Friday, August 28, 2009

Compelling Quotes

“Should we not be putting all our emphasis on reading, writing and math? The ‘back-to-basics curricula,’ while it has merit, ignores the most urgent void in our present system – absence of self-discipline. The arts, inspiring – indeed requiring – self-discipline, may be more ‘basic’ to our nation survival than traditional credit courses. Presently, we are spending 29 times more on science than on the arts, and the result so far is worldwide intellectual embarrassment.”

- Paul Harvey – syndicated radio show host

“It's [music education] terribly important, extremely important -- because when you are a child, you are in a receptive age ... In high schools, public schools -- that's where they must have the best influence, the first influence, which will go through their whole life.”

- Eugene Ormandy – conductor of The Philadelphia Orchestra

“It is our job, as parents, educators, and friends, to see that our young people have the opportunity to attain the thorough education that will prepare them for the future. Much of that education takes place in the classroom. We must encourage our youngsters in such pursuits as music education. In addition to learning the valuable lesson that it takes hard work to achieve success, no matter what the arena, music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for

successful living.”

- Edward H. Rensi – President and Chief Operation Officer, U.S.A. McDonald's Corporation

“A grounding in the arts will help our children to see; to bring a uniquely human perspective to science and technology. In short, it will help them as they grow smarter to also grow wiser.”

- Robert E. Allen – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Corporation

“Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and by studying music in school, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective.”

- Bill Clinton, former President of the United States of America

“Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them — a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.”

- Gerald Ford, former President of the United States

A Cumulative View

In support of music education:

Ninety-two (92) percent of people who play an instrument say they were glad they learned to do so, according to a 2000 Gallup Poll.

- Gallup Poll Shows Strong Support for Putting Music in Every School’s Curriculum, Giles Communications, 2000.

The scores of elementary instrumental music students on standardized math tests increased with each year they participated in the instrumental program.

- “Music Training Helps Underachievers,” Nature, May 26, 1996.

Nine out of ten adults and teenagers who play instruments agree that music making brings the family closer together.

- Music Making and Our Schools, American Music Conference, 2000.

Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills.

- Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing,

Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.

A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background.

- Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.

A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased.

- “Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998.

First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction.

- K.L. Wolff, The Effects of General Music Education on the Academeic Achievement, Perceptual-Motor

Development, Creative Thinking, and School Attendance of First-Grade Children, 1992.

In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change.

- Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.

According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.

- Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.

Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives.

- “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.

In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.

- The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.

College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness.

- Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.

On the 1999 SAT, music students continued to outperform their non-arts peers, scoring 61 points higher on the verbal portion and 42 points higher on the math portion of the exam.

- Steven M. Demorest and Steven J. Morrison, “Does Music Make You Smarter?,” Music Educators Journal, September, 2000.

Students who participate in All-State ensembles consistently score over 200 points higher on the SAT than non-music students. This figure indicates that students can pursue excellence in music while also excelling academically.

- Texas Music Educators Association, 1988-1996.

Students with good rhythmic performance ability can more easily detect and differentiate between patterns in math, music, science, and the visual arts.

- “Rhythm seen as key to man’s evolutionary development,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.

Students in arts programs are more likely to try new things, and they can better express their own ideas to friends, teachers, and parents.

- Champions of Change, the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities, 1999.

College students majoring in music achieve scores higher than students of all other majors on college reading exams.

- Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.

Music students demonstrate less test anxiety and performance anxiety than students who do not study music.

- “College-Age Musicians Emotionally Healthier than Non-Musician Counterparts,” Houston Chronicle,


The average scores achieved by music students on the 1999 SAT increased for every year of musical study. This same trend was found in SAT scores of previous years.

- Steven M. Demorest and Steven J. Morrison, “Does Music Make You Smarter?,” Music Educators Journal, September, 2000.

A majority of the engineers and technical designers in Silicon Valley are also practicing musicians.

- The Case for Sequential Music Education in the Core Curriculum of the Public Schools, Center for the

Arts in the Basic Curriculum, 1997.

Second and third grade students who were taught fractions through musical rhythms scored one hundred (100) percent higher on fractions tests than those who learned in the conventional manner.

- “Rhythm Students Learn Fractions More Easily,” Neurological Research, March 15, 1999

Students involved in arts programs had significantly higher class attendance rates than a comparison group.

- Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.

Classroom teachers in Rhode Island noted improved behavior and attitudes among a test group of students given intensive arts training.

- “Music Training Helps Underachievers,” Nature, May 26, 1996

Ninth grade students in a Chicago arts program achieved reading scores that were a full grade level higher than students not in the program. All other variables, including race, gender, and socioeconomic status, were equal in this study.

- CAPE Study, President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities, 2000.

When faced with a problem to solve, students in music and the arts produce more possible solutions, and their solutions are more creative, according to a nationwide study.

- N. M. Weinberger, “Arts Education Enhances ‘Real Life’ Personal Skills,” MuSICA Research Notes,

Spring 2000.

Music Training Boosts the Brain

From BBC News, 9/20/06:

"Music lessons can improve memory and learning ability in young children by encouraging different patterns of brain development, research shows.

Canadian scientists compared children aged four to six who took music lessons for a year with those who did not.

They found the musical group performed better on a memory test also designed to assess general intelligence skills such as literacy and maths ability."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Your Child's Brain

From Newsweek, 2/19/96:

Music: Last October researchers at the University of Konstanz in Germany reported that exposure to music rewires neural circuits. In the brains of nine string players examined with magnetic resonance imaging, the amount of somatosensory cortex dedicated to the thumb and fifth finger of the left hand -- the fingering digits -- was significantly larger than in nonplayers. How long the players practiced each day did not affect the cortical map. But the age at which they had been introduced to their muse did: the younger the child when she took up an instrument, the more cortex she devoted to playing it.

Like other circuits formed early in life, the ones for music endure. Wayne State's Chugani played the guitar as a child, then gave it up. A few years ago he started taking piano lessons with his young daughter. She learned easily, but he couldn't get his fingers to follow his wishes. Yet when Chugani recently picked up a guitar, he found to his delight that "the songs are still there," much like the muscle memory for riding a bicycle.

Math and logic: At UC Irvine, Gordon Shaw suspected that all higher-order thinking is characterized by similar patterns of neuron firing. "If you're working with little kids," says Shaw, "you're not going to teach them higher mathematics or chess. But they are interested in and can process music." So Shaw and Frances Rauscher gave 19 preschoolers piano or singing lessons. After eight months, the researchers found, the children "dramatically improved in spatial reasoning," compared with children given no music lessons, as shown in their ability to work mazes, draw geometric figures and copy patterns of two-color blocks. The mechanism behind the "Mozart effect" remains murky, but Shaw suspects that when children exercise cortical neurons by listening to classical music, they are also strengthening circuits used for mathematics. Music, says the UC team, "excites the inherent brain patterns and enhances their use in complex reasoning tasks."

Read the full article here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

RiP! A Remixer's Manifesto

This documentary film is fascinating. It presents the flaws in U.S. copyright law and profiles the musicians and artists who dare to defy it. The main artist featured -- Greg Gillis, AKA Girl Talk -- is at the front lines of the debate about artists' rights. His music is constituted of "mash-ups", or combinations of popular songs/music from the past. His samples from older music (i.e. Elton John, Queen, Jackson 5, and countless hip-hop artists) produce a fresh vision -- enlivening the old by making it new. In the past couple of years, Girl Talk has become a increasingly popular artist and galvanized supporters worldwide.

I think this quote by the documentarian is particularly compelling: "Copyright [law] is out of control. It has been manipulated for profit, at everyone's expense."

"RiP!", as you might have guessed by now, argues in favor of every individual's right to "remix" pieces of popular culture, free from fear of legal action.

The following manifesto forms the thesis of the work:

The Remixers Manifesto:
1. Culture always builds on the past.
2. The past always tries to control the future.
3. Our Future is becoming less free.
4. To build free societies, you must limit control of the past.

You can watch a trailer for the film here.

Rip: A Remix Manifesto

Sunday, August 2, 2009

August 2009 -- Teaching schedule & upcoming events

-- My teaching schedule will be uninterrupted during the month of August.

(I will be ending teaching early on the evenings of Tuesday, August 4 and Thursday, August 6 --

I have already communicated this to affected students)

-- I am performing as piano accompanist with the Douglas Morrison Theatre Chorus in Hayward on August 7, 8, and 9. If you are interested in learning more, click here.

-- Parents & students: please continue to keep me informed if you have any travel plans for August, the last month of summer.