5 Academic Benefits of Musical Study

Music Lessons Piano 2

Music has always been an important part of my life. From the time I was very small, I loved to sing and would sit with my mom on the piano bench, singing every song I knew while she played for me.  To this day, I LOVE to sing.  I’m also the student who had learning disabilities all the way through school.  It wasn’t until I was in 12th grade that we had an answer to why school came so hard…I have dyslexia.  As a child and teen, I struggled constantly with reading, math and science.  I can remember being in 2nd  grade and praying that my teacher would not call on me to read out loud, because I was just terrible at it.  However, no matter how hard reading was, or math or science or algebra (which, let’s be honest, I haven’t used since finishing the class), I had music and I KNEW that was one area that I excelled.  Music gave me an appropriate way to express myself when I wanted to scream in frustration, throw my books or hit something (okay, someone).  Music provided me a means of appropriate self-expression and offered me with opportunities to develop my creativity, which allowed me to think outside the box.  Academically, music was my anchor.  It taught me perseverance, individualized self belief and an overall discipline that not only allowed me to graduate from high school 2nd in my class, but go to college, receive a bachelor’s degree, then return to complete a master’s degree.  The academic benefits I gained from musical study were a very important part of my success in high school, college and graduate school.

5 Academic Benefits of Musical Study.

  1. Studying music sharpens concentration, teaches perseverance, and creates better study habits.
  2. Studying music increases listening skills, the ability to pick out important auditory signals and effectively filter out distracting noise.
  3. Studying music improves reading and vocabulary skills.
  4. Studying music strengthens the same part of the brain used in complex math skills.
  5. Studying music has been shown to demonstrate increases verbal intelligence in preschool children.

If you want to know more about the benefits of musical study, please like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/desertsoundsofwellness and follow us on this blog, as we will be visiting other music related topics in the future.  If you are interested in studying music, please visit our website at www.desertsoundsofwellness and read about the music instruction opportunities that we offer to students in the Phoenix Metro area.

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5 Tips for Practicing

Piano 6

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I set my next piece on the stand and glanced up at the timer sitting on top of the piano.  “Just 15 more minutes, just 15 more minutes, just 15 more…” I thought to myself, before reaching up and moving the timer down 5 minutes, “Just 10 more minutes.”  I chanted to myself.  After playing through my piece, I again glanced up at the time, “7 more minutes…” a sigh escaped.  Playing through my assignments one last time, I wondered how 30 minutes, with just a little adjustment, could take so long.  Leaping from the bench as the timer dinged, I heard my mother.

“5 more minutes.”  She called from the kitchen. 

“But, it dinged.” I called back with some annoyance.

“5 more minutes.” I sighed again and sat down again.  Never could get anything by her.

Practicing can be challenge for any student studying music and any parent helping a student study music.  However, practicing doesn’t have to be a complete drudgery.  Here are 5 tips for making practice both beneficial and fun.

1.  Place a practice chart where the student can easily see it and recognize the achievement of each practice on the chart.  A practice chart is a visual representation of the student’s work.  Situating it in a place of honor allows the student to see his/her accomplishments and gain a sense of recognition for a job well done.   http://www.desertsoundsofwellness.com/practicechart.pdf

2.  Make the student’s practice time a bonding time.  Parents with young students have the opportunity to make a student’s practice time into a “quality time” activity.  By working towards a common goal together, such as completing a piece or preparing for a recital, a unique opportunity is created for both the parent and child. 

3.  Include musical games during practice times.  Parents working with their students can turn up the “fun” factor by including musical games.  Musical “Concentration” can work on either note identification or rhythm.  Games like” Measure Up!” work on rhythms in a variety of time signatures.  “Dominotes” works on recognizing values of notes and rests.  There are many ready made musical games that can be purchased and for those creative parents, numerous games can be developed to learn various music concepts.

4.  Establish a set practice time each day and honor it.  Once establishing a time to practice, stick to it.  Keep distraction and noise to a minimum during practice times.

5.  Be free with the praise.  Find something to praise and compliment about each practice.  Focus on the positive and the improvements the student has made during the practice.  A “Good Job!” can go a long way with a child and make him or her more willing to continue working toward the goal…to play the piece well.

If you want to know more about the benefits of musical study, please like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/desertsoundsofwellness and follow us on this blog, as we will be visiting other music related topics in the future.  If you are interested in studying music, please visit our website at www.desertsoundsofwellness and read about the music instruction opportunities that we offer to students in the Phoenix Metro area.

What IS Music Therapy?

Music Therapy at work

Music Therapy at work

In nearly twenty-two years of training and practice in the field of Music Therapy, I have come to realize that this profession, which I absolutely love, is one of the best kept secrets in the medical community. In 1992, when I began my Music Therapy journey, people would ask me, “What are you studying?”
“Music Therapy.” I would reply with a grin.
“What’s that?” They would ask with a frown.

Once I had graduated and opened my private practice in southern Arizona, people would ask me, “What do you do?”
“I am a Music Therapist.” I would reply with a smile.
“What’s that?” They would then ask.

Five years later, when meeting new people, they would ask, “What do you do?”
“I am a Music Therapist.” I would reply with some trepidation. And, you guessed it, they would ask, “What’s that?”

This same conversation went on for years. I varied my responses, tried different definitions and wondered if Music Therapy would ever get beyond the “What’s that?” stage”

A few years ago, Music Therapy began to get noticed in the media. Some famous and influential people began to speak out about Music Therapy and their experiences in the Music Therapy treatment process. As the profession became more recognized, the conversations I would have with people began to change.

“What do you do?” someone would ask me at a conference, meeting or in my community. “I’m a Board-Certified Music Therapist.” I would reply, then I’d wait for it. Occasionally, I would still receive the standard “What’s that?” But more often, I would start to get variations like, “Oh, I read something about that in one of my magazines. What is it that you actually do?” or “Is that a real profession?” or, my favorite, “I do that.”
“Really?” I’d ask, “You’re a Board-Certified Music Therapist?”
“No,” would generally be the reply, “I play the radio,” or “I sing in the shower,” or “I do Music Therapy by playing at the local nursing home for the folks there.”

Ahhh……I would think. We’re still behind the eight ball if people think that the entertainment is Music Therapy or that they are “doing” Music Therapy every time they flip on the car radio or step into the shower.

So, what exactly IS Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the enhancement of human capabilities through the planned use of musical influences on brain functioning. A Music Therapist designs musical experiences to target specific areas of the brain in order to elicit predetermined changes in the way those areas of the brain function and govern themselves. All Music Therapy goal-directed interventions are aimed at enhancing the functioning capacity of each client’s brain.  -Taylor, 2010

Further, Music Therapy, is: “an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages.” It improves the “quality of life for persons who are well and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities or illness.” -AMTA, 2007

Board-Certified Music Therapists assess the strengths and needs of each client, and develop an individualized treatment plan which may including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, a client’s abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of his/her life. Music Therapy interventions may be designed to: promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation. Research in Music Therapy supports it’s effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.  -AMTA, 2007

To learn more about Music Therapy, please visit us on our website at: http://www.desertsoundsofwellness.com or like our Facebook Page at: http://www.facebook.com/desertsoundsofwellness.

Five Benefits of Studying Music

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Music has been a big part of my life since I was very small.  I remember sitting on the piano bench next to my mom, singing my heart out and loving every minute of it.  I remember starting piano lessons at the age of six and clarinet lessons at the age of eight and finally, voice lessons at the age of thirteen.  During grade school, I also studied recorder and saxophone, and during high school, I studied the snare and tympani drums.  My favorite, of course, was voice.  I loved, and still love, to sing and act.  I remember as a child dreaming of singing the part of Maria in “The Sound of Music” and as a teenager, wanting so badly to sing the part of Christine in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (although the part of Madam Giry was in my vocal range as a mezzo-soprano).  Beside the “fun” element, the benefits of musical study are numerous.  Today, research has established these benefits in the areas of academics, creativity, brain development and mental longevity.  Research has now established that among people who studied a musical instrument for 10 consecutive years, fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease develop.   With so many research studies available, we could devote pages and pages to the benefits of musical study, but today, we want to share just five of those benefits with you.

1.   Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning.  Research indicates that musical study 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. (1)

2. Students who study music can process the sounds of speech faster then those who did not study music. (2)

3.  Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills then their peers who do not participate in music lessons. (3)

4. Studying music primes the brain, as physical exercise does the human body.  Music tones the brain for auditory fitness and allows it to decipher between tones and pitch. (3)

5.  Music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline.  In order for a band or orchestra to sound good, all the players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance.  In order to do that, they must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals and practicing. (1)

If you want to know more about the benefits of musical study, please like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/desertsoundsofwellness and follow us on this blog, as we will be visiting other music related topics in the future.  If you are interested in studying music, please visit our website at www.desertsoundsofwellness and read about the music instruction opportunities that we offer to students in the Phoenix Metro area.

References:

1. http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/12benefits.html

2. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/science/long-term-benefits-of-music-lessons.html?_r=0

3.  http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-music-education

 

Welcome To Desert Sounds of Wellness

Playing Guitar

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Standing outside the classroom, I leaned on the wall and tried to encourage myself to go inside.  I was a sophomore in college, attending a new school and starting a new major.   To date, all my focus, work, and ambition had been directed at making it on a Broadway stage, but my family, who were well established in the medical profession, had wanted me to focus on something practical.  So, in a nod to their wishes, I had found this little known profession called Music Therapy and decided to add a new major.  As I took my seat, I sighed inwardly.  I wanted to be singing, acting and dancing, not sitting at this desk with a stack of textbooks in front of me.  As the teacher arrived, I resigned myself to a semester, and in fact many semesters, of boring study….and then he spoke.  I discovered during that first lecture that Music Therapy is the art and science of using music therapeutically, to effect positive change in a person’s mind, body and spirit.  It seemed incredible to me then that this medium that I loved so much could make such an impact on so many areas of life.  And, it seems just as incredible today!

 

Desert Sounds of Wellness offers Music Therapy and music related services.  Music Therapy is the enhancement of human capabilities through the planned use of musical influences on brain functioning. A Music Therapist designs musical experiences to target specific areas of the brain in order to elicit predetermined changes in the way those areas of the brain function and govern themselves. All Music Therapy goal-directed interventions are aimed at enhancing the functioning capacity of each client’s brain.                                                                                                 -Taylor, 2010

Music Therapy improves the “quality of life for persons who are well and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities or illness.  Interventions can be designed to:  promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.  Research in music therapy supports it’s effectiveness in many areas such as:  overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people’s motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.   -AMTA, 2007

 

 On this blog, we welcome you to learn more about Music Therapy and the amazing benefits that music has on the mind, body and spirit.  We invite you to follow us on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/desertsoundsofwellness) and to learn more about this amazing field on our website, Desert Sounds Of Wellness (www.desertsoundsofwellness.com).  We hope you will join us in the future as we share more about the benefits of musical study on both children and adults.  We invite you to follow us through this year as our founder once again steps into the public spotlight to continue our mission to educate on Music Therapy, or as our studio’s students entertain and delight those in our community.  We hope to bring you valuable information about music and in particular Music Therapy through this blog and look forward to seeing you here (and for those who are local…there…in the Phoenix area)!