Music is vocal or instrumental sounds that combine to produce beauty of harmony and expression of emotions. It is an amazing way to bond with your young child or grandchild and connect generations, and a remarkable tool for learning.
- Singing is among the most meaningful activities we share with children.
Scientists report that tiny infants show sensitivity to rhythm and pitch and can distinguish familiar melodies. Dr Mehr of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto stated that, across class and culture, a babies’ memory for music is astounding and “they’re incredibly perceptive listeners.”
His work has demonstrated that 5-month-olds whose parents sing them a song for just a week or two remember that melody eight months later. When they encounter strangers who sing to them in the lab, they pay more attention to someone singing the familiar melody than a different song, even one with the same words and rhythms.
Further research showed that at 11 months, babies exposed to a song for one to two weeks will choose an object (a small stuffed lion) offered by a stranger singing the familiar song, preferring it to one presented by a stranger whose song they don’t know.
- Infants pay more attention to singing than to speech
Dr Trehub, Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto, has shown that in a dim lab, 7- to 10-month-olds will listen to recorded singing for an average of nine minutes before they start fussing or crying, twice as long as they attend to recorded speech. “It’s a terrific distraction from a distressing event,” Dr Trehub said. “You start singing and they’re completely transported.”
At any moment in time babies are confronted with strange new sights, sounds and experiences. This may explain why they respond so strongly to repetition. When we sing the same songs over and over, “infants have expectations about what comes next,” Dr Trehub explained. “When their expectations are fulfilled, that’s rewarding and comforting.”
- Music can be used to comfort and reassure children
Dr Mehr’s theory is that when an adult sings to a child it shows that they are paying attention, something enormously important to vulnerable babies. “It’s a signal of who’s a friend, a member of my group”. It doesn’t much matter how well or poorly you sing. It’s the attention and the emotion that kids respond to.
- Music can be used as a teaching tool
Simple songs are perfect tools to teach the alphabet, counting, the times tables or even another language. Through touch a baby discovers different textures or variations of temperature and begins to understand their world. Songs that incorporate play with fingers and toes are fun, but they’re also great for learning numbers or increasing awareness of fine motor skills.
A child can learn just by moving their hands in rhythm with a song. They can connect with you as you teach them the signs hand over hand; they can learn basic turn taking skills; they may find themselves motivated to reach high above them as they do Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; or they might learn body awareness as they do Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes; plus they’ll have fun doing it because music always makes things more enjoyable!
- Music can be a way of introducing a child to their history, heritage and culture.
As parents and grandparents, sharing simple songs helps your child to discover that they are part of an on-going story and that they have a special place in their family. Singing songs to children in the first language of their Grandparents, or parents is a strong way to build identity and develop language skills.
Music is an activity that can create a sense of inclusion and happiness. Some of us would have experienced singing songs together as a family while on holidays, or on long journeys. Children then identify these particular songs with positive experiences.
Singing and making music with a young child is a great way to spend time together. It’s learning, it’s bonding, it’s creative and will make both of you feel great!
Written by Lise Robin
Why, when there are hundreds of thousands of songs released each year, do we choose to listen to the same ones over and over? It is a fact that 90 percent of the music we listen to is music that we have heard before.
The reason may be rooted in science. Elizabeth Margulis, Professor and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas has stated that “Musical repetition gets us imagining or singing through the bit we expect to come next, and a sense of shared subjectivity with the music can arise. When people talk about their most intense experiences of music they feel that the boundary between the music and themselves has dissolved.” For example, like when listening to your favourite band at a live performance.
You play songs on repeat, then, because it feels as if you’re singing it, a sort of “virtual participation.” It’s similar to reading a book or watching a movie over again as if you were creating the music with your mind — as if it were a part of you.
To some extent, that relies on something known to scientists as the mere exposure effect. That is, we like things just because we’ve heard them again and again. That same principle is behind the music industry’s ability to brainwash listeners into liking songs simply by buying up radio play time. The industry has used the science of earworms, too, to build unbeatable pop songs like “All About That Bass”. 99 percent of the population report having had a song stuck in their head before, and often they’re songs with repetitive melodic lines (try reading “All about that bass / Bout that bass / No treble” without singing it).
The music we want to play again and again is a clue to how our minds are made and who we are. Depending on our musical backgrounds and personality, you may enjoy listening to the same AC/DC track again and again, while another person may enjoy a Beethoven Sonata played a couple of times. Frederick Conrad, Research Professor at the University of Michigan surveyed 204 male and female participants, asking what type of music they were listening to most frequently at the time. Pop and rock genres were shown to be the most popular, but rap, country, jazz, and reggae were also listed.
The questionnaire found 86 percent of those surveyed would listen to their favourite songs once a week at the bare minimum, while almost half admitted to listening daily. What’s more, once a song really resonated with participants, 60 percent weren’t ashamed to reveal they’d immediately re-listen up to four times in a row. Given that the average song lasts about 3 minutes, it means the participants in this research were spending more than 15 minutes at a time absorbing the same sounds.
When asked how to describe their favourite songs effect, the participants’ answers were divided into three categories: happy and energetic, calm and relaxed, and bittersweet. Over two-thirds of Conrad’s study participants favoured tunes that fell under the happy/energetic category. The rhythm and beat of the music appeared to be what was important, driving people to tap their feet, clap their hands, or drum on their furniture.
Soothing music was also popular, as it incited a sense of calm in the listeners, and helped them “put things into perspective,”
Surprisingly, bittersweet songs take the cake, with participants listening to these tracks 790 times on average. Conrad suggests this is because melancholy songs “evoked the deepest connections,” and caused the participants to link sound to memory. The fact that these types of songs are typically easily memorized certainly is a factor. It is the emotional connection you have with a song that makes the repetition so satisfying. Participants reported having high levels of connection with their named song, with higher connection associated with a tendency to close their eyes during listening to devote the fullest attention to it.
The reason why you constantly listen to one or a few particular songs is because that’s what appeals to you at the time; it could be a confidence booster, something to put you at ease, or something that holds sentimental value. The music you enjoy is directly linked to your emotions.
Now you know why you listen to the music you enjoy, talk to Goolwa Music School about learning to play the music you enjoy. Contact us here.
Here is a list of things you should check and take into account when you are buying a stringed instrument. Some apply to used instruments only. Whether you are buying a violin, viola, cello or bass it is better to be prepared with what to look out for before investing in a new instrument.
The first thing to consider is which size is best for you. If you are buying a violin there is a great size chart here. A ¾ size Cello’s total length should be 45 inches and the bow 27 inches. Measure from the top of the purfling to the bottom (use a cloth tape).
Handmade by Luthier will be superior to a factory made. These days a Luthier made new instrument is not common, most new instruments are factory made, so be prepared to pay more for handmade by a Luthier. It is more likely you will find a handmade instrument at a reasonable price if you are buying pre-loved.
The instrument should be made of maple and spruce, not plywood or veneer. Look for the wood grain.
Fingerboard and pegs should be made of rosewood or ebony, not stained or painted black, as these create friction and make the instrument difficult to play.
Check how easy is it to tune the Cello to concert pitch? The strings and bridge will break on a poorly made instrument when tuned to the correct pitch.
Check for cracks. An old Cello will have some scuffs and some cracks may be acceptable depending on where they are. Make sure they are level and closed. Don’t buy a Cello if there is a crack under the soundpost or bridge.
Make sure the original scroll is fitted. The neck and scroll should be one piece, if there is a join it indicates that the scroll has been replaced or the instrument is poorly made.
Are the pegs easy to move? Do they slip? (Planetary Precision Pegs are available and are very good)
Look inside to see if the sound post is standing and in the correct position. If it is not in place the instrument will need work to sound correct.
Look at the size of the nut, are the strings too far off the fingerboard, are the grooves correctly spaced? (images)
Is the fingerboard the correct shape? Is it properly planed under the C string? (images)
For Cello’s and Bass’s check that the endpin does not slip and holds firm. Is it long enough. What sort of point is on the end, you may need a pad for slippery floors.
Check the bridge
What sort of wood is it made of
Is it the correct height
Should not be glued on
Do the feet make full contact with the instrument
How thick is it
Is the curve the correct shape
Are the notches correctly spaced and the right depth
Is it aligned in the correct position
Have a few scales and pieces prepared to play. Take some music with you. Use the same ones on each instrument you try so you can hear the difference.
Play in all registers.
Ask the owner to play for you.
Temperature and humidity will affect the sound, take this into consideration.
Try and play in different acoustic environments.
Is the instrument responsive – is it easy to play pp and ff – check the dynamic range? Is it loud enough on the C string and does the sound project.
Listen for any buzzing noises. If apparent, these usually occur above between the fingering and the nut or from the tailpiece.
Are there any wolf notes? The sometimes can be reduced or eliminated by using a device such as this modulator here.
Ask how and where the instrument has been stored, and how much it was played
Remember some parts can be upgraded (strings, pegs, tailpieces etc) but will be additional costs for you
What sort of bow does it have? Is it the correct length. Does it need rehairing? Octagonal bows are less flexible. If you are replacing an instrument, it is a good idea to continue using your old bow on the new instrument for a period of time until you become accustomed to the new instrument. Then you can try to the bow. Each bow is slightly different and it is better to have a familiar friend in your bowing hand as you get used to your new instrument.
What sort of case does it have? Do you need a hard case or will a soft case be sufficient?
An interview with Dr Jennifer MacRitchie from the MARCS Institute for Brain Behaviour and Development at University of Western Sydney was broadcast on ABC 891 on 14 June 2016.
Dr Mc Ritchie said research shows that the brain is plastic all the way through life and so we can learn new things all the time. This means that it is never too late to pick up a musical instrument. Research is being conducted at the University of Western Sydney on the benefits that older adults can gain from learning to play an instrument, such as the piano, at a later stage in life.
“The important thing for adults is that it doesn’t matter how well you are playing it, it is about learning to have some fun, and it is giving you all these added benefits along the way.
Playing a musical instrument requires a number of skills, and that is why it is very good as a brain work-out. You may have a score in front of you, some instructions that you look at, then your eyes send those signals to your brain which then convert those messages out to your hands and fingers. Sometimes you have to coordinate between different hands and your feet (like strumming on an ukulele where LH plays the chords and RH strums the rhythm). We are using the sounds that we produce as a feedback to the brain to prepare actions for the next sound and so on. Quite a number of actions are going on at the same time.
Research with stroke patients shows you can regain hand function by playing the piano and doing these sorts of exercises. Playing the piano is an enjoyable task so people are going to do it more often and they are going to get the benefits of that exercise. The auditory feedback (when you press a key and hear the sound) helps people reduce any error in movement they may be making so that they can increase their regularity on those types of tasks.
It is common for people to think that it is easier for a child to learn a new skill and that if you haven’t done it when young you have missed the boat. Children are learning all the time and most will have a go at anything. However, there are advantages of learning when you are older. As an adult you have different levels of motivation and you have responsibility for your own learning. You can do it if you want to. Also, learning in a group with other adults has great social benefits. It is a way to spend time with other people and get enjoyment from a shared activity.”
Mr MacRitchie said her research is tapping into the idea that playing the piano or any instrument can help with dexterity later in life. “We want to encourage more people to take up a musical instrument, as much as it will help with other daily activities, it is also something that is fun to do. So why not take up that activity that you have been sitting thinking about doing for a while?”
If your outfit involves designer labels, peplums, knife-pleats, lettuce hems, vents or yokes, striped tops with the nautical look well, you are clearly just here for the weekend. In Goolwa it’s thongs, shorts, tracky dacks, old jeans, holey t-shirts, and high vis that are usually seen on the locals. It’s ready to wear, functional and comfortable casual when out and about. There are several Op Shops in Goolwa (e.g. Anglican Church in Crocker St, Bargain Barn behind The Professionals in Cadell St, and Upcycle at the Goolwa Shopping Centre). Op Shops are great places where you can save money, shop ethically, be environmentally friendly, support charities, and for those who don’t like their fashion trends to be dictated, they provide an alternative to the mainstream. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure (though not the best phrase to use when telling your child they were adopted).
On public holidays the traffic in Goolwa is like King William Street on a Monday morning, and people seem to think that different road rules apply. It means traffic jams at the roundabout. Perhaps they are using their navigation device and trying to follow the confusing “take the second exit on the left” direction? Traffic would be less chaotic if it was just “drive through the next roundabout”.
With the influx of visitors during the holidays, the supermarket shelves are soon bare and it is as if a plague of locusts has descended. I should tell you about the time my husband volunteered to do the shopping for me. I thankfully handed over my carefully prepared list. He came back with 1 packet of sugar, 2 dozen eggs, 3 jars of vegemite, 4 loaves of bread, 5 containers of laundry detergent, 6 lettuces, 7 tomatoes and 8 tins of baked beans (one of his favourite foods) It’s ok, he said, they were on special.
The river is a great place for a kayak adventure. Great for keeping fit, getting up close and personal with the wildlife, fishing, checking out the scenery. It can get a little cold in the winter months though. Reminds me of the two holiday makers who went out for a fishing expedition in their fishing kayak. They were getting cold so they decided to light a fire in their boat. Of course, it promptly sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.
No-one would disagree that the stars at night in Goolwa are amazing compared to Adelaide where the reflected city lights, or light pollution, dominates the sky. The Milky Way is amazing, and Orion (The Saucepan) is spectacular. I could tell you something funny about it, but it would be a waste of space.
There has been a lot of press recently about the New Zealand fur seals. It is estimated that seals numbers have returned to levels similar to before they were hunted by the early white settlers. They are a major issue for the local fishing industry who lose a significant proportion of their catch, their livelihood, to the seals.
Q: What did the seal say when it swam into the barrage wall?