Musical Parenting


We at helenasmusicworld.com have a lot of experience as parents and teachers of music students. We would like to share our experiences with you and would be delighted if anyone would like to comment or share their wisdom.

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Build concentration

With learners aged 3-5 years, and even sometimes  with older students, staying focussed is sometimes an issue. It helps to time the practice and to build it up minute by minute. With very small children, 5 minutes is huge.

Try making a new game each day, eg tic-tac-toe, to make repetitions easy., like this: “Every time you play these 3 notes correctly, you fill in a square of tic-tac-toe. If you get it wrong, mommy fills in a square. Let’s see who wins(make sure the kid usually wins, even if you sometimes have to cheat a little). Do you want to be circles or crosses?”

Join the dots puzzles, Mr Potato Head, or lego- type blocks are very useful.Finish the practice with lots of praise,smiles and hugs,and remember to quit while you are ahead. Don’t wait for them to get tired, grumpy, wriggly, whatever. If you end on a happy note, it’s much easier to come back to the instrument later.

Happy practising!

Keep practising in the holidays

Since I was a busy mom during school term, and my kid was busy too, we used to make the school holidays a time when we could really go ahead with music practice. In term time we kept the practice ticking over, but we made far more progress in the holidays.Other moms would work hard with their kids during the term because they were stay-at-home moms and had the time, then ease off a bit during the holidays. Both ways are fine. 

What really doesn’t work is letting your child stop practising for the entire holiday. It amazes me that some parents will let their children not play  at all for weeks and then wonder why they can’t remember anything when lessons start again.

This doesn’t mean you can’t give your child a bit of time off music to go to scout camp or similar. They won’t forget everything in a week. However, it does help progress no end if music can be part of life in the holidays. Sometimes I will say to a student, ‘I don’t need you to practise in the holidays, but please play your instrument for 10 - 20 minutes a day, 5 times a week.’ This gives them permission to enjoy their music without pressure, and maybe broaden their repertoire to play music of a different genre. Folk, country, jazz, pop, film music and Christmas carols  have all been popular with my students.

Sometimes my students go busking in the holidays, especially around Christmas time. If they see they can make money from playing, it really helps motivation. Of course, I encourage parents to supervise their children closely. Some families in my studio encourage generosity in their kids by arranging for them to donate a percentage of their busking money to charity. It’s great to encourage kids to save their busking money too. Just another way that learning music improves life skills.

Happy practising!

neuromorphogenesis:

Brain scans may aid in diagnosis of autism

Joint research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Psychology and Auburn University indicates that brain scans show signs of autism that could eventually support behavior-based diagnosis of autism and effective early intervention therapies. The findings appear online today in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience as part of a special issue on brain connectivity in autism.

“This research suggests brain connectivity as a neural signature of autism and may eventually support clinical testing for autism,” said Rajesh Kana, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and the project’s senior researcher. “We found the information transfer between brain areas, causal influence of one brain area on another, to be weaker in autism.”

The investigators found that brain connectivity data from 19 paths in brain scans predicted whether the participants had autism, with an accuracy rate of 95.9 percent.

Kana, working with a team including Gopikrishna Deshpande, Ph.D., from Auburn University’s MRI Research Center, studied 15 high-functioning adolescents and adults with autism, as well as 15 typically developing control participants ages 16-34 years. Kana’s team collected all data in his autism lab at UAB that was then analyzed using a novel connectivity method at Auburn.

The current study showed that adults with autism spectrum disorders processed social cues differently than typical controls. It also revealed the disrupted brain connectivity that explains their difficulty in understanding social processes.

“We can see that there are consistently weaker brain regions due to the disrupted brain connectivity,” Kana said. “There’s a very clear difference.”

Participants in this study were asked to choose the most logical of three possible endings as they watched a series of comic strip vignettes while a functional MRI scanner measured brain activity.

The scenes included a glass about to fall off a table and a man enjoying the music of a street violinist and giving him a cash tip. Most participants in the autism group had difficulty in finding a logical end to the violinist scenario, which required an understanding of emotional and mental states. The current study showed that adults with autism spectrum disorders struggle to process subtle social cues, and altered brain connectivity may underlie their difficulty in understanding social processes.

“We can see that the weaker connectivity hinders the cross-talk among brain regions in autism,” Kana said.

Kana plans to continue his research on autism.

“Over the next five to 10 years, our research is going in the direction of finding objective ways to supplement the diagnosis of autism with medical testing and testing the effectiveness of intervention in improving brain connectivity,” Kana said.

Autism is currently diagnosed through interviews and behavioral observation. Although autism can be diagnosed by 18 months, in reality, earliest diagnoses occur around ages 4-6 as children face challenges in school or social settings.

“Parents usually have a longer road before getting a firm diagnosis for their child now,” Kana said. “You lose a lot of intervention time, which is so critical. Brain imaging may not be able to replace the current diagnostic measures; but if it can supplement them at an earlier age, that’s going to be really helpful.”

The findings of this study build on Kana’s research collaborations with Auburn that began in 2010. Lauren Libero, a graduate student in the UAB Department of Psychology, assisted in the research.

Images1: This brain scan from Kana’s study shows weaker neural connectivity in participants with autism compared with participants without autism.

Source: uab.edu

Quote

Practice is like money in the bank. Sometimes, despite all efforts, you have a bad practice day. That’s when you live off the interest. 

Musical Parenting

It  would  be  nice  to  drop  the  kids  off  at  their  music  lesson  and  go  do  the  shopping, right? Guess  what? With  young  children, and  I  mean  until  they  get  to  high  school, this  doesn’t  work. No  6  or  even  8  year  old  is  going  to  remember  exactly  how  teacher  said  to  practise, and  the  result  is, you  get a  very  poor  return  on  your  investment.

Here’s  what  you  can  do. Go  to  the  lesson  with  your  child. If  you  can’t  go  yourself, appoint  someone  else  to  do  it (preferably  the  same  person  all  the  time). Keep  quiet, unless  the  teacher  asks  you  something, and  take  notes. When  you  get  home, and  your  child  is  practising, use  the  notes. I  even  have  my  parents  read  out  stuff  like,  ”Helena  said  your  bowhold  was  really  good  yesterday. Why  don’t  you  show  me  that?” This  also  helps  the  practice  to  stay  a  positive  experience  for  both  of  you.

Happy  practising!

Tips for getting your child to do music practice

Many  kids  are  naturally  competitive. We  found  that  some  of  our  children  wanted  to  stay  with  the  pack, or  even  ahead  of  them. If  you  are  a  Suzuki  parent, taking  your  child  to  group  lessons  helps  them  to  see  where  the  pack  is  in  the  repertoire. They  learn  from  each  other  too. I  remember  seeing  our  child  watch  another  play  the  piece  ahead  of  her, and  then  hey  presto  she  was  playing  it  too. (Of  course, she  had  heard  it  many  times  before  on  the  cd, so  she  knew  how  it  was  supposed  to  sound).Anyway, seeing  what  other  kids  can  do  encourages  a  child  to  practise.

If  your  child  is  learning  the  traditional  way  and  only  gets  a  solo  lesson, it  could  be  very  worthwhile  getting  them  into  some  sort  of  band, chamber  group  or  orchestra  as  well. Playing  with  other  young  musicians  is  a  very  cool  thing  to  do, but  it’s  only  fun  when  you  are  good  at  it, and  it  might  be  worth  pointing  this   out  to  a  slightly  reluctant  child.

Happy   practising!

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Motivating Your Child to Practise Music

Sorry  about  that  last  entry, it  was  a  wonderful  contribution  from  one  of  our  readers, and  it  got  mangled  by  the  technology. However, it  is  still  possible  to  follow  it, so  I  have  left  it  as  it  is.

Here  is  another  idea  which  might  just  help on  occasion, when  you  are  not  available  to  help  your  child  with  practice. How  about  getting  them  a  practice  buddy? Sometimes  this  can  be  an  older  sibling  or  a  more  advanced  student  from  the same  studio. The  practice  buddy  is  not  a  teacher, but  will  just  play  through  review  pieces  with  your  child. I  have  found  this  works  well  for  some  families  in  my  studio, and  even  has  benefits  for  the  buddy, as  they  are  playing  their  review  pieces  also. 

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Making Music Practice Fun

Practise - I have found that most children love to please - love to accomplish - sticker charts are a wonderful way to acknowledge their hard work.   However there are days when I am just too tired to do practise and so if I am low on patience I make the practise very short - that way the practise remains a positive experience for both child and parent!  

As a parent patience and understanding are things that you may find hard at the beginning - but they are qualitites that you can learn!     I can vouch for that and the rewards are reaped by both yourself and your child!      Again there are days when getting you child to practise are hard - maybe tiredness is the underlying issue - or maybe a bug incubating - then put the CD on and make it a short practise - eg up like a rocket and a bow!   That way you are reinforcing the daily practise routine.

Another thing I have found is that children very quickly realise when they are not achieving the task set for them.    They realise that they are for example - not managing the string crossing, or that their playing is not 100% in tune - and they become disheartened - that is when the resistance to practise occurs - when all sorts of avoidance techniques are used by the child - so my suggestion is to find something they can do - let them accomplish that task and then it is your or your teachers job to find a way to break down the difficult thing and make it something that the child can accomplish.   

Fin

Practise - I have found that most children love to please - love to accomplish - sticker charts are a wonderful way to acknowledge their hard work.   However there are days when I am just too tired to do practise and so if I am low on patience I make the practise very short - that way the practise remains a positive experience for both child and parent!  

As a parent patience and understanding are things that you may find hard at the beginning - but they are qualitites that you can learn!     I can vouch for that and the rewards are reaped by both yourself and your child!      Again there are days when getting you child to practise are hard - maybe tiredness is the underlying issue - or maybe a bug incubating - then put the CD on and make it a short practise - eg up like a rocket and a bow!   That way you are reinforcing the daily practise routine.

Another thing I have found is that children very quickly realise when they are not achieving the task set for them.    They realise that they are for example - not managing the string crossing, or that their playing is not 100% in tune - and they become disheartened - that is when the resistance to practise occurs - when all sorts of avoidance techniques are used by the child - so my suggestion is to find something they can do - let them accomplish that task and then it is your or your teachers job to find a way to break down the difficult thing and make it something that the child can accomplish.   

Here  is  a  contribution  from  one of  our  readers. Thanks, Ingrid, for  the  wonderful  idea. We  look  forward  to  hearing  more  from  you  in  the  future. 

 If possible try to finish practice on a positive note!   I made it a goal for myself with my last child when he was little  to have a huge laugh with him in every practice - even if things went wrong and in my opinion not much was achieved - the time you spend with your child is considerable and so it is far better to invest in positive and fun and humorous interactions than one where one is constantly reminding the child to perform the technical requests.

Happy practising.

ally, if possible try to finish practise on a positive note!   I made it a goal for myself with my last child when he was little  to have a huge laugh with him in every practise - even if things went wrong and in my opinion not much was achieved - the time you spend with your child is considerable and so it is far better to invest in positive and fun and humerous interactions than one where one is constantly reminding the child to perform the technical requests.

Happy practising.

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tumblrbot asked: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INANIMATE OBJECT?

my  violin

Music Practice in the ads

If  you  like  to  use  tv  as  a  reward, one  way  we  have  succeeded  in  the  past  is  to  let  the  child  watch  a  favorite  programme  on  condition  that  they play  a  piece ( or  a  difficult  fragment  5  times ) every  time  the  ads  come  on. If  there  are  no  ads, as  in a  dvd, you  could  try  putting  an  oven  timer  on  for  7  minutes. When  it  rings, stop  the  machine  long  enough  for  your  child  to  play  a  piece. If  the  playing  doesn’t  happen, the  player  is  turned  off.

This  strategy  worked  well  for  us  for  several  months.

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