Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The Psychology of Music
Effects on Behavior, Intelligence, Learning, Pain and Health
Read more at Suite101: The Psychology of Music: Effects on Behavior, Intelligence, Learning, Pain and Health
Studies indicate that music can have profound physical and psychological effects not only on people but also on animals and plants.
Research into the effects of music on behavior, intelligence, learning, pain tolerance and health have generated a number of interesting findings. This article describes the results of some of the more intriguing experiments and studies.
Music, Mice and Madness
A student named David Merrill devised an experiment to discover how music would affect the ability of mice to learn new things. Merrill had one group of mice listen to classical music 24 hours a day and another to heavy metal music. He then timed the mice as they ran through mazes to see if the music affected their speed of learning. Unfortunately, he had to cut the first experiment short because the heavy metal mice all killed one another. In a second experiment, mice that listened to Mozart for 10 hours a day dramatically improved their maze-solving abilities, while the heavy metal mice actually became worse at solving mazes than they had been at the beginning of the experiment.
Music, Intelligence and Learning
According to the Association for Psychological Science, intelligence test scores grew higher in children who took lessons in keyboarding or singing. In another study, boys between the ages of 6 and 15 who took music lessons scored higher on tests of verbal memory than a control group of students without musical training.
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Researchers found that patients who listened to harp, piano, synthesizer, orchestra or slow jazz experienced less post-surgical pain than those who did not.
Music Therapy and Autism
Music therapy is particularly helpful for autistic students, who have difficulty interacting with classmates and teachers and become agitated in noisy, changeable environments. Autistic students respond very well to music therapy, which can be used to help them remain calm under stress and socialize more effectively. In addition, many autistic children have spectacular music skills.
Music and Violence
In a study of university students, participants listened to seven songs with violent lyrics, while a control group listened to seven songs without violent lyrics by the same artists. Afterwards, when asked to classify words as violent or nonviolent, those who had listened to violent lyrics were more likely to ascribe aggressive meanings to words such as “rock” and “stick.” The American Psychological Society has also published a report stating that research has definitively proved the link between youth violence and violent media, including music.
Music and Suicide
Psychology of Classical Music
Music Psychology & Behavior
Careers for Art, Music, and Dance Therapists
On a stranger note, sociology professor James Gundlach found higher rates of suicide among those who listen to country music. However, Gundlach notes that the suicide link occurred only with older country music, which he believes is not as upbeat as today’s.
Music and Plant Health
Experiments conducted by Dorothy Retallack to learn about music's effects on plants are described in her 1973 book The Sound of Music and Plants. Retallack played rock music (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge) for one group of plants and jazz for another. When two weeks had passed, the jazz plants were healthy and bent toward the radio. The rock music plants grew very tall and droopy, with faded blooms, and most had died within 16 days.
Retallack tried other types of music, including country, to which the plants showed no reaction, and modern (discordant) classical music, which caused the plants to bend away from the speaker. The plants seemed to “like” Bach and North Indian sitar and tabla music.
Other people have conducted similar experiments, and some claim to have achieved similar results. However, Retallack has been criticized for using unscientific methods in her experiments.
Most music studies to date have used small sample sizes and some have not controlled for confounding variables, so although these findings are compelling, more research is required. However, given that many studies have generated similar results for certain types of music, the psychology of music is certainly worthy of further exploration.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
So it's almost summer time and our minds turn towards warm breezes, palm trees, vacations and free time!
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Happy vacationing AND practicing!
The Music Momma
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Did you know that jazz was born in the United States? Did you know that the drum set was invented by jazz musicians? Did you know that the word "cool" and "hip" were originally jazz terms?
Join us in learning more about the history of jazz from its birth in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the music we hear on the radio today. Grammy-Award winning trumpeter and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis invites you to take a tour of jazz — see the people, read about the events, and listen to the music. The following history is adapted from the Jazz for Young People Curriculum by Jazz at Lincoln Center. You will need RealAudio to listen to the music pieces, to learn how to get RealPlayer, click here. (It's free!)
The Blues: Back to the Source
Born in the South, the blues is an African American-derived music form that recognized the pain of lost love and injustice and gave expression to the victory of outlasting a broken heart and facing down adversity. The blues evolved from hymns, work songs, and field hollers — music used to accompany spiritual, work and social functions. Blues is the foundation of jazz as well as the prime source of rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, and country music. The blues is still evolving and is still widely played today.
You shouldn't have to feel sad when listening to the blues. Wynton Marsalis explains why.
To learn more the blues, click here.
New Orleans: The Melting Pot of Sound
Mardi Gras in New Orleans at the turn of the century
Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
"New Orleans had a great tradition of celebration. Opera, military marching bands, folk music, the blues, different types of church music, ragtime, echoes of traditional African drumming, and all of the dance styles that went with this music could be heard and seen throughout the city. When all of these kinds of music blended into one, jazz was born." —Wynton Marsalis
Listen to this traditional New Orleans standard called "Second Line." The melody is repetitive and very singable. Notice the banjo rhythms in the background, and listen to the musicians break away from the melody into collective improvisations.
To learn more about New Orleans jazz, click here.
Louis Armstrong is born: The Jazz Original
Photo: William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
"Through his clear, warm sound, unbelievable sense of swing, perfect grasp of harmony, and supremely intelligent and melodic improvisations, he taught us all to play jazz." —Wynton Marsalis
Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential artists in the history of music. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 1901, he began playing the cornet at the age of 13. Armstrong perfected the improvised jazz solo as we know it (see Improvisation). Before Armstrong, Dixieland was the style of jazz that everyone was playing. This was a style that featured collective improvisation where everyone soloed at once. Armstrong developed the idea of musicians playing during breaks that expanded into musicians playing individual solos. This became the norm. Affectionately known as "Pops" and "Satchmo," Louis was loved and admired throughout the world. He died in New York City on July 6, 1971.
Listen to the drama expressed by the trumpet and clarinet solos in "Potato Head Blues."
To learn more about Louis Armstrong, click here.
Improvisation: The Expression of Freedom
Improvisation is the most defining feature of jazz. Improvisation is creating, or making up, music as you go along. Jazz musician play from printed music and they improvise solos. From the collective improvisation of early jazz to the solo improvisation of Louis Armstrong to the free jazz of Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane, improvisation is central to jazz.
Listen to Mr. Marsalis's explanation of improvisation.
To practice improvising, click on PBS's "Improvisation Station." (You will need to download a free plug-in.)
Swing: Sound in Motion
Swing is the basic rhythm of jazz. Swinging means being in sync with other people and loving it. Swing as a jazz style first appeared during the Great Depression. The optimistic feeling of swing lifted the spirits of everyone in America. By the mid-1930s, a period known as the "swing" era, swing dancing had become our national dance and big bands were playing this style of music. Orchestra leaders such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, and Benny Goodman led some of the greatest bands of the era.
Learn about the swing rhythm and listen to how the vocalists accent the second and fourth beats to create that rhythm. These accents give the music a sense of motion and make you want to dance.
To learn more about the swing era, click here.
Duke Ellington: Master Composer
Photo: Library of Congress
One of the most significant figures in music history, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington was born on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C. He began studying the piano at the age of seven. He started playing jazz as a teenager, and moved to New York City to become a bandleader. As a pianist, composer, and bandleader, Ellington was one of the creators of the big band sound, which fueled the "swing" era. He continued leading and composing for his jazz orchestra until his death in 1974. "Ellington plays the piano, but his real instrument is his band. Each member of his band is to him a distinctive tone color and set of emotions, which he mixes with others equally distinctive to produce a third thing, which I like to call the 'Ellington Effect.'" —Billy Strayhorn, composer and arranger
Listen to Wynton Marsalis explain the "Ellington Effect."
To learn more about Duke Ellington, click here.
Bebop: The Summit of Sound
"If you really understand the meaning of bebop, you understand the meaning of freedom." —Thelonious Monk, pianist and composer
In the early 1940s, jazz musicians were looking for new directions to explore. A new style of jazz was born, called bebop, had fast tempos, intricate melodies, and complex harmonies. Bebop was considered jazz for intellectuals. No longer were there huge big bands, but smaller groups that did not play for dancing audiences but for listening audiences.
Listen to a short history of the beginning of bebop, and learn how to scat!
To learn more about bebop, click here.
Dizzy Gillespie: A Jazz Visionary
Photo: William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
"The first time you hear Dizzy Gillespie play the trumpet, you may think that the tape was recorded at the wrong speed. He played so high, so fast, so correctly." —Wynton Marsalis
Trumpeter, bandleader, and composer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917, in Cheraw, South Carolina. He got his first music lesson from his father and took off from there. He moved to New York City in 1937 and met musicians such as Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. Together they experimented with jazz and came up with the bebop sound. Dizzy also helped to introduce Latin American rhythms to modern jazz through his collaborations with artists such as Machito and Chano Pozo. His bold trumpet playing, unique style of improvisation, and inspired teachings had a major influence, not only on other trumpet players, but on all jazz musicians in the years to come. He died in Englewood, New Jersey, on January 6, 1993.
How did Dizzy get his name? Wynton Marsalis explains his famous nickname and what made Dizzy so unique as a musician.
To learn more about Dizzy Gillespie, click here.
Latin and Afro-Cuban Jazz: Beyond the Borders
"Afro-Cuban jazz celebrates a collective musical history. Through its percussive beat, it unites ragtime, blues, swing, and the various grooves of Cuban music. It proclaims our shared musical heritage." —Wynton Marsalis
The combination of African, Spanish, and native cultures in Latin America created a unique body of music and dance. Jazz musicians from Jelly Roll Morton to Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie combined their music with this Latin sound to create a powerful blend. In the 1940s and 50s, when musicians from Cuba began to play with jazz musicians in New York, the circle was complete. By combining the musical traditions of North, South, and Central America, Latin jazz celebrates our musical differences and helps us to find a common ground.
Gillespie and Chano Pozo, a Cuban musician, created a new form of Latin jazz called CuBop. Listen to the difference between swing and Latin grooves.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Yes, yes, it hath charms to soothe a savage breast (or beast, if you prefer to repeat a common mistake). But researchers are finding that music may be an effective balm for many other afflictions: the isolation of conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's disease, the disability that results from stroke, the physical stress of entering the world too early.
Monday, May 23, 2011
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Sunday, May 22, 2011
Reggae is a genre that grew out of several other musical styles, including both traditional Jamaican music, including ska and mento, and American R&B. In the early days of radio, stations were super-high-powered, and several stations from Florida and New Orleans were powerful enough to reach Jamaica. Reggae only came about as a distinct genre in the 1960s.
Characteristics of the "Riddim":
Reggae is characterized by a heavy backbeated rhythm, meaning the emphasis of the beat is on, for example, beats 2 and 4, when in 4/4 time. This backbeat is characteristic of all African-based musics and is not found in traditional European or Asian music. Reggae drummers also emphasize the third beat when in 4/4 time with a kick to the bass drum.
Rastafarianism is a religion that is very common among Jamaicans of African descent. Many of the world's most famous reggae musicians practice this religion, and therefore many reggae lyrics reflect the beliefs and traditions of Rastafarianism.
Popularity of Reggae in the United States:
Bob Marley was reggae's best-known international ambassador. From his early days in a Rocksteady band to his later years as a Rastafari convert and political activist, Bob Marley planted himself deeply into the hearts of reggae fans throughout the world. Some people consider Marley to be exclusively responsible for the popularity of reggae worldwide, but many other artists, including Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh, were integral to the spread of the genre.
Friday, May 20, 2011
This project studies the heart rate variability and psychological responses due to exposure to various genres of music. Subjects to be used are 20 undergraduate students at Miami University between the ages of 18 and 25. The pieces of music to be used are ÒSymphony Number 5: IIIÓ by Dmitri Shostakovich, ÒSprits DriftingÓ by Brian Eno, ÒBlackest Eyes,Ó by Porcupine Tree, ÒWar Machine,Ó by Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus, and ÒImaginary Places,Ó by Bus Driver. The five songs will be tested on each subject for duration of three minutes with an interval of two minutes between each kind of music. The heart rate will be brought to the resting rate before experimenting with the next genre of music. We speculate that slow music will lower the heart rate and bring the psychological sense in a state of low tension and stress while songs with fast beats and high pitches increased the rate of the heartbeat. The positive effect of slow music will be an apparent tool to reduce anxiety and stress in patients after a surgery and can be used as an adjuvant in their treatment.
An alternative method of healing exists, known as holistic medicine, that may be more effective than the "over the counter drugs" commonly used in society today. Holistic--from the Greek root holos, meaning wholeÑmedicine, the practice of making the body whole, ÒÉis part of a worldview, which promises to achieve societal change through respect for the individual and for the contribution of diversity to an integrative model of healing. It includes, but is not limited to, nutrition, herbal medicine, spinal manipulation and body work medicine, "energy medicine," spiritual attunement, relaxation training and stress management, biofeedback and acupunctureÓ (AHMA). In holistic medicine, physical, mental, and spiritual ailments are treated.
Relaxation training and stress management exist as fundamental treatments in holistic medicine because they involve directly all three types of ailments. Traditionally, relaxation and stress has been measured by fluctuations in heart rate. The heart is a vital organ in the human body. Though only the size of the fist, it pumps blood to the rest of the body by rhythmic expansion and relaxation. The frequency of this cardiac cycle is measured through heart rate. The heart rate is the number of contractions (beats) of the heart in a minute (Bianco 1-6).
Previous experiments involving heart rate have used music as an alternative technique to induce relaxation or stress. Earlier studies made show that music may influence heart rate and respiration, however, all of these experiments have used small numbers of subjects. In the early 1900Õs Shoen and Soibelman showed that there was a correlation between music and heart rate by the increase in the rate while listening to different types of music (Schoen 1-449, Soibelman 103-108). An experiment by Ellis and Brighouse was completed on The Effect of Music on Respiration and Heart Rate. They tested how different genres of music effected 36 college studentsÕ respiration and heart rate. Each genre of music caused slight increases in both respiration and heart rates among the students. Therefore, concluding that music is an effective therapeutic agent if the desired effect is an increase in either respiration or heart rate (Ellis and Brighouse 39-47).
Although Ellis and Brighouse did not find music decreasing heart rate, there experiment did show a correlation between music and heart rate. This correlation has a wide scope in the medical field. By implementing a natural method of relaxation rather than taking pills to soothe the mind, humans can create a holistic body. The natural system of medication evolves from India in the form of Ayurveda and Yunani where plant extracts such as Neem and Tulasi are used to cure various sicknesses. Treatment has evolved from natural methods to medication in the form of chemical pills. However, there is still an underlying natural method of cure amidst the emerging trend of medical treatment. Finding how music effects heart rate may help to relieve stress and put the mind and body in a state of calm. Music has an arousal effect, which is related to its frequency and tempo. Logically, slow or meditative music may induce a relaxing effect and cause relaxation. In measuring how different genres of music affect the heart rate of human beings, we intend to discover if there is a type of music that will lower the heart rate. We propose that different types of music will increase or decrease the heart rate.
Specific Research Design
We will be measuring the heart rates of each subject to determine the effect of music on cardiovascular activity. In order to do this, we first must measure, using a heart rate monitor, the resting heart rate of the subject, as the control. As a heart rate can fluctuate and a heart-rate monitor tracks the contractions of the heart in real-time and calculates an estimated heartbeats per minute, we will take three (3) measurements and calculate an average. This resulting average is the heart rate that the subjectÕs heart rate must reach before exposure to each genre of music.
Prior to experimentation, the subjects will be asked to rank preferentially the five genres of music to be used in the experiment: classical, ambient, rock, metal, and rap. The subject will be asked to specify their physical activity. As a higher level of physical fitness will result in a lower fluctuation of heart rate and a faster recovery time, it might prove statistically beneficial to be aware of this information for each subject. The subject will sign up for an appointment to be tested. Once they arrive for their scheduled time, only the tester(s) and the subject will be in the room, so as to eliminate any distractions. The subject will be lying down with a heart rate monitor attached and the tester will hold the receiver to record all of his/her findings (see attached data/consent form). Each piece of music will be administered to the subject through headphones via an Apple iPod¨.
The third movement of Dmitri ShostakovichÕs Symphony Number 5 will be used for classical music. A 20th century modern composer, his works tend to emulate the style of his predecessors and create a phonic often indistinguishable and genericÑthis will eliminate any particular attachment that a subject might possess with a certain composerÕs style. ÒSpirits DriftingÓ by Brian Eno from his album Another Green World (1979) will be used for ambience. Eno is recognised as the first creator of ambient electronica, an avant-garde genre of music focused on atmospheric horizontal composition rather than rigid structure or focus on harmony, resulting in more naturally flowing stream-of-consciousness works. They will not know the songs that they will hear beforehand, and the songs chosen are intended to be obscure so that prior experience with the song will not introduce lurking variables. For rock, we will be using ÒBlackest EyesÓ by Porcupine Tree, from their album In Absentia (2001). A British progressive rock song, ÒBlackest EyesÓ combines many elements found in modern rock music, including pristine production, use of syncopation and odd-time metres, subtle complex harmonies, technicality, and transitions between acoustic and electric sections. For metal we will be using ÒWar MachineÓ by Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus, an underground ÒgrindcoreÓ avant-garde metal band. Using visceral vocals, aggressive drumming and rhythmic foundation, and deliberate use of atonality and tempo changes, they exemplify most subsets of the metal genre. For rap, we will be exposing the subjects to ÒImaginary PlacesÓ by Bus Driver, from Temporary Forever (2003). His unorthodox style of rapping typically is shunned by mainstream media for use of his combined elements of vocal jazz, straight rap, and spoken word.
Before being exposed to the experimental genres of music, the subjects will hear a jazz song, ÒIt Might As Well Be Spring,Ó by Brad Mehldau from the album Introducing Brad Meldau. This song will have no data associated with it; rather, it will serve as a ÔdummyÕ to eliminate any initial shock the subjects might encounter when first initiating the experiment.
Each song will begin once the subject achieves resting heart rate, and will commence to play for three (3) minutes. The order of exposure will be classical, ambient, rock, metal, and rap, preceding all of which will be the jazz ÔdummyÕ song. At intervals of fifty (50) seconds, the reading of the heart rate monitor, which the subject will be wearing, will be recorded, with a maximum total of three (3) readings. These readings will be averaged and analyzed statistically after data collection is complete.
Once all of the data is allocated, we will use significance tests to determine whether or not any of the genres of music had a statistically significant effect (a = 0.05) on the heart rate of the subject, and furthermore, if their music preferences impacted their cardiovascular reactions to the exposure of each genre of music.
The null hypothesis states that the heart rate of a subject for each genre equals the resting heart rate. Thus, if the data is statistically significant, it would suggest that a genre of music on a level greater than random chance, affects the heart rate of a subject. A second statistical method, drawn from the preferences of each subject will analyze the variability of heart rate among the different genres and determine if this could be predicted accurately knowing only a subjectÕs music preferences.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Now new research shows that music therapy — either listening to or creating music with a specially trained therapist — can be a useful treatment for depression.
The finding that music therapy offers a real clinical benefit to depression sufferers comes from a review by the Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit group that reviews health care issues. Although there aren’t many credible studies of music therapy for depression, the reviewers found five randomized trials that studied the effects of music therapy. Some studies looked at the effects of providing music therapy to patients who were receiving drug treatment for depression. Others compared music therapy to traditional talk therapy. In four out of five of the trials, music therapy worked better at easing depression symptoms than therapies that did not employ music, the researchers found.
“The current studies indicate that music therapy may be able to improve mood and has low drop-out rates,” said lead author Anna Maratos, an arts therapist for the National Health Service in London. “While the evidence came from a few small studies, it suggests that this is an area that is well worth further investigation….We need to find out which forms have greatest effect.”
Ms. Maratos notes that music therapy might be particularly useful for adolescents who may reject a traditional form of counseling. Some older patients also may not be comfortable talking about their feelings, “but do tend to express themselves through song,” she said.
“I think we can be reasonably confident that music therapy has an effect,” Ms. Maratos said. “Music therapy is often used where more conventional therapies are not as likely to be as accepted or tolerated.”
There are two main types of music therapy. Sometimes, a therapist will listen to music with a patient and talk about the feelings or memories that it evokes. In another form, the therapist is a skilled musician and will improvise music with the patient. If the patient doesn’t play an instrument, he or she might be given a simple percussion instrument and the therapist will play along.
Other studies have shown a benefit from music therapy in the treatment for autism, dementia, learning disabilities, strokes and pain management during labor and birth. The problem, Ms. Maratos notes, is that there isn’t very much high-quality research. “It doesn’t easily attract serious research funding,” she said. “It’s difficult to do high-quality, large-scale trials.”
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Music has a close connection with spirituality. Spiritual music has the capacity to enlighten our minds and inspires us to dive deep within. The most profound spirituality involves peace and silence. But to enter this realm of peace and silence it is quite practical to take the benefit of spiritual, soulful music.
Music that helps us spiritually is music that elevates and uplifts our consciousness. It is music that makes rather than breaks. Some music embodies a restless, aggressive quality. Spiritual music energies our inner being, but it does this without creating restlessness and vital excitement. Spiritual music can be a great aid to meditation. If we listen to music with our heart it awakens the inner aspiration to dwell in the higher realms of consciousness. The great composer Beethoven said of music
"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. Although the spirit be not master of that which it creates through music, yet it is blessed in this creation, which, like every creation of art, is mightier than the artist."
A popular form of spiritual music is bhajans. Bhajans are simple devotional songs, which are sung many times to invoke a quality of God , The Supreme. Many spiritual teachers have noted the power of devotional music to help seekers spiritually. To sit in silent meditation may be difficult for many seekers, but to enter into the spirit of devotional music is to get the fruits of meditation in an easy and accessible way. For some aspirants devotional music alone is a way to reach the goal. The great Indian Saint Sri Chaitanya sung endlessly devotional bhajans to Sri Krishna. His infectious singing, inspired many in India to follow the path of Bhakti yoga. His bhajans to Krishna are still sung today.
Spirituality and music can never be separated. If music awakens our inner aspiration we will be inspired to dive deep within. Sri Chinmoy says of music:
"When we play soulful music, we elevate our consciousness most rapidly. Soulful music is a form of aspiration, a form of meditation."
From the outer music we will become in touch with the inner silence. In our deepest meditation great seekers say that we can hear the divine music in the depths of our own heart.
Music also has the capacity to bring people together. It is something that unites rather than divides. Speaking at the legendary Woodstock festival of 1969 the spiritual Guru Swami Satchidananda offered a welcoming address to nearly half a million spectators.
"I am overwhelmed with joy to see the youth of America gathered here in the name of the fine art of music. In fact through music we can work wonders"
Many who attended Woodstock of 1969 felt it was a unique occasion when so many people were attracted by the ideal of harmony and friendship that transcended any cultural or racial barrier. Oneness and harmony is an indispensable part of spirituality, music helps this to become a reality
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Effects of Music on the Brain
Cognitive development, Verbal Skills and Emotional Intelligence
Music has been known to alleviate stress by increasing the body’s release of endorphins—the feel good chemicals. New research also reveals that music produces powerful effects on the brain, promoting cognitive development, verbal skills and emotional intelligence.
Music and Cognitive Development
A great deal of evidence exists showing a correlation between musical training in childhood and cognitive proficiency. Canadian researchers measuring changes in brain responses to music in children aged 4 to 6 discovered that children who took Suzuki music lessons had greater improvements in IQ scores and specific skills such as literacy, visiospatial processing, verbal memory and mathematics. The study suggests that music training has a profound effect on rewiring the brain for cognitive functions.
Another study undertaken at Georgetown University Medical Center shows that music exercises all areas in the brain involved with attention. Peak activity in the brain occurs when listeners are engaged in the pauses of silence between movements, suggesting that music activates networks in the brain associated with anticipation, attention and neural clairvoyance.
Can music help produce better readers? Definitely, according to a research done at Northwestern University which suggests that music training is directly linked to enhanced verbal proficiency. In fact, researchers at the university suggest that musical training may be more effective for developing verbal skills than learning phonics. Why?
The brain’s multi-sensory engagement during music practice and performance enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading. Musicians sharpen a specialized neural system for processing sight and sound, music and speech, which means that early musical training can help children develop literacy skills and reduce literacy disorders. Listening to music while exercising has also been shown to help increase verbal fluency scores among cardiac rehabilitation patients.
Music and Emotional Intelligence
Perhaps the most compelling effect of music on the brain is its development of emotional intelligence. The latest research shows that music training sharpens an individual’s ability to recognize emotion in sound, an ability that goes a long way in terms of developing sensitivity to emotional cues and intuitive understanding of social contexts, two skills critical to emotional intelligence. Music training fine-tunes an individual’s perception of the emotional landscape around him, allowing him greater flexibility in dealing with human relationships.
There is no doubt that music promotes both cognitive proficiency and emotional probity.The effects of music on the brain are so pervasive and pronounced that mandatory and subsidized pre-school music education should be espoused for all children.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
People go to music concerts for many reasons. Some people watch concerts to support their favorite music idols, others go to concerts to have fun with friends, while others watch concerts to enjoy music.
But for whatever reason it is, many studies show that going to concerts is actually good for your health.
Here are some reasons why:
1. The feeling of excitement that a concert brings causes a sudden rush of adrenalin that is good for the heart.
2. This activity will also allow one to burn calories which can be a good form of physical exercise for the day.
3. Live music gives an uplifting feeling that is good for physical and emotional well being.
4. Live concerts allow one to perspire which leads to faster metabolism.
5. Going to concerts is a healthy alternative to spending an evening at home watching television.
6. Watching your favorite music icon, live, can bring a sense of confidence that can boost your overall well being.
7. Live concerts are social gatherings that can promote positive energy resulting to overall good health and great physical outlook.
8. Listening to live music can enhance your senses, resulting to more alert and active physical condition.
9. Being within a live concert promotes confidence that can lead to a healthier approach in life.
10. Live music can bring about a healthy balance that is good for the body and mind.
Does this information surprise you? How often do you go to live concerts?
Monday, May 9, 2011
Each of us wants our children - and the children of all those around us - to achieve success in school, success in employment, and success in the social structures through which we move. But we also want our children to experience success on a broader scale. Participation in music, often as not based on a grounding in music education during the formative school years, brings countless benefits to each individual throughout life. The benefits may be psychological or spiritual, and they may be physical as well:
* Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits and that lead to effective study and work habits. An association of music and math has, in fact, long been noted. Creating and performing music promotes self-expression and provides self-gratification while giving pleasure to others. In medicine, increasing published reports demonstrate that music has a healing effect on patients. For all these reasons, it deserves strong support in our educational system, along with the other arts, the sciences, and athletics. - Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Leading Heart Surgeon, Baylor College of Music.
Music has a great power for bringing people together. With so many forces in this world acting to drive wedges between people, it's important to preserve those things that help us experience our common humanity. - Ted Turner, Turner Broadcasting System.
Music is one way for young people to connect with themselves, but it is also a bridge for connecting with others. Through music, we can introduce children to the richness and diversity of the human family and to the myriad rhythms of life. - Daniel A. Carp, Eastman Kodak Company Chairman and CEO.
Casals says music fills him with the wonder of life and the incredible marvel of being a human. Ives says it expands his mind and challenges him to be a true individual. Bernstein says it is enriching and ennobling. To me, that sounds like a good cause for making music and the arts an integral part of every child's education. Studying music and the arts elevates children's education, expands students horizons, and teaches them to appreciate the wonder of life. - U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, July 1999.
The nation's top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st century. - The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education. Business Week, October 1996.
Music making makes the elderly healthier.... There were significant decreases in anxiety, depression, and loneliness following keyboard lessons. These are factors that are critical in coping with stress, stimulating the immune system, and in improved health. Results also show significant increases in human growth hormones following the same group keyboard lessons. (Human growth hormone is implicated in aches and pains.) - Dr. Frederick Tims, reported in AMC Music News, June 2, 1999.
Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music. - Gerald Ford, former President, United States of America.
During the Gulf War, the few opportunities I had for relaxation I always listened to music, and it brought to me great peace of mind. I have shared my love of music with people throughout this world, while listening to the drums and special instruments of the Far East, Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Far North - and all of this started with the music appreciation course that I was taught in a third-grade elementary class in Princeton, New Jersey. What a tragedy it would be if we lived in a world where music was not taught to children. - H. Norman Schwarzkopf, General, U.S. Army, retired.
Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and, by studying music in school, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective. - # Bill Clinton, former President, United States of America.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan
Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont
The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.
~William Goldsmith Brown
If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been. ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com
A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. ~Peter De Vries
If the whole world were put into one scale, and my mother in the other, the whole world would kick the beam. ~Lord Langdale (Henry Bickersteth)
Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~Author Unknown
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh
All mothers are working mothers. ~Author Unknown
When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child. ~Sophia Loren, Women and Beauty
Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. ~Marion C. Garretty, quoted in A Little Spoonful of Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul
Mother - that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries. ~T. DeWitt Talmage
A mother is a mother still,
The holiest thing alive.
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men - from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. ~Jewish Proverb
A mother understands what a child does not say. ~Author Unknown
I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln
It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge. ~Phyllis Diller
Woman in the home has not yet lost her dignity, in spite of Mother's Day, with its offensive implication that our love needs an annual nudging, like our enthusiasm for the battle of Bunker Hill. ~John Erskine
Women's Liberation is just a lot of foolishness. It's the men who are discriminated against. They can't bear children. And no one's likely to do anything about that. ~Golda Meir
A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. ~Irish Proverb
Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories. ~John Wilmot
You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back. ~William D. Tammeus
Now that... my kids are grown, I understand how much work and love it takes to raise and to keep a family together. The example of your strength, devotion, and patience is now rippling through the generations. Thank you! ~Forest Houtenschil
Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. ~Oprah Winfrey
Motherhood is priced
Of God, at price no man may dare
To lessen or misunderstand.
~Helen Hunt Jackson
Are we not like two volumes of one book? ~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
Who fed me from her gentle breast
And hushed me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
On Mother's Day I have written a poem for you. In the interest of poetic economy and truth, I have succeeded in concentrating my deepest feelings and beliefs into two perfectly crafted lines: You're my mother, I would have no other! ~Forest Houtenschil
Children are a great comfort in your old age - and they help you reach it faster, too. ~Lionel Kauffman
Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. ~William Makepeace Thackeray
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving
This heart, my own dear mother, bends,
With love's true instinct, back to thee!
Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your children. ~Sam Levenson
The one thing children wear out faster than shoes is parents. ~John J. Plomp
Most mothers are instinctive philosophers. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe
Before a day was over,
Home comes the rover,
For mother's kiss - sweeter this
Than any other thing!
I don't care how poor a man is; if he has family, he's rich. ~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, M*A*S*H, "Identity Crisis,"
Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~Dinah Craik
Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust
If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden. ~Attributed to Claudia Ghandi
A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother. ~Author Unknown
Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. ~Ambrose Bierce
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. ~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895
Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~Aristotle
A man's work is from sun to sun, but a mother's work is never done. ~Author Unknown
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone
Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it. ~Haim Ginott
Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children. ~Marilyn Penland
Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. ~Charles R. Swindoll, The Strong Family
There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it. ~Chinese Proverb
Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. ~Red Buttons
If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family. ~Lawrence Housman
Setting a good example for your children takes all the fun out of middle age. ~William Feather, The Business of Life, 1949
Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion-picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word "collectible" as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success. ~Fran Lebowitz, "Parental Guidance," Social Studies, 1981
Friday, May 6, 2011
Listen up: belting out tunes in the shower may not only be music to your ears, but may also treat a variety of disorders such as Parkinson's disease, aphasia and dementia.
In fact, singing has both physical and neurological benefits, according to a CNN article in which Dr. Wendy Magee, International Fellow in Music Therapy at the Institute of Neuropalliative Rehabilitation in London, described music as a "mega-vitamin for the brain" that can improve a host of conditions.
"When neural pathways are damaged for one particular function such as language, musical neural pathways are actually much more complex and much more widespread within the brain," she told CNN. "Music seems to find re-routed paths and that is why it is such a useful tool in terms of helping people with different kinds of brain damage because it can help to find new pathways in terms of brain functioning."
Music is effective in treating not just certain medical disorders but also autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), says Dr. Robert Melillo, co-founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers and the author of "Disconnected Kids" (Penguin, 2009).
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Asperger syndrome (Asperger disorder, Asperger’s syndrome) is a form of pervasive developmental disorder characterized by persistent impairment in social interactions and by repetitive behavior patterns and restricted interests. Unlike autistic disorder, no significant aberrations or delays occur in language development or in cognitive development. Asperger syndrome is generally evident in children older than age 3 years and occurs most often in males. (See Etiology and Epidemiology.)
De Spiegeleer and Appelboom pointed out that Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. Although normal language and cognitive development differentiate Asperger syndrome from other developmental disorders, the severe social impairment associated with this condition overlaps with disorders such as high-functioning autism (HFA). (See Diagnostic Considerations.)
Children with this syndrome often exhibit a limited capacity for spontaneous social interactions, a failure to develop friendships, and a limited number of intense and highly focused interests. Although some people with Asperger syndrome may have certain communication problems, including poor nonverbal communication and pedantic speech, many individuals have good cognitive and verbal skills. (See History.)
Bowler and colleagues reported that although people with Asperger syndrome have fewer memories, the experiences of remembering are qualitatively similar in people with Asperger syndrome compared with healthy control subjects.
Physical symptoms may include early childhood motor delays, clumsiness, fine motor difficulty, gait anomalies, and odd movements. (See Physical Examination.)
Individuals with Asperger syndrome have normal, or even superior, intelligence and may make great intellectual contributions while demonstrating social insensitivity or even apparent indifference toward loved ones. Published case reports of individuals with Asperger syndrome suggest an association with the capacity to accomplish cutting-edge research in computer science, mathematics, and physics, as well as outstanding creative work in art, film, and music. Although the deficits manifested by those with Asperger syndrome are often debilitating, many individuals experience positive outcomes, especially those who excel in areas not dependent on social interaction. (See Prognosis and Treatment.)
Persons with Asperger syndrome have exhibited outstanding skills in mathematics, music, and computer sciences. Many are highly creative, and many prominent individuals demonstrate traits suggesting Asperger syndrome. For example, biographers have described Albert Einstein as a person with highly developed mathematical skills who was unaware of social norms and insensitive to the emotional needs of family and friends.
For clinical management purposes, Asperger syndrome and HFA may be considered together. Impaired social skills are associated with several other conditions (eg, developmental learning disability of the right hemisphere, nonverbal learning disability, schizoid personality disorder, semantic-pragmatic processing disorder, social-emotional learning disabilities).
The Autism Screening Checklist (seen below) is helpful in identifying children with characteristics of autism spectrum disorders. It differentiates children with autism spectrum disorders from children with schizophrenia and other psychoses.
Autism screening checklist.
A score of "yes" on items 1, 3, and 4 of the Autism Screening Checklist occurs in healthy children and in children with autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome. Some children with autism and other autism spectrum disorders demonstrate normal development for the first couple of years or so and then demonstrate a regression with loss of language skills. Children with autism may or may not speak. Therefore, children with autism may score “no” or “yes” on item 4. Children with Asperger syndrome develop speech at the usual age. They may display oddities of speech characteristic of autism and Asperger syndrome. A score of "yes" on items 2 and 11 occurs in healthy children, not in children with autism spectrum disorders and other pervasive developmental disorders.
A score of "no" on the Autism Screening Checklist items 2 and 11 and a score of "yes" on items 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13 occurs in some children with autism spectrum disorders. The higher the score for "no" on items 2, 4, and 11 and for "yes" on items 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, and 13 on the Autism Screening Checklist, the more likely the presence of an autism spectrum disorder. A score of "yes" on items 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 occurs in children with schizophrenia and other disorders, not in children with Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum disorders. A score of "no" on item 2 and "yes" on item 12 may occur in people with Asperger syndrome.
Go to Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Autism for complete information on these topics.
Depression and hypomania are common among adolescents and adults with Asperger syndrome, particularly those with a family history of these conditions. (Caregivers of persons with Asperger syndrome may be prone to depression as well.)
An increased risk of suicide is observed in persons with Asperger syndrome, with risks possibly rising in proportion to the number and severity of comorbid maladies. Asperger syndrome is probably undiagnosed in many suicide cases because of the dearth of awareness of the condition's existence and the ineffective and unreliable tools used to identify it. Therefore, people with Asperger syndrome who commit suicide are probably reported as having other or undiagnosed psychiatric problems. In cases of unexpected suicide, Asperger syndrome is a strong possibility.
Every person who interacts with people with Asperger syndrome can benefit from developing an awareness of the symptoms of depression. When these symptoms occur in people with Asperger syndrome, family, friends, and others, the afflicted person can be guided to receive the needed help.
Several criteria have been identified to diagnose depression. A major depression is characterized by the presence of the symptoms on a sustained basis for at least 2 weeks. In other words, transient sadness lasting a few hours does not qualify as major depression. In order to meet the criteria for a symptom of depression, the symptom must interfere with the person’s life, possibly in educational, occupational, or social settings.
The key hallmarks include depression and anhedonia. Anhedonia is characterized by the inability to experience pleasure. Anhedonia is a symptom of depression. Either depression or anhedonia must be present to diagnose major depression. The presence of depression can be elicited by asking the person, “Do you feel low, blue, sad, down in the dumps?” The presence of anhedonia can be elicited by asking if the person experiences pleasure from activities that usually produce pleasure.
Symptoms of depression
In addition to depression and anhedonia, 7 other symptoms of depression are noted below.
Disturbances of eating are typical in depression; the person may lose weight when not dieting or may gain weight. A change of 5% of the body weight in 1 month qualifies as a symptom of depression. Alternatively, the person may experience a marked decrease or increase in appetite.
Sleep disturbances are common in depression. The person may experience insomnia. Difficulty falling asleep may be reported. Ask the person, “Do you wake up in the middle of sleeping? Do you wake up earlier in the morning than usual?” Alternatively, the person may sleep more than usual.
Disturbances of activity levels often occur in depression. The person may move much more frequently or much less frequently than usual. This may lead others to comment that the activity level has changed.
The person may have a loss of energy and a persistent feeling of tiredness.
The person may have difficulty concentrating.
The person may experience feelings of guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness. Ask the person, “Do you feel worthless?”
Addressing patient depression
Clinicians must be aware of the risk of depression and institute prompt interventions when major depression occurs.
The person may have thoughts that life is not worth living. The person may consider, plan, attempt, or commit suicide. This symptom requires immediate evaluation by a mental health professional. Involuntary psychiatric hospitalization is indicated if the person is acutely suicidal.
Throughout the process of interacting with a person who has depression, the person needs to be informed that the depression will probably pass. Unlike other progressive mental disorders, depression is usually a remitting illness. In other words, the depression typically resolves entirely without treatment. However, treatment likely hastens the onset of recovery.
Still, a person with depression may be convinced that recovery is not possible. This may be a result of the temporary feeling of hopelessness common in depression. The belief that the person will never recover may lead to suicide. For this reason, people with depression must be told that the depression will probably completely resolve. Inform the person that sometimes people’s minds play tricks on them and that they will probably completely recover.
People who are depressed may need assistance to obtain help from mental health professionals. If a person is suicidal, call emergency services (eg, 911) to ask for an ambulance for a person with a mental disorder. People who are a danger to themselves merit commitment to mental hospitals for treatment to protect them from hurting themselves.
People with Asperger syndrome are vulnerable to depression, even suicide, after a perceived rejection in a social situation such as dating and marriage.
People with Asperger syndrome can have other neuropsychiatric disorders, including Tourette syndrome, anorexia nervosa, and schizophrenia; treating such comorbid disorders may be beneficial.
Changes to a child's environment may exacerbate symptoms of Asperger syndrome. Therefore, minimize separations if the child is fond of family members, teachers, or others.
People with Asperger syndrome may be entitled to benefits for people with disabilities.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Prince William Academy is an elite private school that proudly serves the greater Prince William County, Virginia Area: Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Ashburn, Bristow, Brooke, Burke, Catharpin, Catlett, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Dulles, Dumfries, Dunn Loring, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Fauquier County, Fort Belvoir, Fort Myer, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, Garrisonville, Great Falls, Haymarket, Herndon, Lorton, Loudoun County, Manassas, Mc Lean, Merrifield, Mount Vernon, Newington, Nokesville, Oakton, Occoquan, Quantico, Reston, Ruby, Springfield, Stafford, Sterling, Triangle, Vienna, Warrenton, West Mclean, and Woodbridge.
Ask about their afterschool offerings - group lessons starting at age 2 on piano, guitar (acoustic and electric), drums (acoustic and digital drum set), karaoke party! and violin!
Click here to go to their website
Ask about their afterschool offerings - group lessons starting at age 2 on piano, guitar (acoustic and electric), drums (acoustic and digital drum set), karaoke party! and violin!
Click here to go to their website
The project aimed to develop African drumming as a tool for inclusive arts education. It focuses on philosophy, creativity, indigenous musical concepts and functionality. The project explored African approaches to integrating all domains of Arts Education, focusing on the socio-cultural implications, humanistic imperatives, cultural diversity, Indigenous Knowledge Systems and models for supporting learning in indigenous contexts. These methods derived from the intrinsic concept of inclusivity as found in most old indigenous African musical arts practices: ‘The rationalisation of melodic range in Africa is informed by humanistic virtues – performance coerces all-inclusive participation, and as such, melodic range has to be within the capability of every human member of a community…’ (Nzewi M. 2007:113). Drumming is used as a means of harnessing creativity in learners, drawing from classroom practices that promote indigenous knowledge and values. The model employs the simultaneous use of drum singing, playing of various instruments, body percussion and dance movement to achieve the set objective.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
TAVARES, Fla. -- The Lake County school district is considering going to a four-day week for the next school year.
School district officials said the move could help the district save at least $5 million.
Lake County is considering moving to a 4-day school week to save about $5 million for the district. Would you support a shorter school week to save your school district money?
No other school district has gone to a four-day school week during the regular school year, although Marion and Polk counties are discussing it, said Lake County Schools spokesman Chris Patten.
Meanwhile, four-day summer school weeks are common.
Patten said the issue will be discussed at a workshop May 16. The next school board meeting is scheduled for Monday.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
TERRORISM & SCHOOL SAFETY: SCHOOL SAFETY ISSUES RELATED TO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ON THE UNITED STATES
On the heels of this news of osama bin laden's death only 4 months prior to the 10 year annivarsary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks...
TERRORISM & SCHOOL SAFETY: SCHOOL SAFETY ISSUES RELATED TO THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ON THE UNITED STATES
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, the responding public safety officials and our nation as a whole in the aftermath of the tragic terrorist attacks on Americans on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, and subsequent terrorism threats. As our nation moves forward with the war on terrorism, National School Safety and Security Services has received requests from school officials, parents and the media for terrorism and school safety issues to consider as they support their students, staff and school community during these difficult times. It important to remember that no single strategy, or even a collection of multiple strategies fits, all school and school-community situations, and that district and building specific guidelines for managing emergency situations must be individually developed, trained, tested and exercised. (Also see Legal Disclaimers and Copyright Notices.)
Items for discussion and consideration as schools develop their security and emergency/crisis plans may include:
The Terrorist Threat to Schools: Ostrich-Syndrome, Naysayers, and Reality
Heightened school security procedures during terrorist threats
Biological & chemical threats (including anthrax, mail handling)
General recommendations related to terrorism and school safety
National School Resource Officer surveys on terrorism & school safety
Additional information sources
The Terrorist Threat to Schools: Ostrich-Syndrome, Naysayers, and Reality
Although a terrorist attack upon a school in the United States may be improbable, the first step toward preparedness is admitting that it is at least possible that terrorists could strike a school or schools in our country. Even the U.S. Department of Education, a federal agency characterized for years by their denying and downplaying of the potential for a terror attack upon American schools, issued an advisory to schools in October of 2004 with recommendations for heightening security and emergency preparedness in light of the Beslan, Russia, school terror attack months earlier. (Click here to see U.S. Department of Education heightened security advisory in .pdf file format.)
Some consultants and trainers who are inexperienced in the school safety profession may be overly alarming on the issue of terrorism and schools. Some public officials, consultants, and trainers take a "company line, middle-of-the-road, and politically-correct" position of downplaying and completely dismissing the possibility of a terror attack on American schools because doing so is consistent with the wishes of the bureaucracies with which they are associated. And yet other self-proclaimed "experts" in anti-terrorism, emergency planning, and/or school safety appear to ride the politically-correct fence of talking out of both sides of their mouths: They talk about terrorism and schools when it serves their benefit (such as when they are paid to speak on the topic and/or to sell their overly-priced and questionably-beneficial products), while downplaying it at other times in an effort to please the official naysayers who provide them with funding elsewhere.
At National School Safety and Security Services, we believe that the key to successfully preparing school communities without creating panic is for school and public safety officials to be candid about the possibility that schools can be impacted by terrorism. Success in managing the issue also requires that officials communicate terrorism issues in a balanced and rational context, and that they educate their school communities on the roles that everyone plays in keeping schools and communities safe. Denial (aka: Ostrich-Syndrome) and inconsistent messages exacerbate, not reduce, fear and panic.
Frequently used weak arguments from the "naysayers" who misguidedly attempt to downplay the possibility of a terrorist attack on U.S. schools, along with our counterpoints to their self-serving denial, include:
Naysayers: "Terrorist attacks upon schools in the U.S. and abroad are statistically rare events. It has been an extremely rare event when terrorists attack a school."
Reality: The Columbine High School attack in 1999 was an extremely rare event which no one ever thought would or could happen. It was an attack in an American school at a level for which no prior precedent had been established. The impact of Columbine changed the landscape of the school safety profession forever, causing many schools to play "catch-up" with decades of neglect in security and emergency planning, while setting a new threshold for best practices in school safety.
The 9/11 terror attacks on America were extremely rare events which no one ever thought would or could happen. These were attacks on the U.S. at a level for which no prior precedent had been established. The impact of 9/11 changed the landscape of American homeland security forever, setting an unprecedented focus on heightened security and emergency preparedness measures comparable to no other time in American history.
To state or imply that we should ignore or downplay the possibility that terrorists would strike American schools defies logic and is contrary to the lessons learned on 9/11, at Columbine, in Beslan (Russia), and elsewhere. It is this mindset of denial and Ostrich-Syndrome (head-in-the-sand) that makes us most vulnerable. It is also a mindset contrary to the overall goals of our U.S. Homeland Security policy which encourages "thinking outside of the box" and being proactive to prevent a future terrorism attack, rather than looking for ways to rationalize that, "It can't happen here," until such an attack occurs again.
Naysayers: "Talking about the possibility of terrorist attacks upon schools only furthers the terrorists' goals of creating fear."
Reality: Talking about terrorists possibly using airplanes to attack American buildings did not instill the fear which occurred on and after 9/11. In fact, our failure to talk about the possibility of such an event before it occurred has been identified by many professionals as creating a climate which made us more vulnerable.
School and public safety officials nationwide now proactively pursue prevention programs, security measures, and emergency preparedness measures to prevent a future Columbine-like attack in their schools. The failure to talk about the possibility of such an incident occurring and the failure to take steps to prevent such an occurrence would be considered as "negligence" in the eyes of most educators, public safety officials, parents, media, and courts. Talking about the possibility in a balanced and rational way does not create fear, but instead it reduces fear, improves preparedness, and has resulted in many death plots being foiled thanks to a heightened awareness.
The naysayer mindset that talking about the possibility of terror attacks upon our schools furthers terrorist goals of creating fears is contrary to our overall national approach to homeland security. Our President, Congress, military, homeland security, and other federal officials talk regularly and openly about the potential for terrorists to strike our airlines, military facilities, government offices, and other American interests right here in the United States, and in turn our need to be appropriately prepared. If we followed the logic of the naysayers who claim we should not talk about terrorism and schools, we would also not be talking about the possibility of terror attacks on our airlines and other government facilities. In fact, using their logic, there would be no need for a Homeland Security Department...and it is this mindset which makes us the most vulnerable.
Fear is best managed by education, communication, and preparation ---- not denial. Educate school community members to define the issues and appropriate context. Communicate with school community members to discuss risk reduction, heightened security, and emergency preparedness strategies. Be prepared for both natural disasters and manmade acts of crime and violence by taking an "all-hazards" approach to school emergency planning.
Naysayers: "Money spent on preparing schools for terrorism is wasted money that could be better spent elsewhere. Just prepare our first responders in the community and they will take care of the schools if something happens."
Reality: Teachers, administrators, school support staff, School Resource Officers, school security personnel, and other professionals on the front lines of our nation's school are the first responders to any emergency which occurs in their schools. While we value our community public safety partners and we encourage our schools to work hand-in-hand with them in emergency planning, the reality is that those working inside a school will be the ones immediately responding to and managing an emergency incident while police, fire, EMS, and other community first responders are enroute. School officials will also be the individuals working with community first responders once they arrive and throughout the emergency incident. In fact, if an event occurs on the scale of the 9/11 terror attacks, school officials may be forced to manage a school-based emergency with minimal support from community first responders if these responders are tied up managing other aspects of the emergency elsewhere in the community and/or if they cannot get to the school. School officials will also be the individuals left to carry the school a long way through the recovery phase after an emergency.
Although no public budgets are unlimited and no "blank checks" exist for school security and emergency preparedness efforts, the trend in recent years to cut school safety budgets is disturbing. It is also counter to the direction America is going in heightening security and emergency preparedness efforts at other public and private facilities. It makes no sense that at a time when our nation's leaders have pushed to increase funding for protecting airlines, bridges, monuments, and even the hallways of Capitol Hill that they simultaneously cut funding to protect the children and teachers in the "soft target" hallways of America's schools.
Funding for school security and emergency planning should not only be spared from cuts, but should also be incrementally increased as we continue to increase our national defense and anti-terrorism preparedness in other public sectors.
A terror attack upon American schools would create fear and panic, disrupt the economy if the "business" side of school operations were shut down on a large scale, and instill a lack of confidence in our school and community leadership. Such terror tactics have already been employed elsewhere including attacks upon schools and school buses in the Middle East, and most recently the Beslan, Russia, school terror attack. While it may not be a probability that terrorists will strike our schools, we must acknowledge that it is a possibility and take reasonable steps to prevent and prepare for such an incident.
Heightened school security procedures during terrorist threats
A number of potential terrorist threats have been discussed ranging from the potential use of car/truck bombs to biological attacks. In addition to the recommendations above, schools should give serious consideration to additional heightened security procedures during times of terrorist threats including:
Prepared schools will train teachers and support staff, evaluate and refine security plans, and test/exercise school crisis plans.
Encourage school personnel to maintain a "heightened awareness" for suspicious activity and to report same. This may include suspicious vehicles on and around campus, suspicious persons in and around school buildings including those taking photographs or videotaping, suspicious packages around the building perimeter and/or in the school, and suspicious information seeking efforts by phone or by unknown "visitors."
Provide special attention to perimeter security and access control issues. Have clearly defined perimeters for schools through the use of fences, gates, environmental design, signage, and other professional security measures. Use designated parking areas especially for visitors and register staff and student vehicles. Provide supervision and monitoring of parking lots and outside areas as appropriate. Train custodial, maintenance, and grounds personnel on identifying and handling suspicious packages and items found on campus. Establish routine inspections of the building and grounds by trained facility personnel. Secure roof hatches and eliminate structural items that facilitate easy access to school roofs. Make sure that classroom windows are secured at the end of the school day. Utilize security technology and devices for monitoring and controlling exterior facilities as defined by professional security assessments.
Review staffing and supervision plans. Stress the importance of adult supervision before, during, and after school, both inside school buildings and on campus, and in common areas such as hallways, stairwells, restrooms, cafeterias, bus areas, and other high-traffic areas. Encourage staff to maintain a heightened awareness during recess, physical education classes, drop-off and dismissal, and other outside activities. Examine staffing levels and procedures for security personnel, school resource officers and other police personnel, and associated protection personnel.
Maintain a proactive effort of visitor access and control. Reduce the number of doors accessible from the outside to one designated entrance. Stress the importance of staff greeting and challenging strangers, and reporting suspicious individuals. Review security procedures for after-school and evening activities and building use. Utilize security technology and devices for monitoring and controlling interior facility access as defined by professional security assessments.
Verify the identity of service personnel and vendors visiting the school, including those seeking access to utilities, alarm systems, communications systems, maintenance areas, and related locations. Do not permit access and report suspicious individuals representing themselves as service or delivery personnel who cannot be verified. Maintain detailed and accurate records of service and delivery personnel including a log (signed in by school personnel) of the full names, organization name, vehicle information (as appropriate), and other identification information.
Evaluate security measures at school transportation facilities. Assess emergency plans involving buses and other transportation issues.
Secure access to utilities, boiler rooms, and other maintenance/facilities operations locations. Examine and enhance physical security measures related to outside access to HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, utility controls (electrical, gas, water, phone), and related facility operations mechanisms. Secure chemical and cleaning product storage areas, and maintain appropriate records of such items according to local, state, and federal guidelines.
Evaluate food and beverage service stock, storage, and protection procedures. Determine if schools have adequate water, food, and related supplies in the event that students and staff would have to be detained at the school for an extended period of time beyond normal school hours. Examine measures for securing access to food and beverage products and food service areas during normal food service periods and after hours.
Assess school health and medical preparedness. Evaluate school nurse staffing levels. Make sure that schools maintain an adequate number and level of emergency kits and medical supplies. Maintain a stock of at least three days worth of medications for students required to have medications at school. Consider offering first aid/ first responder training to faculty members who are interested in volunteering for such training so as to increase the number of trained individuals available to assist in the event of medical emergencies.
Conduct a status check of emergency communications mechanisms. Be sure that two-way radio units and cell phones are functioning, and have back-up batteries charged. Make sure that the public address system is fully functioning. Test the fire alarm system. Review procedures for emergency communications with parents, notify parents in advance how school officials will communicate with them in an emergency (media, district web site, etc.), discuss importance of parents not flocking to the school if directed during an active crisis, review family reunification procedures and communicate other relevant information to ease parent concerns.
Review procedures for mobilizing mental health services for students and staff in the event of a crisis. Plan in advance how adults will communicate with children in a time of crisis. Discuss approaches for age and developmentally appropriate communications with students about violence and threatening issues. Be familiar with community mental health resources for families and have plans for securing supplemental mental health services from outside of the school/district in a major crisis.
Evaluate and enforce employee screening procedures. Review guidelines for subcontractors and identify all individuals working on school property.
Implement "information security" programs. Evaluate the storage, access, and security of sensitive information. Create guidelines and conduct periodic assessments of school and district web sites to avoid posting of security-sensitive information.
Identify higher-risk facilities, organizations, and potential terrorist targets in the community surrounding schools. Such entities might include military facilities, government offices and facilities, nuclear power plants, airports and airport flight paths, railroads, chemical companies, etc. Develop appropriate security countermeasures and crisis preparedness planning guidelines accordingly.
Continue local field trips unless specific threat assessments suggest otherwise, using safety plans that include adequate supervision, communications capabilities, etc. Evaluate national travel decisions based upon ongoing threat assessments and common sense. International travel during war-time and terrorist acts is discouraged.
Develop, review, refine, and test crisis preparedness guidelines. Be sure to have guidelines for both natural disasters and acts of violence. Particular procedures for handling bombs, bomb threats, hostage situations, kidnappings, chemical and biological terrorism, and related information should be reviewed. Review with staff their specific roles and responsibilities consistent with your crisis guidelines. Identify back-up crisis team leaders in case normally assigned leaders are not at the building or are unable to lead.
Provide K-12 school-specific security, crime prevention, and crisis preparedness training to staff.
Biological and chemical threats (including anthrax, mail handling)
In addition to basic security and crisis preparedness guidelines noted above, school officials must also take into account current national threat trends regarding biological and chemical terrorism. School officials should encourage their school staff and communities to remain calm and not panic during these times. School leaders may wish to consider the following as a part of their risk-reduction and crisis preparedness planning:
Establish procedures for detecting and reporting unusual absence patterns, in particular sudden mass absences due to reported illnesses. Schools may be in one of the best positions to recognize early signs of such a terrorist attack via major increases in student illness rates. School and community officials should consider having a protocol for school officials to notify public health and/or other appropriate public safety personnel as soon as they detect an unusual occurrence.
Do not allow students to open school mail. Limit the opening of mail to one individual staff member. Have this person open school mail in a room separate from open, main office areas. Staff who wish to open mail with protective (latex-type) gloves should be allowed to do so if they desire. Educate school staff, especially the person who opens school mail, so that he/she is familiar with issues related to suspicious packages. See the U.S. Postal Service poster on suspicious mail and related updates at its site on anthrax related mail concerns.
Work with custodial and maintenance personnel to establish procedures for quickly shutting down heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems if necessary.
Review procedures for handling suspicious items such as envelopes with power substances that may be found in hallways, stairwells, restrooms and other areas of the school. Anticipate that, unfortunately, some hoax incidents may occur. However, all threats should be treated seriously. Firm, fair, and consistent consequences, both administratively and criminally, should be sought including for hoax scares and students should be informed of the seriousness of such offenses.
Review lockdown and evacuation procedures. Note that you may have to have a simultaneous lockdown of one section of the building while evacuating other parts of the school, so both lockdowns and evacuations may need to occur at the same time.
Create "Shelter in Place" plans to supplement lockdown and evacuation plans. Identify safe area in building to relocate students, preferably with no windows. Confer with local fire, HAZMAT, emergency management, and police officials for specific advice.
Create plans for bringing in students outside and where to locate them if contaminated (away from others), including discussing if/how you would have contaminated individuals shower and put on second set of stored clothes. Remember to have a procedure to shut down HVAC system as soon as possible, and discuss backup heating for winter and related other concerns. Custodial and maintenance staff should be a part of the school's crisis planning and response team.
A significant amount of discussion has evolved around having duct tape and plastic to seal windows, vents, doorways and related areas A number of officials have recommended having duct tape and plastic to cover windows and to seal off Shelter-in-Place areas. In the worst possible scenario and under the proper conditions, this is an extra resource schools may wish to have available. However, a number of school and safety officials have appropriately expressed concern about an over-emphasis being placed on this strategy. In particular, several school officials have stated that reviews of air circulation needs have suggested that individuals sheltered in areas designated for Shelter-in-Place in their schools would have a limited amount of air over a number of hours to survive under conditions where HVAC was shut down, areas sealed off, etc. Schools should consider this issue, evaluate their own unique environment and plan accordingly. No school should look at duct tape and plastic as a single, cure-all panacea for emergency planning. Schools may wish to prepare "Shelter-in-Place" kit materials in advance. This might include battery-operated AM/FM radios; flashlights with fresh batteries; bottled water and adequate food supply; towels; candles; matches; first-aid kit; medicines for students who normally have them at school; charged batteries for cell phones for school's crisis team; personal cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers; etc. Again, schools wishing to include duct tape and plastic for extreme situations may wish to do so if it is viewed in context and as a part of a broader preparedness plan.
Confer with HAZMAT (hazardous materials) officials, fire, emergency medical, law enforcement, emergency management, and other local, county, and/or state officials to establish specific response and prevention protocols, and to educate your school faculty, staff, crisis teams, and community on biological and chemical terrorism issues.
General recommendations related to terrorism and school safety
Specific needs will obviously vary based upon the location, local issues, and impact of unique factors influencing each school and school community. Some issues that school and community leaders may wish to consider during these difficult times include:
Many school and elected officials are afraid to talk about, and prepare for, terrorist attacks upon schools out of concern that it will create fear among parents and the broader school community. The exact opposite, however, is true. Fear is created by a lack of information and conflicting messages. Fear is best managed through education, communication and preparation. By not addressing these issues, we are actually creating more fear and panic among parents and school officials. The key rests in context, balance and reasonable efforts. Discussions with students must be age and developmentally appropriate.
Identify school and community mental health support services available to students and their families, and communicate the availability of these services to members of the school community.
Communicate openly and honestly with students. Attempt to maintain a sense of normalcy in school operations as best possible, while still providing adequate and appropriate opportunities for students to share their feelings, concerns, thoughts, etc. When communicating with students, mental health professionals typically suggest that adults: 1) Keep discussions age and developmentally-appropriate, 2) Let students know when they are having normal reactions to abnormal situations, 3) Include facts and be honest, 4) Reaffirm existing adult support of students, and 5) Reassure students of measures taken to keep them safe.
Review your school crisis guidelines and implement pertinent responses relevant to the conditions facing your school, as appropriate. Be sure that school crisis guidelines include lockdown and evacuation procedures, alternative evacuation sites, family reunification procedures, and related considerations for use in any natural or manmade crisis situation.
Maintain a balanced, common-sense approach to school safety and security. School and safety officials should maintain a heightened awareness for potential spin-off incidents. In light of the nature of the national incidents, particular awareness and preparation for possible spin-off incidents involving bomb threats, suspicious devices, and hate crimes may be worthy of consideration. It would also be prudent for school officials to develop, refine, and/or review with staff their policies and procedures related to school threat assessment and threat management.
School officials may wish to review security issues related to access control, perimeter visibility and security, and other crime prevention measures. The importance of adult supervision before, during, and after school, both inside school buildings and on campus, should also be reviewed and reinforced. Involve all school staff, including support personnel such as secretaries, custodians, and bus drivers, in your school safety review.
Communicate hotline numbers and other methods that students, parents, staff, and members of the school community can use to report safety and related concerns.
Use school district call-in lines, web sites, and other information sources that can be accessed by the school community to provide ongoing information to the school community.
9/11 Anniversary Considerations
Many school officials, parents and others in school-communities are concerned around the anniversary time of any national tragedy. In consideration of the first 9/11 anniversary date, we offered the following recommendations for school officials to consider. In subsequent anniversary years, the attention to the anniversary date will likely not be as great. However, we will leave these recommendations posted for reference.
Hold a meeting with all teachers, support staff and administrators to discuss guidelines and resources for classroom instruction, mental health services, heightened security procedures and to review school crisis guidelines prior to September 11th. Discussions could include issues related to age-appropriate communication, limitation of television viewing that may include excessive revisiting of graphic sites from the terrorist attacks, classroom curricula and discussion parameters, service learning, and other related topics.
Establish a heightened sense of security in and around the school while not going to extremes unless specific threats warrant extreme measures. Work with local public safety agencies to coordinate special attention needs and to review emergency plans. Examples of heightened school security procedures are listed above.
Encourage a heightened awareness among administrators, faculty members and support staff as to the importance of adult visibility throughout the campus. School officials should be prepared for threats, hoax incidents (such as anthrax scares), and other "spin-off" security concerns that could result from pranksters and others who may capitalize on the sensitivity of the day. A serious and timely response should be given to all incidents, real and hoax, with appropriate consequences for all inappropriate behavior.
Make the availability of counseling and psychological services known to students, staff and parents. Be sure that adequate mental health services are available, if needed. Acknowledge and monitor reactions of faculty and staff, too, in terms of being sensitive to their anniversary reactions.
Be sensitive to security concerns if considering school field trips on September 11th.
Make available and advertise mechanisms for students, parents and others in the school community to report any safety concerns.
Communicate with parents and members of the school community prior to September 11th to let them know that their school is aware of the sensitivity of the anniversary and that measures are being taken to acknowledge special needs associated with the anniversary. Media liaison officials should be designated for the school and these individuals should be prepared to address media inquiries, without going into specific details that would compromise school safety, regarding how school officials are handling the anniversary. Consider limiting direct access to students by media seeking to interview them about 9/11 so as not to overwhelm students.National surveys of School Resource Officers
The second largest professional industry survey of school-based officers was conducted in July of 2002 byNational School Safety and Security Services. This was the first known survey of school-based police officers on terrorism and school safety related issues.
The survey found 95% of responding school-based police officers indicating that their schools are vulnerable to terrorist attacks and 79% stating that their schools are not adequately prepared for such attacks. School officers also report significant gaps in school security and emergency preparedness measures at their schools, and limited training and support received themselves for preventing and preparing terrorist attacks upon schools. See our page on the 2002 National Survey of School Resource Officers which includes survey highlights and a download link to the full report.
The third annual survey in the June/July of 2003 also addressed terrorism preparedness issues. Over 90% of the survey respondents believe that schools are “soft targets” for potential terrorist attacks. Over 76% of the officers feel that their schools are not adequately prepared to respond to a terrorist attack upon their schools.And over 51% of the respondents’ schools do not have specific, formal guidelines to follow when there is a change in the national homeland security color code/federal terrorism warning system. See our pages on the 2003National Survey of School Resource Officers which includes survey highlights and a download link to the full report.