Introducing…Music Therapy Annex!

This is a guest post by my colleague and friend, board-certified music therapist Megan Resig. Megan is also a sponsor of Listen & Learn through her brand new project, Music Therapy Annex.

I’m THRILLED to be posting here at Listen and Learn today!

It’s uber exciting because Rachel’s blog was one of the first music therapy blogs I started reading. When I was back in grad school and frantically planning for some of my very first music therapy sessions, I remember scouring the web to find ideas.

I ran across Listen and Learn (and her extensive collection of songs, resources, and session ideas and realized that I had stumbled onto a goldmine! I was hooked — on this awesome music therapy online community, on the resources that were available — all of it! And now to be sharing my own resource here? Well…..life is just pretty awesome sometimes! :)

SO….let me tell you a little about my brand new project “The Music Therapy Annex”! As some of you may know, I’ve been co-authoring the blog “Mundana Music Therapy” with my amazing friend and colleague, Kimberly Thompson. As we started taking on various projects here in Portland, we realized that we needed to re-envision the purpose and message of Mundana. And…after taking an incredible creative retreat on the coast, I was inspired to create this new site — The Music Therapy Annex!

What is The Annex all about?

The Annex is focused completely on providing resources to music therapists and other creative arts professionals. Session ideas, songs, business resources, tips for enhancing your web presence, tutorials, etc. are all going to be a vital part of the site!

I also LOVE the connections and dialogue that are created when music therapists start sharing online and want to encourage those conversations on The Annex! We’ll be diving into some deep stuff related to music therapy best practices and I can’t wait to hear your perspectives!

I’m hoping that The Annex can be a place that inspires community, creativity, and empowerment for music therapists and related professionals, and I’m so excited to be embarking on this journey with YOU!
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Megan Resig, MS, MT-BC is a music therapist and author of “The Music Therapy Annex“. She also is the owner of Rochester Music Therapy Services located in Rochester, NY where she resides with her husband, cat, and golden retriever.

Part 2: Using the Guitar and Music Education to Enhance Childrens’ Cognitive Development

Guitar & Music Education

This is the second of a two-part article series by guest author Aaron Schulman. You can read part one here.

In the previous article of this series, we discussed the importance of music in developing cognitive abilities in young children. Now let’s take a look at some practical ways or methods to implement the process in your own home. Whether your goal is to simply enrich your child’s learning abilities with music, piano or guitar education, or whether you aspire to help him or her become the best beginner acoustic guitar player he or she can be, these ideas can help set a normal and quality foundation.

The age of the child is of great importance to how you teach a musical instrument. As a child grows, so will his or her attention span. Studies show that simple instruments, such as a keyboard or hand drum, can be played by nearly any child who can follow simple directions. However, a very young child would not have organized lessons, nor would the teaching last long. It is important that the first lessons be fun and stimulate your child’s interest in music.

As the child matures, lessons can last longer and become more structured. A rewards system, such as short breaks with a special, healthy snack in the middle and end of the lesson, may work well with younger children. For older children, they will be able to see the progress they are making as a reward in and of itself. Intrinsic motivation can be built up as a child begins to get satisfaction from the sheer process and enjoyment of learning music.

But for a child at any age, time spent with a parent learning about an instrument is valuable. For example, you may show a drum to a one year old, and teach them how to say the word drum. This will help develop interpersonal and language skills. As the child learns to tap out a rhythm, they are learning musical and kinesthetic (body movement) skills. For an older child, figuring out tempo and patterns and learning to read sheet music can help develop mathematical skills and self-confidence.

Make sure to encourage your child in his or her process, and remember that each child is an individual who learns his or her own way. Even siblings will not learn at the same pace (so be sure to adjust the details of the learning process to suit individual personalities). A younger child may learn a certain instrument more quickly than an older child. One twin may have an ear for rhythm while the other does not. That’s okay and should be expected as the “norm”. Each child will have differing strengths in each of the seven Multiple Intelligences (learning styles.)

As you may recall from the first part of this series, these seven areas are:

  • Linguistic (verbal and written communication)
  • Logical-mathematical (logical analytical skills)
  • Visual (spatial-creative thinking in abstract ways or dimensions)
  • Bodily-kinesthetic (using coordinated body movements to accomplish tasks)
  • Musical (musical talent and ability)
  • Interpersonal (development ability to work well with others)
  • Intrapersonal (development of internally oriented tendencies)

A child’s intelligence cannot be measured by focusing on one single area, rather all areas and learning styles must be considered for a complete assessment. And, don’t forget that it is more important to stimulate your child’s brain development with structured variations and challenges in the lessons in music rather than to simply make sure that the child perfects every lesson within a specified time.

The choice of instrument is important as well. Your toddler or young child will not be able to handle a full-sized guitar or even a ¾ size guitar with effectiveness (it may cause more frustration at too early an age as well). With a younger child, a keyboard or piano is a good place to start. As the child grows, he or she may “graduate” to a child-sized mini guitar. The lessons they learn on these smaller instruments will follow them into adulthood and perhaps even promote a lifelong passion for music.

All in all, even if your youngster doesn’t grow up to be a modern day Mozart, you can rest assured that the musical training he or she received as a child helped develop learning styles and skills that will be utilized throughout life.

About the Author: Aaron Schulman developed a passion for playing acoustic guitars over twenty years ago, and continues to enjoy playing, teaching, studying the guitar and writing guitar reviews, like a recent one on the Baby Taylor. Aaron has made it a personal goal to help others find their own “fit” in an acoustic guitar within their personal budget and goals. You can read more reviews, including one on the Taylor 110 e at Strumviews.com.

Using the Guitar and Music Education to Enhance Childrens’ Cognitive Development

Guitar & Music Education

This is the first of a two-part article series by guest author Aaron Schulman.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m a hands-on learner,” or, “I have to see it to understand it”? Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner tells us that there are (at least) 7 Multiple Intelligences (learning styles) that affect the way people learn. He theorizes that people develop intellectually within these seven different areas and all cognitive development must be measured using each area. Whether you are the best acoustic guitar player in your town or have trouble holding a tune in a bucket, your children can benefit from music education, building up and growing their different learning style or multiple intelligence capabilities. These Multiple Intelligences (per Gardner) are as follows:

• Linguistic
• Logical-mathematical
• Spatial
• Bodily-kinesthetic
• Musical
• Interpersonal
• Intrapersonal

Linguistic style means using written and oral language to learn. People with strength in this area may learn by reading, note-taking, and listening. Logical-mathematical learners analyze problems. These are people who tend to look at each challenge logically and try to solve it with rational problem-solving skills. Spatial intelligence is using visual and creative thinking in abstract ways (including visual and dimensional learning). Bodily-kinesthetic learning is the ability to coordinate your mind and body to achieve a goal (great athletes could have higher core competencies in these areas). The musical learning style is expressed as ability in patterns, performance, and composition with music literacy. Interpersonal intelligence is the capability of working with and understanding others. Finally, intrapersonal intelligence is having an acute understanding of oneself that sets a standard of living (solid self-awareness skills including strengths and weaknesses).

Each person will develop cognitively within these seven styles of learning. Individuals will have varying degrees of strength in each area. Even children from the same family will invariably have different personalities and learning styles. From many other psychological studies, we know that children’s cognitive development increases at the greatest rate from birth to age seven; and from there it continues to increase more gradually. We also know that we can significantly affect children’s rate of learning with varying stimuli (challenging their development through different learning modalities listed above).

You may be saying to yourself right now, wait a minute – I thought this was an article about playing the acoustic guitar? It is. As it turns out, musical ability and cognitive growth have a very strong bond. One particular stimulus you can use to help your child grow in almost every one of the multiple intelligences is music. As a child learns to play an instrument, they must use several different areas of the brain and several modalities of cognitive learning will develop. In learning to read sheet music, discovering beat and tempo, and using body positioning to play an instrument properly, you can already begin to see a large platform of learning styles utilized.

Scientific studies have also shown that being educated in music leads to higher intelligence in spatial and mathematical development. Specifically, as a child learns patterns, rhythm and pitch, they are actually developing their logical-mathematical reasoning and processing. In teaching your child a musical instrument, you are really helping your child’s brain development in a more well-rounded approach; not to mention the great quality time it provides for parent and child.

(Check out http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1869 For some great information on Dr. Gottfried Schlaug’s research on music students’ developing greater corpus callosum growth and activity. You will also find studies on what is called the Mozart effect on the development and enhancement of spatial memory for music students.)

Studies show that children are capable of developing rhythm and movement even before they are able to speak. In children as young as twelve months, scientists have noted a marked positive influence when a child listens to and explores music and instruments. Children who learn musical instruments before the age of 7 show a tendency to develop a larger, more robust corpus callosum (the neural network that connects both left and right halves of the brain and helps both halves of the brain to communicate). (See aforementioned website for further information on this study.)

Let’s get more practical:

We’ve discussed what music can do for children in general, but what can it specifically do for your child? For infants to young toddlers, music develops their musical and kinesthetic intelligences as they move their arms and legs to the sounds and discover rhythm. For children about three to seven years of age, learning to play a musical instrument helps develop the neural connections in the left and right brain hemispheres. Older children also benefit cognitively from learning musical instruments. Added to that, older children also develop interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills when receiving lessons and spending quality time with others, especially a parent or other loved one.

All in all, the benefits your child will receive from learning to play an acoustic guitar or one of many other musical instruments will make it worth doing. And you as a parent will receive as much from the quality time you spend learning with and teaching your child.

Look for Part 2 of this series on Monday, December 19.

About the Author: Aaron Schulman is a husband, father, teacher, and experienced guitarist. He enjoys sharing what he has learned through Psychology education and his research into music, especially acoustic guitars, with his readers on his guitar review site, StrumViews.com. You can read more reviews like one on the Taylor 110e, or several other including Aaron’s “best acoustic guitar for under $1,000” series of reviews.

Sunday Singalong: Six White Boomers

I am pleased to welcome another special guest to the “Sunday Singalong” series: Michelle Erfurt! Michelle contacted me early Saturday morning, asking if she could share one of her favorite Christmas tunes here at Listen & Learn. And since I’m battling a particularly nasty cold and laryngitis, I was more than happy to oblige.

And what a fun song! I’d never heard it before, so now thanks to Michelle, I have another one to add to my ever-growing list. I’m looking forward to sharing some holiday songs myself in the coming weeks. Now if only my voice would return…then I’ll be all set to crank out a few videos before Christmas day (which, FYI, is exactly 3 weeks from now).

Sunday Singalong: The Sneezy Scarecrow

There are lots of reasons I love attending the national music therapy conference, but today I’m adding a new one to the list: the opportunity to record my first-ever guest edition of Sunday Singalong!

Actually, it’s kind of funny that I had to come all the way to Atlanta to see Meryl Brown, who lives an hour north of me in Bloomington, Illinois. Meryl and I were in the graduate program at Illinois State University at the same time, and have since kept in touch via our state association and social media. She runs a successful private practice, Developing Melodies, and always has excellent professional advice to share with me.

When she told me about her scarecrow song on the first night of conference, I immediately asked her if she would mind sharing it in a video. She agreed, and Andrew Littlefield volunteered his guitar for her use. I must say, us music therapists are excellent team players!

Be sure to check out Meryl’s website and follow her on Twitter. I happen to know that she has many more fun songs like this one up her sleeve, and you never know…she just might be making another guest appearance here in the future.

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