Monday, March 11, 2013

We Can Use Your Help!

See these smiling faces?  It's why we do what we do at DSM and dlp.  And we are asking for your help to spread the word about our dlp Music Outreach program so these smiling faces can turn into thousands of other smiling faces all over the world. 

The picture was taken at our 'Musicking' event on Saturday, March 2.  It's where we invite adult students of DSM to perform in a relaxed, cafe-like atmosphere. There are no programs, 'concert attire' is not required, and each performer volunteers when they are ready.  The wine and cheese table helps set the perfect casual mood for students to share their talents and personal stories with friends, family, and staff.  We believe this falls right in line with philosopher Christopher Small's ideas and what 'music' is really all about: 

"...that music is not a thing, but rather an activity.  "Musicking" is a verb that encompasses all musical activity from composing to performing to listening to a Walkman to singing in the shower. "

The 'musicking' philosophy has been a mainstay at DSM and the online community at dlp as well.  It is with this same spirit that we launched the dlp outreach program so that under-served people around the world can experience the joy of musicking for themselves. Here are some non-profit organizations who provide arts related programs for under-served families that we are currently working with. They are in areas close to home like Dallas and Austin Texas as well as far off places like Seattle, Los Angeles, Haiti, and the UK:

Youth Uprising, Bahama Village Music Program, First Note, Kids for Coltrane, Free Arts for Abused Kids, Dare to Dream Foundation, Little Kids Rock, BLUME Haiti, One World Theatre, Music Heals, Ear Candy and more.  

So this is where YOU come in!  

We'd love for you to share dlp with your friends, students, colleagues, and communities. Every new dlp membership allows us to continue our outreach work and in turn provides access to free music learning materials to those who's lives might benefit most. If you know of any non-profit groups that help change lives via the arts, please share our info with them or contact us here.

If we can 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Move Along Mozart....

Can we just get on with it already? I'm here to argue that the Mozart Effect did more harm than good for music education.  Rather than concentrating on real life examples of why music is good for everyone, we instead propped up the data as a reason to advocate for keeping music programs in our schools. Now that we know the study was misquoted and misconstrued pretty much from the get go, the back pedaling begins. 

There were 2 articles regarding this subject that came to our attention this week. The first was a post by Chad Criswell at MusicedMagic called Music Advocacy - First Tell No Lies. To their credit they point out the "ambiguity of the findings" and conclude that this study carried "little or no scientific, data driven weight" but that it  was "the popular media" that "grabbed at the headline of 'music makes you smarter' when in reality the study clearly says that no long term improvements were found."  Kudos for a well written post.

The second was an article by Nick Collins published in the Telegraph (UK) Science section titled Learning instrument does not make children more intelligent, experts claim.  The quick conclusion is that "kids who take music lessons have different personalities, and many or virtually all of the findings that have shown links between music and cognition may be an artifact of individual differences in personality."  In short, "people with specific personalities and with higher levels of cognitive abilities and from more well-off families are more likely to take music lessons."  Well, duh!

Let's stop kidding ourselves shall we? Do we really want to "save" music education?  Then let's start by fostering music making opportunities in our own communities and making music learning fun, hip, and accessible to people of all ages. Let's also remember that's it's NOT about making kids better at math or spatial reasoning, it's about making better communities and more positive human connections through music. 

Perhaps Dan Levitin a psychologist from McGill University in Montreal, said it best, "There are benefits to having a society where more people are engaged with the arts, so even if music instruction doesn't make you a better mathematician or a better athlete, even if it only gives you the enjoyment of music, I think that is a good end in and of itself."  Amen brother!

Monday, January 14, 2013

We've loved Gary Marcus ever since we read and blogged about his book Guitar Zero around this time last year.  A friend of ours sent along his January 1, 2013 article from the New Yorker called Happy New Year: Pick Up a New Skill and as usual, it did not disappoint. 

In it he discusses the challenges and benefits of learning new things as an adult and in particular, debunking the long held scientific view called “critical-period effect”. Lucky for us old guys (and you too my dear readers!), Gary says "evidence for this belief was far weaker than widely supposed." 

"The critical-period effect is the idea that you can’t do certain things—like learn a language, or learn an instrument—unless you start early in life. It’s a discouraging thought for anyone past adolescence. But, recently, the evidence for this idea had started to unwind." 

When he decided to learn guitar at 40, Mr. Marcus said he did the best he could to "tackle the guitar bit-a-bit, keeping my expectations low and my persistence high." This should be the first commandment of music learning!  And shortly after his book was published, he began finding new data that showed that the myth of critical periods itself had in fact kept people from even trying to learn new things. 

By now we all know the power and far reaching benefits of learning music and casual music making - it's not just for 'school-kids' anymore.  Folks of all ages are finding that learning music can "facilitate getting better at other things" with "results that last for decades." It's never too late to start and as Mr. Marcus says - the most important thing about learning something new is " can certainly make you happier."  There's commandment #2!

Once again Gary Marcus sums things up perfectly; "We can’t all be rock stars. But, as the cliché goes, the journey can be every bit as rewarding as the destination." Amen to that brotha!  

When you're ready to learn music, be sure to check out the DLP Program.  You can read Gary's full New Yorker article here.  Now go out and make this a very good year! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Intuition - a 6th Sense for Learning (and Teaching)

We've written about Annie Murphy Paul in the past - if you are learning or teaching anything - it's well worth following on twitter and reading her blog

In her piece The Science of Intuition: An Eye-Opening Guide to Your Sixth Sense she encourages all of us to be more sensitive to the "body's signals and tap the inner powers of your mind."  

For this article she presents results of studies that include almost every one of the senses; from sights, sounds, and even smells, to simple gut reactions. The findings are interesting to say the least, and sometimes even counter-intuitive.  

"Our brains are processing information even when we're not paying attention", says Ken Paller, PhD. "and with the brain's analytical system occupied by another task, the intuitive system—which excels at picking up the gist of a scene or situation—is better able to do its work." 

In one study, Ap Dijksterhuis, a psychologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands found that distraction can help us make better decisions. It seems that while focusing on something else, "the unconscious mind was processing information and integrating it into a valid selection." Leading Annie Murphy Paul to conclude, "Focus schmocus!"

As an educator I could really benefit from tapping into the clues I'm sending (and receiving). Intuitiveness in teaching is a two-way street, especially in our niche of one-on-one music instruction. I will try and be more sensitive to my "gut" and see if I can make use of my sixth sense throughout the day. Read the full article here and see if there may be some practical applications in your classroom, home, or workplace.  I look forward to your feedback!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Meet DLP Member Sibylle P - Renaissance Woman and Determined Learner!

Sibylle P is a vocalist who is working through the DLP Music Program. She had contacted us with 2 very thoughtful, interesting, and almost philosophical music questions so we thought we'd try to learn a little more about her. Lucky for us (and you) she was happy to share her story. And her reply of "I totally understand your perspective on this" was music to our ears! 

We hope you enjoy meeting Sibylle as much as we have:

"I moved to rural New Mexico in June, so I guess I'm currently from New Mexico. I am a Canadian citizen, and was born in Germany. I am a singer and I am doing the Kore Course for Soprano VoiceI intend to go on to the Jazz Course when I am done withKore. I don't hope to be a jazz artist, however I am well aware that if you can do jazz, you have the tools needed to connect with musicians working in many different musical styles. 

My musical history...

I took piano lessons as a child and sang in the church choir. My piano lessons, frankly, were pretty horrific, and turned me off to such an extent that I didn't start up again with any kind of formal music studies till I was 30. I took singing lessons at a pace of one to two per month for almost 20 years, and also studied rudimentary composition one-on-one for several years. I have recorded music I have written, however it's not currently publicly available.

Over the course of my adult life, I never had the time or money needed to focus in a more concentrated way on music so I could get to what I consider a truly professional level. I was delighted to discover the DLP program because I've always wanted to methodically fill in the gaps in my knowledge. Returning to school in the regular sense of the word was out of the question for me... not only because of time and money restrictions, but because I did not have the solid music theory background needed to enter a college-level program. I'm currently able to spend three or four mornings a week working with the DLP materials and I'm finding the self-paced review and learning to be perfect for my needs.

I have been unable to download the Finale Notepad software (it's a long story but I expect to have the program up and running before October is over). I decided to take my lack of sheet music as an opportunity and with a little help here and there from my keyboard, I have been transcribing the melodic line to many of the songs so that I can improve my listening and notation skills, and really close the gap between what I know theoretically and what I know practically. I'm looking forward to installing the software soon so I can double-check my notations against the professionally prepared sheet music.

After I'm done transcribing, I sing the piece, and wow do I enjoy that! (Mike Finkel's ability to set simple melodic lines so that they sound like real music is teaching me a lot about composition!)  I plan to continue transcribing about three songs per lesson even after I have Notepad because I consider that activity to be good for developing my fundamental musicianship

"I consider music miraculous."

Music represents the most profound form of expression I am capable of, and for me it is primarily a spiritual experience when I'm really singing well. I truly love making music with others. I really enjoy "soloing" with the DLP songs because it gives me practice in improving my abilities to work with other musicians. I consider music miraculous. When I listen and watch people making music together, it reminds me that peace, co-operation, and harmony are all possible on our planet. To me, co-operative music making represents a creative, very pleasurable, and powerful alternative to war.

So to summarize, music is about my personal relationship to Source.  It is a way to invite others into a deep connection with Source, and it is also about how social relationships could be modeled differently than they generally are." 

Editor's Note: Wow, what an interesting lady!  And there's more.  Sibylle is an artist who will be contributing an installation "Guerilla Sprouting" at an upcoming art exhibit in Taos called "Seed 4."  The installation will feature live sprouts, re-purposed plastic, and information on the 'whys' of my chosen title.  She also writes about her passions on her blog Praise to Incarnation.