Message From Dr. Alice Cash: Susan Boyle and her "unexpected" voice
|A couple of weeks ago the
airwaves, internet, and print media were all abuzz about the amazing
Susan Boyle and her performance of "I Dreamed the Dream from "Les
Miserables" on this hit English show "Britain's Got Talent."
Susan Boyle definitely has a God-given talent and sings with beauty
and emotion rarely heard on these types of show. She sings from
the heart and has a voice that can truly be called a "healing voice."
The interesting thing about all the publicity though, stems from the
fact that her appearance was so "plain and ordinary," so "un-glamorous
and dowdy" (their words, not mine!) that the judges and the audience
were expecting a very ordinary performance. The look on their
faces when she began to sing is just priceless! If by some
chance you haven't seen it, click
For everyone whoever rooted for an underdog, Susan Boyle is a huge,
socially redeeming case study!!
Medical study confirms that
early music training positively affects brain development
I think that most of us intuitively believe
that early music training has a significantly positive impact on
children's brains. Numerous studies have been done that show that
children who study piano, violin, and other instruments from the age of
five (or thereabouts) score higher on standardized tests, have better
vocabularies, and are often better-adjusted individuals! For one
thing, the discipline that music study imposes on young minds is important
to developing a disciplined life and the rewards are positive and in many
Recently my dear friend, Dr. Ellen Taliaferro sent me a study with
commentary that I thing you'll find pretty exciting!
Commentary from Lutz Jšncke
This study supports my own interpretation of the brain's capability for
experience-dependent influences on brain anatomy and function. In
concrete, this study demonstrates that 6-year-old children receiving
instrumental musical training for 15 months not only learned to play their
musical instrument but also showed changed anatomical features in brain
areas known to be involved in the control of playing a musical instrument.
This is the first longitudinal study demonstrating brain plasticity in
children in the context of learning to play a musical instrument.
One of the major questions in cognitive neuroscience is whether the human
brain can be shaped by experience. In order to examine use-dependent
plasticity of the human brain, mostly cross-sectional studies are
undertaken comparing subjects with specific skills with appropriate
control groups. A classical approach is to compare highly skilled
musicians, sportsmen, or subjects with other exceptional skills (e.g.
synesthesia) with control subjects using neuroanatomical and
neurophysiological measures (please see refs  and , on which I am an
author, and refs [3,4]). Using this approach, several anatomical
differences have been identified which can be attributed to the specific
training influences these particular subjects have experienced. However,
although these cross-sectional studies have uncovered several important
findings, cross-sectional approaches are not valid enough to attribute the
discovered between-group differences entirely to different learning
influences. The only experimental
approach which is suitable to more validly identify experience-dependent
influences in humans is the longitudinal experimental approach. Using this
approach, the authors of this paper have examined 31 children with a mean
age of 6 years) during the course of a 15-month period. Fifteen of these
kids received musical instrument training (a weekly half-hour training
outside the school system) while the 16 remaining kids did not attend
these classes. However, all kids received the regular music lessons in
their school, including playing with drums and bells. Thus, the 15 kids
receiving keyboard lessons only differed in this particular feature. It
turned out that these kids showed increased brain volumes in several brain
areas after 15 months. Most of these brain areas are part of the cortical
motor system. There were also structural changes in the auditory system.
Taken together, this study is the first longitudinal study in children
demonstrating structural changes in children receiving instrumental
musical training. Thus, this study sheds new light on the plasticity of
the human brain.
Faculty of 1000 Medicine: Evaluations, Dissents and Author
responses for: [Hyde KL et al. Musical training shapes structural brain
development. J Neurosci 2009 Mar 11 29 (10) :3019-25] 2009 Apr 1.
Music and the "swine flu?"
As I write this months issue there is great concern
in the world about the "Swine Flu" and it's rapid spread around the globe.
This is a very serious issue and, of course, music cannot cure it or
prevent it. However, there is lots and lots of scientific date
documenting that listening to music of your choice for as little as 30
minutes a day can actually boost your immune system significantly.
Of course if you can boost your immune system you can certainly be more
resistant to the swine flu or any other type of flu. So until the
vaccine is created, pump up the volume on your favorite music, whether it
be Mozart, oldies, reggae or gospel! It will definitely make you
feel better for at least they period that you're listening to it!
Better yet, get one of my new digital products that you can download
directly to your iPod or computer and listen while you work! To get
the special package, click
For nearly two decades, Dr. Alice Cash has been
helping people use the music that they already love to heal
their lives and increase their wellness quotient! Dr.
Alice Cash is one of the world's only clinical musicologists
and holds a powerful and unique set of credentials. She
has worked with people and diagnoses of all kinds, enabling
them to find healing, acceptance and hope. To hear her
speak, and watch in her in action is to have a day that will
amaze, educate, motivate, and inspire you! To hire Alice
for your association or organization click