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just became apparent in a conversation with my brilliant spouse, who told me she could only handle two channels of information at a time.

I know I can handle at least four.

But then, I grew up playing in string quartets.

I have listened to orchestral recordings with a full score since before I was ten.

I have conducted a cappella choruses.

In short, I am used to handling multiple streams of information simultaneously.

I can listen to multiple conversations at one time.

I definitely can multi-task.

Given the demands of modern living I wonder if there would not be some advantage in exposing more of our children by having them go more deeply into music?

Oh, and if anyone cares, while I may teach social studies and spent a lot of time with computers and on politics, my major in college was music.

talk about a throw-away diary!


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:21:25 PM PST

  •  Well, this: (14+ / 0-)
    Given the demands of modern living I wonder if there would not be some advantage in exposing more of our children by having them go more deeply into music?
    Absolutely yes. Having taught music in inner city public schools, I can say with confidence that learning music can help kids in many ways. Learning music well enough to follow an orchestral score, or even a four part choral score or a string quartet (better: to be able to render such scores on the piano at sight) helps cognition in all sorts of ways.

    It's funny: my job is to play the organ and direct a (highly capable) choir all at once. I don't think twice about doing that, and those skills of multitasking with high accuracy translate into many other areas of life as well.

    So yes. I definitely recommend music. To everyone. That and two foreign languages.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:45:38 PM PST

    •  My daughter is looking into a graduate program (6+ / 0-)

      in "Mind, Brain and Education" so attended a symposium on it last fall.  She has been clearly ADHD since she was old enough to walk and is still learning how to adapt now that she's out of college and teaching.  Of our three kids, she was the jock, and the most resistant to learning a musical instrument, but I stubbornly made her stick with it through middle school and she ended up playing the string bass in the orchestra until she graduated from high school.

      Anyway, she sent me this email from one of the sessions at the symposium:

      In this 'learning and the brain" conference, the region of the brain associated with visual-spatial working memory is the same region that corresponds with inattentiveness and adhd. One way to improve working memory is through computer-based training, but the MOST SIGNIFICANT STRATEGY A PARENT CAN IMPLEMENT FOR IMPROVING ADHD, WORKING MEMORY, AND INATTENTIVENESS IS PLAYING A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT. I wasn't paying full attention, but I think it was more significant than changing exercise, nutrition, or a variety of other typical environmental 'contributors.'
      Ok now time to focus again.
  •  You should be a birder! Trying to sort out the (5+ / 0-)

    multitude of vocalizations often going on at one time is hard!

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:45:46 PM PST

    •  my wife is a birder (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      texasmom, cany, Lujane

      or at least she goes on birding trips with her father and brother, both of whom at this point are quite serious, my FIL as a naturalist and my BIL as a wildlife biologist.

      She can sing quite well, and was trained as a ballet dancer, but does not naturally hear the separate lines of say a string quartet the way I do.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:45:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You'll get no argument from me, Ken... (5+ / 0-)

    but moar testing! moar rithmetic! moar cutting monies!

    and all of a sudden, all the arts and other enrichment programs are OUT.

    Never mind that the kids who most need the enrichment programs are the ones for whom those programs are cut: the poor, the inner city kids.

    Nope: OUT the WINDOW so we can drill drill drill

    b/c, ya know, if yer skin is brown ya are obviously dummer.

    Gha.  Makes me sick.

    /it wasn't snark it was me being disgusted at the way the GOPers "think" -- "think" in quotes b/c they so clearly have no brain cells left.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 04:50:26 PM PST

    •  More cow bells!! (5+ / 0-)

      Sorry, couldn't resist.  Agreed in full.

      The earlier post by commonmass is spot on about inner city music.  I donate to the cause of providing string instruments to the inner city youth orchestra.  It keeps kids off the streets and helps them focus and believe in themselves with all other added benefits being discussed.

    •  I wonder (0+ / 0-)

      how much this "cut and drill" philosophy reflects the market economy mindset govering so much else--that nothing "free" can or should give any kind of advantage, let alone joy, that only something one pays exhorbitantly for can truly be of benefit, that anything one can have access to for free should reflect the punishment one deserves for not being able to afford what those advantaged to pay can afford. Once it's cut and micro-managed till it fails to resemble anything suggesting joyful or fulfilling activity, who will want to participate? Those who abandon the enterprise prove the self-fulfilling prophesy that abandonment reflects lack of ability or dedication to what's already a lost cause. God bless any and all with heart and soul enough to continue breathing life into truest hopes we have for future democracy--our youth and their education.

      I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

      by dannyboy1 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:34:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not a throw-away (4+ / 0-)

    at all! Enjoyable reading.

    I think the ability to multi-task is a prerequisite to being a great teacher, and perhaps that is why you still are one.

    Now, my wife is a professional musician, but I'm a way better multi-tasker. Go figure.

    BTW, I had more undergrad credits in music than in my major - and just sent in my Grammy ballot. That little thing about finding a way to make a living :)

    from a retired teacher... ah...

    •  ah yes, the multi-tasking teacher (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in the classroom with our many students at various levels, writing a pass for one kid while correcting the behavior of a 2nd and answering questions from another .....

      but also grading papers in faculty meetings while perhaps (uh oh) carrying on side conversations as well?

      In my case driving to work while listening either to music or an allnews radio station while rethinking my lesson plans.

      Of course, I can also totally focus on one thing -  and when it is one student that can have a powerful effect!!

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:47:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Agree Ken (5+ / 0-)

    I am an orchestral and quintet brass player, I also conduct both as a night job to my of the most important things drilled into a musician is to listen and play nice with others...for a piece of music to succeed all most be cognizant and in the moment. Aware of yourself, your breathing, how you blend as a section and how the section contributes to the whole. This is without mention the innate sense of rhythm and the math behind it.
    Musicians make better students in all fields..I have lost count of the number of Doctors do all persuasions I have played with in ensembles...
    It also, from a young age, rewards practice and focus..


    by profewalt on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 05:12:51 PM PST

  •  Amen! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, texasmom, Lujane

    from a professional musician/educator whose wife is trained as a music therapist.

    The socialization, team-building, time management, discipline, exhilaration, and sheer joy that come from participating in a musical ensemble deeply enrich people of all ages.

  •  Pianist here. (8+ / 0-)

    Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

    Music teaches so much.  It teaches discipline, math, patting your stomach and rubbing your head at the same time.  It also gives a great deal of pleasure in accomplishment and enjoyment at whatever level you play.

    All my girls, aka my three granddaughters were exposed to being taught piano, reading notes, and such.  With number one, it was not her thing, though she knows how to read notes.  One, can't go by a piano and not play it.  It comes naturally.  Number three, is taking music and trying to mimic number two.

    They are better scholars and learners because if it.

    Teacherken is a musician.  Who would have guessed?

  •  Yes! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll admit that if anyone had told me music was math I might never have started the piano.  As it is, I still make my (meager) living at it.  

    I used love teaching music because I could incorporate all subjects.  Math is a given, but there is also social studies, language, and science.  I used all of these to get kids hooked on making and appreciating music.  The music books were aligned with the grade level social studies, so that was easy.  All of the grades had songs in many languages.  We couldn't afford Orff instruments, so we built our own xylophone (with the junior high kids).  That was a definite math challenge for me...  :-)

    Kids who are active in music (band, orchestra, chorus) don't have time to get in trouble.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:00:51 PM PST

  •  Not "Music"; Vocals, Winds, Violin Family Wouldn't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    teach you much multi-tasking other than multi-tasking fingers to execute mostly single melody lines.

    Probably needs to have keyboard, conducting etc. experience where you're performing or steering (and therefore analyzing feedback from) multiple lines at the same time.

    --Well; there are some wind instruments that multitask.

    Watch the right wrist. The 2 elbows variously pump and regulate the air pressure for the 2 octaves. The fingers play notes and also articulate with gracenotes and simulated tonguing. The hands lifting, dropping or bouncing the melody pipe give dynamics. The right wrist picks out individual countermelody notes and chords, while the drone is the only thing the piper doesn't have to think about after tuning.

    I know 2 who play this thing, and it illustrates the concept of evolutionary dead end. To be able to do this they have to mentally practice most of the time they've not playing. So in the real world they can barely even uni-task.

    (The camera operator and director have a genuine gift for looking the wrong way at the wrong time.)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:04:25 PM PST

  •  Little anecdote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge, Lujane

    I began learning music theory and the guitar in my mid thirties; it's been about 4 years since I started.

    This summer, I was jogging rather fast in a park near my home when a ball from the handball court bounced onto the track. In one motion, as I was running, I reached BEHIND me, grabbed the ball and flipped it back to the court--all without breaking stride.

    It was kind of amazing, and I attribute entirely to some brain rewiring process I've experienced since studying music.

    I am an absolute believer that musical training is an incredible holistic performance booster.

  •  pianist here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and something of a guitarist, and once a clarinetist.  I only want to play instruments with multiple voices.  took chamber classes a few years ago -- had to handle up to 3 lines in the piano part, plus a cello and violin part, at minimum.  that was something.  

    was John Davison on the music faculty when you were at haverford? i played the Prokofiev Harp Prelude for him in a placement audition.  haven't listened to any of his compositions in a while.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:17:24 PM PST

    •  I knew John Davison for many years (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, Loge

      he was my freshman advisor, even though I came in as a music major in the Fall of 1963

      when I was baptized as an Episcopalian he was one of my sponsors (feels odd to call him a godfather)

      for a while, his home was my legal address

      he was head of the music department when I returned at age 25 to finally finish my degree

      I saw him on a brief visit to campus when he was dying

      I came back to campus not for the big memorial, but for the smaller quieter one in the Quaker Meeting House.

      so I knew him for 36 years, from my entry in the college in '63 to his death in '99

      he was born in Istanbul - his family was involved with Roberts University

      his nephew, also named John Davison, was my classmate in my final class at Haverford '73.  I think he just retired from teaching at the George School.

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 07:47:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, it's true (0+ / 0-)

    that the study of music will increase your competency, proficiency, and abilities in several different areas.  It's true that music lovers make better students.  

    But I wish we would keep in mind that more than anything else, all of us need music and art to nurture and remind us of our humanity.  Music is a precious gift, in and of itself, worthy of study as an end in itself, and not just as calisthenics for "real" studies.  

    As a society, we seem to have forgotten the value of that.

    Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

    by Big River Bandido on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 09:19:04 AM PST

  •  Agree -- anectodal evidence (0+ / 0-)

    Friends from our High School days are a musical bunch, and we are all facing Medicare enrollment sooner than later (around 65 years old).  At a recent party, we pulled out the old music and began to sing.  Some of us had kept up with our music; others had not.   And, I noticed an odd split in the group.  Those who had maintained some musical activity, were mentally allert, physically active, etc.  Those who had not maintained any musical involvement, were not as well.    Illness itself, may be a reason to drop the singing or playing.  But, the correlations were definitely there.

  •  Definately NOT a throwaway. I learned music at (0+ / 0-)

    age four because my mom had figured out a way to keep me stilled and not too worked up due to a heart murmur.  Long since healed.  Actually she had me sit next to her and listen to her practice and I was good company.  I was mesmerized and wanted to learn so she taught me basics.  I ate up those piano books and was always hungry for more.  I was lavishly gifted as I played piano, sang beautifully (still do), played multiple instruments and later on could write music.  The other gift that I received was perfect pitch which certainly came in handy when I didn't have a keyboard to reference when writing music.

    I think music does so much for the brain, the heart, the body and the soul.  Children could absolutely benefit from being exposed to music and encouraged to play, to sing and/or to write.  All of it!!  I know lots of folks don't believe in God and I'm not slamming anyone for that - but for me, it's like this: God created music, He created me and so being able to create music whether it be by instrument, voice or writing is like touching the Divine; co-mingling, enmeshing myself in and with that wonder and awesomeness of creation, divinity, God.  

    "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." Ted Kennedy 1980 DNC Keynote Speech

    by Dumas EagerSeton on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 01:29:32 PM PST

  •  Virtually everyone working in education (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    understands that kids who receive good basic musical training, especially when it includes learning how to play an instrument, do better in all areas of academics and thus have a better chance of making it to college and succeeding in life.

    The fact that music education is no longer almost universal like it once was, but is now virtually the sole province of upper middle class and wealthy children, is not only incredibly racist, it is deliberately so. The people making the decisions to starve public schools of desperately needed funding know exactly the toll it is taking on our children, and they are fine with it. They hide behind the cover of  the conventional wisdom that what poor students need to succeed is more testing, a  "curriculum"  that focuses on teaching to a test instead of actual learning, and going after teachers' unions. But they are the ones who have been pushing that "conventional wisdom" for years.

    If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room", I'll be an elitist! - David Rees from "Get Your War On".

    by Oaktown Girl on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 12:32:31 PM PST

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