5 Ways Music Benefits Early Childhood Education

May 31, 2013 at 10:12 am | Posted in music education | 1 Comment

As a child, I was lucky to be surrounded and influenced by a variety of musical genres from many different eras. The songs I sang, the instruments I played, and the ballet music I danced to, influenced my life in so many positive ways.

I thought about this after an experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and it led me to create The Magic of Think®. I wanted to help children develop and strengthen social, emotional, and artistic skills through feel-good music. After all, filling our heads with positive music is like feeding our brains with healthy vitamins, right?

In my experience, music can benefit Early Childhood Education in the following ways:

  • Healing Through Music – Children can experience different emotional states from optimism to relaxation through a variety of genres. Rock producer, Daniel Levitin, now an associate professor at McGill University and one of the world’s leading experts in cognitive music perception, states that “Music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate. I think the promise of music as medicine is that it’s natural and it’s cheap and it doesn’t have the unwanted side effects that many pharmaceutical products do.”
  • Identifying and Understanding Emotions – Studies have shown that being skilled in music increases the sensitivity to pitch, thereby enhancing pitch detection in both music and speech. Sylvain Moreno states, “Six-year-old children followed one year of keyboard, vocal, drama or no-lessons. Results showed that the keyboard group performed equivalently to the drama group and better than the no-lessons group at identifying anger or fear.” Thompson et al. (2004)
  • Encouraging Positive Attitudes – Positive lyrics contribute to the reduction of fear and anxiety by helping children decrease the habit of negative thinking. Positive music also helps children become more excited and motivated about learning.
  • Reducing Stress With Laughter – Combining music with humorous lyrics can help children reduce stress. A child having a hard time dissolving negative emotions will find that laughter provides a release as well as a workout! One of the most prominent laughter researchers, Dr. William Fry, of Stanford University, reported that 100 laughs a day are equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike.
  • Promoting Communication – In addition to the above four points, The Magic of Think®, uses animated characters to encourage communication. With the characters singing a variety of songs that detail their problems as well as their solutions, children open up and talk about their own thoughts and emotions without feeling targeted. The characters can help a child stay at a safe emotional distance yet inspire communication and interaction.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.” Ludwig van Beethoven

Credits:

The Author, Janyse Jaud, is an award-winning singer/songwriter, voiceover actress, author, and thinkologist working with clients such as Hasbro, Warner Bros., Marvel, Discovery, and The Cartoon Network. http://www.themagicofthink.com

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Sylvain Moreno (January 2006) Influence of musical training on pitch processing, Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/8646949_Decoding_speech_prosody_do_music_lessons_help

Wired Magazine (August 2006) Music Makes Your Brain Happy, Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/medtech/health/news/2006/08/71631

International Child and Youth Care Network, Christine Puder (August 2003) The Healthful Effects of Laughter, Retrieved from http://www.cyc-net.org/cyc-online/cycol-0803-humour.html

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The Muse in Mother Nature

May 1, 2013 at 7:47 am | Posted in Music Teachers Resources | Leave a comment
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By Ken Couslon of Gatsby’s Green Light

The pitter-patter of the raindrops sounds like a symphonic drum circle resonating all around me. It is here I am reminded of the inextricable link between music and nature. It was something I was first exposed to in Victor Wooten’s ‘The Music Lesson’ and something I am reminded when I spend precious moments in the woods or set foot on a farm or field with my guitar.

Music exists all around us and it is the musicians’ job to channel those vibrations he or she is able to tune into. The big ones, the ones that have been ringing out for billions of years are found in our natural environment. And they tell a story too, like all music. At once, one can tap into all creation or simply our moment in time within it.

The contours of the farmland or the rocky wooded peaks and valleys are akin to nature’s dynamic and intention, its lessons on notes and space. From what I can tell it’s a welcoming place and without it our lives, like a life without music, hold less meaning. So it would hold that in order to protect our culture, like we value or story, we must protect music and nature as two in the same.

Spreading this message in a more direct way is what we hope to do with Gatsby’s Green Light. GGL is part of a mixed media approach to promote positivity and sustainability. Like the importance of music in carrying the message, we see sustainability as an investment in every living thing. We’re not the pioneers but hopefully our project can approach people thinking on all different types of levels. We want to promote good ideas and grassroots efforts in motion as well as brainstorm big formulaic changes that can guide us to a more sustainable way of life.

Ken & Gatsby’s Green Light at Norwalk CT’s LIVE GREEN 2012’

We love connecting with a tuned in audience. It’s always easy to share our vibrations knowing that our common goals are already established. When I played to 800 at CT Northeast Organic Farmers Association’s Winter Conference I was amazed at the energy and ideas that seemed almost palpable in the sounds vibrations of the cafeteria. There the conversation, verbal and non-verbal, flows easily. We’ll hope to play up to 50 of these types of event in 2013 including farmers’ markets, green fairs, bookstores, and sustainable farms. We’ve got more solar powered shows in our future.

When we play traditional music venues our message translates in more subtle ways. I love seeing someone’s face light up when I talk about our 100% recycled download cards that are embedded with wildflower seeds. ‘Plant em after you’ve downloaded the music!” or sharing with a curious listener some of the easy community driven ways they can support sustainability and support themselves.

For more on Gatsby’s Green Light’s view on sustainable living and resources, visit us here: http://gatsbygreenlight.com/sustain/

OUR logo depicts the sun and the earth and the unbreakable bond between them

Of course, we hope to share and act in much bigger ways in the future. We’ve done some work understanding the energy industry and how renewable sources can and must play their part in our energy future. I am happy to talk with people at shows about what we’ve found. We’d love for our platform to grow enough to reach politicians and decision makers with these ideas. As always, we ask these folks to look to places that have made sun and wind power work and emulate their programs. Places like Germany and Sweden immediately come to mind.

If you study the problems, it becomes clear that the time for action is right now. We’re choosing music, art and literature as tools to help tells this story and hopefully reach a wider audience. But we’ll need your help. Just like the sustainable living effort itself, we need to do this together.

Ken Coulson is the founder of Sonic Bomb LLC, a mixed-media company that uses art to raise awareness about sustainable living solutions. He is an advocate of Natural Capitalism, a multi-instrument musician and is writing his first book, Annalee & The Forever Smile. His musical project is at http://www.gatsbygreenlight.com

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