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    Watch 3-year-old Sing Nicky Minaj on Ellen – So Cute!

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    After an adorable YouTube video went viral showing little 3-year-old Dustin was upset that he couldn’t sing a Nicky Minaj song because of the “bad” words, Ellen invites him to sing the “clean” version of his song on her show.  It is impressive that a 3yo has the language skills to keep up with a song with so many words.  He seems to have a sophisticated understanding of our culture and how to express himself – saying in his original video that he would like to sing the clean version of the song but he can’t “because I’m crying.”  It’s so cute that he realizes at his young age that he has been overcome by his emotions – something that we all experience universally no matter what age.

    The Music Junction starts piano students at age 4, and voice students around the same time.  Children should be exposed to music education as early as age 2, but group classes are best for the toddler age category.  Having a 1/2hr private lesson can be straining before age 4.  But you can see at Dustin’s age how close he is to hitting correct pitches and memorizing lyrics.  By age 4 these skills are developed enough to benefit from private lessons.  Sometimes – perhaps in Dustin’s case – at age 3 a student could be ready for private lessons.  If the parent feels that their child could easily stay focused long enough work one-on-one with a teacher for a 1/2hr, then that is the best judge.

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    Music Helps Learn New Languages

    It’s no secret that songs can help students memorize information – starting as early as the A, B, C’s song, set to a Mozart melody that is also used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.  The educational cartoon “Veggie Tales” is entirely dedicated to teaching through music, with songs written for information as complicated as the entire Bill of Rights text.  But many may not be aware that music is a great way to learn new languages.  According to author Susanna Zaraysky, who speaks 7 languages and wrote the book “Language is Music”, listening to music with lyrics written in the language you would like to learn is a powerful tool in becoming multilingual.  The technique mimics the way a baby learns their native language, listening to the people around them speak during their first years of life before starting to use the language themselves.

    “You do have to learn grammar eventually,” says Zaraysky in her Q&A on EveryDayLanguageLearner.com, “But music is absolutely key in learning languages. I speak seven languages and listening to lyrical music in these languages was fundamental to my being able to copy the melody of these languages and remember pronunciation and vocabulary.”

    This is something that can also be incorporated into private voice lessons.  Voice students who would like to work on pronouncing words in another language can get great practice out of singing songs in that language.   There’s a similar benefit for students speaking English as a second language: students from other countries who would like to learn an “American Standard” dialect can use English language voice pieces to practice that accent.  In general, voice lessons teach students to have more control over their voice – which of course means that they can sing more prettily, but also that they can speak more clearly, and manipulate their speaking voice more easily, for language learning.

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    FAQ about Voice Changes in Boys – What is Happening to My Voice?

    Going through a voice change can feel disconcerting and forlorn for young boys.  Singing Consultant Jenevora Williams published a great FAQ for young male voice students to understand what is happening with their voices and what to expect.

    Q What happens when your voice breaks?
    A Firstly- don’t talk about breaking- there’s no damage occurring. Your larynx is growing bigger. In a boy, it grows by about 60%. A bigger larynx makes a lower sound.
    Q How will I know when it is happening?
    A The process begins at the same time as other changes. If you have had a sudden growth spurt, your larynx will be doing the same.

    Q What age will I be?
    A The average age for the start of voice change is 12.5. It can happen at any time from 10 to 15.
    Q Can it happen overnight?
    A Nothing can grow that quickly! It normally takes about two years but if it is happening gradually, you may not notice it for a while and then it could take you by surprise.
    Q Can I slow it down if I carry on singing treble?
    A No. It can only be slowed down by severe malnutrition, artificial hormones, or irreversible surgery; none of which are recommended! You can learn to use other muscles in the larynx to adapt to the growth and to continue singing high but this can be very damaging in the longer term. Don’t do it – go with the flow!
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    Watch Amazing Grace sung in Overtones (the voice sings 2 notes at the same time!)

    This is a neat example of overtone singing – a special vocal placement that allows a singer to create a note that actually has a higher 2nd pitch, which is voiced simultaneously with the lower note.  When you listen to it – make sure to listen carefully for the higher note to hear the melody – the lower note never changes.  In this example, the singer, Yuichi Tuba, creates a lower note that stays constant, and then manipulates his inner mouth shape to change the higher note into a serious of pitches that creates the Amazing Grace melody. If you would like to see Yuichi Tuba‘s tutorial on how to do overtone singing yourself, click here.

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    How Does Music Therapy Help Autism?

    NaturalHealth365 reports:

    Many tasks such as verbal skills or visual skills are clearly ‘left’ brain or ‘right’ brain; however listening to or playing music requires the use of both sides of the brain. The right side of the brain is responsible for musical tone, natural rhythm and musical passion while the left side of the brain handles musical melody, musical rhythm and tempo as well as musical notes. So how does this help with autism?

    Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. Martha R. Herbert, states “Brain cells need to follow a regular rhythm to produce a response in the brain. For people with autism, there is less coordination of this rhythm from one point to another. Music helps by creating an organized and regular stimulus to the brain that helps the brain get organized to keep track of the rhythm.”

    Can music improve communication skills in children?

    According to Empirical Musicology Review which published a German paper that looked at the impact of music on children with autism, two major areas of improvement are noted when music therapy is started on children with autism. First, communication and language skills are improved in as few as ten music therapy sessions. They found a significant positive relationship between musical vocal skills and nonmusical speech production skills and researchers believe this is because music bypasses speech and language barriers in individuals with autism.

    Second, music therapy helps to improve socio-behavior skills – such as reducing off-task behaviors; problematic classroom behavior; emotion recognition; improving eye contact and increasing the initiation of interactions by children with autism. Researchers have found that rhythmic entrainment is the most helpful for improving social behavior because it helps the mind and body to relax and re-entrains the body to its natural rhythmic patterns.

    A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis states that music therapy can help dramatically reduce vocal stereotypy (repetitive singing, snorting, and slurring) in children with autism.

    (more…)

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    Watch “I’ll Be There” Played on a Kitchen Appliance Drum Set by Percussionist Glen Kotche

    This is a neat performance by Glen Kotche demonstrating how anything can become an instrument – even the kitchen sink.  Delta Faucet says “To demonstrate the precise control of Touch2O Technology, Delta Faucet developed a custom “drum kit” along with the Chicago-based percussionist and composer Glenn Kotche, best known for his involvement in the band Wilco. In this 30-second TV commercial, Glenn “plays” the touch faucets to re-create one of the most popular songs of the 1960s, “Reach Out, I’ll be There”. Precisely in tune with every touch. Touch2O Technology. The First of its Kind.”

    In our blog post about Warren Olney’s interview on musicians in the digital age, we discuss the difficulties for musicians to earn income from their albums with dissipating CD sales and small returns on music streaming and the digital market.  But Glen Kotche’s partnership with Delta Faucet demonstrates a different income avenue for musicians – commercials and advertising.  The commercial industry employs many composers and instrumentalists – who write underscores to accompany the video and record original compositions.  But this commercial for Delta Faucet is particularly special because it showcases Kotche’s talents and creates exposure for him.  It’s a great opportunity for Kotche.

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    The Circle of Growth and Dr. Rinehart

    Dr. Carroll Rinehart from Tuscon, Arizona has been working in child music education his entire career, which has extended now into his 80’s.  He created the textbook series “Music! Words! Opera!” designed for music teachers to make opera accessible for kids.  His program even includes having children perform their own operas!   Rinehart believes opera helps students focus on the storytelling aspect of music.   “In acquainting children with opera as an expressive medium, they acquire basic understanding of character, setting, and plot. As the lessons proceed logically and sequentially, language skills are exercised and sharpened. In the process, children come to enjoy opera as a powerful form of storytelling.”

    Through his research on child education, Dr. Rinehart created the Circle of Growth to show us how educators can most effectively facilitate growth for their students.  “Building first on TRUST, the child gains the courage to risk creative thought.  Upon receiving AFFIRMATION, the child experiences growth in self-esteem.  GROWTH then inspires future trust, which continues the process.  The cycle repeats as the child gains self-confidence and eventually the ability to become an adult who thinks for himself”

    “All learning takes place at the edge of risk,” says Dr.  Rinehart.  Another way of saying this might be: “We learn best when we are able to risk showing our lack of knowledge by questioning and pondering.”

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    Watch “Waterfall” performed in front of an actual Waterfall! by The Piano Guys

    A piano goes where no piano has gone before!  This is a beautiful piece performed by pianist/songwriter John Schmidt.  How did they transport that grand piano to the middle of nowhere?  That’s part of their specialty.  The Piano Guys are a group of “guys” who put together beautiful videos like this one and live performances.  “What do you get when you mix up a marketing genius that does video, a studio engineer that writes music, a pianist that had a successful solo career, and a cellist that does pretty much everything? The Piano Guys: a miraculous meeting of “guys” with the same intrinsic purpose – to make a positive impact in the lives of people all over the world through music videos.” Their vision “is to create music and videos that inspire & uplift. Whatever we do, we put our heart and souls into every note and frame.”

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    Watch a Funny Classical Rendition of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” by Igudesman and Joo

    The hilarious classical comedy duo Igudesman and Joo perform a barely distinguishable version of Ticket to Ride in the guise of a silly soprano aria.  Hyung-ki Joo gives a wonderful performance as both the soprano voice and piano accompanist.   Their new show, “A Little Nightmare Music,” is on tour across the world this year, ending in the US this fall and winter.  For more information & videos in our previous blog entry about Igudesman and Joo, click here.

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    Create Your Own Music Awareness Campaign

    Are you a parent or concerned adult who feels passionate about the benefits of music education for our local kids?  If you’ve read through this blog and seen the enormous amount of research and studies showing all the ways music improves lives, I’m sure you are.  But many parents in our communities don’t realize what their children are being deprived of when our school systems slash their music education budgets, and programs disappear right underneath our noses.  DoSomething.Org gives great tips on how to spread awareness in your community:

    There are tons of people out there who don’t know much about music education and its benefits. Make some catchy flyers so people can be in the know and learn how they can make a difference too.

    Double Check

    • Are you allowed to post your signs around school or on telephone poles and community bulletin boards? If so, go for it! If not, see if you can pass out flyers at your town hall, public library, a local business or at school.

    Do Some Research

    Include Local Info

    • Find out about music education in your area. Are music programs offered in your school or community center? Is there a symphony or orchestra that offers classes to young people? Call and ask around. Include this local info on your posters.

    Include Testimonials

    • See if you can get a quote from an expert. Call your local university and track down a professor. Speak to a musician who can attest to how music helped him or her in school. Include it in your campaign. Real stories are powerful!

    Use Images

    • Pictures can add a personal connection between the viewer and the issue. Feature photos of students and local musicians or your musician role models.

    Power in People

    • Now that you’ve got all this info, get some friends together to help you design and complete the posters or flyers. They can help you put them up when you’re done.

    Variety is Key

    Keep in mind, that in order to make this campaign effective, you have to vary your strategy. So think about making a few different kinds of signs:

    • Small flyers to pass out to people
    • Big, colorful posters to post on telephone polls: you want these to stand out because people will be driving and/or walking by them so you want to grab their attention.
    • Informative flyers to post on cork boards or town message boards.

    Find a time when people will be most open to hearing about music education.

    • Consider the beginning of the school year, when everyone is deciding on what subjects they will take.
    • March is Music in our School Month!
    • If you’ve missed the best dates, don’t hesitant to get started right now.

    Be Bold

    • Think of strange places you can put up posters and see if you can get permission to post them there. Marketers have put ads up in odd places because it’s an effective tactic. Like the doors in bathroom stalls of restaurants, cafes, and/or even in restrooms of your local bus or train station. Try it out!

    Post and Repost

    • While going out one day and posting is great, keep in mind that weather may damage posters so you’ll want to go out periodically and repost your signs. You also won’t catch everyone in one day so schedule a few days to go out and distribute fliers.

    The Extra Mile

    You can also recruit speakers to come in and speak about music education at your:

    • school
    • church
    • community center

    Remember that musician you spoke to about how music changed their life? Invite them to speak and/or ask them to suggest someone.

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