5 Great Reasons for Your Child to Learn Music – Part 2: Cultural

Music plays a very important part in all cultures; everyone can agree on that.  I have a friend that is originally from Guam, and when I started telling her about Amarant Music, and specifically that it is a world music system, she became very excited about our project. (She even went so far as to volunteer to sing a song from her childhood in Guam on one of our lessons.) One of the biggest benefits for her was the cultural identity that her children would get from that. Her husband is French and German, and of course she is from Guam, so she wanted her children to be able to connect with music from all of those places. Their cultural heritage was as important to her as was their present cultural identity in middle class America. Because she wanted all of the cultural ties that they inherited to be available for her children, she wanted to be part of our system of learning. Of course, she also wanted her children to learn music and liked the other aspects of our system, but the thing that spoke most to her  was how it would connect to her culture, and how she wanted her children to see it.

We all have very defined music cultures, even beyond the “American” or “French” music of our heritages. It helps us to be part of something. If you like rap, rap culture is a part of you, and if you like country and western music, it is a part of you. It connects you with others who share that music, and who share that culture and its values. You often seek friends and even partners with this criteria in mind.  (Not that we don’t have friends with different musical tastes, but we often make friends specifically around shared musical connections)  We make essential connections, both with the tribe and groups with identify with, choose to be part of, and to that tribe’s culture.  We so identify with this musical culture that it is often very important to us to try to indoctrinate our children into the same musical culture.  For people who listen to pop music, it is often important to them to try and share pop music with their children, so they play it for them when their children are little, and it can be one of the most dear connections when they share those musical tastes and cultures when they grow up.

So why learn music? Why not just listen to and sing along with music from your chosen music culture? Well, first, when we are literate in a subject we enjoy it more. There is a deeper satisfaction in even passively enjoying that subject. Being literate in language and reading makes us seek books of better quality, understand them more deeply, and enjoy them a lot more. Run, Spot, Run doesn’t do it for us anymore. Having a music culture and being literate in music does a similar thing. It helps give us a richer understanding of the songs we like, deepens our experience of them, and helps us to seek out songs with richer meaning to us. Also, we can take part in our music culture. We don’t have to sit passively on the side listening to music we like, we can add to it, and thus become an active participant in our culture. We can give our take on that type of music. We can add our voice. My friend from Guam knew a songwriter who writes songs based on his Guam roots; it is a part of his voice. He wanted people to hear his identity and culture from all of the different musical tribes to which he belonged.

 

If you would like to see this world music system and enrich the lives of your children, giving them the richest level of interaction with their world music culture, go to our Kick Starter page and get this system for 40% off of the regular price. It will be the lowest price ever, and it is available only during our kick starter project.

 

 

5 Great Reasons for Your Children to Learn Music-Part 1: The Brain

When I stopped teaching band to drop down into Elementary music, I did so because I did  the research and felt that I could do the most good by teaching the littlest ones. We all benefit from learning music. Here are just a few studies that have been done showing this.

  • “Children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education.
  • Children who study music tend to have larger vocabularies and more advanced reading skills than their peers who do not participate in music lessons.”

Arte Music Academy. “Statistical benefits of music in education.” Statistical-Benefits-Of-Music-In-Education. Accessed July 17, 2014.

  • Young children who take music lessons show different brain development and improved memory over the course of a year, compared to children who do not receive musical training.

National Association for Music Education. “The Benefits of the Study of Music.” National Association for Music Education. Accessed July 17, 2014.

There are so many more than I could provide here. Suffice it to say that music helps the brain. Much like learning a foreign language music physically changes the brain, but to an even greater degree. For example, one study had the image of a 4 year old brain where the visual/spatial and language centers were much more mature.

Other studies showed that students who learned music, did better on tests and even received an across the board bump of an average of 40% on their GPA; potentially changing a C student into a B student, a B student into an A student. It can change of lives.

It makes us smarter. But only if we learn the language of music. Singing songs for fun, even learning new songs gives us much personal satisfaction but doesn’t really give us the boost that learning the language of music does.

  • Music training in childhood “fundamentally alters the nervous system such that neural changes persist in adulthood after auditory training has ceased.”

Skoe, E. & N. Kraus.  (2012).  A little goes a long way: How the Adult Brain Is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood.  The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(34):11507–11510.

Of course, there is so much more out there than I can talk about. There are on going studies and many books on the subject of how music affects our brain. (I recommend “This is Your Brain On Music: The Science of a Human Obsession” by Daniel Levitin.)

At Amarant Education we are committed to giving every child out there that “boost”.  We have done the research, written the curriculum, and even filmed two pilot lessons.  We have designed a system that we believe is the best out there to teach music literacy. Using today’s technology to advance this worthy cause has been our dream.  Please help us with our kick starter project to help get this system to all the children.

Three Steps to Introduce Rhythm to Your Child

There are many ways to start your child learning how to read rhythms, probably as many ways as there are teachers. Through many years of teaching I have found that this is the best way to introduce rhythm to young students. It takes time. Make sure each step is understood and mastered before going on to the next.

  1. Sing and clap rhythm of the words. Find songs that you and your child enjoys (Often children’s songs are best because they don’t have complicated rhythms in them.) and, first, clap with the beat. (ex. 1 2 3 4-clap, clap, clap, clap) Then do the same song and clap with the rhythm of the words. (ex. row, row, row your boat-clap, clap, clap-clap, clap).  This helps children to hear the difference between rhythm in a song and the beat of a song. Do this in the car, at home, any where you sing with your child.  It will set the foundation of being able to feel a steady beat and how the rhythms in the song relate to that.
  2. Relate rhythm of words to one and two sounds per beat. I use the names of fruits to make this transition.  Pear for one sound per beat and apple for two sounds per beat. (ex. row, row, row your boat-pear, pear, ap-ple , pear. or Mary had a little lamb-ap-ple, ap-ple, ap-ple, pear.) We are still using words to introduce the concept of the rhythms in the song, but we are now assigning pear for one sound per beat and ap-ple for two sounds per beat.  Now, sing their favorite songs with pear and apple instead of the words to the song.  Again, sing in the car, at home or anywhere you like to sing.  It becomes a game.
  3. The last step is to relate pear and apple with quarter and eighth notes.  A quarter note is a note that gets one beat per note and is equivalent with the pear from the step above. They are now counted with numbers. If you have groups of four, quarter notes go 1-2-3-4, groups of three go 1-2-3. Apples add an “and” to the number. With groups of 4, they would be like this 1 and-2 and-3 and-4 and. See how each beat gets two sounds per beat just like ap-ple gave us two sounds per beat. Our examples from above would now go row, row, row your boat-1,2,3 and, 4 or Mary had a little lamb-1 and, 2 and, 3 and 4. Make sure that when you sing the numbers that you are still singing the song. You just replace the number with the words. Just like in step one and two, sing everywhere with your child alternating the words with the fruit with the numbers.  It will help them practice rhythms and set them on the right path to being able to read music easily.

What I described here is just a small part of the Amarant Music System, a system of music education videos and exercises that will make your child literate in the language of music by the 6th level. We have finished the research and development and have filmed a pilot video and are now trying to film the rest of level 1. If you are interested in learning more about this system and helping us to film the rest of level 1 you can go to our kick starter page.

Hello from Amarant Music

Amarant Education was founded on the belief that innovation in the use of technology can be used to offer children everywhere a better education than ever before.

While nearly all Americans agree on the importance of learning music, music education in elementary schools – the only music education most people receive – is under constant pressure across the nation for cutbacks in time, budget, and even personnel. This leaves teachers with more challenges than ever when trying to ensure a quality music education for their students. Many teachers find themselves frustrated, without the resources to be able to provide the music education they believe their students need and deserve. Some school districts have had to entirely cut music, a cost saving measure that unfortunately deprives the children in their schools of a valuable piece of a well-rounded education.

These are the problems that drove us at Amarant Education to create a set of educational tools to help educators overcome these obstacles, toward providing a better music education for everyone. Our music education products are designed to help every school, regardless of situation: to be able to supplement a good music program, helping to solve those problems facing teachers today, but also to be both comprehensive and uncomplicated enough to use that, for schools which have had to cut music, an unspecialized teacher could employ it and still be able to provide an excellent music education.