar words or word sounds with the appropriate rhythmic and inflectional structure. Significant positive results were found for improved speech prosody as well as significant generalization and transfer of learning.

Robbins & Robbins (1980), after extensive work with hearing impaired clients, suggest that the potential contribution of music therapy should be evident in the reinforcement and/or quickening of the individual's overall learning and use of speech, greater vocal/verbal spontaneity and confidence, improved voice quality, and a freer use of intonation and rhythmic principles.

Enhance language development and education and improve overall communication skills

For children with hearing loss, limited auditory input not only impedes the ability to hear the speech of others, but also has a negative impact on their own language development. Regular auditory exposure to language provides important information about vocabulary, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, which are normally assimilated incidentally by the child. Without such exposure, the hearing impaired child commonly experiences a host of language problems. Common difficulties include reduced vocabulary, difficulty with numerous meanings of words, less appropriate use of vocabulary, less precise structure and content, and so on. Difficulties in appropriately using language further remove the individual from meaningful communication and interaction with others. Language problems can also have a negative effect on other academic tasks such as reading, writing and comprehension (Gfeller, & Baumann, 1988).

Music therapy can contribute significantly to the communicative abilities and language education of the hearing impaired client. Gfeller (1990), for instance, discusses the rich repertoire of vivid music and movement experiences in music therapy, which can be paired with spoken and, later, written words. Young children, especially, operate primarily at a motoric level and learn through direct manipulation of their environment. Musical instruments and materials are rich resources for sensory and motor involvement. The multi-sensory experience that music provides is a valuable learning tool, which is eventually attached to mental representations or symbols (Gfeller, 1990). Musical events and sequences can be labelled or described by the music therapist, providing language models for the child. Since language rehabilitation can be a long, difficult process, the music therapist provides important motivation by designing activities to be playful and engaging. Music therapy activities can also provide an opportunity to experience language concepts in different contexts.

Other investigations have also found the integration of music experience into language arts education to be beneficial (Darrow, 1989; Gfeller, & Darrow, 1987). Not only does it improve motivation, it provides a multisensory approach to learning that can help the client to internalize the meaning of new words. Singing, for example, offers an opportunity for intensive listening and vocal activity. Learning songs can stimulate practice in auditory discrimination, differentiating and integrating letter sounds, syllabication, and pronunciation (Gfeller, & Darrow, 1987). It can also assist in the development of vocabulary and provide experiences for the study of sentence structure and semantics. Songwriting can fulfil many of these same goals. Songs also have the advantage of patterned drill without its monotony.

Beyond enhancing the language development and education of hearing impaired clients music therapy can further enhance their communication abilities by providing some awareness and insight into meanings conveyed by "tone of voice." Important cues in communication with others are such things as facial expression, body language, and pitch and dynamic intensity. Awareness and sensitivity to one's own and other's language stylization can be successfully addressed in the music therapy setting. By stylizing singing, and signing to songs in a stylized way, the individual can learn to use and be aware of these nuances in communication with others (Gfeller, & Darrow, 1987). Musical signing also provides an opportunity for exploration of emotional self-expression, since lyrics and melodic line together can project a greater degree of emotion than the spoken word.

Promote socialization, self-awareness, emotional satisfaction, and enhance self-esteem

Some literature has characterized hearing-impaired individuals as possessing feelings of inferiority and depression, as well as detachment and isolation (see review by Galloway, & Bean, 1974). Poor body-image and awareness, language and communication deficits, and social isolation contribute significantly to these feelings. Music therapy can provide an important avenue to address these issues and enhance the hearing-impaired individual's self-esteem.

Brick (1973) found eurhythmics--the art of harmonious and expressive body movement-and music activities provided clients with a pleasurable experience, which utilized their creative powers. This, in turn, aided in the development of self-esteem, pride in accomplishment, and group cooperation. Robbins & -Robbins (1980) also found group music activities to be effective models for social adjustment. The intrinsic rewards in music experiences seemed to motivate the resistive client to cooperate, the distractible to concentrate, and the failure expectant to complete his or her efforts. Clients who often do poorly in other areas can receive special support and compensation through achievements in music.

Body-image and awareness can also be improved through music therapy exercises. Galloway & Bean (1974) found action songs and movement to music particularly effective. Robbins & Robbins (1980) also stress the importance of realistic and positive self-image. They found that movement skills learned through musical experiences could significantly enhance self-confidence, coordination, natural poise, and a sense of physical well-being.

Singing, playing or signing original songs can also afford the individual important opportunities for self-expression and emotional satisfaction. Gfeller & Darrow (1987) suggest that signing or singing self-composed songs allows hearing impaired individuals to express or illustrate thoughts, feelings, and ideas that may be too difficult to produce in written form. Staum (1987) also found that music therapy techniques and procedures can actually provide a functional skill that can be readily integrated into private music lessons or the general music classroom. By having a skill transferable outside the therapy setting, individuals may be more able, and likely, to experience new situations, meet new people, and find themselves working alongside other groups. This, in turn, may promote a sense of social responsibility as well as recognition, pride, and self- and social-esteem.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Music Therapy

What is music therapy?
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. (American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005)

What do music therapists do?
Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.

Who can benefit from music therapy?
Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease and other aging related conditions, substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor.

Where do music therapists work?
Music therapists work in psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers, agencies serving developmentally disabled persons, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practice.

What is the history of music therapy as a health care profession?
The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients' notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum. The first music therapy degree program in the world, founded at Michigan State University in 1944, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1994. The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998 as a union of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music therapy.

Who is qualified to practice music therapy?
Persons who complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC).
The National Music Therapy Registry (NMTR) serves qualified music therapy professionals with the following designations: RMT, CMT, ACMT. These individuals have met accepted educational and clinical training standards and are qualified to practice music therapy.

Is there research to support music therapy?
AMTA promotes a vast amount of research exploring the benefits of music as therapy through publication of the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives and other sources. A substantial body of literature exists to support the effectiveness of music therapy.

What are some misconceptions about music therapy?
That the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy -- they do not. That there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest -- this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in effecting change in a client or patient's life. The individual's preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the client or patient's goals help to determine the types of music a music therapist may use.

How can music therapy techniques be applied by healthy individuals?
Healthy individuals can use music for stress reduction via active music making, such as drumming, as well as passive listening for relaxation. Music is often a vital support for physical exercise. Music therapy assisted labor and delivery may also be included in this category since pregnancy is regarded as a normal part of women's life cycles.

How is music therapy utilized in hospitals?
Music is used in general hospitals to: alleviate pain in conjunction with anesthesia or pain medication: elevate patients' mood and counteract depression; promote movement for physical rehabilitation; calm or sedate, often to induce sleep; counteract apprehension or fear; and lessen muscle tension for the purpose of relaxation, including the autonomic nervous system.

How is music therapy utilized in nursing homes?
Music is used with elderly persons to increase or maintain their level of physical, mental, and social/emotional functioning. The sensory and intellectual stimulation of music can help maintain a person's quality of life.

How is music therapy utilized in schools?
Music therapists are often hired in schools to provide music therapy services listed on the Individualized Education Plan for mainstreamed special learners. Music learning is used to strengthen nonmusical areas such as communication skills and physical coordination skills which are important for daily life.

How is music therapy utilized in psychiatric facilities?
Music therapy allows persons with mental health needs to: explore personal feelings, make positive changes in mood and emotional states, have a sense of control over life through successful experiences, practice problem solving, and resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships.

Is music therapy a reimbursable service?

Since 1994, music therapy has been identified as a reimbursable service under benefits for Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP). Falling under the heading of Activity Therapy, the interventions cannot be purely recreational or diversionary in nature and must be individualized and based on goals specified in the treatment plan. The current HCPCS Code for PHP is G0176.
The music therapy must be considered an active treatment by meeting the following criteria:

Be prescribed by a physician;

Be reasonable and necessary for the treatment of the individual’s illness or injury;

Be goal directed and based on a documented treatment plan;

The goal of treatment cannot be to merely maintain current level of functioning; the individual must exhibit some level of improvement.

As Medicaid programs vary from state-to-state, so do the Medicaid coverage avenues for music therapy services. Some private practice music therapists have successfully applied for Medicaid provider numbers within their states. Some states offer waiver programs in which music therapy can be covered. In some situations, although music therapy is not specifically listed as a covered service, due to functional outcomes achieved, music therapy interventions can fall under an existing treatment category such as community support, rehabilitation, or habilitation.

Medicaid coverage for music therapy provided to individuals with developmental disabilities; originally recognized as a habilitation service but also considered as a socialization service.
Individual music therapist received provider number to service clients with mental illness and developmental disabilities. Waiver program for children with developmental disabilities provides coverage for music therapy.

Department of Aging Waiver program allows Medicaid payment for music therapy provided in a community based setting. Music therapy is listed under health and mental health related counseling services.

North Carolina
Medicaid reimbursement is available for music therapy services through the Community Alternatives Program (CAP) for clients with developmental disabilities.

Waiver program for children with developmental disabilities offers coverage for music therapy.

Music therapy is a covered service under the state’s Medicaid Children’s Waiver Program.

Private Insurance
The number of success stories involving third party reimbursement for the provision of music therapy services continues to grow. Over the past twelve years a growing public demand for music therapy services has been accompanied by a demand for third party reimbursement. In response to the increasing demand the music therapy profession has worked to facilitate the reimbursement process for clients of music therapy services.

The American Music Therapy Association now estimates that at least 20% of music therapists receive third party reimbursement for the services they provide. This number is expected to increase exponentially as music therapy occupies a strong position in the health care industry.

Insurance companies are recognizing the advantages of including music therapy as a benefit as they respond to the increasing market demand for greater patient choice of health care services. Companies like, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Humana, Great West Life, Aetna, Metropolitan, and Provident have reimbursed for music therapy services on a case-by-case basis, based on medical necessity.

Music therapy is comparable to other health professions like occupational therapy and physical therapy in that individual assessments are provided for each client, service must be found reasonable and necessary for the individual’s illness or injury and interventions include a goal-directed documented treatment plan.

Like other therapies, music therapy is typically pre-approved for coverage or reimbursement, and is found to be reimbursable when deemed medically necessary to reach the treatment goals of the individual patient. Therefore, reimbursement for services is determined on a case-by-case basis and is available in a large variety of health care settings, with patients with varying diagnoses.

Other Sources
Additional sources for reimbursement and financing of music therapy services include: many state departments of mental health, state departments of mental retardation/developmental disabilities, state adoption subsidy programs, private auto insurance, employee worker’s compensation, county boards of mental retardation/developmental disabilities, IDEA Part B related services funds, foundations, grants, and private pay.

What is the American Music Therapy Association?
The American Music Therapy Association is the largest professional association which represents over 5,000 music therapists, corporate members and related associations worldwide. Founded in 1998, its mission is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. AMTA sets the education and clinical training standards for music therapists. Predecessors to the American Music Therapy Association included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971.

What is a typical music therapy session like?
Since music therapists serve a wide variety of persons with many different types of needs there is no such thing as an overall typical session. Sessions are designed and music selected based on the individual client's treatment plan.

What is the future of music therapy?
The future of music therapy is promising because state of the art music therapy research in physical rehabilitation, Alzheimer's disease, and psychoneuroimmunology is documenting the effectiveness of music therapy in terms that are important in the context of a biological medical model.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

House Music

House music is a style of electronic dance music that originated in Chicago, Illinois, United States in the early 1980s. It was initially popularized in mid-1980s discothèques catering to the African-American, Latino American,and gay communities; first in Chicago circa 1984, then in other cities such as New York City, Toronto, Montreal, London, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. It then reached Europe largely due to the infamous House Music Tour visiting England. England played a pivotal role in the development of house music throughout Europe. Since the early to mid-1990s, it has become infused in mainstream pop and dance music worldwide.

While house music does not have a direct predecessor in genre, it is considered by some to be strongly influenced by disco with elements of soul and funk.

House music is based on four-by-four dance structure, popularized by disco, frequent use of a prominent bass drum on every beat, and may feature a prominent synthesizer bassline, electronic drums, electronic effects, funk and pop samples, often with reverb- or delay-enhanced vocals.

Roger Martinez - House Music (Original Mix) VIDEO

Saturday, April 16, 2011



She cried for all the broken hearts,
Painted everlasting winters –
Floral patterns etched in ice;
A frozen tear to
Soften up the bastard bones.

Bow made love to needy string
In cooing fling – wanton whispers
Fondled under pianissimos,
Caressing callous hearts.

Melodrama swayed in satin sound
– Yet the player wasn’t there,
Only creamy song, soothing, yearning,
Teasing bitter minds.

I sensed her persevering loneliness
For beauty of an evening:
Romance of a tune; laughing,
Sobbing at the fire.

Then a climax –
Writhing passion cutting deep –
Wounding macho flesh,

And all in a work of musical art:
Ephemeral stories, yarned of music
Honed impossibly through her tones.


Friday, April 15, 2011

NOT a good time to be a teacher in a public school - more evidence... Detroit to send layoff notices to all its public teachers

Detroit to send layoff notices to all its public teachers

CHICAGO — The emergency manager appointed to put Detroit's troubled public school system on a firmer financial footing said on Thursday he was sending layoff notices to all of the district's 5,466 unionized employees.

Bobb said nearly 250 administrators were receiving the notices, too.

The district is unlikely to eliminate all the teachers. Last year, it sent out 2,000 notices and only a fraction of employees were actually laid off. But the notices are required by the union's current contract with the district. Any layoffs under this latest action won't take effect until late July.

In the meantime, Bobb said that he planned to exercise his power as emergency manager to unilaterally modify the district's collective bargaining agreement with the Federation of Teachers starting May 17, 2011.

Under a law known as Public Act 4, passed by the Michigan legislature and signed by the state's new Republican governor in March, emergency managers like Bobb have sweeping powers. They can tear up existing union contracts, and even fire some elected officials, if they believe it will help solve a financial emergency.

"I fully intend to use the authority that was granted under Public Act 4," Bobb said in the statement.

He was appointed emergency financial manager for Detroit's schools two years ago by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, to close chronic budget deficits brought on by declining enrollment in the city. Over just the past year, Detroit's population has dropped 25 percent, according to census data.

Bobb has closed schools, laid off workers and taken other steps to cut spending but the district still faces a $327 million budget deficit.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

American Idol Winner - Kris Allen to play music-education concert series

Kris Allen will perform three concerts with the Berklee City Music All-Star Band next month to raise awareness about music education. The shows will take place May 2-4 in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and are open to elementary and high school students.

The American Idol Season 8 winner will perform on his own and with the All-Star Band to an audience of students who already benefit from or can benefit from the Berklee City Music program, which provides music education to 4th to 12th graders in under-served communities. The program's alumni include American Idol Season 9 semi-finalist Ashley Rodriguez.

"To be associated with a leader in music education such as the Berklee City Music program is truly an honor," Kris says in a press release. "Music education is vital to any child's development and is a cause that I hold close to my heart. The opportunities that the Berklee program provides to kids are remarkable and inspiring."

According to the press release, Kris will serve as a Berklee City Music Network (BCMN) Ambassador, and his involvement extends beyond the concert series:

Allen has also partnered with Music Empowers Foundation (MEF) to provide the BCMN with a two-year $150,000 grant to fund research measuring the program's impact and its continued expansion and development. "It is very gratifying to partner with Kris in support of an innovative program like Berklee City Music," said Andy Davis, Founder of MEF. "Kris is an amazing advocate for music education and by doing these concerts we hope to raise awareness and attract funding for additional programs."

MEF and Kris Allen will also fund five scholarships for high school students in the BCMN to attend Berklee City Music's Five-Week Summer Program. Nearly $30,000 was raised for the scholarships by Allen's fans during a fundraiser called "Alright with Music," named after Allen's single Alright With Me.

By the way, Kris makes his acting debut Friday when he plays himself on an episode of TeenNick's Gigantic.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Music and the Brain

Music's interconnection with society can be seen throughout history. Every known culture on the earth has music. Music seems to be one of the basic actions of humans. However, early music was not handed down from generation to generation or recorded. Hence, there is no official record of "prehistoric" music. Even so, there is evidence of prehistoric music from the findings of flutes carved from bones.

The influence of music on society can be clearly seen from modern history. Music helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence. When he could not figure out the right wording for a certain part, he would play his violin to help him. The music helped him get the words from his brain onto the paper.

Albert Einstein is recognized as one of the smartest men who has ever lived. A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was "too stupid to learn" and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get Albert an easy, manual labor job as soon as they could. His mother did not think that Albert was "stupid". Instead of following the school's advice, Albert's parents bought him a violin. Albert became good at the violin. Music was the key that helped Albert Einstein become one of the smartest men who has ever lived. Einstein himself says that the reason he was so smart is because he played the violin. He loved the music of Mozart and Bach the most. A friend of Einstein, G.J. Withrow, said that the way Einstein figured out his problems and equations was by improvising on the violin.

Bodily Responses to Music
In general, responses to music are able to be observed. It has been proven that music influences humans both in good and bad ways. These effects are instant and long lasting. Music is thought to link all of the emotional, spiritual, and physical elements of the universe. Music can also be used to change a person's mood, and has been found to cause like physical responses in many people simultaneously. Music also has the ability to strengthen or weaken emotions from a particular event such as a funeral.
People perceive and respond to music in different ways. The level of musicianship of the performer and the listener as well as the manner in which a piece is performed affects the "experience" of music. An experienced and accomplished musician might hear and feel a piece of music in a totally different way than a non-musician or beginner. This is why two accounts of the same piece of music can contradict themselves.

Rhythm is also an important aspect of music to study when looking at responses to music. There are two responses to rhythm. These responses are hard to separate because they are related, and one of these responses cannot exist without the other. These responses are (1) the actual hearing of the rhythm and (2) the physical response to the rhythm. Rhythm organizes physical movements and is very much related to the human body. For example, the body contains rhythms in the heartbeat, while walking, during breathing, etc. Another example of how rhythm orders movement is an autistic boy who could not tie his shoes. He learned how on the second try when the task of tying his shoes was put to a song. The rhythm helped organize his physical movements in time.

It cannot be proven that two people can feel the exact same thing from hearing a piece of music. For example, early missionaries to Africa thought that the nationals had bad rhythm. The missionaries said that when the nationals played on their drums it sounded like they were not beating in time. However, it was later discovered that the nationals were beating out complex polyrhythmic beats such as 2 against 3, 3 against 4, and 2 against 3 and 5, etc. These beats were too advanced for the missionaries to follow.

Responses to music are easy to be detected in the human body. Classical music from the baroque period causes the heart beat and pulse rate to relax to the beat of the music. As the body becomes relaxed and alert, the mind is able to concentrate more easily. Furthermore, baroque music decreases blood pressure and enhances the ability to learn. Music affects the amplitude and frequency of brain waves, which can be measured by an electro-encephalogram. Music also affects breathing rate and electrical resistance of the skin. It has been observed to cause the pupils to dilate, increase blood pressure, and increase the heart rate.

The Power of Music on Memory and Learning
The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart's music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activate the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.
According to The Center for New Discoveries in Learning, learning potential can be increased a minimum of five times by using this 60 beats per minute music. For example, the ancient Greeks sang their dramas because they understood how music could help them remember more easily ). A renowned Bulgarian psychologist, Dr. George Lozanov, designed a way to teach foreign languages in a fraction of the normal learning time. Using his system, students could learn up to one half of the vocabulary and phrases for the whole school term (which amounts to almost 1,000 words or phrases) in one day. Along with this, the average retention rate of his students was 92%. Dr. Lozanov's system involved using certain classical music pieces from the baroque period which have around a 60 beats per minute pattern. He has proven that foreign languages can be learned with 85-100% efficiency in only thirty days by using these baroque pieces. His students had a recall accuracy rate of almost 100% even after not reviewing the material for four years.

Johann Sebastian Bach
Georg Frederic Handel
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In 1982, researchers from the University of North Texas performed a three-way test on postgraduate students to see if music could help in memorizing vocabulary words. The students were divided into three groups. Each group was given three tests - a pretest, a posttest, and a test a week after the first two tests. All of the tests were identical. Group 1 was read the words with Handel's Water Music in the background. They were also asked to imagine the words. Group 2 was read the same words also with Handel's Water Music in the background. Group 2 was not asked to imagine the words. Group 3 was only read the words, was not given any background music, and was also not asked to imagine the words. The results from the first two tests showed that groups 1 and 2 had much better scores than group 3. The results from the third test, a week later, showed that group 1 performed much better than groups 2 or 3. However, simply using music while learning does not absolutely guarantee recall but can possibly improve it. Background music in itself is not a part of the learning process, but it does enter into memory along with the information learned. Recall is better when the same music used for learning is used during recall. Also, tempo appears to be a key of music's effect on memory.
Play Handel's Water Music (Morning Has Broken)

One simple way students can improve test scores is by listening to certain types of music such as Mozart's Sonata for Two Piano's in D Major before taking a test. This type of music releases neurons in the brain which help the body to relax. The effectiveness of Mozart's sonatas can be seen by the results from an IQ test performed on three groups of college students. The first group listened to a Mozart sonata before taking the test. The second group listened to a relaxation tape before their test. The third group did not listen to anything before the test. The first group had the highest score with an average of 119. The second group ended up with an average of 111, and the third group had the lowest score with an average of 110.

William Balach, Kelly Bowman, and Lauri Mohler, all from Pennsylvania State University, studied the effects of music genre and tempo on memory retention. They had four groups learn vocabulary words using one of four instrumental pieces - slow classical, slow jazz, fast classical, and fast jazz. Each of the four groups was divided into smaller groups for the recall test. These sub groups used either the same (i.e. slow classical, slow classical) or different (i.e. slow jazz, fast classical) pieces when taking the recall test. The results did show a dependency on the music. Recall was better when the music was the same during learning and testing. These same researchers did another test which restricted the changes in the music to just tempo (i.e. slow to fast jazz) or just genre (i.e. slow jazz to slow classical). Surprisingly, the results showed that changing the genre had no effect on recall but changing the tempo decreased recall.

Healthy and Not So Healthy Effects
Many revealing scientific experiments, studies, and research projects have been performed to try and discover the extent of the power of music. Up until 1970, most of the research done on music had to do with studying the effects of the beat of the music. It was found that slow music could slow the heartbeat and the breathing rate as well as bring down blood pressure. Faster music was found to speed up these same body measurements.
The key component of music that makes it beneficial is order. The order of the music from the baroque and classical periods causes the brain to respond in special ways. This order includes repetition and changes, certain patterns of rhythm, and pitch and mood contrasts. One key ingredient to the order of music from the baroque and classical periods is math. This is realized by the body and the human mind performs better when listening to this ordered music.

One shining example of the power of order in music is King George I of England. King George had problems with memory loss and stress management. He read from the Bible the story of King Saul and recognized that Saul had experienced the same type of problems that he was experiencing. George recognized that Saul overcame his problems by using special music. With this story in mind King George asked George Frederick Handel to write some special music for him that would help him in the same way that music helped Saul. Handel wrote his Water Music for this purpose.

Another key to the order in music is the music being the same and different. The brain works by looking at different pieces of information and deciding if they are different or the same. This is done in music of the baroque and classical periods by playing a theme and then repeating or changing the theme. The repetition is only done once. More than one repetition causes the music to become displeasing, and also causes a person to either enter a state of sub-conscious thinking or a state of anger. Dr. Ballam goes on to say that, "The human mind shuts down after three or four repetitions of a rhythm, or a melody, or a harmonic progression." Furthermore, excessive repetition causes people to release control of their thoughts. Rhythmic repetition is used by people who are trying to push certain ethics in their music.

An Australian physician and psychiatrist, Dr. John Diamond, found a direct link between muscle strength/weakness and music. He discovered that all of the muscles in the entire body go weak when subjected to the "stopped anapestic beat" of music from hard rock musicians, including Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Queen, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Bachman - Turner Overdrive, and The Band. Dr. Diamond found another effect of the anapestic beat. He called it a "switching" of the brain. Dr. Diamond said this switching occurs when the actual symmetry between both of the cerebral hemispheres is destroyed causing alarm in the body along with lessened work performance, learning and behavior problems in children, and a "general malaise in adults." In addition to harmful, irregular beats in rock music, shrill frequencies prove to also be harmful to the body. Bob Larson, a Christian minister and former rock musician, remembers that in the 70's teens would bring raw eggs to a rock concert and put them on the front of the stage. The eggs would be hard boiled by the music before the end of the concert and could be eaten. Dr. Earl W. Flosdorf and Dr. Leslie A. Chambers showed that proteins in a liquid medium were coagulated when subjected to piercing high-pitched sounds

On Animals and Plants, Too!
Tests on the effects of music on living organisms besides humans have shown that special pieces of music (including The Blue Danube) aid hens in laying more eggs. Music can also help cows to yield more milk. Researchers from Canada and the former Soviet Union found that wheat will grow faster when exposed to special ultrasonic and musical sounds. Rats were tested by psychologists to see how they would react to Bach's music and rock music. The rats were placed into two different boxes. Rock music was played in one of the boxes while Bach's music was played in the other box. The rats could choose to switch boxes through a tunnel that connected both boxes. Almost all of the rats chose to go into the box with the Bach music even after the type of music was switched from one box to the other.
Play Bach's Air on The G String
Play Strauss' The Blue Danube

Research took a new avenue when in 1968 a college student, Dorthy Retallack, started researching the effects of music on plants. She took her focus off of studying the beat and put in on studying the different sounds of music. Retallack tested the effects of music on plant growth by using music styles including classical, jazz, pop, rock, acid rock, East Indian, and country. She found that the plants grew well for almost every type of music except rock and acid rock. Jazz, classical, and Ravi Shankar turned out to be the most helpful to the plants. However, the plants tested with the rock music withered and died. The acid rock music also had negative effects on the plant growth.

One cannot deny the power of music. High school students who study music have higher grade point averages that those who don't. These students also develop faster physically. Student listening skills are also improved through music education. The top three schools in America all place a great emphasis on music and the arts. Hungary, Japan, and the Netherlands, the top three academic countries in the world, all place a great emphasis on music education and participation in music. The top engineers from Silicon Valley are all musicians. Napoleon understood the enormous power of music. He summed it up by saying, "Give me control over he who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws" .

To Know More
Ballam, Michael. Music and the Mind (Documentation Related to Message). pp 1-8.
Jourdain, Robert. Music, the Brain and Ecstasy. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.,1997.
Lundin, Robert W. An Objective Psychology of Music. Malabar: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1985.
Neverman. "The Affects of Music on the Mind." 3 pp. On-line. Internet. 20 December 1999. Available WWW: http://www.powell.k12.ky.us/pchs/ publications/Affects_of_Music.html.
Scarantino, Barbara Anne. Music Power Creative Living Through the Joys of Music. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1987.
Storr, Anthony. Music and the Mind. New York: The Free Press, 1992.
Weinberger, N.M. "Threads of Music in the Tapestry of Memory." MuSICA Research Notes 4.1 (Spring 1997): 3pp. On-line. Internet. 13 November 1999. Available WWW: http://musica.ps.uci.edu/mrn/V4I1S97.html#threads.