By Renee Bordner
By Renee Bordner
By now, all of us have heard that having a child study music helps them to become well rounded and score better on standardized tests. Some of you have heard that studying music can delay or prevent dementia and memory related conditions. However, did you know why and how these are all inter related? Did you know that studying music can be an energy boost and increase multi tasking skills? This article was sent to me by my friend Deb Beck, the Chief Creative Rabbit at BigBunny Marketing. The article explains how studying music positively impacts our brains. So you can now skip the energy drinks, sudoku and SAT prep courses to study music instead. The "side effect" is having terrific live music fill your home.
By Margie Meacham
Pythagoras, Greek philosopher and mathematician, is recognized for discovering the relationship between the length of a string on an instrument and the pitch that the string produces. He believed that this correlation was part of a harmonic relationship that connects everything in the universe, which he called “The Music of the Spheres.” While Pythagoras didn’t have the benefit of today’s brain imaging technology, he just may have been right.
Music May Be Our Native Language
Multiple studies in neuroscience and psychology suggest that infants demonstrate an innate ability to respond to music and suggest that, from a processing perspective, “spoken language is a special type of music.” Anthropology suggests that human language and music have a “shared evolutionary history,” demonstrating that as human language evolved, our musical expression evolved along similar lines. This observation originated with Darwin, who suggested that the first humans may have communicated in song, rather than in spoken language as we know it today.
It All Starts With Vibration
Vibration generates waves of high and low compression. Human brains interpret waves that fall between 20 to 20,000 Hz as sound. The vibration, typically carried by the air, enters our ear, eventually stimulates the auditory nerve, which sends a signal to the brain. Here’s where the fun begins: the more generalized sounds that we experience throughout the day are processed primarily in the auditory cortex, where specialized neurons have been tuned to specific frequencies through experience.
But music isn’t just a single sound; it’s a complex weaving of sounds, mixed with rhythm and sometimes language. Using brain imaging technologies, including fMRI and PET scans, neuroscientists have discovered that music engages multiple parts of the brain:
It is this powerful, widespread, and instantaneous effect on multiple parts of the brain that may explain the powerful ways that engaging with music enhances seemingly diverse brain functions. Playing a musical instrument enhances key cognitive functions, including problem solving, memory, planning, attention to detail, and emotional intelligence. Perhaps the best example of how frequent, disciplined playing of music affects these skills is Albert Einstein, who was an accomplished violist and often played his instrument to sort out difficult problems. Listen to just how accomplished he was in this rare recording of him performing.
Our Brains Are Predicting the Next Note.
During our workshop, Essentials of Brain-Based Learning, we investigate the predictive power of the human brain. This predictive capacity is believed to be a key factor in our survival as individuals and as a species. It also is a key part of the learning process and explains why stories are so powerful for engaging learners and changing behavior.
Your brain is constantly performing complex predictive calculations, based on sensory information and memories of experience. This pattern recognition plays out in our ability to read music and convert the written notes into specific movements of our bodies that generate sounds at specific pitches, volumes, durations, and rhythms. Even an untrained brain responds almost immediately to music and begins to predict the next note before it is even played. Watch artist Bobby McFerrin demonstrate how his audience predicts the next note in his performance without prompting.
Applications for Talent Development
As talent development professionals, we need to broaden our view of music and think of it as a core information processing skill, rather than an aesthetic “nice to have” pastime. Engaging with music can help your audience:
Margie Meacham is an adult learning expert with a master of science in learning technologies and more than 15 years of experience in the field. A self-described “scholar-practitioner,” Margie collaborates with like-minded instructional designers to find practical applications of neuroscience to instructional design. You can follow Margie on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or visit her website at www.learningtogo.info.
By Renee Bordner
Attention all students, parents and instructors!
Are you interested in increasing your productivity? Are you interested in increasing your happiness and personal satisfaction? While I cannot make you more productive, efficient, or happy I can help you learn a little bit more about yourself and your way of thinking.
Carol Dweck's research has been out for several years. A few years ago, all of the local public school faculty members were asked to read her book AND attend training workshops. Teachers and coaches around the globe are talking about growth versus fixed mindset.
Personally, I truly believe that Carol Dweck's philosophies on Growth and Fixed Mindsets are accurate. One could say it is like the old saying, "Bloom where you are planted" but add your own fertilizer!
I read and listen to a lot of material about how to motivate and inspire students. I found this video today and I just wanted to share it with you. I like this one as it is shorter than many, it is animated AND it has a music example in it.
If you find this video useful, check out more information about Ms. Dweck's research. If you find another resource that you find helpful please share it with me as I enjoy learning about teaching, motivating and inspiring others.
Renee Bordner is the Studio Director of Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio, the Chair of the Sudbury chapter of the National Piano Guild, and a private piano instructor.
By Renee Bordner
Do you use a metronome when you practice?
Are you afraid to use a metronome?
Do you know how to use a metronome?
Are you using the correct metronome for you?
Over the past 12 years I have been asked countless questions about how to use a metronome, what type to buy, etc. I encourage students to try a variety of metronomes and to start with free metronome apps that are available on most smartphones and tablets. Some students prefer a flashing light and in the case of percussion students they may need a flashing light. Other students prefer to see the swinging pendulum in their peripheral vision. Yet some students prefer a dog barking sound versus a click or beep!
When using a metronome for practice, I do not expect for a student to use it for every piece assigned every day. Sometimes I have students only use it for their warm ups so they can practice steady beats. Other times I have students use a metronome to keep a consistent tempo in a challenging piece. I believe that it is important to play a piece correctly without a metronome as most performers do not perform with a metronome on stage.
Here is a terrific video on how to use the metronome correctly when practicing any instrument at home. Included in this video are some tips of things to avoid when practicing with a metronome. Enjoy the video and happy practicing!
Renee is the studio director of Note-worthy Experiences, the chair of the Sudbury Chapter of the National Piano Guild, and a private piano instructor.
By Renee Bordner
Piano Guild Auditions are something that we offer our piano students each spring. Each year, I am asked by students, parents and even some teachers many questions about it. I am always happy to answer any and all questions as I want students to make an informed decision about participating.
There is a fair amount of information available on the website and a great deal of information available in the Guild Syllabus. However, I am going to attempt to sum up this information for students, parents and instructors here.
I have prepared students for Piano Guild for many years in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, I was the Co-Chair of the Concord Center for a period of time before creating a Sudbury Chapter in 2017. The Center Chairperson is responsible for securing the location of the auditions. I have elected to host the auditions at our studio in my home. This also means that instructors from outside of our studio are also welcome to bring their students to our audition center which does occur each year.
Students of all ages and stages may participate in the auditions. The student may register to play one to twenty pieces for the Judge. A student must register in advance with an instructor who is a Guild Member who submits the payment and registration card to Headquarters. Once the Guild Fee is submitted to Headquarters, it is non refundable. If a student wishes to change the skill level or number of pieces he or she is playing, there is a $10 fee to receive an updated certificate / report card. Headquarters will assign the dates and times that each instructor is allotted to have students perform for the Judge. The teacher is then responsible for communicating with the students and parents about the assigned dates and times. The scheduling department at Headquarters assigns the Judge to adjudicate at a center. The same judge cannot return to a center for three years.
According to the syllabus and website,
"The Piano Guild, as we are called (a division of the American College of Musicians), was founded in 1929 by Dr. Irl Allison. Since that time, the Guild has grown to more than 850 audition centers where thousands of students enroll annually in our international auditions, which are held throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Our primary function is to establish definite goals and awards--in noncompetitive auditions--for students of all levels, from the earliest beginner to the gifted prodigy. With the exception of our "special" programs, teachers have the flexibility to choose all repertoire for student auditions. Students are judged on individual merit, by a well-qualified music professional, in the areas of accuracy, continuity, phrasing, pedaling, dynamics, rhythm, tempo, tone, interpretation, style, and technique. Our purpose is to encourage growth and enjoyment through the study of piano."
"Students are adjudicated by an international panel of judges and receive report cards, certificates, and fraternity pins. Programs are diversified to meet the needs of both students and teachers. Programs are flexible and include repertoire as well as technical goals (musicianship phases)."
Guild offers students the opportunity to perform in front of one judge versus a large audience and or a panel of judges in a large university like setting. Each student receives a score and comment card full of constructive feedback. The scores are not posted or public. Students can compete with him or herself year after year to improve the score, increase the level of difficulty of pieces and or the number of pieces performed. This a format for students and instructors to set measurable and attainable goals each year. I often explain this to parents and child care givers by equating this to a third party audit. It is a platform for students to receive constructive feedback to help the student to improve. It is a great stepping stone for students who wish to explore other graded systems, competitions and festivals. Guild welcomes both the students who study piano for recreation and leisure as well as the students who intend to major or minor in music.
This year, I will be conducting a Piano Guild Prep workshop for our students. Details will be in our monthly newsletters. This workshop is designed for both students who are new to the Guild process and to students who are seasoned members.
I would be honored to answer any additional questions about Piano Guild, if I do not know the answer, I will find the answer for you. Best wishes in your musical adventures.
Renee Bordner is the owner of Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio and became a member of the Piano Guild Hall of Fame in 2019.
Music educator and profession development specialist Michael Griffin discusses the misunderstood idea of talent, its intersection with hard work, and whether or not it is a genetic phenomenon. The "learning mindset" vs. the "talent mindset" can lead to drastically different results in students, and although each individual's perception and environment affect these outcomes, reliance on talent can lead to a decrease of effort he argues. Click here to read the full article by Michael Griffin.
For more music education and professional development please visit professional-development.com.au/
By Rachel Stroia
Note-worthy Experiences has announced its second annual Scholarship competition. The competition is open to all MetroWest students ages 9-17, all instruments. The competition will consist of two rounds, the first will be a recorded round in which the student will submit two pieces of contrasting style. The second round will be live performances by four students selected by a panel of judges, based on the submitted recordings. The prize for the winner is a $250 cash prize.
Last year’s winner was Catie Siedel, a piano student of Dr. Daniel Dickson. Catie was also featured in GetLocalMA magazine shortly after winning the competition. Read more about her here. She was one of four finalists to perform in front of panel of Note-worthy judges of various backgrounds. The four finalists performed a variety of pieces of all styles from Bach Preludes to Beach Buggy Boogie by Martha Mier.
The competition is an excellent opportunity for students not only to prepare a piece for a formal performance, but also to receive a variety of feedback on their progress. A teacher’s feedback is incredibly valuable to a student, and receiving feedback from others is just as valuable to the teacher and the student.
Please see the flyer below for more information on the competition:
By Jessica Petrus Aird
I'll let you in on a secret: I was absolutely one of these kids. Each week, my mom would drag me to my piano lesson, where my teacher would glare at me in disappointment because, again, I didn't practice. Maybe one song really spoke to me, and I got good at that one. But the scales, technique exercises, and that really challenging one? Often, no.
I understand her approach; she had a disciplined method that worked for many of her students and she stuck by it. Unfortunately, I was just one of those kids with which it didn't really work. I needed a more emotional and creative approach; I needed to first love the music I was playing. I was not really a "10 minutes a day, every day" kind of kid; I did better with less structure. I would go days without practicing (worrying my mother endlessly), but then spend an hour listening, singing, and playing dress-up to all kinds of music in our CD collection. As much as it probably drove my parents crazy, I'm grateful they let me find my own way in piano through various creative expressions. It was through these processes I found the spark to love some of my songs in piano and want to play them.
As you can guess, finding that spark in students can be a real challenge sometimes. My work in private teaching has shown me that the best way to help kids develop a healthy practice habit is to first identify what motivates them naturally. This is where parents' input is invaluable to me. Does your student really enjoy movement? Singing? Patterns? Problem solving? Poetry? Composing? Something else? Let's find a way to build on those natural motivators in their music learning! Below are some ideas.
Find your student's motivators!
Jessica is a voice and piano instructor for Note-worthy Experiences. To learn more about Jess, please visit her Teacher Page.
By Rachel Stroia
Earlier this year, Note-worthy embarked on the project of collecting teaching philosophies from all of our teachers. We know that all of our teachers are unique in their teaching styles and goals. Reading a teacher's biography can sometimes not be sufficient information to decide if that teacher is a good fit for your student. We asked ourselves how we could make more focused information about out teachers available to families searching for music teachers. Just as every teacher has a different teaching style, every family has a different requirement for their own musical journey. We asked our teachers to write a teaching philosophy so that we could understand their motives, inspirations, and goals, not just their achievements. The results surpassed our expectations. Not only did we learn about individual teaching styles and methods, but we also discovered the wealth of diversity that the teachers at Note-worthy offer.
One teacher said, "I teach students to focus on achieving the sensations of healthy singing, rather than making judgments about the resulting sounds, which can often be instinctively negative, rather than objective and analytical. Once we free ourselves from negative judgments, singing becomes healthier, more creative, AND more fun! I ask students to view lessons and practice as science experiments; be playful and observant and the beautiful sounds will happen." Another, "My teaching philosophy is to instill a state of constant wonder and curiosity for music of all forms." Another, “"Whether teaching voice or piano, my primary goal is to help students see music as a creative, individual, and fun process! Through my positive and gentle guidance which includes invaluable tools like healthy vocal or piano technique, musical literacy, improvisation and ear training, and appropriate repertoire, I hope to help cultivate a lifelong love of music in my students that keeps them learning and experimenting for years to come."
Our teachers bring a wealth of experience from some of the best music schools in the county. But more than that, they bring a passion to share their love of music with others and to inspire a life-long love of music in their students. For more teacher philosophies, please visit our Meet our Teachers page.
Rachel Stroia is the Office Manager at Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio. In addition to working at Note-worthy, she is also a student at Suffolk University and enjoys reading and cooking.
By Alix Raspe
Allow me to introduce Luna, my oldest and best friend. Luna’s not your typical companion; she’s not a beloved stuffed animal or a neighborhood pal. She is a Style 85, Lyon and Healy Concert Grand harp. Now, how did a toddler become attached to an ninety pound, six foot high, widely unpopular musical instrument? My parents definitely weren’t musical. The only performing art they introduced me to was “Big Bird Meets the Orchestra.” Yet, by the age of five, I was obsessed with the harp.
It all began while watching Duchess in Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats.” Though the Scat Cats were entertaining, I was completely mesmerized by Duchess. At that moment, I didn’t want to “Be a Cat”; I wanted to “Be a Harpist”. This dream was a self-proclaimed commitment. Nothing would change my mind; nothing would stop me... except maybe my parents.
Not only was the harp an expensive investment for a five year old; it was three times my size. Mom and Dad tried to sell me on piano lessons, but I remained resolute. As a compromise we agreed on piano lessons for three years and harp lessons thereafter.
My obligatory interest in piano lasted exactly two minutes. Sitting at our baby grand piano, my eyes skipped over the keys and immediately focused on the inner strings. I had to pluck those strings. I dragged the piano bench to the side, climbed up, and started picking at all 230 wires. When Mom arrived home from work, she found me headfirst inside the piano. Afraid that the lid might crash on my head or smash my fingers, Mom insisted that “piano string plucking” become a supervised activity. She assumed that this provision would suppress my need for a harp. Little did she know.
A year later I made an even greater discovery. While rehearsing on my grandparent’s upright piano, I noticed that I couldn’t visibly see strings. But there had to be strings. My grandmother had no rule against “piano string plucking,” so I proceeded to pop the top, pull out the soundboard, and plunge my fingers through the soundboard’s crevices. At that moment my grandmother walked into the room and witnessed a scene right out of “A Day at the Races.” Like Harpo Marx, I had pulled apart a piano and proceeded to play the wires. Though the soundboard didn’t fit back into the piano, my miffed grandmother joined the battle for harp lessons.
Finally three excruciating years of piano lessons passed. I earned the nickname, “The Terminator,” thanks to two destroyed pianos and countless broken wires. My Mom kept her promise and she enlisted former jazz harpist, Ruth Berman Harris, a spunky ninety year old lady with severe arthritis. As I watched her play throughout her pain, my respect and devotion to the harp intensified. Mrs. Harris started my early harp education, leading me to then study with June Han at Juilliard Pre-College in high school, Bridget Kibbey at New York University for my Bachelor’s, and Jessica Zhou at New England Conservatory for my Masters in Music. Stated simply, harp was my calling, and Luna will be my friend for life.
Alix is a graduate of New York University and New England Conservatory. She has received numerous awards as a soloist including: the Annapolis Music Festival Maestro Award for Outstanding Soloist at the age of 13, the NYU Excellence in String Performance and Leadership Award, and the NYU Orchestral Excellence Award. She has taught harp for Note-worthy Experience since May of 2018.
Note-worthy Experiences Music Studio LLC, located in Sudbury, Massachusetts, provides private in-home music lessons to students of all ages in the Boston MetroWest area including Concord, Wayland, Weston, Wellesley, Newton, Lincoln, Lexington, Sudbury, and Boston. Contact us at 978.443.0480 or email@example.com
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