Adults Need Music Too!
Tuesday, August 2, 2022 by Elena Papavero | Benefits Piano Lessons
WHY PLAY MUSIC-Adults
How Adults Benefit From Music
Health and Cognitive Benefits/Facts:
- Music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain, and studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer's and dementia patients, including a study conducted at UC Irvine, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer's patients improved when they listened to classical music (Cheri Lucas, Education.com, "Boost Memory and Learning with Music," pbs.org).
- Adults age 60 to 85 without previous musical experience exhibited improved processing speed and memory after just three months of weekly 30-minute piano lessons and three hours a week of practice, whereas the control group showed no changes in these abilities (Nina Kraus, Samira Anderson, "Music Training: An Antidote for Aging?" Hearing Journal, Vol. 66, No. 3, March 2013).
- Playing an instrument as a kid leads to a sharper mind in old age, according to a new study conducted by Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, a clinical neuropsychologist in Emory’s Department of neurology, and her colleagues. The researchers gave 70 people between the ages of 60 and 83 a battery of tests to measure memory and other cognitive abilities. The researchers found that those who had played an instrument for a decade or longer scored significantly higher on the tests than those with no musical background (Quoted in Diane Cole, "Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You've Taken Music Lessons," National Geographic, January 3, 2014).
- Cognitive and neural benefits of musical experience continue throughout the lifespan, and counteract some of the negative effects of aging, such as memory and hearing difficulties in older adults (Parbery-Clark A, A.S., Kraus N. , Musical Experience and Hearing Loss: Perceptual, Cognitive and Neural Benefits in Association for Research in Otolaryngology Symposium. 2014: San Diego, CA).
Involvement in participatory arts programs has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health, physical health, and social functioning in older adults, regardless of their ability. The arts also contribute to communicating, building sense of identity, preserving or restoring social capital, and strengthening social networks in communities (Arts in Aging report from the National Endowment for the Arts. Accessed on 8/21/2015 http://www.cms.msu.edu/docs/BenefitsMusic-Adult.pdf).
Research shows that music activities (both music listening and music making) can influence older adults’ perceptions about the quality of their lives. Some research has examined the effects of music listening on biological markers of health and subjective perceptions of wellbeing. Other studies on the psychological and social benefits associated with music making activities have demonstrated that participants often place considerable value on these “nonmusical” benefits of music activity (Coffman, D. D. 2002. Music and quality of life in older adults. Psychomusicology, 18, 76-88).
Music keeps your ears young. Older musicians don’t experience typical aging in the part of the brain (the auditory cortex) that often leads to hearing troubles. It’s never too late to start taking piano lessons and prevent these age-related changes (The Record.com – Michael Roizen, MD and Mehmet Oz, MD).
- Playing music reduces stress and has been shown to reverse the body's response to stress at the DNA-level (Dr. Barry Bittman).
- Playing music "significantly" lowered the heart rates and calmed and regulated the blood pressures and respiration rates of patients who had undergone surgery (Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Neb., and St. Mary's Hospital in Mequon, Wis.).
- Blood samples from participants of an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal of the hormonal stress response and an increase in natural killer cell activity (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).
- Anger Management Music therapy can help people identify the emotions that underlie anger and increase the patient's awareness of these feelings and situations that can trigger them. If a situation or emotion is presented in a song the healthy options for expressing that feeling can be discussed and conflict resolution and problem solving can be practiced in a positive manner.
- Drumming is also used by music therapists to help patients appropriately vent anger and other emotions. Another use of drumming can be a non-verbal conversation on drums where the ability to listen to the other person's drumming is needed to "converse" on the drums.
- Playing a musical instrument can reverse stress at the molecular level, according to studies conducted by Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Applied Biosystems (as published in Medical Science Monitor).
- Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 depressed people over 80 years of age and found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious, less distressed and had higher self-esteem (Friedman, “Healing Power of the Drum,” 1994).
- Parkinson's Disease and Stroke: Rhythmic cues can help retrain the brain after a stroke or other neurological impairment, according to Michael Thaurt, director of Colorado State University's Center of Biomedical Research in Music.
- Researchers have also discovered that hearing slow, steady rhythms, such as drumbeats, helps Parkinson patients move more steadily (Friedman, “Healing Power of the Drum,” 1994).
- Cancer Subjects who participated in a clinical trial using the HealthRhythms protocol showed an increase in natural killer cell activity and an enhanced immune system. While this does not indicate a cure for cancer, such results may be of benefit for those facing this disease. (Bittman, Berk, Felten, Westengard, Simonton, Pappas, Ninehouser, 2001, Alternative Therapies, vol. 7, no. 1).
- Playing music increases human growth hormone (HgH) production among active older Americans. The findings revealed that the test group who took group keyboard lessons showed significantly higher levels of HgH than the control group of people who did not make music (University of Miami).
Alzheimer's patients who drum can connect better with loved ones. The predictability of rhythm may provide the framework for repetitive responses that make few cognitive demands on people with dementia (Clair, Bernstein and Johnson, 1995).
“We feel strongly that abundant health benefits can be achieved by older adults who learn to make music in a supportive, socially enjoyable setting. We are just beginning to understand the positive effects of making music on our bodies and our physical health.” - Dr. Frederick Tims, principal investigator for the Music Making And Wellness Research Project and professor and chair of Music Therapy at Michigan State University
A Note to Parents About Practicing
Tuesday, June 14, 2022 by Elena Papavero | Parents and Practice
A Note to Parents About Practicing
Thank you for your continued support of your child as they learn to play the piano! As I strive in our studio to produce great pianists, it is important to frequently touch base with you parents at home who act as an imperative daily support system to your child as they strive to practice and progress.
It has been said by some that a piano student needs about 1000 hours of practicing under their belt in order to feel competent and comfortable at the piano. Reaching this point (or not) by the early teenage years is very important, as it can make the difference between the students who lose interest and the students who continue to learn and progress and find lots of lifetime satisfaction in playing the piano. Let’s compare two different scenarios: first, a student who practices for about 15 minutes sporadically through the week – perhaps 3 or 4 days. This student logs maybe 30 or 40 hours in an entire year, and would take over 20 years to reach that 1000 hours! Contrast that to a student who averages 40 minutes at the piano per day for 6 days per week. This student will log over 200 hours per year, reaching 1000 hours at the piano in under 5 years. This second student has progressed over 4 times faster than the first!
Parental help with daily practice is essential to your child’s success at the piano. Consider these points:
• The more involved a parent is, the more the student will practice.
• Kids who end up being talented at the piano are the kids who work hard and whose parents work hard to help them succeed.
• Young children need supervised practice sessions. The person helping should sit nearby, help in reading directions, point out mistakes and give praise.
• In a study of piano students, higher-achieving piano students have supportive parental involvement from early childhood, then they gradually attain self-motivated practice by the time they reach adolescence. (Joanne Haroutounian, Kindling the Spark, p. 52)
• Lower-achieving piano students are simply told to “go and practice” without any direct involvement by their parents. (Haroutounian, Kindling the Spark, p. 52)
• The distinguishing factor that determines which students will ultimately excel is COMMITMENT.
Persistence is needed, because there will always be times when a student does not want to practice. As a parent helps them to practice daily (just as you help them to brush their teeth daily) the student learns hard work, grit and perseverance. (Haroutounian, Kindling the Spark, p. 52)
Here are some specific things that you as a parent can do to help ensure your child’s success!
1) Help your child choose a daily practice time free from distractions.
2) Be SURE that your student practices on the FIRST DAY after their weekly lesson – this will help them remember what they are supposed to be working on better because it will all be fresh in their memory.
3) Help sustain your child’s practice habits at home. Use the Practice Tricks Cards to help encourage specific effective and efficient practice strategies and habits. Help your child choose a practice card and read the explanation on the accompanying Piano Practice Tricks explanation sheet (included in your online resources from the Student Portal) to learn how you can help them practice.
4) Be consistent and mostly positive.
5) Encourage listening and live performance opportunities.
6) Support and recognize your child’s progress.
7) Attend lessons with your young child and help them with daily practice (under age 10).
Thank you so much for your support! As your child makes a habit of daily, effective practicing, they are learning a skill that will bring you and them a lifetime of joy and enjoyment. Keep up the good work!