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The Benefits of Music Education in Childhood Development
By West Music Company
4/13/2017 3:50:00 PM  
baby having music fun

While hearing music is enjoyable in its own right, the benefits of taking part in it highly outweigh those of just listening. Musical education during childhood can positively impact cognitive development, improve social skills, and increase academic achievement. And you don’t have to wait until your child is older — music education has been shown to have positive effects on babies and toddlers!

 

West Music’s History of Supporting Music Education

Since opening our doors in 1941, West Music has strongly supported music education. In fact, our founder Pearl West taught in the music department at Iowa City High School. Today we work directly with thousands of school music programs across the county and support many more with charitable donations through our membership with NAMM (The National Association of Music Merchants). In our stores, we offer Early Childhood Education for children as young as three-months. Supporting music education is an integral part of our mission to “Play now. Play for life.”

 

Music and the Brain

Being exposed to music throughout childhood has profound impacts on the development of the growing brain. A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experiences during these crucial years accelerates brain development, especially in the areas of reading skills and language acquisition. It has also been found that learning how to play an instrument can improve mathematical intelligence and even boost academic achievement.

 

Music Education Benefits for Infants (birth up to age 1)

Recent research has found that babies benefit from music education long before they can even walk or talk. One study found that one-year-olds who participated in interactive music classes with their parents smiled more, communicated better, and showed more sophisticated brain responses to music.

An excellent way to incorporate music and movement with infants is through soft and colorful scarves. You can manipulate these in the air while singing soft lullabies and nursery rhymes. They are also great for sensory play, so be sure to let your infant feel the softness of the scarf on their hands and feet. While your baby might want to hold onto them forever, please note that movement props are not toys’ they are to be used under adult supervision.

 

Music and Movement for Toddlers (ages 1-3)

One of the biggest benefits of having toddlers engage with music is in language development. Recent studies have found that musical training can wire the circuits of the brain in different ways. This development is specifically seen in parts of the left side of the brain, which contributes to processing language.

The key to music with toddlers is repetition. Children at this age crave consistency and routine, which is why they love reading the same books and listening to the same songs over and over. Repeating songs together promotes memorization and helps them to predict what comes next. Sound Exploration Books are a perfect fit for this age!

Toddlers also love being able to move and dance to the beat, so encourage them to explore with using instruments. Instruments specifically designed for small hands, such as toddler shaker instruments, are the perfect way to introduce them to creating and playing music.

 

Early Childhood Music Education for Preschoolers

Researchers in the field of brain development are quick to point out that the brain of a musician is wired differently than that of a non-musician, even a very young one. Preschoolers who were involved in making music showed larger brain growth in neural activity, so, simply put, being a musician makes your brain work harder.

Preschoolers love to sing and let their voices be heard. They enjoy nursery rhymes about familiar things, and they like songs that have repeating words and melodies.  Plays using puppets are great fun for this age, and learning rhymes together is the perfect musical actives for preschoolers and their parents!

 

Child Recorder Music

Music Learning for School-Aged Children

A study published in 2007 at the University of Kansas reported that students in schools with superior music programs scored approximately 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math on standardized tests. This reveals how music impacts many aspects of a child’s life and how vital it is to school performance.

Elementary school may be the first time some children really begin to have an interest in taking music lessons for a specific instrument. Many school music programs start with a musical recorder. Lightweight, simple, and capable of producing a charming sound, recorders are an ideal pre-band instrument to lead children into a lifetime of music-making.

 

Let Our Music Experts Help!

There are many things you can do as a parent to cultivate and grow a passion for music in your child, no matter their age. Remember, it’s never too early, or too late, to enjoy the benefits of music! Shop online or contact West Music at 800-397-3978 for suggestions and assistance.




Tags: N/A
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education
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7 Tips for Practicing
By West Music Company
12/6/2016 7:51:00 AM  

7 Tips for Practicing 


practice time

Your child was so excited to get their music instrument, you thought they would never put it down! However, a few months in and the instrument is sitting in a corner of the house. As a parent, it's important to get your child motivate to practice regularly. 

Students who practice regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes every day, retain lessons better and develop new skills quicker. They also often report enjoying music class more.

As parents, it’s hard to keep our kids motivated to practice, but remember it’s practice that makes perfect.  West Music educators have put together this list of their seven best tips to help your child keep playing and keep having fun!

1. Break practice out into 5-10 minutes.
Finding the time to practice is difficult; there’s homework, chores, family time, sports and many other actives that make up the day. By breaking up longer practice sessions into short 5 to 10 minute sprints, you and your child will be more likely to find the time to get it done!

2. Set goals.
With each practice session have a specific goal in mind for your child, even if it’s just practicing one or two cords. Setting small goals will add up to huge accomplishments!
practing at home

3. Keep your child’s instrument out (in a safe place).
Ever heard out of sight, out of mind? That’s exactly what happens when you pack up your child’s instrument in its case and put it into the closet. Instead keep it out somewhere out of the way but where your young musician will see it every day.

4. Let your child pick their practice time, and then stick with it.
One of the many skills music teaches children is self-discipline. Let them choose what time they want to practice, but once a time is chosen have them stick to it as best as possible.  Even if they have to miss a practice session or two because of other commitments, it helps build the habit of practicing regularly.

5. Be excited for your child.
If you see practice time as dull, so will your kids. Be in the room when your child practices and encourage them when they feel like giving up. When they do finally master a song, or even just a new note, show genuine pride and excitement in their accomplishments.

6. Game-ify Practice.
Many music teachers suggest making a game out of difficult passages that could otherwise get frustrating. One of the most popular games involves pennies (but M&Ms or Skittles work just as well). Put 3 to 10 pennies on the left side of their music stand. Each time your kids get the passage right, they can move a penny to the right side. Once they get all the pennies to the other side, they can finish practicing and take their reward!

7. Play with the instrument.
You don’t always need to follow the song book.  Encourage your child to make up their own song. It encourages creativity and makes learning more fun!

 

Need more advice? West Music is here for you!

Call our music experts at 1-800-397-9378




Tags: band, orchestra, students, winter, holidays
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Drums & Percussion, Music Education
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Active Music Making with Interactive Technology
By West Music Company
5/7/2016 9:58:00 AM  
Author: Manju Durairaj

Technology can be an aid to facilitate learning and teaching without compromising active music making. That is the core of effective general music instruction. Thoughtfully created PowerPoint, Word, or Notebook visuals and/or sequentially processed activities that use IWB and/or iPad/tablet can help develop, not limit the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication Skills.

Elementary music students can sing, move, dance, play instruments, notate, listen, create, and improvise in their music classes, even as the teacher uses technology-based medium to optimize and enrich student learning. Using PowerPoint or Smart Notebook application for Smartboard, one can create and edit images and pathways for vocal exploration. Animation features in PowerPoint allow students to vocally track a snowflake swirling in the wind, a bee buzzing from flower to flower, or a witch on a broomstick flying around a bonfire or in search of her cauldron of witch’s brew.

On the Interactive Whiteboard, one could create or insert an object such as a snowflake, leaf, bat, an owl, or a witch image. A contextual background and a series of related pathways may be created for the object. In a conscious effort to facilitate reading, most of the vocal or melodic contour explorations could begin on the left. Initially, the teacher may create the pathways and students may take turns coming to the Interactive Whiteboard, dragging the object along the pathway while vocalizing. Later they may create their own pathways for themselves or for their peers and work collaboratively. This is a great opportunity for quick formative assessment.

Interactive xylophones, recorders, hide and reveal activities, and smart response applications are all wonderful time saving, comprehensive, formative assessment tools. Images of objects, pathways, 2, 3, or 4 beat and pitch reading flash cards, maybe sent to iPads/ tablets via Dropbox, email, or QR codes may be accessed in the photo browser of the iPads/ tablets. Students may use whiteboard apps like Educreations (free) or Explain Everything (paid-upper elementary) to access and manipulate these images. These apps may be used to create rhythmic and melodic compositions that may be extended to movement, Orff instruments, and recorders.

Students can create, record, evaluate, and save their compositions onto student folders. The teacher may create digital portfolios for each student. These may contain screencasts, pdfs, video/audio etc. of student work, and can be easily retrievable for review for assessment, during parent conferences, and for grading purposes.

Technology is your friend!



Tags: music education, music technology, Manju Durairaj, Educreations
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education
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Sour note? How to encourage, not nag, a child to practice a musical instrument
By West Music Company
1/13/2016 10:00:00 AM  



Tags: John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, practice, child, student, encourage, sour note,
Categories: Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Choose to Teach
By West Music Company
10/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Choose to TeachHow do you know if you want to become a music teacher? Some students just know, and others make that decision when considering career options. For many students, sharing the joy of music becomes their passion.

This tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Choose to Teach presents information that will assist you and your students in making an informed choice. Becoming a music teacher can be an extremely rewarding and challenging career. If you love to make music and enjoy working with others, there is no better way to convey that passion than by sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm as a professional music educator.

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.




Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Audience Guidelines
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Audience GuidelinesBecoming a discerning, supportive and knowledgeable audience member is an important part of a student’s education. Successful audience participation requires skill, discretion, common sense, discipline and a bit of knowledge.

Discover some great ways to set expectations for your audiences, in a variety of settings, in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Audience Guidelines

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.




Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Coralville October 2015 Musician of the Month: Minou Emmad
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 8:00:00 AM  
Minou Emmad is a piano student of Nik Jakob at West Music Coralville. She has been studying with Nik for five years. Minou is a 5th grader at Willowwind. Her musical goals include playing in an orchestra or jazz band. Her advice to other musicians is to have perseverance.

When asked what she loves about playing music, Minou says "playing a piece of music I like well and seeing others enjoy hearing it as well." It might suprise you to learn that she also plays saxophone.

Minou's other interests include tennis, swimming, chess, and playing video games. Her favorie musicians are Mozart and Alicia Keys.

Congratulations, Minou! Great job!



Tags: Minou Emmad, Nik Jakob, piano, willowwind
Categories: West Music Coralville, Extraordinary Associate of the Month, Music Education
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Marion October 2015 Teacher Feature: Matt Driscoll
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 8:00:00 AM  
Matt Driscoll teaches low brass here at West Music Marion. Low brass instruments include trombone, euphonium, baritone, tuba, and sometimes trumpet. He began playing the trombone in the 6th grade. Matt has a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Jacksonville State University. He has his Masters of Music in trombone performance from East Carolina University and his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Iowa. He has taught at Central College for 10 years, Cornell College for 5 years, Bennett  Elementary for 7 years and is on the adjunct faculty at Kirkwood Community College.

He plays with a couple of local groups including Brass Transit Authority and the Cedar Rapids Municipal Band. He has also substituted in the Peoria Symphony, the Waterloo/ Cedar Falls Symphony and the Des Moines Symphony. Last spring he premiered 3 new solo works for trombone. His hobbies and interests include running and spending time with his family. Matt’s favorite thing about teaching is spreading the love of music and helping his students achieve their goals on their instruments. One of his most interesting musical/ educational experiences has been researching and writing his dissertation on the styles and culture of the New Orleans Brass Bands.



Tags: Matt Driscoll, low brass, Jacksonville State University, East Carolina University, University of Iowa, Central College, Cornell College, Bennett Elementary, Kirkwood Community College, Brass Transit Authority, Cedar Rapids Municipal Band, Peoria Symphony, Waterloo/ Cedar Falls Symphony, Des Moines Symphony
Categories: Conservatory, West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion, Music Education
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Marion October 2015 Musician of the Month: Brady Diercks
By West Music Company
10/1/2015 8:00:00 AM  
Brady Diercks is an acoustic guitar student of Garth McMann. He has been taking lessons with Garth for 2 years. Brady is a home school student and is in the 5th grade. Garth nominated Brady because he has just finished book 1 of the Mel Bay Beginning Guitar Instruction. One of Brady’s musical goals is to complete all the Mel Bay guitar books. His advice to other musicians is to practice and work hard.

Brady says’”music is really fun to learn and you can make your own songs.” His favorite types of music include country and pop. Some of his other interests include football, baseball, and bowling. He participates in soccer and future problem solving. Something that might surprise you about Brady is that he goes by his middle name. His first name is Robert.

Congratulations Brady! Keep up the good work!



Tags: Brady Diercks, Garth McMann, acoustic guitar,
Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Supporting Music Education: Concert Thoughts
By West Music Company
9/15/2015 2:20:00 PM  

Supporting Music Education: Concert ThoughtsToo many excellent presentations are tainted by failure to take care of the many details of a production. We must take full advantage of the opportunities awaiting our students. The concert is our students' opportunity to show their parents or community audiences what they can do.

See an organized approach to creating a smooth-running, successful presentation where the students, audience, administration and support staff all understand their roles and expectations in this tip sheet, Supporting Music Education: Concert Thoughts

Republished with permission of the Music Achievement Council. For more tips on keeping music strong in your schools, visit the site devoted to all things music advocacy: www.supportmusic.com.




Tags: music administration, band director, orchestra director, school music program
Categories: Band & Orchestra, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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