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Benefits of Arts Education

THE POWER OF GROUP SINGING: An Interview with Music Therapist Alison Talmage

Silo Theatre

Alison Talmage is a Music Therapist who leads The CeleBRation Choir - an initiative of the University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research. It’s a social singing group for people living with neurological conditions. 

We talked to Alison about music therapy, her choir and why singing together is so good for us. 

TELL US ABOUT MUSIC THERAPY AND WHAT THAT INVOLVES:

There are lots of definitions. A good, simple, working definition is that it’s the use of music experiences within a shared therapeutic relationship. It can be for people with developmental needs, rehabilitation needs or mental health needs. The methods we use depend on the goals and needs of the person - whether it’s to do with communication, pyscho-social, physical rehabilitation or spiritual needs. It’s very broad. We also promote music for well being and for people to use music in their lives for themselves. Read more...


No Vacation From Practicing For Young Musicians

The Wall Street Journal

Tips for keeping children engaged in music and playing their instruments over the summer break. Read more...


A Musical Fix for American Schools
Research shows that music training boosts IQ, focus and persistence

The Wall Street Journal

By Joanne Lipman - American education is in perpetual crisis. Our students are falling ever farther behind their peers in the rest of the world. Learning disabilities have reached epidemic proportions, affecting as many as one in five of our children. Illiteracy costs American businesses $80 billion a year.

Many solutions have been tried, but few have succeeded. So I propose a different approach: music training. A growing body of evidence suggests that music could trump many of the much more expensive “fixes” that we have thrown at the education system.

Plenty of outstanding achievers have attributed at least some of their success to music study. Stanford University’s Thomas Sudhof, who won the Nobel Prize in medicine last year, gave credit to his bassoon teacher. Albert Einstein, who began playing the violin at age 6, said his discovery of the theory of relativity was “the result of musical perception.”

Until recently, though, it has been a chicken-and-egg question: Are smart, ambitious people naturally attracted to music? Or does music make them smart and ambitious? And do musically trained students fare better academically because they tend to come from more affluent, better educated families?

New research provides some intriguing answers. Music is no cure-all, nor is it likely to turn your child into a Nobel Prize winner. But there is compelling evidence that it can boost children’s academic performance and help fix some of our schools’ most intractable problems.

Read more...


Musical training boosts children's brainpower, new study finds

CTVNEWS

Researchers at the Boston Children's Hospital worked with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and found early musical training enhances the areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning.

Also known as cognitive control or supervisory attentional system, "executive functioning" refers to brain management, not unlike the corresponding corporate term.

This is the top of the hierarchy in terms of brain organization, for executive functioning enables information processing and retention, regulates behavior, and is responsible for problem solving and planning, among other cognitive processes.

Read more...


Video: Music & the Young Brain: Beatriz Ilari at TEDxYouth@Caltech

Youtube video

Beatriz Ilari is Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Southern California (USC), in Los Angeles, where she teaches graduate courses in music education and music psychology. She holds degrees from the University of São Paulo, Brazil (B.A.), Montclair State University, USA (M.A. -- violin) and McGill University, Canada (PhD). Dr. Ilari uses a variety of approaches to study musical development and growth of infants, children and adolescents. She has conducted research with babies and children from different parts of the world including the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Japan, and Mexico. Her research appears in many important journals including Arts Education Policy Review, Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Music Education, Update, and Early Child Development and Care, among others. She is currently co-editor of the International Journal of Music Education -- Research, and has just initiated an exciting interdisciplinary project on children's music learning and brain development with researchers from USC's Brain and Creativity Institute.


Is there a link between arts education and entrepreneurship? This study says yes.

michigan radio

A recent study coming out of Michigan State University reaffirms the need for one educational discipline that’s been continuously cut over the past decade — the arts.
Researchers found a startling link between taking part in arts and crafts activities as a child and patents received or businesses launched as an adult.
According to that study, which examined MSU Honors STEM students between 1990-1995, 94% of STEM graduates had musical training in their lives, compared to 34% of all adults.
Joining us is one of the authors of the study, Rex LaMore, the director of the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development. Cynthia Taggart, a professor of Music Education at Michigan State also talked to us.

Listen to the full interview...


The Zen Life - Half-pint Style
Holistic methods keep South Shore youngsters healthy

South Shore Living - Sara Eberle
When you think of holistic healing, you might envision an aging yogi sitting cross-legged on a mat in India chanting prayers for longevity. In reality, holistic healing is much more close to home, with South Shore families embracing modern versions of ancient techniques for all sorts of mind-body remedies, from soothing kids with serious physical ailments and shyness to boosting immune systems and curbing allergies.

Ommmmmm.....Yoga Days Feel So Good To

Meg Durkin, the primary food groups for kids are exercise, spirituality, school work, and relationships with family and friends.

"Secondary foods are the actual foods we eat," says Durkin, owner of Yoga Magic 4 Kids, a popular roving yoga program on the South Shore. "The theory is if the primary "foods" are out of whack, it doesn't matter what you eat."

Durkin is also a family health coach, which she practices privately out of an office at the Cohasset Yoga Center, to help parents and kids develop a balanced lifestyle. Between Durkin's wellness expertise and 15 weekly yoga classes at eight different South Shore locations, including South Shore Conservatory in Hingham and YMCA in Hanover, families have boundless opportunities to bring happy, healing energy into their lives. Read more...


Art Makes You Smart

The New York Times
FOR many education advocates, the arts are a panacea: They supposedly increase test scores, generate social responsibility and turn around failing schools. Most of the supporting evidence, though, does little more than establish correlations between exposure to the arts and certain outcomes. Research that demonstrates a causal relationship has been virtually nonexistent.

A few years ago, however, we had a rare opportunity to explore such relationships when the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Bentonville, Ark. Through a large-scale, random-assignment study of school tours to the museum, we were able to determine that strong causal relationships do in fact exist between arts education and a range of desirable outcomes.

Students who, by lottery, were selected to visit the museum on a field trip demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of social tolerance, exhibited greater historical empathy and developed a taste for art museums and cultural institutions. Read more...


Is Music the Key to Success?

The New York Times
CONDOLEEZZA RICE trained to be a concert pianist. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player. The hedge fund billionaire Bruce Kovner is a pianist who took classes at Juilliard.

Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?

The connection isn't a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements.

The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously. Read more...


Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing

The New York Times
MUSIC is not tangible. You can't eat it, drink it or mate with it. It doesn't protect against the rain, wind or cold. It doesn't vanquish predators or mend broken bones. And yet humans have always prized music — or well beyond prized, loved it.

In the modern age we spend great sums of money to attend concerts, download music files, play instruments and listen to our favorite artists whether we're in a subway or salon. But even in Paleolithic times, people invested significant time and effort to create music, as the discovery of flutes carved from animal bones would suggest.

So why does this thingless "thing" — at its core, a mere sequence of sounds — hold such potentially enormous intrinsic value?

The quick and easy explanation is that music brings a unique pleasure to humans. Of course, that still leaves the question of why. But for that, neuroscience is starting to provide some answers.

More than a decade ago, our research team used brain imaging to show that music that people described as highly emotional engaged the reward system deep in their brains — activating subcortical nuclei known to be important in reward, motivation and emotion. Subsequently we found that listening to what might be called "peak emotional moments" in music — that moment when you feel a "chill" of pleasure to a musical passage — causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, an essential signaling molecule in the brain. Read more...


Why musical genius comes easier to early starters

NewScientist.com
Good news for pushy parents. If you want your child to excel musically, you now have better justification for starting their lessons early. New evidence comes from brain scans of 36 highly skilled musicians, split equally between those who started lessons before and after the age of 7, but who had done a similar amount of training and practice.

MRI scans revealed that the white matterSpeaker in the corpus callosum – the brain region that links the two hemispheres – had more extensive wiring and connectivity in the early starters. The wiring of the late starters was not much different from that of non-musician control participants. This makes sense as the corpus callosum aids speed and synchronisation in tasks involving both hands, such as playing musical instruments. Read more...


Top 10 skills children learn from the arts

The Answer Sheet by Valerie Strauss/Lisa Phillips, The Washington Post (January 22, 2013)
You don’t find school reformers talking much about how we need to train more teachers in the arts, given the current obsession with science, math, technology and engineering (STEM), but here’s a list of skills that young people learn from studying the arts. They serve as a reminder that the arts — while important to study for their intrinsic value — also promote skills seen as important in academic and life success. (That’s why some people talk  about changing the current national emphasis on STEM to STEAM.) This was written by Lisa Phillips is an author, blog journalist, arts and leadership educator, speaker and business owner. To learn about Lisa’s book, “The Artistic Edge: 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brain World,” click here. This appeared on the ARTSblog, a program of Americans for the Arts. Read more...


Making Music Together Connects Brains

ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2012)
Anyone who has ever played in an orchestra will be familiar with the phenomenon: the impulse for one's own actions does not seem to come from one's own mind alone, but rather seems to be controlled by the coordinated activity of the group. And indeed, interbrain networks do emerge when making music together -- this has now been demonstrated by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. The scientists used electrodes to trace the brain waves of guitarists playing in duets. They also observed substantial differences in the musicians' brain activity, depending upon whether musicians were leading or following their companion. Read more...


Is art therapy the answer for dementia?

by Karen Weintraub, Boston Globe
DEDHAM — Carla shook a tambourine, while Dorothy played the xylophone and Leni tapped her palms gently on an African drum. Vivian declined an instrument, but shimmied her shoulders when the music moved her. Their walkers stood ready and their voices were wispy with age, but the eight group members sang with purpose, remembering every word of the Doris Day classic without prompting. "We were sailing along, on Moonlight Bay. We could hear the voices ringing . . .," they sang. When they had finished "love's old sweet song" and given themselves a round of applause, Clara proclaimed the group "ready for Symphony Hall." Read more...


Early Music Lessons Have Longtime Benefits

by PERRI KLASS, M.D
When children learn to play a musical instrument, they strengthen a range of auditory skills. Recent studies suggest that these benefits extend all through life, at least for those who continue to be engaged with music. But a study published last month is the first to show that music lessons in childhood may lead to changes in the brain that persist years after the lessons stop. Researchers at Northwestern University recorded the auditory brainstem responses of college students — that is to say, their electrical brain waves — in response to complex sounds. The group of students who reported musical training in childhood had more robust responses — their brains were better able to pick out essential elements, like pitch, in the complex sounds when they were tested. And this was true even if the lessons had ended years ago. Read more...


The Myth of 'Practice Makes Perfect'

It's not how much you practice but whether you're quick to fix your errors that leads to mastery

by Annie Murphy Paul
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice. In a groundbreaking paper published in 1993, cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson added a crucial tweak to that old joke. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Deliberate practice. It's not a minor change. The difference between ineffective and effective practice means the difference between mediocrity and mastery. If you're not practicing deliberately — whether it's a foreign language, a musical instrument or any other new skill — you might as well not practice at all. Read more...


Finding the Right Notes, The Second Time Around

Taking up a musical instrument again in later life can lead to some surprising lessons

By DIANE COLE
Many a man or woman upon reaching a certain age will splurge on a Ferrari, trade in city life for a new start as a country squire or wed a trophy spouse. My gift to myself was getting back to middle C. Nine years ago, at age 50, I signed up for piano lessons. Again. I first began playing when I was 8. From then on, music—from Bach to Broadway to the Beatles—filled my days. But as I passed from young adulthood into my 30s and 40s, the only keyboard I found myself using regularly was the one connected to my computer. In my dreams, I still cherished the fantasy of jamming with my two favorite "Arts"—Rubinstein and Tatum. But the reality was, my fingers were rusty. Then, a couple of years after my husband's death, a music-loving friend had an intuition: returning to the ivories, she said, would be just the thing to help my sagging spirit sing. Call her son's piano teacher, she insisted; you won't regret it. Read More...


Music class lifts teen from life of silence

By James H. Burnett III, Globe Staff
In a slightly chilly basement studio beneath Boston's Citi Performing Arts Center, Jimmy Nguyen leapt and clapped excitedly. The skinny 15-year-old, nicknamed "Superstar'' by his friends, was responding to a drama teacher's warm-up cues. A jump and a clap! … A higher jump! Five minutes later, warm-ups over, Nguyen began to sing Justin Bieber's "U Smile.'' Several teenage girls whooped exhortations: "Go Jimmy!'' "Yeah, Jimmy!'' "Do your thing!'' Before you say "so what?'' about yet another singing, dancing kid in this generation of "Glee'' and "High School Musical,'' you should know that, until a couple of months ago, friends, family, and teachers alike thought Jimmy was probably mute, possibly autistic. Read more...