Back To School Issue
Dear Friends of HME,
It's that time of year again and it's especially hard for me this year as my youngest daughter, Elizabeth Anne, is going off to college…all the way to Santa Fe, New Mexico! Of course I want her to do well, but am I going to be pushing Mozart and Gregorian chant as "must-haves" to her and her friends? Ideally, yes! I am a believer in "the Mozart Effect" with its claims of organizing the mind so that one can focus better and hopefully, better retain the information studied. I did insist that Elizabeth listen to the Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos, K. 448, while she prepared for the SAT and she did do pretty well. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you must get Don Campbell's book "The Mozart Effect," which came out in 1997 (Avon Press). It is based on several premises, but one is a study that was conducted at UC Irvine in which students that listened to the above-mentioned piece of Mozart for 30 minutes prior to taking the SAT did considerably better on the exam than students who listened to either no music at all or to other kinds of music. Unfortunately, this has been erroneously expanded by marketers to claim that simply listening to any Mozart will raise a baby's IQ and do all kinds of other miraculous things. What music therapists and musicians of all kinds have known for centuries is that listening to calm, slow, soothing music makes one feel better and having that kind of music playing when one studies is bound to help concentration. Have a great semester!
Alice H. Cash, Ph.D., LCSW
Using Music for Brain Food
School is very competitive these days. Actually life is very competitive. Everyone is looking for a way to get a little edge over the next guy or gal. Although I believe that cooperation and not competition is the way to go, maximizing your brain's potential certainly can't hurt.
Today there is ample research documenting that that music is far more than just entertainment. And yet we know that when school officials cut the budget, music is one of the first things to go. In a recent study headlined "TEXAS ALL-STATE MUSICIANS SCORE 196 POINTS ABOVE NATIONAL AVERAGE ON THE 2000 SAT" the Texas music educators association reported that students involved in orchestra, band, or chorus had higher scores on their SAT's than students who were not involved in a music program. The students who scored highest were those in the schools'string orchestras.
Another interesting story comes from The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 11, 1997. In an article entitled "For The Sake Of Science: The Arts Deserve Support," Robert S. Root-Bernstein, Professor of Physiology at Michigan State University makes many fascinating points about how science and the arts have intersected in order to make our world a better and a safer place. For example, Music can also produce insights useful to science and technology. Take "frequency hopping," in which coded signals are sent along a constantly changing set of frequencies so that the signals can be neither intercepted nor blocked. In 1942, the composer George Antheil and the actress Hedy Lamar suggested using the melody of a song as a way of sending signals in Morse code. The person receiving the message would already know what song was being used and constantly retune his receiver to the frequency of the next note in the song to hear the Morse-code version of the next letter in the message. Someone who didn't know which song was being used would have no idea what frequency to listen to. The concept has spawned hundreds of patents and is the basis of many of the secure communications systems now used by the U.S. military.
Of course, no one can guarantee that getting your child involved in music will produce astounding results or great inventions or discoveries. What I can almost guarantee is a lot of fun, satisfaction, and a boost in self-esteem for child and probably for parent. Again, research has shown that students who are actively involved in music programs (and other programs at school) are less likely to become involved in gang activity and other negative behaviors because they have discovered and reinforced positive behavioral skills.
Since the last issue of the e-zine, things have been busy at HME. We had another book-signing at Books-a-Million and that was fun because the kind people there set up chairs and let me do a little lecture and overview of the book and that always entices people to buy the book/CD and usually a few tapes. Once people get a taste of toning and chanting and understand how easy it is to put these tools to work in their lives, they are absolutely hooked! Then the invitations come for workshops and lectures and of course, I love that!
In late July I did two evening workshops at Highland Presbyterian in Louisville and that was lots of fun because it is my church and many people there said they'd always wondered exactly what it is that I do! (Everyone knows that I play the piano and am a therapist at Baptist East, but they don't quite understand how I combine the two!) Now they have a better understanding and they also are now toning, chanting and planning to use music with their surgeries. (Please don't rush out and schedule surgery just to use music!)
The media have given me some nice exposure and I've been on both radio and television in the past month. Kentuckian Health and Fitness Magazine guru Barbara Day had me on her talk show on WJIE here in town and that was lots of fun covering the questions on "Music and Your Mood." Dawn Gee of WAVE-TV had me on her "Urban Insights" show just this past Sunday morning. If you'd like a tape of either, just let me know!
Last Wednesday I spoke to the Woman's Club of Louisville and that was a delightful occasion. We had about sixty ladies and I gave them a lecture on "Using Music Through the Life span to Enhance Health and Wellness." They asked probing and insightful questions and a lady in the audience did an amazing sketch of me while I was speaking there. I was thrilled! At the conclusion, many people purchased books, CD's and tapes and asked about having me speak to other groups they belong to. Keep those invitations coming!
Question of the Month
Following last month's question on listening to the radio, I received an e-mailed question from JohnKinde@aol.com. John was wondering if the music of the oldies makes us feel better because of the time of life it brings back to us and all of the good memories and feelings that are associated with those times?
John, you're exactly right! I believe that listening to the music of one's "courting years" is always an upbeat, uplifting and healing experience. I especially recommend the music of one's courting years to elderly folks and especially those with Alzheimer's disease. Research has shown that long after the "doors" in the brain for cognition of time, place, familiar faces, and things have closed, the doors for familiar music are still open! Although this is not going to "cure" anyone, it certainly can provide a positive experience for patient and family members alike. For the rest of us, it's just plain fun and energizing to listen to the music that we
loved in high school. It does get those same good feelings going in mind and body and it doesn't cost a thing. Today one can buy CD's of music from most any era or decade so go get some from your "courting years" and start feeling better!
Send in a question that you'd like for Chantdoc to answer next month!
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