Monday, July 30, 2012

ALIVE INSIDE: A Story of Music & Memory


I am so so excited about this film!

In the 1990's I was involved in grant work to bring live music to Alzheimer's patients in TX. I saw first hand the power music can have on the mind. We heard from the daughter of one patient who attended one of our concerts with her mother that after the concert she had the first meaningful conversation with her mother in over 3 years.

I was shocked and delighted when I discovered the film is being made by Michael Rossato-Bennett, an old friend from the 80's!

Be on the lookout for this film's release.

Meanwhile, if you know someone with Alzheimers or some form of dementia, I encourage you to load an iPod with music meaningful to that person and to deliver the iPod and some headphones to them. I'm going to do this!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Innate vs. developed musicality


In this fascinating CBS 60 Minutes report Lesley Stahl reported on Derek Paravicini, musical savant with an amazing musical memory plus the ability to play any piece in any key and any style on demand!  Derek was born extremely prematurely, at 25 weeks, suggesting that innate musicality is developed quite early or is even, perhaps, genetic.

All very interesting to consider, but what about most people--those not born as musical geniuses? How can we foster musicality and musical development in our students and in our children?

Check out this great blog post by Maya Liberman, Six Ways to Develop Musical Awareness in Your Child. In the post, she encourages parents to surround their children with quality music: car stereo, Internet radio channels, YouTube, and live performances. She also suggests engaging your children by discussing with the music with them:
What instruments do you hear?
How does the music makes you feel?
More suggestions by Maya to develop deeper connections to the music:
Listening to pieces with narration
Singing the familiar tunes
Looking up composers on the Internet
Listening to multiple performances of the same piece
When my students are learning new pieces, I first have them learn the pieces without listening to any recordings. Once they have mastered the notes and rhythms, I have them listen to multiple recordings of the works, comparing the performances to develop their aesthetic senses. I often suggest specific recordings for students to listen to for phrasing ideas--often performances by great singers of the past. Students are also encouraged to improvise, connecting their imaginations and emotions to their instruments.

How do you encourage the development of musicality?