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    Children Play Rock Classics

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    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!

     

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    If You Don’t Use Your Singing Voice You Lose It

    We know that a lack of exercise can weaken leg, arm and back muscles and affect an athlete’s performance. Now science has shown any significant break in singing can affect the quality of a singer’s voice.

     

    Calling it a “use it or lose it” phenomena, researchers from Northwestern University and University at Buffalo gathered three groups of singers—kindergarteners, sixth-graders, and college students—and asked them sing back a musical sequence they has just heard. Researchers noticed overall improvement from kindergarten to eighth-grade in singing accuracy or, in other words, the ability to sing on pitch. The adults, however, did not fare well. On some of the tests, they scored just as high as the kindergarten groups, thereby showing a regression in ability.

     

    Why did the adults get worse over time?

     

    Steven Demorest, professor of music education at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, and his colleagues believe that we become less musical over time. Singing is encouraged early in our lives, from educational songs that we sing in  elementary school to the middle school choir that’s open to any and all students. Yet, researchers fear that over time, our voice becomes judged and we’re told quite bluntly that we’re tone deaf or we don’t have it, as if singing were some innate talent. So, we stop singing and, with lack of practice, our realize our own low expectations.

     

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

     

    Singing is “a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to do with using the voice regularly,” Demorest says.“Our study suggests that adults who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing.”

     

    So, go ahead and sing. Keep singing because, with time and guidance, you will get better.

     

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    Music and the Brain

    If you follow The Music Junction’s Facebook page, you may have known about a KPCC 89.3 event on music and the brain that had us excited. The event featured Nina Kraus of Northwestern University, whose work we have reported on here as well as Suzanne Gindin, founder of the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra and Kristen Madsen, Senior Vice President, The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares.

     

    The event quickly filled to capacity but we were fortunate to see a video of the presentation, which we included above. Here are some of the important points that we wrote down:

    • Music and language overlap in many ways. “Music is a good model of auditory learning … It certainly makes sense that the learning of music might transfer to the learning, and just to be a better communicator through language,” Kraus said.

     

    • Kraus studied children in a music program who received five hours of instruction a week. There were no notable improvements after one year but after two years Kraus’ said her team was “able to measure very fundamental, biological changes to auditory processing.”

     

    • Research as not figured out the magic number (also known as the dosage effect) for the number of hours a student music complete in order to reap the benefits.

     

    • Rhythm is important for language as well as music.

     

    • Currently, music curriculum is based on music. Gindin wondered what if teachers based music curriculum on ways to make students better readers and learners such as a  stronger focus on steady beat and pitch differentiation? “Can you image the connections,” Gindin asked.

     

    • Playing in an orchestras or ensembles is one of the few activities where several people are “doing the same thing at once and you all have to agree,” Gindin said. “I think the process of doing that as group creates a sense of confidence.”

     

    • Music has a lasting impact on the brain. Kraus’ team found that older adults who stopped playing music years ago had faster neural timing in response to speech compared to those of the same age group who had not taken music lessons.

     

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    You’ll Be Impressed With This Teenage Musician

    If you want to know the benefits of regular practice, just look at 17-year-old Senri Kawaguchi of Japan. Calling her a prodigy might just be an understatement once you see her videos (we’ve included one above).

     

    Several videos of her playing have gone viral and global — you’ll see clips about her in English, Spanish, Portuguese and, naturally, Japanese. She began playing drums at 5 years old and never stopped (she is in high school now). At 8 years old, Kawaguchi received one-on-one lessons with famed percussionist Kozo Suganuma. She has collaborated with many Japanese music artists and, at 12 years old, released her own DVD!

     

    Another thing worth noticing is that Kawaguchi plays a wide variety of music including jazz and pop tunes played on anime shows. It reminds us of advice given on a previous blog post about keeping teens engaged by having them play a variety of music.

     

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    Music Therapy Helps Families

    It is well documented about music’s ability to make the brain a better, high-performing organ but a recent new story about a music therapy program for dysfunctional families made our hearts swell.

     

    Reuters reports on a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy that shows how music therapy can be just as effective as traditional programs for helping to repair and rebuild dysfunctional families. Researchers identified 18 families in which the children were on the verge of being removed from their parents due to emotional neglect. Half of the families were exposed to music therapy programs that involved playing instruments, listening to music and playing musical games with the presence of a therapist. The other half of the participants underwent more traditional treatment.

     

    After six to 10 music therapy sessions, parents said they felt less stressed by their children’s moods and felt more empathetic toward them and, overall, reported having less negative feelings toward them.

     

    Yet, all families can benefit from shared musical experiences, not just those who attend formalized music therapy sessions, says Stine Jacobsen who led the study.

     

    “Singing together or singing for your infant or toddler can be a very intimate bonding activity and comes naturally for some families,” Jacobson says. “The earlier you start interacting nonverbally with your child in a meaningful way the more you might see or feel the benefit.”

     

    So sing out loud with your children. Dance in silly ways and listening to your favorite songs. It just might make your family stronger.

     

    The benefits of music therapy has been well documented in other patients. Read our blog post about music therapy’s effectiveness for Alzheimer’s patients.

     

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    A Music Parody Video That Has Us Laughing About Motherhood

    By now, it is no secret that we love parody videos. Maybe today’s families aren’t gathered around the piano singing songs as much as they were in the early 1900s, but this is certainly a way to be musical and creative with your family. Just ask the Holderness family.

     

    The latest performer we’ve found is Deva Dalporto who describes herself as a bored mom with a video camera (who also is living with a serious autoimmune disorder) who has made viral music videos that have spoofed Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea and Idina Menzel but our favorite is her take on Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

     

    In “I Just Need Some Space,” the mother of two sings:

     

    I am your mama I told you to come inside

    Don’t make me yell cause I’m feelin’ freakin’ fried

    (Freakin’ fried, freakin’ fried)

    No I can’t read that book for the fifteen millionth time

    (Ooo bop bop, shadoo bop bop)

    So just put down the glitter glue

    And go ahead and move along

     

    It’s funny, yet loving and an honest portrait of parenthood. As she writes in her blog: “And be warned, I like to write and make videos with a sense of humor because I like to laugh at the insanity of life, so please don’t take me too seriously. My kids aren’t always total life suckers. Not when they’re sleeping, anyway.”

     

    We also love that her adorable children are featured and we hope one day they can start singing or playing instruments too!

     

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    Listening to Music Can Reduce Pain

    Next time you’re in pain, skip the medicine and slip on some headphones.

     

    A study at Northwestern University followed 60 children (from 9- to 14-year-olds) who were in the hospital following a surgery. Doctors allowed one group of pediatric patients to listen to any music of their choosing (pop, country, rock) while a second group were allowed listen to audio books and a third group sat in silence with noise-cancelling headphones.

     

    The children who listened to at least 30 minutes of music or audiobooks reported feeling less pain while those who listened to nothing experienced no reduction in pain. Given that powerful painkillers can cause breathing problems in young children, the medical community is always in search of ways to alleviate pain for their youngest patients. The latest discovery can be a powerful tool.

     

    Dr. Santhanam Suresh, a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics told HealthDay News: “There is a certain amount of learning that goes on with pain. The idea is, if you don’t think about it, maybe you won’t experience it as much. We are trying to cheat the brain a little bit. We are trying to refocus mental channels on to something else.”

     

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    A New Year’s Resolution To Become A Better Music Student

    Happy new year!

     

    We hope you enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to a new year. As you know, this is the time of year when it is popular to make a resolution, be it losing weight, saving money or, learning a new skill. If you are Music Junction student and want to become a better musician in 2015, we have some tips for you!

     

    Make A Plan: This works for every resolution you may have, including improving your music skills. After you make a resolution to become a better player, devise a plan on how to make it happen. Forbes.com suggests digesting a major goal into actionable steps: “Try mapping out a rough schedule for the year in advance, covering one part of your goal each month …”

     

    After that, use apps or sticky notes to remind yourself to achieve each step and make yourself accountable. If you need help figuring out a monthly goal, talk with your Music Junction teacher.

     

    Practice Every Day: You had a feeling this advice was coming, didn’t you? You know — we know — that practicing every day can help make you a better pianist and/or singer. The last few months have been extra challenging carving out time with holiday parties, shopping and family gatherings. So, let’s re-commit to finding 20 minutes out of your day to practice. If you need some helpful tips for you or your child, read this blog post.

     

    Give Yourself A Pat On The Back: While we’re fans of new year’s resolutions we admit that sometimes they can sound negative. We’re forcing ourselves to learn a new skills out of the assumption we need to improve ourselves. How about congratulating yourself for sticking with lessons and renewing your commitment in 2015 to continue your journey as a musician? So, next time you play a wrong note or get overly frustrated with a new piece, do not wince. Instead, congratulate yourself for keeping at it.

     

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

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    How To Find The Right Music Teacher For Your Child

     

    If you have given your child the gift of music lessons this holiday season, congratulations! You and your child are in for a rewarding journey that will not only create a lifelong love of music but provide scientifically-proven benefits that will give her an edge in the classroom.

     

    Assuming you have found the perfect piano (if not, we can help you with that too), all you need is to find the ideal teacher. Obviously, we think The Music Junction instructors are all talented and can serve a diverse group of students but we still want to offer some helpful tips.

     

    Research The Instructor: Finding the right teacher is akin to finding the right preschool for your child. You will need to talk to a lot of people —  including friends, parents and music store workers — to find some ideal instructors.  You can also read online reviews such as Yelp (we’re especially proud of our reviews!) for additional insight. Also, read the teacher bios and find out what type of education and professional experience he or she possesses.

     

    Set Expectations: If piano or vocal lessons will be one of many activities your child is involved than it is best to not pair him with a demanding instructor. Likewise, if you are on a limited budget do not enroll your aspiring musician with an instructor who requires additional theory classes and/or practicing on a “real” piano (as opposed to a digital piano). When interviewing potential teachers, it is best to be honest with your expectations and limitations and see how she or he reacts. If the teacher is unwilling to work with your circumstances, it is time to move on.

     

    Attend a Recital: A recital can be a great way to observe an instructor’s demeanor and how well he or she connects with students. Unlike an interview, where everyone knows the “right” things to say to get the gig, a recital can reveal a teacher’s true approach to music education. Also, pay close attention to the general age of the other students, the music selection and the general mood of the students and audience.

     

    Agree on a Break-Up: We agree with National Public Radio; music lessons are too much of a financial investment for the parent and child to be unhappy. If the personalities between the teacher and child are not meshing, then find a new instructor. NPR states: “It’s better to make a change sooner rather than later, especially if you feel like a teacher’s experience, energy or approach just isn’t right for your child. Sure, that will probably be an uncomfortable conversation, but isn’t that preferable to wasting money, time and your kid’s initial enthusiasm?” Be sure you find an instructor who understands a good working relationship is paramount and will not make you feel guilty for leaving.

     

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

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