Posts Tagged ‘education’


The Importance of Early Musical Involvement: A Retrospective

May 31, 2011
Santa Teresa High School  Jazz Band

Image by San Jose Library via Flickr

Article by: Devin Grant

Music. For many of us, imagining a world without it is unthinkable, almost tantamount to losing a part of ourselves. But while music is now so clearly a part of our lives in one way or another, it’s important to remember the gifts that it has given us along the way, and the benefits that it can bestow early in life. Finding myself working with music for the summer has made me think back on all of the ways that music has affected my life to this point, and being thankful for that past I feel the need to share these benefits, in the hope that young (potential) musicians can experience the same friendly, supportive helping hand that music has granted me.

Academic Benefits

In this section I aim to speak not from personal experience (that would be a tad pompous) but from the much more persuasive statistics. Many studies have shown a strong correlation between participation in music and academic success, particularly in mathematics. The links aren’t hard to find; it doesn’t take much effort to connect rhythms and fractions, mathematical formulae can be (and have been) written to mimic melodies, and the complexities of a skilled composition are mirrored in the many facets of a complicated equation. However, the academic benefits are not limited simply to mathematics; one study conducted in Southern California showed that students involved in musical extra-curricula’s such as band or choir on average had a GPA over half a point higher than their non-musical counterparts. Some studies have gone as far as to say that music majors have the highest SAT scores in all areas (as a math major I find that hard to believe, but we’ll leave it to the experts). Regardless, it is undeniable that music positively impacts academic success and it’s not hard to see why. Between building analytical skills from reading and understanding musical scores, to the work ethic gained by the necessity of regular practice, music teaches children many important skills for academia.

Social Benefits

While a somewhat obvious benefit, this certainly merits mention considering its importance. Anyone who has been involved in musical groups can tell you that it is practically unavoidable that you will make new friends through music. Many of my friendships started and matured through music, resulting in some of my very closest friends, as well as having friends living all across the country. They say that an important part of a friendship is having common interests, and when meeting through music this first requirement is already met. Regular practices as well as performances and other occasions provide the perfect grounds to foster a new friendship. Speaking from personal experience, music offers a venue for many otherwise shy, introverted people to break out of their shell. Whether it be playing solos, belting out a spectacular note, or simply performing as part of a group, music allows these people to make themselves heard in a venue where they can feel accepted and comfortable with themselves.

Personal Benefits

This is perhaps one of the more overlooked benefits granted by musical involvement. As mentioned in the previous section, music offers a place where people can begin to express themselves socially and break out of their shell. What comes with this opportunity is a means to grow as a person, especially where confidence is involved. I for one was very unconfident throughout my elementary and junior high school years, until jazz band, choir, and musical theatre performances gave me a chance to push myself into roles that I had never seen myself filling up to that point, making solo performances and even resulting in performing a 60’s love song in a white tuxedo (anyone who knows me well remembers this event, whether fondly or not is a point of contention). It’s hard to find a medium other than music that allows someone to push and improve themselves as much as music does. Of course emotionally, music has always been an incredibly important mode of self-expression, whether one is performing, composing, or simply listening. The connection between music and the human psyche is one of the strongest there is, and having music as a part of one’s life is truly a gift at a time filled with emotional turmoil. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but often the way to your own heart is through your ears.

Despite everything written above, the effect music can have on a young person truly can’t be expressed in words. Those of us who have lived it know how it feels, and we can only hope that many more of future generations will experience it for themselves. My message to today’s youth: play early, and play often.

Related Articles: (Children’s Music Workshop)


Music NL: Culture Business Workshop: Oct. 16-17

August 31, 2010

A 2-day workshop, entitled “Culture as Business”, that will be presented in a dozen locations across Canada in 2010-2011, including St. John’s on the weekend of October 16-17.

The workshop is for artists, musicians, writers, actors, dancers, and anyone else looking to make a living in the cultural sector. Please pass this information along to students, colleagues, or others who may be interested.

Items covered include:

Career options & lifestyle implications

The economics of culture

Hard skills (Finance, Budgeting, Accounting, Taxes)

Soft skills (Contracts, Copyright/IP, Negotiation, Marketing & Promotion, Professional Communication)

Long-term planning (Statistical Resources, Market Research, Strategic Planning)

By the end of the weekend, participants will have the beginnings of a comprehensive business plan, something that they can literally take to the bank.

Registration is $250/person for two days, with a reduced price of $200/person for groups of 5 or more individuals. For further details, or to register online, please see

Paul E. Guise, MBA, PhD

Culture Consult


2010 Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues Workshop Schedule Finalized

June 23, 2010

Creaking Tree String Quartet – Thursday July 15, 3 p.m. – Yellow Belly

“Putting The Range In Arrangements” – Arranging Tunes For Small Groups

Spend an hour with The Creaking Tree String Quartet as they describe the methods behind the madness of some of their arranging concepts. The group will take their own material and explain how it went from a melody and chords to a performable, planned arrangement. They will also answer general questions and touch on topics of interest to the audience.

Dominic Mancuso – Saturday July 17, 1:00 p.m. – Dusk Ultralounge

“In The Moment ” – Approaches To Live Performance

2010 JUNO award winner Dominic Mancuso will lead the workshop with some of Canada’s most versatile & innovative musicians (Tony Zorzi on guitars and John Johnson on saxes and woodwinds). Employing a broad musical vocabulary, they’ll explore a porous approach to live musical performance, engaging the audience as much as the performer. Performance and Q&A to follow.

H’Sao – Saturday July 17, 3:00 p.m. – The Majestic Theatre

“Chadian Rhythms” – African Dance & Singing

With their stellar acapella voices, harmonies and dancing, this group will move your spirit as well as your feet!  H’Sao are a Montreal based group who draw from gospel, traditional African music, as well as their Chadian roots, H’sao display clear soul, pop, and R&B influences. This is a workshop is sure to get you moving.

Morgan Davis – Sunday July 18, 1:00 p.m. – Dusk Ultralounge

“History of the Blues” – Interactive Demonstration

Using music from his personal collection, interspersed with commentary and anecdotes along with audience participation, he takes folks on a journey spanning two continents and 80 years of recorded blues. From African music to the “field hollers” of the southern U.S., from Mississippi to Chicago… From Georgia to Texas, Morgan illustrates regional styles as well as influences and interpretations from one artist to another, often using recorded snippets along with his own guitar.

Simon Fisk– Sunday July 18, 3:00 p.m. – The Masonic Temple

“Exploring Free Spaces” – Spontaneous Improvisation”

Spontaneous versus frivolous or reactive improvisation clinic. Spontaneous meaning listening/absorbing what is happening and becoming part of the musical ensemble as opposed to frivolous or reactive improvisation where what is actually happening is merely reacted to rather than absorbed and participated in. The trio will talk about opening up song forms and stretching into free spaces and ways to arrive back. They will also introduce integral ear training exercises to strengthen ones intuitive playing, as well as ways to practice intuitive playing.


Educational Workshops are open to all ages and have an admission of $10.00 at the door.
Instruments are welcome.

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Are We Born With Music?

January 25, 2010

After HoursMusic is an ancient and vital part of human life and communication. Throughout the world countless styles of music are written and performed. Despite immense differences,  all music shares the same building blocks that transcend cultural and historical boundaries. This provokes an interesting connundrum: Is music learned or is it something we are born with?

This question has divided experts in neurology and in music for decades. With the advancements in technology and brain mapping will we soon be able to answer this question once and for all?
Neurologists have discovered that when performing and listening to music you are using your whole brain. No matter how passively you are listening all your major brain centres are working to process the music, predict how the tune will progress and interpret the mood and emotions it is conveying. The same effect has also seen with young children and babies seeming to suggest inherent musical abilities. Not only is music causing a reaction in the regions of the brain that process and predict music but also in the areas that control movement. Music and dance are interwoven in the evolution of humans and as such one triggers the other. Even the most non musical of person will tap their feet to the rhythm of a song.
Neurologists continue to debate and test to find insights into acquisition of music, and as technology progresses more insights are gained.
In future newsletters we will be exploring in more depth the human relationship with music the natural building blocks that construct it.
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