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    Sonic Branding

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    If your new year’s resolution is to read more books, consider Joel Beckerman’s book on how businesses and marketers use sound to shape our moods and opinions.
     
    In “The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms The Way We Think, Feel, And Buy
    Sonic Boom,” Beckerman, along with Tyler Gray, taps into his knowledge of as a composer for Disney, AT&T and Coca-Cola, and explains how the addition of sound/music can change a person’s experience.
     
    “In my career, I’ve worked with so many smart, creative people not only in television, but in marketing and branding. What I started to think about more and more was how sound affects us every single moment of our lives,” Beckerman told the Wharton School. “Really, the soundtrack of our lives and … all those different moments of sound guide our moods and change our choices. It changes our mood in an instant.”
     
    There is a good reason why Beckerman focuses on sound and it is not just because he is a musician. Of all the senses, we react the fastest to what we hear. To be exact, iit takes approximately .146 seconds for humans to react to a sounds while we process what we smell in .500 seconds. In short, if you want to create an immediate connection and represent yourself in a certain way, focus on sounds.
     
    In the book and in his website, digs a little deepper and uses several examples of how sound alters our judgement and expereience from the sound of an Apple computer to the sizzling of the fajitas as Chili’s.
     
    Although this book is geared more toward marketers and businesspeople, musicians can also benefit from reading this book. The music you make is not only beautiful, but influential and important.

     

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    The Universal Appeal of Music

    Music’s ability to have our favorite tunes feel so personal and unique makes it such a special experience. Yet, recent research proves that certain aspects of music are universal, and it doesn’t matter if you live a city or one of the world’s most remote villages.

     

    A group of researchers played clips of some of Western culture’s most popular music – from Star Wars to Pyscho to Schindler’s List – along with indigenous music from Mbenzélé Pygmies who live in the Congolese rainforest. While wearing medical devices that monitored their heart and breathing rates, participants were asked to describe how the music made them feel ( i.e. calm, happy) by selecting an array of emoticons.

     

    Both groups agreed that slower-paced music felt calming and faster-paced music felt exciting. Yet, the Montreal city dwellers reported a wider range of emotions to the music they heard, including negative emotions. The Pygmies, who have a tradition of using songs to uplift spirits, reported more positive emotions to songs they heard.

     

    “People have been trying to figure out for quite a while whether the way that we react to music is based on the culture that we come from or on some universal features of the music itself,” says Stephen McAdams, from McGill’s Schulich School of Music. “Now we know that it is actually a bit of both.”

     

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    Music Lessons Help with Focus and Emotional Control

    There may be a lot of unknowns in the world of science but one thing that is clear: playing music does wonder for your brain.

     

    The latest research published in the November edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry shows that music lessons can help kids focus, control their emotions and diminish anxiety.

     

    Researchers from the University of Vermont looked at MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scans of 232 children who range in ages from 6 to 18 and looked at ways music instruction affected the thickness of the cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain. The theory is that thicker cortices preserve the effectiveness of the brain’s functions while thinner cortices reduce the efficacy. The research team found that those who participated in music lessons had thick cortices in the regions of the brain related to motor control or coordination, executive function — which includes attention, memory, organization and planning — and processing of emotions.

     

    The research team believes in the Vermont Family Based Approach, a school of thought that young people’s environment – parents, teachers, friends, pets, extracurricular activities – contributes to their psychological health. The team believes that music instruction is a critical component to health, especially for children living with psychological disorders.

     

    In their study, the authors write: “Such statistics, when taken in the context of our present neuroimaging results, underscore the vital importance of finding new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to youths, beginning in childhood.”

     

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    Playing Music Reaps Many Benefits For The Brain

    Attending a baseball game doesn’t make you fit and neither does watching a legal thriller make you lawyer. The same thinking applies to music. Do not expect your brain to benefit from music simply by listening to Mozart.

     

    In order to reap the benefits of music — from improved memory to enhanced communication skills to better executive function — one has to play an instrument and be engaged, according to a recent Northwestern University study led by researcher Nina Kraus.

     

    “Because it is only through the active generation and manipulation of sound that music can rewire the brain,” Kraus told Time magazine.

     

    So, the bottom line is that listening to classical music and going to the Hollywood Bowl are great cultural experiences but they are not enough. Yet, the answer is not forcing an unwilling child to take lessons because there’s a good chance she will not pay attention and not practice.

     

    Ideally, children need express their opinions about music lessons. Even if she is not initially keen on the idea, let her pick the instrument and spend time together finding the right instructor, someone who is knowledgeable and can get her excited about making music.

     

    Adds Krause: “Making music should be something that children enjoy and will want to keep doing for many years!”

     

    We agree!

     

    If you would like to learn more about Kraus’ research or how the brain benefits from playing music, consider attending KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum that will discuss this subject in depth.

     

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    The Muppets Do Hip Hop

    When you think of the Muppets — from skinny-legged Kermit to the furry Fozzie — do you think hip hop?

    Well, at least one person (and, possibly, a feline) does. Using the moniker, Mylo The Cat, a young man has culled several old television clips from The Muppet Show and mashed them together to make hilarious music videos. The latest viral hit is Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” and we were impressed with how well the video syncs the speed of the rap lyrics with shots of the Muppets talking. Mylo The Cat also has created music videos with the Muppets using the Beastie Boy’s “So What’cha Want,” House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and Dre and Snoop’s “Deep Cover,” which can all be seen on Mylo’s YouTube page.

    In an interview with the Bubble Blabber blog, Mylo The Cat admitted that making these videos is not easy.

    “This latest video took around 12 hours of editing time, but I spent months looking for the right song, and also for the right clips to use,” he says. “The process of making the Muppets videos is pretty awful actually. I do love doing it, but it’s the most tedious thing in the world, so patience is absolutely key.”

    Thanks for letting us know about the video MTV!

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

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    Celebrate The Season With Live Music

    There is a reason why the next few weeks are called “the most wonderful time of the year.” It is a chance for people honor their faith, spend time with loved ones and enjoy all the goodwill and high spirits from friends and strangers.

    We also love that this is the best time for music and singing! There is so much music associated with the winter holidays and it is one of the few times of the year that people feel confident enough to sing.

    Take advantage of this season and enjoy or make music!  We’ve listed a few events in the Los Angeles area. Enjoy!

     

    The Christmas Caroling Truck: If you live in North Hollywood or Toluca Lake, chances are you have heard of the Christmas Caroling Truck, a brightly lit vehicle full of hundreds of carolers, dancers and, of course, Santa Claus. The truck usually rolls around Magnolia Boulevard and Riverside Drive on Christmas Eve. This year, they have a special open house on Dec. 5. Don’t miss it!

     

    Holiday Sing-Along at The Music Center: What better way to put those singing lessons to the test than at a sing along. At this annual (and, luckily, free) event, carolers are handed music sheets to songs such as “Silver Bells” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and sing under the stars with live accompaniment.

     

    Honor Hanukkah with The Klezmatics: This year Hanukkah begins on Dec. 16 and ends Dec. 24. Celebrate the season with an all ages show by The Klezmatics, a Grammy-award winning who fuse traditional klezmer music with Latin, Afro-Caribbean and folk beats.

     

    The Nutcracker: For us, the holiday season is synonymous with The Nutcracker. Appreciate both music and dance at Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballet. There are so many different productions of The Nutcracker and, thankfully, the Los Angeles Times has compiled a list.

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    Young People Feel Strongest Affinity Toward Music

    Think back to when you were a teenager. Do you remember how excited you were when your favorite singer or band released new music? Did you listen to the music on repeat? Did you memorize the lyrics?

    Now, fast forward to today. Are you still as excited as about the lastest album or download?

    According to researchers, the answer is probably not.

    Psychologists from the University of Cambridge, led by Arielle Bonneville-Roussy interviewed people whose ages ranged from 13 to 65 and who lived in the United States and United Kingdom. Researchers asked them how important music was to their lives and offered a range of responses from the most intense (“Music means a lot to me, and is a passion of mine” to the most disinterested (“Music has no particular interest for me”).

    Teens reported the highest affinity to music with 41 percent stating “music means a lot to me) and a downward trend continues as the ages increase. Only 13 percent of the oldest age group in the study – 65-year-olds – reported that music meant a lot to them.

    Researchers also found that young people were more likely to listen to music in public settings than older respondents and are more likely to spend part of their day listening to music. Not surprisingly, 18-year-olds spend 25 hours a week listening to music whereas 65-year-olds only spend 12 hours a week.

    It is not shocking to us that other things compete for our interest as we get older – family, career, personal health – so it may be difficult for people to refer to music as a passion. We hope, however, that everyone can find a way to bring music into their lives.

    What do you think of the results?

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

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    Telling the Story of the Human Race Through Music

    If alien life forms ever discovered human existence, how would you describe our life to them?

    Interestingly enough, scientists pondered this question in the 1970s and we love that they thought music was an important aspect of human life.

    NASA scientists created the Golden Record, a time capsule of sorts, which is a 12-inch gold-plated copper phonograph disk strapped aboard Voyager I and II that is traveling in the outer edges of the solar system as we write this post (In fact, the probes have surpassed the distance of Pluto). The phonograph includes 115 images and sounds of nature and life on Earth photos as well as greetings in 50 different languages.

    However, the part we’re most interested in is the music. Scientists, led by famed astronomer Carl Sagan, filled the Golden Record with 90 minutes worth of music. Given the the decade, we are not surprised that it leans heavily toward Western music, especially European classical music such as Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony” and Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” There’s also a nod to American including Louis Armstrong’s “Melancholy Blues,” Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Navajo night chants as well as music from Bulgaria, Peru and India. You can read the full list here.

    The Voyager missions are expected to end 2025 and no one yet knows if they will be replaced. Still, we like to think that scientists will create another time capsule for outer space as there are so many new songs and sights from plant Earth since the project was completed  in 1977. What songs would you add to the song selection? We think the next version should include more world music and we would like to hear more contemporary music. Would adding Outkast’s “Hey ya” and Paharrell’s “Happy” sound tless historical? We want alien life forms to think we’re a happy race, don’t we? What songs would you pick to describe humans?

     

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    4 Of Our Favorite Ted-Ed Videos

    Regular visitors to this blog know that we love Ted-Ed videos. Not only are they informative but they are brief — no more than 5 minutes long — and animated, which makes learning easy.

     We’ve collected some of our favorite Ted-Ed music education videos to share with you. Just think, in less than a half hour you could gain a better understanding of music. It’s that simple.

     

    1. How To Read Music – Tim Hansen

      

    The video provides essential information for beginning students that addresses beats, notes and rhythm. Although we wish the narrator’s word usage was better suited for our youngest musicians, this video is an excellent complement to your Music Junction lessons.

     

     2. Why we love repetition in music – Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis

    Any student toying with the idea of composing an original tune would benefit from this video. A good chorus repeated again and again and again makes people more apt to like a song thanks to a concept known as the “exposure effect”  Also, the more one listens to a song, the more he or she can dissect and focus on different aspects of the music.

     

    3. A Different Way To Visualize Rhythm – John Varney

    This video is better suited for intermediate music students who already have a grasp of different types of beats. Instead of showing rhythm on a music bar, the educator visualizes rhythm on a wheel that emphasizes main beats, secondary beats and off beats.

     

     4. BeatBoxing 101 – Mike Chervony, Ms. Chervony, James Kim, Kaila Mullady, Chesney Snow


    While we’re not sure if this video will make you a better music student, we guarantee you will have a lot of fun watching it! The instructors made beatboxing so accessible that we were performing right along with them and showing friends our new talent.

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

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    Singing Ability Is Within Everyone’s Reach

    For every Carrie Underwood who shoots to fame after wowing audiences and judges on “American Idol” there is a William Hung who is laughed at on YouTube and is unfortunately associated with the worst the television show has to offer.

     For every “Glee” that celebrates music talent there is television sitcom “The Goldbergs” that laughs at the musical ambitions of a young, out-of-tune boy named Adam.

    If we were to believe Hollywood, singing ability is clearly divided into the haves and have nots. You either have the talent or you do not.

    We don’t know how this myth came into existence. No one would claim that the talents of a pianist, basketball player or accountant were based on innate talents. So, why do people who do not sing very well think taking lessons is a futile act?

    With some training anyone, including Hung and Adam (yes, we know he is a fictional character) could become great singers. A great example on the accessibility of musical talent can, ironically, be found among Hollywood’s top actresses. Although they did not grow up taking singing lessons, Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line” and Gywenth Paltrow in “Country Strong” impressed critics and moveigoers with their abilities.

    In an ABC news article, Roger Love, a veteran vocal coach in Hollywood, explained that people who love music and who like to sing — in the car, in the show and while walking — begun their music education years ago.

    “’Singing along to recorded vocal music is like having a mini-singing lesson,’ Love said. ‘I could tell from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Country Music Awards performance that she’s obviously a person who grew up exposed to music and enjoyed her own private time singing,’ he said. ‘I could hear from her pitch and rhythm that she has a history of putting her voice close enough to where it’s supposed to go.’ … If the actress has a considerable amount of non-professional singing time under her belt, Love said, it’s often just a matter of teaching her vocal and breathing techniques to go along with her natural talent.”

    At the Music Junction, we’re firm believers that the right instruction coupled with some hard work can make anyone a good singer. If you have every wanted to sing to your children, at church, or just feel comfortable belting out tunes in front of other people, we can help!

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

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