Chopsticks!

Chopsticks

Stephen Powers first thought of his grand piano as an impressive piece of furniture.

But he enjoyed listening to music so much when friends played at parties at his home in North Wilmington that he began taking lessons.

“I enjoy having a couple of songs under my belt,” says Powers, a 52-year-old banker. “I play Happy Birthday. I play Getting to Know You for my mom.”

Powers is part of a boomlet of adults who are studying piano. Many took lessons briefly as children and regret giving it up. Some simply enjoy music. Others gravitated toward the keyboard because studies suggest piano improves mental acuity while reducing the odds of dementia.

A Swedish study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when a twin played a musical instrument later in life, he or she was 64 percent less likely to develop dementia than the twin who did not play.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2013 evaluated the impact of piano lessons on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in adults age 60 to 84.

The group that studied piano showed significant improvement in tests that measure executive function, controlling inhibitions and divided attention, as well as enhanced visual scanning and motor ability. Piano students also reported a better quality of life.

Some grownups simply relish a challenge.

In the United Kingdom, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, took to the keyboard at age 56. He chronicled the year he spent learning Chopin’s demanding No. Ballade 1 in G Minor in the book Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible.

Richard Swarmer, 57, of Lewes, played the trumpet from grade school through college. He has sung in several choirs. This year, he began piano lessons.

Learning the piano isn’t easy even for someone with a musical background. Still, Swarmer appreciates that the creative thought process is different from the focus required by his job for a medical benefits company.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking piano lessons as an adult,” he says. “It provides a welcome respite from the demands of my job.”

Ethel Thirtel of North Wilmington is 71 and a student at the Music School of Delaware. She is also taking French lessons to help keep her intellect sharp.

“Both pursuits involve active studying and practice to master new skills,” she says.

To meet rising demand, the Music School of Delaware offers adults-only evening group classes to accommodate working people, says Matthew Smith, student and alumni relations officer. The school also provides instruction for adults 50 and older through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Delaware.

“In addition to professionals, we are getting a lot more inquiries from older adults who are retired and have time on their hands,” he says.

Geri Smith, a Julliard-trained singer, musician and composer, has taught piano to children in public schools as well as private arts centers. Her adult students include a 59-year-old writer who took up piano after the death of her husband, a gifted musician.

“Teaching children is a different experience than teaching adults,” says Smith, of Unionville. “Kids pretty much do what you ask them to do but adults ask lots of questions. They want to know why things have to be done a certain way.”

An important part of learning piano is creating new pathways in the brain. A Harvard Medical School study examined the impact of practicing the piano on synapses, the connections between neurons that encode memories and learning.

Volunteers practiced two hours a day for five days, playing a five-finger exercise to the beat of a metronome. To learn how that impacted the neurons scientists used transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS), in which a wire coil sends magnetic impulses to the brain.

They discovered that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to the finger exercises had expanded like crabgrass.

“Playing the piano creates new synapses,” Smith says. “Think of it as creating a conduit so your right hand can talk to your left hand.”

Meldene Gruber of Rehoboth Beach, who has taught piano for more than 40 years, has seen a surge in adult students in the past two years. Now, half her students are adults.

“A number of my adults say they think playing the piano will help with mental acuity,” she says. “Playing the piano forces you to use both sides of the brain, which is great for neuron firing.”

Most adults have specific goals in mind, such as learning to play Christmas carols or a few favorite pieces.

“You don’t get adults who are focused on becoming concert pianists,” Gruber says. “They come for the joy of playing, not because their mothers made them.”

via Chopstick therapy: how piano lessons could help us age better — NewsWorks.

Today is National Buy a Musical Instrument Day

Piano 8

 

 

Each year on May 22 we observe National Buy a Musical Instrument Day.  The day is all about playing music.  If you are a musician, it might be time for a new instrument.  Maybe you can learn to play a second or third one.  If you have never played an instrument before, National Buy A Musical Instrument Day might be the motivation you need to start.

Naturally, here at the O’Connor Music Studio, a piano, keyboard with weighted keys (and 88 of them!) or organ is recommended but this day is for all types of instruments and is for people of all ages.  Grandpa can play his ukulele while the grandkids play the drums, trombone, and flute. Together they can all make terrific music!

Adapted from http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-buy-a-musical-instrument-day-may-22/

 

Chopsticks, Anyone?

Chopsticks

Stephen Powers first thought of his grand piano as an impressive piece of furniture.

But he enjoyed listening to music so much when friends played at parties at his home in North Wilmington that he began taking lessons.

“I enjoy having a couple of songs under my belt,” says Powers, a 52-year-old banker. “I play Happy Birthday. I play Getting to Know You for my mom.”

Powers is part of a boomlet of adults who are studying piano. Many took lessons briefly as children and regret giving it up. Some simply enjoy music. Others gravitated toward the keyboard because studies suggest piano improves mental acuity while reducing the odds of dementia.

A Swedish study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that when a twin played a musical instrument later in life, he or she was 64 percent less likely to develop dementia than the twin who did not play.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2013 evaluated the impact of piano lessons on cognitive function, mood and quality of life in adults age 60 to 84.

The group that studied piano showed significant improvement in tests that measure executive function, controlling inhibitions and divided attention, as well as enhanced visual scanning and motor ability. Piano students also reported a better quality of life.

Some grownups simply relish a challenge.

In the United Kingdom, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, took to the keyboard at age 56. He chronicled the year he spent learning Chopin’s demanding No. Ballade 1 in G Minor in the book Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible.

Richard Swarmer, 57, of Lewes, played the trumpet from grade school through college. He has sung in several choirs. This year, he began piano lessons.

Learning the piano isn’t easy even for someone with a musical background. Still, Swarmer appreciates that the creative thought process is different from the focus required by his job for a medical benefits company.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking piano lessons as an adult,” he says. “It provides a welcome respite from the demands of my job.”

Ethel Thirtel of North Wilmington is 71 and a student at the Music School of Delaware. She is also taking French lessons to help keep her intellect sharp.

“Both pursuits involve active studying and practice to master new skills,” she says.

To meet rising demand, the Music School of Delaware offers adults-only evening group classes to accommodate working people, says Matthew Smith, student and alumni relations officer. The school also provides instruction for adults 50 and older through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at University of Delaware.

“In addition to professionals, we are getting a lot more inquiries from older adults who are retired and have time on their hands,” he says.

Geri Smith, a Julliard-trained singer, musician and composer, has taught piano to children in public schools as well as private arts centers. Her adult students include a 59-year-old writer who took up piano after the death of her husband, a gifted musician.

“Teaching children is a different experience than teaching adults,” says Smith, of Unionville. “Kids pretty much do what you ask them to do but adults ask lots of questions. They want to know why things have to be done a certain way.”

An important part of learning piano is creating new pathways in the brain. A Harvard Medical School study examined the impact of practicing the piano on synapses, the connections between neurons that encode memories and learning.

Volunteers practiced two hours a day for five days, playing a five-finger exercise to the beat of a metronome. To learn how that impacted the neurons scientists used transcranial-magnetic-stimulation (TMS), in which a wire coil sends magnetic impulses to the brain.

They discovered that after a week of practice, the stretch of motor cortex devoted to the finger exercises had expanded like crabgrass.

“Playing the piano creates new synapses,” Smith says. “Think of it as creating a conduit so your right hand can talk to your left hand.”

Meldene Gruber of Rehoboth Beach, who has taught piano for more than 40 years, has seen a surge in adult students in the past two years. Now, half her students are adults.

“A number of my adults say they think playing the piano will help with mental acuity,” she says. “Playing the piano forces you to use both sides of the brain, which is great for neuron firing.”

Most adults have specific goals in mind, such as learning to play Christmas carols or a few favorite pieces.

“You don’t get adults who are focused on becoming concert pianists,” Gruber says. “They come for the joy of playing, not because their mothers made them.”

via Chopstick therapy: how piano lessons could help us age better — NewsWorks.

National Buy a Musical Instrument Day

Piano 8

 

 

Each year on May 22 we observe National Buy a Musical Instrument Day.  The day is all about playing music.  If you are a musician, it might be time for a new instrument.  Maybe you can learn to play a second or third one.  If you have never played an instrument before, National Buy A Musical Instrument Day might be the motivation you need to start.

Naturally, here at the O’Connor Music Studio, a piano, keyboard or organ is recommended but this day is for all types of instruments and is for people of all ages.  Grandpa can play his ukulele while the grandkids play the drums, trombone, and flute. Together they can all make terrific music!

Adapted from http://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-buy-a-musical-instrument-day-may-22/

 

104-year-old plays piano for her party

steinway-old

At age 104, San Marcos resident Dorothy “Dottie” Coleman is one of about 72,000 centenarians in the U.S. according to the National Center for Health Statistics in a 2014 survey.

But to anyone who knows her, she is one in a million. Ask the members of the Lake San Marcos Kiwanis Club, where she plays the piano to kick off meetings. Or ask teens from the San Marcos Youth Symphony who gave a community concert with her last December at which Coleman received a standing ovation.

“What inspires me and the Kiwanis members is how she takes each day one day at a time — the worries and anxieties that weigh others down just roll off her back,” said Jerry Mason, Lake San Marcos Kiwanis president. “Every time I am with her she uplifts my spirits.”

For her recent 104th birthday, the Lake San Marcos Kiwanis threw a party at which Coleman played the piano. She plays mostly from memory, and her favorites include pieces by Chopin and Claire de Lune along with big band hits of the 1930s and 1940s.

“Ms. Coleman’s mind is clear and her fingers still can dance on top of the keyboard,” said Hurlink Vongsachang, co-president of the San Marcos Youth Orchestra.

Coleman started playing the piano in church nearly a century ago when she was about 7. She was born April 4, 1912, and grew up in a small town in southern Pennsylvania, later attending a teacher’s college and marrying Les Coleman in 1934. The couple was married 62 years and Coleman cared for him when he was ailing in his later years until he died 20 years ago.

Coleman’s first trip to California was a cross-country car journey in a Model A Ford in the mid 1930s. Later she returned when her husband, a lieutenant colonel, was stationed at the former Fort Ord Army Base on Monterey Bay, where she and other teachers helped young soldiers work on their high school diplomas. She and her husband moved to San Marcos in 1996.

With a zest for travel, Coleman went on an African safari when she was 86 and traveled to India at 88. She started writing and publishing stories at age 91 after taking a writing class at the San Marcos Senior Center.

She lives independently and stopped driving voluntarily at age 101 when she broke her hip. She has a daughter, three grandchildren and five great grandchildren, some of whom have taken piano lessons from her.

On her birthday, Coleman said, “The best present I have is that I still have all my marbles.”

From http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/apr/12/dorothy-coleman-104th-birthday-upbeat-pianist/

Never Too Old!

piano-old

At 90 years of age, she has recently cut back a bit on her musical engagements, but she is still the official pianist for Club 55+ and happily plays hymns and old favourites for residents in her seniors’ complex in New Glasgow.

“My parents were both great singers and we had a piano at home, so I was anxious to play. I was sent for eight lessons and that is the full extent of my musical education.”

She was nine or ten when she travelled by horse and sleigh from Iron Ore to Stellarton with an uncle who brought butter, eggs and vegetables to town to sell on Saturday mornings.

“He dropped me at Langston Miller’s on Rundle Street and that’s where I learned all the notes. After that, it was just practice. I still play a lot by ear.”

Read the entire article at Love for piano remains many decades later – Community – The News.