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Archive for the ‘Your Brain on Music’ Category

It has been said that “without music, life would be a mistake”. It is definitely a mistake to be eliminating music from the lives of public school students as it has been scientifically proven (for those that need the numbers to be convinced) that music benefits the mind, body and spirit in countless ways and is at the core of what it means to be human.
In this artistshousemusic.org interview, Roger H. Brown, President of Berklee College of Music, gives a passionate defense of music education. Definitely worth the listen! Art above by http://www.nameportraits.com/

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I wrote about Jill Bolte Taylor in my personal blog. Jill is a neuroanatomist who suffered a massive stroke on the left side of her brain in 1996. “She observed her own mind completely deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life, all within the space of four brief hours. In her book My Stroke of Insight , Taylor shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery, and the sense of omniscient understanding she gained from this unusual and inspiring voyage out of the abyss of a wounded brain.” (from her book) For this reason, I sent her a Luna Phoenix guitar.
In this amazing “Ode to the Brain”, Jill joins Carl Sagan, Robert Winston, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Bill Nye, and Oliver Sacks in celebrating the human brain. The material sampled for this video comes from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk, Vilayanur Ramachandran’s TED Talk, Bill Nye’s Brain episode, BBC’s “The Human Body”, Oliver Sachs’ TED Talk, Discovery Channel’s “Human Body: Pushing the Limits”, and more.

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The US has radically cut back on the music classes to focus on math and science citing our slippage in international education ratings. First of all, it is interesting to note that, according to NAMM’s website, the world’s top academic countries consistently place a high value on music education.

Secondly, in the latest report by the Brookings Institution, scholar Tom Loveless notes that the notion of America on the downward track is a myth. The data show that we have been mediocre all along, as far back as 1964.

Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings, says in his annual report on American Education:
“The United States never led the world. It was never No. 1 and has never been close to No. 1 on international math tests. Or on science tests, for that matter. It is more accurate to say that the United States has always trailed the world on math tests.”
This is not exactly good news, but context is important. If we have managed to be the world’s most powerful country, politically, economically and militarily, for the last 47 years despite our less than impressive math and science scores, maybe that flaw is not as important as film documentaries and political party platforms claim. (from “The truth in education: U.S. was never No. 1 by Jay Mathews, Washington Post ,Wednesday, February 23, 2011)

Since the study of music results in higher SAT scores as well as higher scores across the board, cutting music is totally counterproductive. So, pass this information on……dispel the myths and help bring music back into our schools where it belongs!!!!!!!

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With music education being cut from our schools, it is more important than ever
that we understand the amazing benefits of music. Please read this and pass it on.

Twelve Benefits of Music Education

1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. It is thought that brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.

2. There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day.

3. Students of the arts learn to think creatively and to solve problems by imagining various solutions, rejecting outdated rules and assumptions. Questions about the arts do not have only one right answer.

4. Recent studies show that students who study the arts are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.

5. A study of the arts provides children with an internal glimpse of other cultures and teaches them to be empathetic towards the people of these cultures. This development of compassion and empathy, as opposed to development of greed and a “me first” attitude, provides a bridge across cultural chasms that leads to respect of other races at an early age.

6. Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student’s own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources.

7. In music, a mistake is a mistake; the instrument is in tune or not, the notes are well played or not, the entrance is made or not. It is only by much hard work that a successful performance is possible. Through music study, students learn the value of sustained effort to achieve excellence and the concrete rewards of hard work.

8. Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.

9. Music provides children with a means of self-expression. Now that there is relative security in the basics of existence, the challenge is to make life meaningful and to reach for a higher stage of development. Everyone needs to be in touch at some time in his life with his core, with what he is and what he feels. Self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression.

10. Music study develops skills that are necessary in the workplace. It focuses on “doing,” as opposed to observing, and teaches students how to perform, literally, anywhere in the world. Employers are looking for multi-dimensional workers with the sort of flexible and supple intellects that music education helps to create as described above. In the music classroom, students can also learn to better communicate and cooperate with one another.

11. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. A little anxiety is a good thing, and something that will occur often in life. Dealing with it early and often makes it less of a problem later. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.

12. An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.

courtesy of Children’s Music Workshop

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I came across a statement that black holes emit the sound of B flat and was instantly intrigued. A Google search using the words “B flat and black holes” resulted in 291,000 reputable results with poetic titles such as “Black Hole Strikes Deepest Musical Note Ever Heard” http://www.space.com, Black Holes Singing in B Flat?” MSNBC, “Black Hole Hums B Flat” BBC news.

In September 2003, astronomers at NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory found what can be described as sound waves in B flat emanating from a supermassive black hole. The black hole can be seen in the Perseus cluster of galaxies located 250 million light years from Earth. But this is not a B flat you or I can hear. It is 57 octaves below middle C. A piano, by comparison, contains only seven octaves. So if a black hole hums, it hums at a frequency a million billion times lower than you can hear.

Somehow I think this little know fact has not gotten the attention it deserves! Hopefully an attentive reader will be creatively challenged by the possible implications.

Bb 2.0 is a an amazing collaborative music and spoken word project conceived by Darren Solomon from Science for Girls. The videos can be played simultaneously — the soundtracks will work together, and the mix can be adjusted with the individual volume sliders. Deep play!!!!!!!

Click here to see this project in action!

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Is it the breathless sound of angels or the soundtrack when breaking through to Nirvana? Neither…..it’s just Justin Biebert’s “U Smile” slowed down 800%.

Like it? Want to make your favorite songs into your own ambient chill-out music? Watch this video and have fun!!!!

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I recently read the book Musicophilia “Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks, a physician, best-selling author, and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. What fascinated and affected me on a deep level was the profound effect that music has on a human being and how defining it may be crucial to defining who we are.

The first video is Oliver Sacks talking about one of the subjects in his book:
Clive Wearing, a British musician who developed total amnesia except for his music and recognition of his wife. An amazing testament to the power of both music and love. The second video is footage of Clive Wearing himself. The video of Clive is heartbreaking to watch, but the transformation that comes over him when he is in the familiar stream of music, which not only survived his illness but survived it intact, speaks to the deep level that music lives in us. I will be featuring other segments from this fascinating book in future posts.

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