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

Here Comes Baby F and it Plays Well With Others

January 14, 2013 at 1:19 am | Posted in music education | Leave a comment
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You have a brand new guitar. One has learned C and G7 and has lovingly caressed the strings downward in a rhythmic pattern. With these two simple chords songs have been sung to all your friends. The “F” chord which would open the door to thousands of songs comes difficult for a beginner and takes time to perfect. No worries. A “Baby F” will allow access to those songs, and strength your hand and fingers in anticipation for the day that when playing the full chord of “F” becomes as easy as all the other chords.

Look down the neck of your guitar, and one will see bars evenly spaced. Slowly take your hand and go all the way to the head of the guitar. Just below the head will be a space, and then fret bar number one.  The guitar has six strings. The one closest to the head is big, ole, low note E number six. The one closest to the feet is tiny, sweet, high note E number 1. For Baby F one needs string 1 and 2.

In fret one right next to that first golden or silver fret bar place the first finger flat on both string one and two. So now one has experienced double string playing pleasure. Plus it will strengthen the member to prepare it for the rigorous ready to rock grown up F. It is important one places the thumb on the same hand in the center of the back side of the neck behind the first fret. One will need to put just the right amount of pressure from the front finger and from the back thumb. Think of it as a kneading pinch of the neck of the guitar.One will want be firm, but not too forceful. Strum four strokes down on only string 1 and 2. When the pressure is just right the strings will sing out loudly.

Adding Some Spice

Now that one has the basic strum pattern down one needs to play with a group of 3 chords. Many songs use only 3 chords; the key, the fourth and the fifth. Our key today is the key of Baby C. So the fourth is Baby F followed by the fifth which is Baby G7. Human ears love sweet whisperings or full blown exclamations of alternating 3 chords. Start with Baby C strum 4, then simply lay the first finger flat on string 1 and 2, strum 4, then pick up first finger, and place it on string one for Baby 7, strum 4.

Improving the first songs one learned comes as simple as varying the strum patterns. Make a Baby C and strum down, then immediately reverse and bring the strum up ~ down, up, down, up, down, up ~ like stroking a kitten down its back, and then ruffing the fur with a reverse stroke. Change to Baby G7 or Baby F. Go slow; speed up; slow down; then go as fast as one can.

Like anything else in life regular practice helps the learning. Twenty minutes a day done lovingly will establish a good relationship with your guitar, and he/she will return the love with amazing melodies floating in the air.  Once proficient, contact the music store for lessons on full blown chords.

Links to Adult Songs and Strum Patterns

The Internet has thousands of sites with strum patterns and chords for beginners. Check out Guitar About.com for strum patterns for beginners. Peruse Chordie.com for new chords and songs. Better yet visit a music store or full service listed later in this article to get the full experience of being a guitarist.

Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including guitar lessons. He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+ video guitar lessons in HD.

Optimizing Your Music Teacher Website on Search Engines

March 2, 2012 at 2:26 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips | 4 Comments
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Lately, I have been receiving some music teacher inquiries on how to increase the number of their students. Some of them are asking for effective ways to advertise or market their music studios.

Although there are many ways to increase the popularity of a music teaching school, I think the best way is to develop a website and start optimizing it on search engines. This may sound so difficult but I have known some music teachers who have been very successful because of their well-managed website.

In creating a music teacher website, you may start using free blog portals like wordpress.com, weebly.com, webs.com or even blogger.com. Yet, it is still advisable to have your own website domain if you can afford it. It is also necessary to add some unique and relevant contents to gain trust from your readers.

After setting up your music teacher website, you may hire an SEO professional or company to initiate link building and social networking for your site. Again, this may be expensive but sure this can also be a good investment. I have been employing a search engine optimization expert for more than 3 years now and I’m glad to say that my music school business is constantly growing because of my website.

As a music teacher, I have limited knowledge and skills about computers and the internet. However, this never prevented me from utilizing technology and reaching out to more possible students. I always believe that it’s not wrong to seek help and professional assistance that’s why I hired a web designer and an SEO.

Gary Levin

The Art of Pioneering a Music Program

February 15, 2012 at 2:49 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession | Leave a comment
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How does one start a music program that is largely non-existent? Here in South Africa it’s only the private schools that include private/instrument music lessons in their curriculum. At the moment, I’m teaching music appreciation as a subject in a private boys school that is obsessed with sport (grades 4-8). Music is a very low priority and making headway is slow and sometimes, I have to admit, I want to fall down in a puddle on the floor in the fetal position and suck my thumb at the injustice of it all.

I had to ask myself, after coming from a co-ed school, what do boys want? What do boys love? I had to make it relevant for them. A while ago I read a book by Dr James Dobson called “bringing up boys”; in it, he states that most teachers gear their lessons towards girls and not boys. I had a long think about it and realized I did that very thing in my music lessons. Girls are generally very accepting about most things we do within music lessons, but boys are rough and ready, these warrior like personalities who couldn’t be bothered about singing and dancing unless it involves some sort of hip hop fight scene.

They like the physical stuff, like drumming. I am generalizing here, as many boys do enjoy other things, but in my experience, they are in the minority. I began to formulate lots of rhythm lessons and invested in many pairs of drum sticks and boomwhackers where the boys could whack out their frustrations, in a controlled environment, to their hearts content. I have had to be creative in picking what I do with them, especially in a school where the music budget is small.

Boomwhackers are great to be able to teach chord structures to the boys in a fun environment. I will put together a tuned rhythm where I use the chords C, F and G. I hand out C and E (C chord), F and A (F chord), and G and B (G chord). We then create a rhythm and the boys whack it out as hard as they want to on the tuned, hardy, plastic music makers. At the end of the time, their hands are sore, they’ve blown in their friends ears through the tubes, tried out the strength of the plastic on another persons head and left thanking me for a very enjoyable lesson. I swell in the face of gratitude as my next class enters to go through the whole scenario again.

And slowly, slowly, each year I’m around, I begin to make a little more headway in the music scene around our college. I have to place music where there is none and create opportunities for musicians where there were none… and when all is said and done, I can turn around and be immensely proud of placing a musical note in a sport infested environment.

– Celeste Smith

Celeste is also an author of a book that tells a true story about a family’s struggle and ultimate victory in dealing with a disabled child. She speaks very frankly about their ordeal and feelings of depression and anger. She speaks about how this affected her other child and her relationship with her husband. She brings you into her world now, which is a place of peace, security and victory through Jesus Christ.

Websitehttp://www.celestesmith.co.za/
Follow her on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/celestetracy

Share Your Music Teaching Experiences and Tips

February 14, 2012 at 1:54 am | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession, Music Teaching Tips, My Experinces | 1 Comment
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Music teaching is indeed an exciting and fulfilling profession. Although there are instances and experiences that may cause us problems and difficulties, being able to resolve these can make us more effective music educators and even make us improve ourselves.

Teaching music to students with different behaviors, capabilities, age and other personal characteristics can be difficult to handle. There are even times when we have students who are too demanding to learn music but they do not have such discipline to study their pieces. However and because of our love and passion for music, we always tend to cope up with these types of students and still perform our job professionally.

We all have various experiences and techniques in teaching music. We differ in solving different problems. Thus, we are asking you to share these experiences with other music teachers. Share your effective teaching methods or even reviews of gadgets and software that you are using in your music class. With your willingness to share these things, we hope that more music teachers can become better professionals.

Write your pieces and send them to us. Our email address is musicteacher541@gmail.com

We will gladly post it on this website and let other music teachers learn about your story.

Starting a Business as a Music Teacher

January 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Posted in music education, Music Teacher Profession | 4 Comments
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Music teachers should not be afraid to take the leap into private sector teaching. Teaching music is almost a traditional occupation, with roots that go back hundreds of years. Today there are a few more legal hurdles to face, but setting up a music teaching business is no more difficult than setting up any other business.

A business plan is where most prospective small business owners start. Business plans can be very useful for obtaining loans and other forms of financing, but they are also useful as a way to get the details of a small business out on paper. The Small Business Administration offers templates for business plans. There are a number of commercial business plan templates available as well as software to help streamline the writing process. For example, MBA Online has a resource for entrepreneurs looking to start a business during an economic downturn. The Small Business Administration also recommends looking into classes to help with starting a small business and building business plans.

In addition to traditional hoops that businesses face, music teachers must formulate a marketing plan and methodology for attaining students. Consider using your existing network of music programs, teachers, and stores to help get your message out. Teach your students exciting music and set up recitals to give visibility to your teaching.

The next thing to consider is location. Most people are familiar with the traditional image of the music teacher meeting students at home. This is usually the cheaper option for teachers starting out, but it may not be the best option when local laws and ordinances are involved. Many towns will permit teaching of music in the home if teachers see one student at a time. Others, like the one in the article, have restrictions for parking. In that case, it may be necessary to book an outside location for recitals, while it is still possible to teach from home. Regardless, it is important to comply with all of the local zoning laws.

Financing a home-based music teaching business may not be difficult. Monthly rent for an outside location makes a music teaching business more intensive. Home-based teachers often rely on existing community relationships and word of mouth for advertising, while teachers who have to support an outside location need more regular students to keep the business going. Outside financing might be necessary to defray any startup costs. Small businesses can qualify for a number of low cost loans.

Business structure is the next thing to consider. Many small music teaching businesses manage well as sole proprietorships and limited liability corporations (LLC). Business structure determines which forms are needed for filing taxes, but it can also affect legal liability of the proprietor. Check state laws for business name registration. Most states do not require registration if small business owners use their own full name. Some states require registration for any fictitious name. Others base registration requirements on the business structure.

Small businesses are required apply for a tax number, register for state and local taxes and apply for any necessary permits at the state and local level. Contact the city and county government for music teaching permit information. Most local areas require a business license for private music teachers.

Beginning a music teaching small business is not a daunting task. Prospective teachers need to follow a few simple steps to ensure that everything is setup correctly. If in doubt, see the Small Business Administration for guidance. Many times classes for small business owners are available locally at community centers and other venues. Check into these for additional help with creating a business plan and taking care of business details.

—- Elaine Hirsch

2011 Fascination Awards – Teaching Blogs

January 18, 2012 at 7:11 am | Posted in music education | 1 Comment
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It is an honor for us to earn a nomination for “2011 Fascination Awards – Teaching Blogs.”

The Fascination Awards is an annual collection of the web’s most inspirational and thought-provoking blogs.

To be nominated for the award, your blog must:

* Inspire your audience
* Encourage discussion through comment posting
* Contain genuinely fascinating content

Blogs are nominated by our editorial team and are voted on by our readers.
online phd programs

Voting begins on January 21st at 12:01 AM (EST). Check back for the ballot soon!

Category: Teaching Blogs

To qualify as a teaching blog, your blog must meet one of the following conditions:

* The blog is updated by a teacher, either a traditional school/university teacher, or a teacher of a specific trade or skill.
* The blog itself teaches a particular subject or skill.
* The blog covers the topic of teaching.

Cast your votes and we pledge to continue providing relevant and useful tips and resources for music teachers.

What is the Right Age to Begin Guitar Lessons?

November 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in music education, Music Teaching Tips | 3 Comments
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What is the right age to begin guitar lessons? This is a question that is frequently asked by many parents who have young children who are five to eight years old. Many times they have taken them to a music store for lessons and were told that the child is too young to start and they should be ten to twelve years old.

However my answer is start as soon as they’re interested, but you have to have realistic expectations. For example a child who is five years old says “I want to play the guitar”. Most of the time they have no preference as to what style of music, rock, country, jazz etc… to them it’s just “I want to play the guitar”. On the other hand the parent, who can’t really remember what its like to be five, may be thinking “how could they possibly ever play like ________” (fill in the blank with your favorite artist) or that their fingers are too small or any number of reasons that would convince them that maybe they should wait till they’re older. So what is important here is to focus on the child’s interest not the multitude of limiting factors that an adult can postulate.

When a teacher says a child is too young to start it’s due to the fact that they do not know how to teach a child or they’re not willing to put out the effort that it takes to teach a young child. I see it this way, a child eats the same food as an adult but its cut in smaller pieces. The child has to learn the same way but it has to be broken down in very small attainable bits of information that can be easily acquired intellectually as well as physically.

A rule of thumb that I like to use is that you have one minute of attention span for each year of the child’s age, some have more some have less. So if I have a five year old for a half hour lesson I change the focus every five minutes, or when I see that the attention is drifting. I also like to make the lessons fun by joking around and relating to them on their level. I leave room for fidgetiness and don’t make repetitive harsh demands to sit still, sit up straight, pay attention etc… This would only make the experience miserable.

I also think it’s good for the parent/s to sit in on the lesson so they can understand the learning process. The main purpose of starting early is to develop the basic skills needed to play the guitar, not necessarily playing songs like an accomplished musician. The goal here would be to keep the child’s interest while developing the coordination between the right and the left hand and the individual use of fingers so eventually they will be able to produce a good tone.

The first thing may be to get them to pick just one string without hitting any others while getting them familiar with the names of the strings, then eventually how to place one finger on a fret and play a note on one string. Don’t expect that the notes will sound good, most likely you’ll hear a lot of doinks and buzzes and this is normal, remember the goal is keep the interest and develop the basic skills and at the same time you will be developing their attention span as well as their discipline.

What about practice time? Remember the rule of attention span, one minute for each year of their age, don’t get hung up on the hard line rule that they should practice at least a half hour a day. It would be better to take full advantage of whatever attention span the child has and formulate daily practice based on that amount of time. For example a five year old with the average attention span of five minutes can practice five minutes a day. A plan like this will achieve very important results as far as developing basic skills and discipline at an early age and as time goes on increase the amount of practice time as the attention span increases.

A parent can make practice a fun time by asking them to play for them rather than demanding that they practice. Ask questions about what they learned during the lesson. Sometimes they don’t remember anything but it makes them think and focus their attention. They should always keep a positive attitude and compliment their effort.

I use the example of a five year old but that’s not to say that a child can’t learn or at least develop the interest at even an earlier age. My oldest daughter started learning when she was two years old. I bought a cheap, junkie beat up guitar for five bucks and just left it sit around in reach. One day she just sat it on her lap and began strumming on the open strings. From there I showed her how to pick one string, then one note and so on, but nothing heavy or formal. It was just a minute or two here and there along with cheering her on. However it wasn’t until she was about six or seven when we began a more structured lesson time, she started to learn how to read music and had some regular practice time.

About the Author

Ed Kihm is a guitarist, teacher, arranger and composer with a Masters in Music Degree from Combs College of Music in Philadelphia and a Conservatory Diploma for graduate level studies from Neupauers Conservatory of Music. He began learning the guitar at the age of six, has been teaching guitar since 1987 and it’s his full time occupation with private students locally and around the world via web cam lessons as well as subscribers to his online video courses. He occasionally performs classical and jazz in fine dinning restaurants on weekends as well as contracting a variety of work in music production at his home studio.

Learning Perfect Pitch

November 1, 2011 at 6:27 am | Posted in music education | 1 Comment
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Perfect pitch can seem to be an intimidating and alien thing, especially for those who don’t have it naturally. For amateurs researching online and music PhDs alike, the question is: can it be learned? For some purists, the answer is no. They believe perfect pitch is something people are born with, or at least that they develop it around the same time they learn to talk. Others content it can be learned through patience and practice.

There doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all when learning perfect pitch. Although probably everyone could learn perfect pitch, the ability to develop it depends on several factors including the starting point of the person hoping to learn the ability. Students who begin from scratch or who might consider themselves tone deaf will probably have to work harder than the practiced musicians.

The traditional approach to teaching perfect pitch starts with music. If students working on a particular piece sing a note from that piece, then go to the piano to try to match it, that’s practicing to find perfect pitch. Students in high school bands do something similar. When a band instructor has each section play its tuning note, the musicians are trying to have perfect pitch when they play that note. Those truly interested in learning correct pitch learn by listening to those around them and then trying to match their own sound.

Another traditional method is to listen to songs in different keys. Whether using the high school band method, or listening to pop songs played in a certain key, both methods require hearing a note or a song and remembering it. Just like studying for a history test, simply listening isn’t enough: students have to listen, pay attention, practice, and learn.

Probably the best way to learn perfect pitch outside the traditional methods comes from David Lucas Burge, who in 1981 released a program now available on CD and as interactive software. Burge’s program explains what to listen for to develop and refine a sense of pitch. He then breaks it down so students, through repetition and a little common sense, can understand how to find perfect pitch for themselves.

Ohio State University and Calgary University did two independent studies of Burge’s Perfect Pitch program and each found this method of study to be legitimate and effective. Richard Bosworth, DM, who travels the world as a recitalist, soloist, chamber musician, and competitor, has reviewed different methods for learning perfect pitch, and also gives high marks to Burge’s method.

No matter the method of learning perfect pitch, all have certain things in common. No matter their level of musicianship, students must be willing to accept the repetition of hearing music and notes to understand and develop perfect pitch. Students must also simply be patient. Not everyone can learn perfect pitch quickly, but with dedication and perseverance, it is something anybody should be able to learn.

Written by: Elaine Hirsch

What’s the Right Way to Learn Music?

October 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Posted in music education | 2 Comments
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The right way to learn music really depends on what you want to learn what your interests and goals are and to what level of skill you want to develop.

I think when a person says “I want to learn the right way” they may be thinking they have to suffer through a long drawn out tedious frustrating process learning how to read music and practicing scales and arpeggios for hours a day in order to be able to play the guitar. Nah, this is not necessarily so.

Now I’m not anti-music reading or anti-scales and arpeggios but if your interest is to learn a very basic skill like strumming and being able to play and sing your favorite songs or being able to jam in rock and blues you don’t necessarily have to learn how to read music. If chords are to difficult to jump into right away you could take some preliminary steps to build up your finger strength or try smaller chord formations and just get started learning how to strum.

Sometimes for beginners that are in that direction I do recommend learning to read music in a good method book only for the development of the basic technique and it’s an easy step to take when getting your fingers use to the strings and the frets. I also let them know that it’s not absolutely necessary to finish the method completely and we’ll get out of the method as soon as they gain a little more control over the fingers and can handle chords. This way the learning process can be less frustrating because if you do start with chords and the chords are too difficult then you could struggle for months rather than developing the skill you need by taking small systematic steps.

Most songs in the blues, rock and country genre are really not that difficult and only require a minimum of skill. Really, I’m not kidding, I’ve had many students who only after a few weeks or months were able to either begin playing or were enjoying the experience of playing along with their favorite songs on a CD or even getting together with friends and jamming.

If you want to learn classical or jazz than that would require more serious study and practice and I would definitely learn how to read music because it will increase your ability to learn at a faster pace. Classical requires good technique, without it there are pieces that would be impossible to play while jazz requires a good working knowledge of music theory in order to develop the ability to spontaneously improvise.

If your desire is to be a more skillful or professional musician the more you know the better off you are. Let me digress and make some further distinctions, a professional musician is a musician who gets paid for what they do. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are skillful.

On the other hand, I know some musicians who are not professional but they are very skillful. Another popular myth is that if someone is famous they must be good or skillful and that is not necessarily true, many times it’s just a matter of someone’s opinion or they look cute or whatever and there’s nothing wrong with that. So there are different levels of skill and if you want to increase your skill than there are some very specific things that you can and should learn that will do just that which I will save for another article.

I’ve had many students who started by learning how to read music and then they gradually moved into the area of their interest and I’ve also had many students who started without learning to read music and after learning how to play the style of music they liked decided to learn how to read music and they increased their skill even further. So there are many ways that you can learn how to play the guitar what’s important is to find the way that works best for you.

About the Author

Ed Kihm is a guitarist, teacher, arranger and composer with a Masters in Music Degree from Combs College of Music in Philadelphia and a Conservatory Diploma for graduate level studies from Neupauers Conservatory of Music. He began learning the guitar at the age of six, has been teaching guitar since 1987 and it’s his full time occupation with private students locally and around the world via web cam lessons as well as subscribers to his online video courses. He occasionally performs classical and jazz in fine dinning restaurants on weekends as well as contracting a variety of work in music production at his home studio.

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