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.

January 4 in Music History

 

National Spaghetti Day on January 4 recognizes that long, thin cylindrical pasta of Italian and Sicilian origin.

Who can forget

 

OCMS 1710 ~ Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Italian Composer
More information about Pergolesi

. 1720 ~ Johann Friedrich Agricola, German organist and composer

. 1809 ~ Louis Braille, Inventor of the Braille system which enables the blind to read words and music. When he was only 3, Louise Braille, was permanently blinded in an accident with a leatherworking awl in his father’s saddlemaking shop in Coupvray, France. Several years later, he was admitted to a school for the blind, the Institution Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles. Later, as a teacher at the school, he worked at adapting Charles Barbier’s system of writing with points. Ironically, his method centered around using an awl-like stylus to punch marks in paper that could be felt and interpreted by the blind, allowing them to “read” with their fingertips. Braille’s work went unnoticed until after his death, in poverty, in 1852.

. 1874 ~ Josef Suk, Czech violinist and composer
More information about Suk

. 1928 ~ NBC radio debuted one of radio’s first variety shows. “The Dodge Victory Hour” starred Will Rogers, Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra and singer Al Jolson. The cost to produce this one show was $67,600.

. 1932 ~ NBC Red presented “The Carnation Contented Hour”. The show continued on network radio for 19 years as a showcase for top singers and musicians.

. 1933 ~ Ray Starling, Arranger for Stan Kenton

. 1935 ~ Bert Ambrose and his orchestra recorded the song that became the group’s theme song. It was titled Hors d’oeuvres and was cut in London for Decca Records.

. 1935 ~ Bob Hope was first heard on network radio as part of “The Intimate Revue” with Jane Froman, James Melton and the Al Goodman Orchestra.

. 1936 ~ The first pop music chart based on national sales was published by “Billboard” magazine this day. Joe Venuti, jazz violinist, was at the top of the chart with a little ditty called Stop! Look! Listen!.

1937 ~ Grace Bumbry, American mezzo-soprano
More information about Bumbry

. 1942 ~ John McLaughlin, Rock guitarist

. 1944 ~ Arthur Conley, Singer
More information about Conley

. 1950 ~ RCA Victor announced that it would manufacture long-playing (LP) records. This news came two years after Columbia Records debuted the ‘album’.

. 1954 ~ Elvis Presley strolled into the Memphis Recording Service and put $4 on the counter. He recorded Casual Love and I’ll Never Stand in Your Way, two songs that so impressed record executive Sam Phillips that he had Elvis record his first professional sides for Sun Records the following August.

. 1956 ~ Barney Sumner (Bernie Albrecht) (Dicken), Guitarist, singer

. 1960 ~ Michael Stipe, Grammy Award-winning singer

. 1964 ~Bobby Vinton topped the pop charts with the last #1 single of the pre-Beatles era – “There! I’ve Said Again”

. 1965 ~ The Fender Guitar Company was sold to CBS for $13 million.

. 1979 ~ With a new interest in Beatles music on this day, the Star Club reopened in Hamburg, Germany. None of The Beatles returned to their beginnings to attend the gala opening.

. 2000 ~ Fantasia 2000 Hit Imax Record

. 2001 ~ Les Brown, whose Band of Renown scored a No. 1 hit with Sentimental Journey during America’s big band era of the 1930s and ’40s, died of lung cancer at the age of 88. A conductor-clarinetist whose smooth arrangements of swing melodies transcended changes in musical tastes, Brown was cited in 1996 by the Guinness Book of Records recognized him as the leader of the longest lasting musical organization in pop music history. He started his professional career in 1936, and his Band of Renown was still performing about 60 dates a year as recently as five months ago, often conducted by son Les Brown Jr. Brown formed his Band of Renown in 1936. In the 1940s heyday of swing, Brown never achieved the greatness of Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman. But the band scored two hit records – Sentimental Journey, with Doris Day as vocalist, and the instrumental I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm. Sentimental Journey, co-written with Ben Homer and Bud Green, became a theme for soldiers returning home from World War II. “The happiest times in my life were the days when I was traveling with Les and his band,” Day said. “I loved Les very much, I am going to miss his phone calls.” Brown’s career included a close association with Bob Hope. In 1950, he joined Hope for the first of 18 Christmas tours to entertain American troops at military bases around the world. Day also participated. “The world has lost a great musician,” Hope said. “I have lost my music man, my sideman, my straight man and a special friend.” As the first president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Brown helped make the Grammy Awards a televised event. He convinced Hope, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby to participate in the first telecast.

. 2004 ~ Jake Hess, a four-time Grammy winner who sang with some of the premier quartets in gospel music and influenced the career of Elvis Presley, died. He was 76. Hess, whose career spanned more than 60 years, is best known to contemporary audiences as a regular member of Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Friends, on various Christian and country music cable channels, including TBN and TNN. Hess joined The John Daniel Quartet in 1943 and reached stardom with The Statesmen Quartet. He was founder of The Imperials and sang with The Masters V. Each of these groups is enshrined in the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, as is Hess. He is also a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. As a teen, Elvis Presley was a regular at Statesmen concerts. Later, Hess was a backup singer on several of Presley’s Grammy-winning albums. When Presley died in 1977, Hess sang at his funeral, as he had at the funeral of country legend Hank Williams in 1953. Peter Guralnick, author of a two-volume biography of Presley, said the rock star always wanted to emulate the voices of Hess and crooner Roy Hamilton.