A Happy Note for Musical Students

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Good & good for you

“Music and the brain” makes another headline: the New York Times discusses a new study suggesting people who’ve had musical training in childhood are better able to “discern the components of sound” — even years later.

The article also notes “scientists are puzzling out the connections between musical training in childhood and language-based learning — for instance, reading. Learning to play an instrument may confer some unexpected benefits, recent studies suggest.”

Such studies about the academic or brain benefits of playing a musical instrument typically provoke reactions from those who wish to emphasize the joy of musical training and the beauty of music in itself. Youngsters should play for the fun of it (and for the enjoyment of a listening audience), in other words, regardless of whatever side benefits musical training may have.

I agree, but if you did take music lessons as a kid, knowing about possible brain benefits is nice; and of course, it’s never too late to learn to play – or learn to appreciate music better (see here).

Read the article: “Early Music Lessons Have Longtime Benefits,” Dr. Perri Klaas, 10/10/12.

Image via mrg.bz / calbracht

Mangle a Song for Memory’s Sake

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Barry Manilow may write the songs that make the whole world sing, but have you tried writing the songs that make your own brain remember?  Song, rhythm, and rhyme are mnemonic devices dating back to antiquity, so why not use the wisdom of the ages to enhance your own studies?

Here’s how: next time you’re studying for an exam, set your studies to a song you know.  Of course, you could search google to find a mnemonic song someone else has created, but I strongly suggest creating your own.  It’s fun, and creating lyrics forces you to boil your studies down to the essentials.

True, your songs may turn out weird, but weird could even be best, as it might be harder to forget.  I am not kidding.  Off the top of my head, I still remember a “functions of the stomach” song my Anatomy & Physiology lab partner and I wrote (to the tune of a ‘60’s folk song) . . . alas . . . and we thought of it around 20 years ago.

Image via mrg.bz / paulabflat

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