Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mozart Effect Take 2: Finally Some Clarity!

'If you want music to sharpen your senses, boost your ability to focus and perhaps even improve your memory, you need to be a participant, not just a listener.'

This is the opening line in an article by Melissa Healy regarding a follow study by Frances Rauscher in 1993. Her findings
set off a commercial frenzy of products to make baby geniuses — all she says 'from an experiment that had college students, not babies, listen to Mozart — and were "grossly misapplied and over-exaggerated".'

The Los Angeles Times article titled 'Playing along with the Mozart effect' states 'for all its beauty, power and capacity to move, researchers have concluded that music is little more than ear candy for the brain if it is consumed only passively. If you want music to sharpen your senses, boost your ability to focus and perhaps even improve your memory, the latest word from science is you'll need more than hype and a loaded iPod.

You gotta get in there and play. Or sing, bang or pluck.

For those receiving musical instruction, "there is evidence that music changes the brain in positive and permanent ways," says Laurel Trainor, professor of psychology, neuroscience and behavior, and director of the auditory development lab of McMaster University in Toronto. Yet like a medication that powerfully treats an illness, but in mysterious ways, the means by which music might enhance cognitive powers has eluded scientists so far.

Click here to read the full article and get out there and play!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The gaming community (technology) and higher education (academia) meets music? These are the perfect storm of players in what may turn out to be a 'tipping point' for tech-savvy music enthusiasts and the people who want to reach them,... us (!

The gaming site
notes that
' 2009, a year in which music games saw a 46% drop in sales from 2008, DJ Hero became the highest-grossing new IP across all genres. It's a game that was being called a failure in the weeks after its release, and some today even suggest that its sales have been modest. Yet for the companies that make music games, the cash continues to roll in.'

Even higher education has noticed the importance of a new generation of 'users' who demand interaction when it comes to music.
Professor Howard-Spink of NYU has begun an initiative called the NYU Music Video Games Research Project.

"It is rapidly becoming the case that there aren’t really pure music “consumers” anymore' says Spink, "in the way that we were at some point all consumers of pieces of plastic embedded with a recording, or as radio listeners where we consumed music in exchange for our attention to be sold to advertisers. People who value music in 2010 are “users” much more than they are consumers. In fact a recent survey shows that American kids spend 7.5 hours a day multitasking with media, most of which integrates music of some kind."

So how long will it be until music educators and publishers take note? Don't count on it being any time soon. Some of their newest 'innovations'
are adding CD's and DVD's to method books and putting music theory games on web-sites. Once again, the profession remains mired in the Romantic period or worse, thinking that music education is the same as a band or orchestra program. I hear a ticking metronome....or is that the ticking of a doomsday clock??

Read the full article here.