Play violin with a parrot on your head?

Focus! Even with a parrot on my head?

Violin students need to focus. But this much? I may ask a lot from my violin students, but I doubt they will ever have to do that!

Eloise Hellyer’s post, “Good Habits,” (click here for her post.)  included this amusing video found below about concentrating while playing the violin.

Jordanna Greenberg from the group, Harpeth Rising, was practicing at her parents’ home when their pet cherry-headed Conure named Pepper landed on her head.  As she says, “Rule #1 of being a performer: You must continue to play, even with a parrot on your head!”

It is not likely that a student will have a parrot on his or her head, but we can think about the children in the audience during a recital making noises like Pepper is doing.  Jordanna is the perfect model for “the play must go on!”

Enjoy the look on her face when she starts to refocus. She plays one of the most difficult violin concertos, the Sibelius.  The video is hilarious and a great lesson for our students on focus!

Hmmm, maybe we should get a studio mascot…

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  Theodore Roosevelt


Click here for image credit.

String players–unique brains!

Davenport Suzuki string player

Why are string players often subjects of brain research?


String players show evidence of more brain plasticity.

Brain plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change.  It describes a process of development in the brain that happens during our lives, beginning before birth. It used to be thought that brain plasticity only occurred at certain times, but now they think it might occur throughout our lives.

What brain plasticity means for us:

1. New connections in the brain may form to take the place of injured tissues or injured connections.

2. New growth in the brain may occur.

3. Areas in the brain in charge of certain activities may shift when new skills are learned.

One Study:

Click here for the study reported in String Visions, a study done on a small group of young students who played the violin, cello, or guitar compared to those without musical training.

Results of Study, interesting to us and useful for researchers:

1. The brains of the string players were larger (that’s a good thing). One part of the brain takes over adjacent areas like weeds on a lawn.

2. Parts of the brain which are sensitive to left hand finger motions were quicker to respond. (String players use their left hands differently than their right hands.)

3.  There was a shift in the location in the brain where the left hand is controlled. It is apparent in the study that the earlier the child started string lessons, the greater the shift.  (Researchers would want to use this information to prove that a different part of the brain might take over when there is an injury.)

The Mental Processing Speed of players

Researchers also reported that string players and other musically trained children have faster mental processing speeds on some tasks, as measured by IQ and musical ability tests. The results don’t show a cause and effect relationship between music training and higher IQ. But the results do show that music lessons have an influence on mental speed and general intelligence.

The Conclusion?

Unlike the latest activity touted for our young, violin lessons are now and always will be good for their brain.

“Anatomists would be hard put to identify the brain of a visual artist, a writer, or a mathematician – but they could recognize the brain of a professional musician without a moment’s hesitation.” Dr. Oliver Sachs


Read Across America Day!

Why is March 2 “Read Across America Day”?

The National Education Association wants everyone to celebrate Read Across America Day on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, March 2!

Furthermore, the entire month of March is National Reading Month.  Here are some ideas to celebrate this month with your children.

Have your child read aloud to you for 15 minutes every day in March.
YOU can read to your child for 15 minutes every day in March.
You and your child can set aside time to read your own books silently as you sit side-by-side this month.
Visit your public library with your children this month.
You and & child make a chart to fill in each book he or she completed during March.
If your child knows how to read, have the child read to an older person this month.

Click here for more ideas.

Consider also that research has proven that a young child’s verbal skills are enhanced by taking music instrument lessons. Here is my blog on “Rhythm and Language Skills.”  In this blog, I refer to Dr. Jessica Love who says “If you want your baby to have a real shot in life, there’d better be a violin in her hands before she’s three….”

There are many studies available on the benefits of early music lessons and language development.  Simply search for music lessons and language development research.

Thinking about kindergarten?  Click here for my blog on the role of music lessons in, “The Best Way to Get Your Child Ready for Kindergarten.”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss


Photo credit: Clip Art Panda