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    Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

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    We’ve all heard the phrase before “practice makes perfect“. It sounds nice but is it actually true? Sometimes, not entirely; not even perfect practice makes perfect.

    Studies show that the most effective way to learn quickly is varied practice. I like to think of this as approaching a task from every angle. Practice the task repeatedly, yes, but add a small variation each time.

    When a student is learning new musical material this approach is extremely helpful. Practicing the song from different starting points each time can strengthen the memorization and muscle memory much faster than simply repeating the same line over and over again.

    Here’s a great article about how we can apply this skill in other areas of our lives.

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/77S6m8/www.fastcoexist.com/3056223/the-secret-to-learning-new-skills-twice-as-fast?ref_src=fb

     

     

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    Music in Outer Space?

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    Today NASA released recordings that were once considered top secret. It’s the sound of music heard by the Apollo 10 crew members way back in 1969 while orbiting earth. The sounds are still classified as unidentifiable but many theories abound. Could there actually be music in outer space? You decide…

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/21/world/far-side-moon-music/

     

     

     

     

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    Music Makes You Stronger

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    Well…. Your memory at least. Music creates the strongest form of memory.
    Have you ever wondered why when you hear a familiar tune it can bring to mind a certain place or a certain feeling? The little tune your favorite teacher taught you in elementary school or the song that certain boyfriend used to sing in the car all the time. Try humming just the beginning of “Twinkle, Twinkle” and everyone around you will know the tune. Merely say the words “Ice, Ice Baby” and you may set off an impromptu karaoke session. Whether you want to conjure up those memories or not, they seem to be forever engrained in our brains.

    So it’s no coincidence that even in our earliest stages of life we are taught new information through song. We use music to tell stories, for language development, even to teach rules and prayers in a memorable way.
    The power of music memory is perhaps most evident in the cases of elderly patients. Alzheimer’s patients who seem to be completely unresponsive with little to no memory suddenly regain motor functions and can even recall lyrics to songs they once heard in their youth.
    Victims of traumatic brain injuries can relearn valuable information more effectively through song than any other method.
    According to studies the region of the brain most active when listening to music is the pre frontal cortex. Did you know that the pre frontal cortex is also the last region of the brain to atrophy? Perhaps that’s the reason music memory has such longevity.
    So next time you’re struggling to remember some important information maybe you should consider turning it into a song. Phone, gum, keys, check!

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    Giving Up Music For Lent

    We have heard about people giving up meat, sugar, even social media for Lent but music?

     

    That is what one person did.

     

    More of a social experiment that act of religious devotion, Trevor Cox, professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford chronicled his still unfinished journey of 40 days without music for BBC Radio 4.

     

    Cox’s story — about 28 minutes long — is very interesting and will force you to define music and realize how prevalent it is in our society. For instance, how exactly do you block music from your life when music can be defined as anything from our ring tones to the tweeting of birds? How do you lead a normal life when music is so integrated into our culture including the places we eat, the television shows we watch and the stores we shop in?

     

    So, what has Cox discovered thus far with his music fast? Here are some of his observations:

     

    Not listening to music made Cox more tired. Victoria Williamson, an expert on music and the brain wasn’t surprised abut Cox’s weariness. “Music provides a lot of stimulation throughout the day … if you are completely withdrawn from one of your normal sources stimulation it would have a similar effect as if you withdrew from caffeine.”

     

    His brain went into overdrive and created its own music.  The first few days his brain was overwhelmed with earworms, those pesky tunes that originate from our brain and, try as we might, cannot stop humming or singing them. Williamson advised Cox that this was also a common occurrence.  “When I removed music from my life, my brain compensated for this by creating excessive musical imagery,” Cox wrote.


    It negatively affected Cox’s family life
    : Cox could not listen to his sons playing music and his wife lamented that that they could not watch their favorite television shows together because music was woven into the story lines and into commercials. “None of us can quite bring ourselves to watch our favorite programs with the sound off and subtitles on. I do miss that shared family time,” she said.

     

    As music lovers, we look forward to April 2 when Cox can listen to music again! He’s already anticipating the first song he’ll play!

     

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    The Positive Effects of Singing For Those Who Stutter

    What do B.B. King, Mel Tillis and American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos have in common?

      

    If you said they were singers you would only be partly right.

     

    They also live with a speech impediment: stuttering.

     

    You wouldn’t know it if you only heard them belting out beautiful tunes. Their stuttering seems to miraculously disappear once they begin to sing. This “miracle” has intrigued scientists and speech therapists who want to help people work through their impediment.

     

    Here is what they discovered:

     

    • Talking ignites activity on the left side of the brain while singing sparks the right hemisphere. In short, stuttering is a problem that originates from the left hemisphere.

     

    • Singers tend to know all the lyrics to the song they’re singing and don’t have to search for the right words to say. Word retrieval may be another cause of stuttering, according to The Stuttering Foundation.

     

    • Other activities such as whispering, speaking in unison, and blocking out their own voice also makes the stuttering disappear.

     

    We included a video of Mel Tillis early in his music career to show you the remarkable difference talking and singing has on those who stutter. In this clip, you’ll see Tillis talk to host Porter Wagoner and the audience. He stutters a few words that causes the audience to laugh. It is a brief moment but it’s a bit heartbreaking. Wagoner assures the audience that “He has a little speech defect that doesn’t bother your singing at all or writing at all. You’re fine man.”  Those are some wonderful words of encouragement and, of course, Tillis sings with his deep, beautiful voice and just wows the crowd.

     

    Based on our limited knowledge, there is no cure for stuttering. However, various therapy options are available, including singing, to make the impediment more manageable. If you or your child stutters talk with your doctor about voice lessons. You can foster your love of music and build confidence while overcoming a personal challenge.

     

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    3-D Technology and Music

    There has been an explosion of 3-D art and printing that has infused a new kind of creativity. Thanks to technology more people can draw replicas of the Eiffel Tower, create prosthetic limbs, and more.

     

    It is like the Wild West for the 3-D world and who knows what will become of this. Yet, we are already curious how our favorite subject — music — factors into all of this. Well, we saved you the time and did the research for you. Enjoy!

     

    Printing music

    For all the practical value 3-D printing is expected to bring to the world, there is a group of artists who like printing for non-utilitarian purposes. Search YouTube and you will find videos of 3-D printers “playing” Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, even Star Wars’ Imperial March. The printouts from the music is also considered art and hanging in art galleries now. See the video above to hear an example.

     

    Printing instruments

    Entrepreneurs and companies have been trying to find ways that 3-D printing can make products more economical. Printing musical instruments have had varying levels of success, some are good and some are bad. Still, we like the idea that low-cost musical instruments can allow more children to play music.

     

    Writing Music

    While 3-D pens are better suited to visual expression, we were intrigued to learn about a blind doctoral student who used a 3-D pen to write a musical composition so other blind students can play. Unfortunately, the amount of Braille sheets music is much smaller than what’s available to musicians with sight. Again, we like the idea of a low cost way to bring music into people’s lives.

     

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    March Is Sing With Your Child Month

    No one in The Music Junction needs prodding to become songbirds but we’ll happily sing a little bit more in honor of Sing With Your Child Month!

     

    Yes, there is a month dedicated to singing and it begins in March!

     

    As we learned in an earlier blog post, parents are more likely to sing in the shower than to their children so we fully support a month dedicated to belting out tunes. After all, the benefits of music are scientifically proven and we all could find more ways to add music to our lives. So, forget about the quality of your singing voice — trust us, you’re probably a lot better than you think you are — grab a drum and starting singing.

     

    Still, not sure what to do? We have some advice:

     

    Make up a song: Turn off the car radio and have your family sing a song, suggests Music Together. Don’t worry about rhythm or the quality of the lyrics. In our house, we borrow heavily from the song “Mary Wore A Red Dress” except we change the lyrics to say what we’re wearing.

     

    Turn Storytime into Musical Storytime: Visit your local library and check out books you can sing. The Denver Public Library, has curated a list for you and it goes beyond “Twinkle, twinkle little star” and “Mary had a little lamb.”

     

    Sing to Chores/Tasks: Some things are just inevitable in a child’s life. She will have to pick up toys, brush her teeth, and wash her hands. Why not make the experience fun by singing some music. These can be quick tunes that your child is learning at school and preschool.

     

    Good luck and keep singing!

     

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    Music Worth Noting Pt. 5

    Honoka and Azita

    Big sister Honoka and little sister Azita have been playing the ukele since they were 8 and 4 years old, respectively. Their commitment to their instrument has made them in-demand performers of their home state of Hawaii and have enabled them to travel to Japan to tour. Their videos are so enjoyable to watch because you have a wonderful beach backdrop that complement their immense skills!

     

    They Might Be Giants

    Before they were known as the duo that created the theme song for The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, They Might Be Giants was a quirky band that was a hit with the college scene. In the early 1980s they made a telephone line available to fans who could hear new tunes for free, which became known as dial-a-song. The line, and its tunes, remained in existence until 2006. Now it’s back and ready for the Internet Age! In preparation for their new album “Flood,” They Might Be Giants will make a new song available every week on its website along with a new phone number — (844) 387-6962 — and an email subscription service. What do you think of the song?

     

    Alex Boye

    It is hard to top the sheer awesomeness of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.” But if you’re an aspiring singer trying to get noticed, recruiting some older people who love to dance and poke fun of themselves is a good start. Couple that with a spot-on rendition of the song, and you’ll achieve viral video fame. Seriously, how wonderful are these dancers? According to Boye’s YouTube pages that actors range in ages from 65 to 92. Collectively, they have 500 children, 1,200 grandchildren, and 250 great grandchildren.

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    Children Play Rock Classics

    Cute kids and great music—there is so much to like about this viral music video!

     

    A group of musicians——who range in age from 7 to 12—from Louisville, Kentucky played Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” “The Ocean,” and “Immigrant Song” with nothing but xylophones, drums, cymbals, and keyboards. Their music even impressed Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page who posted the video on his Facebook page and wrote “too good not to share.”

     

    We love that these children are being noticed around the world for their talents and hard work. We also think the video represents advice given in a previous blog post on how to keep children engaged in music as they get older. Occasionally diverting from classical, and orchestral music and can make great strides in keeping kids focused and committed to making music.

     

    Based on the group’s YouTube page, the students belong to the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a group that offers extracurricular music opportunities to local children at little or no cost. The group continues to seek donations and you can help.

     

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    New YouTube Apps For Kids

    Today, YouTube launches a special app just kids and we couldn’t be happier!

    Parents with tech-savvy kids know that YouTube can be a landmine even with parental controls. The comments, commercials and the videos that are supposed to be “related” to the content we’re watching are often inappropriate. Unless the parents are sitting close by to monitor, YouTube is probably not an option for many families.

    The new YouTube Kids app promises to offer only age-appropriate content and include a parental time. The app features four channels: shows, music, learning and explore and it’s safe to say that we’re excited about the music section. We are also curious what type of music will be accessible to children and hope they’re not limiting tunes to those that are like Barney. YouTube and Google, if you’re listening, here are our requests.

     

    Keep The Viral Videos

    We believe there children are inspired when they see other people their age make music. It gives them confidence that they can also tackle this skill as well. Plus, who doesn’t want to see cute and talented kids like the Castillo children? Although it must be difficult to weed out viral videos that are only for adults, we hope children-approved viral videos will be available.

     

    Include Different Genres

    As we previously mentioned, children’s music shouldn’t be confined to the likings of “Barney” or “The Wiggles.” Not that those songs are necessarily bad, we just believe children should be exposed to a wider selection of music. We’ve included a favorite musician of ours, Elizabeth Mitchell, who performs folk-inspired children’s music. Give it a listen!

     

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

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