Playing the Piano is Hard?

Try to find an American Fotoplayer!

fotoplayer

The American Fotoplayer is a type of photoplayer developed by the American Fotoplayer Company between the years of 1912 and 1925. The Fotoplayer is a type of player piano specifically developed to provide music and sound effects for silent movies.

The appeal of the Fotoplayer to theatre owners was the fact that it took no musical skill to operate. The Fotoplayer would play the piano and pipe organ mechanically using an electric motor, an air pump, and piano rolls while the user of the Fotoplayer would follow the onscreen action while pulling cords, pushing buttons, and pressing pedals to produce relatable sounds to what was occurring onscreen. These actions could create sounds such as a steamboat whistle, a bird chirp, wind, thunder, a telephone bell, as well as many others. On Fotoplayers specifically, most effects were created using leather cords with wooden handles on the ends which the effects were directly connected to. For example, the steamboat whistle sound effect was created using a household bellows with a whistle at the end. Pulling the cord compressed the bellows, delivering a gust of air into the whistle. Creating a drum roll on the other hand was a bit more complicated. A clockwork device was needed to time the strikes of the drum which required constant winding.

Adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Fotoplayer

 

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks

sacks-music

Writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, who died on Sunday, August 30, 2015 at age 82, spent his life wondering on the myriad connections among biology, thought, emotion and perception.

For those of us who obsess over the how and why of music, Sacks’ work on sound and its effects on the brain – and vice versa – was particularly illuminating. His book on the subject, “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” remains essential reading for those who want to understand the mechanics of music.

Through bountiful research and mesmerizing case studies, Sacks addressed topics including music and amnesia, music therapy, musical prodigies and those who suffer from debilitating aural hallucinations.

Read more at Oliver Sacks & music: On brainworms, hallucinations and sonic overload – LA Times

The O’Connor Music Studio has a copy of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain if anyone would like to borrow it.

 

What Age Should A Child Begin Music Lessons?

child-piano

These days, there is much pressure for parents to begin their children in activities from an early age.  We know that children tend to pick up new skills easily and we want for them to have an opportunity to become experts at these new skills.  We also see curiosity, desire and eagerness to learn in our children and want to capitalize on that.

Music lessons are no exception.  We often get calls asking the question, “When is the best time to enroll my child in piano lessons?”  The answer to that is a tricky one, and varies for each child.  The right age for one may not be the right age for another.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you are considering enrolling your child in music lessons:

1.   Does my child have an attention span to sit still for chunks of time and listen to instruction?

Many teachers today are very creative in using off-bench activities during lessons and have a plethora of activities to make lessons fun and engaging.  However, the fact remains that your child will need to sit at the piano for some periods of time during the lesson.  It is important that your child have the attention span to do this.

Read more at  How do we know if children are ready to begin music lessons? « Piano Pedagogy @ The New School for Music Study.

Math meets music

Three researchers attempt to bring some rigor to the math of melody.

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science wrapped up last week in Washington, DC. One particularly enjoyable and informative highlight was a session on Mathematics and Music, which presented some work in progress by three prominent researchers in this area.

Noam Elkies of Harvard University presented the first talk, titled “The Entropy of Music: How Many Possible Pieces of Music Are There?” He illustrated his points with virtuosic turns on a keyboard. His basic idea was to apply concepts similar to those used in statistical mechanics and information theory to approach the question posed in his title. Elkies addressed how much a piece of music needs to change before it is a different piece, rather than a variation on the original. He also talked about how much information remains when the redundancy of repeated themes in a piece is accounted for.

Read the entire article at Mathematics meets music | Ars Technica

How Playing An Instrument Benefits Your Brain

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout.

What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

via How playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins | TED-Ed.

Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children, Study says

From the Washington Post, but we knew this already, right?

Music training not only helps children develop fine motor skills, but aids emotional and behavioral maturation as well, according to a new study, one of the largest to investigate the effects of playing an instrument on brain development.

Using a database produced by the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development, researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine analyzed the brain scans of 232 healthy children ages six to 18 specifically looking at brain development in children who play a musical instrument. (The original study did not indicate specific instruments.)

“What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument,” said James Hudziak, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, “it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.”

Read the entire article at Music lessons spur emotional and behavioral growth in children, new study says – The Washington Post.

Music Lessons Spur Emotional and Behavioral Growth in Children

From the Washington Post, but we knew this already, right?

Music training not only helps children develop fine motor skills, but aids emotional and behavioral maturation as well, according to a new study, one of the largest to investigate the effects of playing an instrument on brain development.

Using a database produced by the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development, researchers at the University of Vermont College of Medicine analyzed the brain scans of 232 healthy children ages six to 18 specifically looking at brain development in children who play a musical instrument. (The original study did not indicate specific instruments.)

“What we found was the more a child trained on an instrument,” said James Hudziak, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and director of the Vermont Center for Children, Youth and Families, “it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.”

Read the entire article at Music lessons spur emotional and behavioral growth in children, new study says – The Washington Post.