Will Music Lessons Make My Child Smarter?

Smarter than the kid next door? NO.  Smarter than a year ago? YES.

I remember way back in the 1990’s the “Mozart Effect” was all the rage.  I bought the book by Don Campbell. Parents of the children I was teaching bought the book. I recommended it to many.  One of the parents enrolling in a newborn Baby Notes class wanted to bring her child EVERY DAY to music class, in order to provide the best advantage!

The research done by Dr. Frances Rauscher, a psychologist,”reported that listening to Mozart’s music improved spatial reasoning” (click here for the NPR story). There were many discussions about this at music conferences and especially over dinner, and my question was: How is it possible that just because I am a musician, I am smarter than my dad, a chemist? or smarter than my husband, an accountant? smarter than my sister, a journalist? smarter than my mother, a psychologist? smarter than my brother, a computer whiz? and the list goes on and on.

So here is what I believe.  Music is one of multiple intelligences  and by activating it with music lessons your child’s mind will begin a remarkable journey of creativity that will enrich their learning environment and the quality of their behavior skills.

Because our music programs are carefully crafted to provide this strong foundation through music and because the caliber of our teachers is the best, you will love the smile on your little one’s face as they blossom into their best.

If you’ve already scheduled a visit to the Studio, we can’t wait to see you! However, if you haven’t don’t be shy! Call us and let us know when you would like to come and observe!

Read more about different intelligences here

Music and “reading readiness”

According to Dr. Dee Coulter, a renowned brain science educator, key pre-reading skills that researchers have identified as helpful for preparing children to read are the same as those supported in a good music class.

  • ability to hear and identify differences in pitch
  • ability to work with codes, such as linking musical tones with notes
  • familiarity with rhyming words (in poetry, lyrics, etc.)
  • ability to copy rhythms so they can hear the rhythmic structure of language
  • a rich vocabulary of regular and “rare” words; (a bigger vocabulary makes learning easier)
  • ability to focus attention on pictures and on the teacher’s voice, and to communicate well

In our Family Music for Babies and Toddlers class the children are involved in call and response songs and patterns, the earliest pre-reading activities in our program.  For those enrolled in Cycle of Seasons or Pre-piano reading readiness is continued with call and response activities, finger play games, nursery rhymes and body awareness songs.  All of these are activities that deepen the children’s connection between words and actions.

Enrolling in music lessons is not only for enrichment and enjoyment.  The benefits into other fields of learning are tremendous when the musical environment you have chosen is purposeful and allows your child the freedom to learn in a pleasant and non-threatening environment.

Call Dorla’s Piano Studio (817) 832-8578 today and schedule a free class so that you may experience the joy of music and learning!

adapted from Musikgarten Delivers! Partnering with Parents Set 2

Why students don’t practice

As I reviewed “The Practice Revolution” by Philip Johnston, I thought it would be a good idea to share his reasons of why students don’t practice.  Read below and check to see if any of these could be lurking around your home.

  1. Time Management Skills – there is not a set time for daily practice.
  2. Reading Problems – note reading that is… for those who have started reading music. And for my students this is equivalent to not using the Practice CD.
  3. Lack of parental help– At Dorla’s Piano Studio (DPS) parents are required to practice with their child at least up to book 4. Those in book 4, 5 and 6 should have a parent check that they have accomplished everything on the weekly assignment page.
  4. Parental Interference – at DPS that would mean parents who fail to attend the last 15 minutes of class and then confuse the child at home.
  5. A week with wings – children are soooo busy nowadays that it seems as if time flies.  If piano practice is not on the schedule it will not get done.
  6. Impossible Workload – if you feel the weekly assignments are too much for your child – make sure you let me know ASAP!  Your child might be in the wrong class.
  7. Not clear on what they are hoping to achieve – have you checked the assignment book?  If you do not understand – give me a call!
  8. Discovering that practice doesn’t work – WHAT!!? If your child comes to class excited about his/her practice at home and leaves class unhappy, and you do not know why….then we need to have a parent/teacher conference today!  I need to make sure you are both understanding what is required at home each week.

Practice is 50% of the learning process. If things are not working out at home – let’s talk about it soon.

Intelligence and Music Lessons

Music lessons at Dorla’s Piano Studio involve love of music, love of nature, composition and improvisation.  But did you know that improvisation requires a special kind of intelligence?

First of all, what is improvisation? it is simply creating music “in the moment”, coming up with a new idea “right now”.  Some children are naturally creative that way with music.  Think of your child singing his “own song” based on a song he already knows, or sitting at the piano and making up a tune that you think is really weird.

Dr. Dee Coulter, a renowned Brain Science Educator tells us that “Schools feel driven to produce high test scores and to do that, they coach children on how to take in and understand factual information.  This helps them develop “fixed” intelligence which is great for recalling correct answers.  However, it is not very useful if the challenge is to come up with new ideas, or solve problems that have more than one right answer.  For that, a child needs to develop “fluid” intelligence and the very best exercise for that is learning to improvise.  It asks a child to stay focused, to be aware of the overall form of the composition and then come up with a fresh idea that can fit in!  They key to success with fluid intelligence is “flexible persistence”, a special blend of paying close attention to the form (the persistence part) combined with an ability to think outside the box and come up with a new idea (the flexibility part).  Fluid intelligence lets us think for ourselves and bring new ideas to old problems, so it is usually regarded as the highest form of intelligence we can offer our children”. (from Musikgarten Delivers! Partnering with Parents, Set 3 #3 Please Inspire My Child to Improvise)

Next time Ms. Dorla’s asks you/your child to improvise think HIGHEST FORM OF INTELLIGENCE!

Instrument Play

We play instruments each week in our Family Music classes, primarily because it’s fun!

This is the time for getting to know the feel, and the sound of simple rhythm instruments, experimenting with different ways to play them.  Although I will give  examples of how to play the instruments, I do not expect everyone to do exactly as I am doing the whole time.  Instead, I want to give the children an opportunity to get to know the instruments and to establish a repertoire of ways to play the instruments.  By giving them this opportunity now, they will be ready and able to play specific instrumental parts in the coming years as we work to build 2 and 3 part instrumental accompaniments to some of our favorite songs.