"Does Music Make Kids Smarter?"

I remember sleeping to the dreamy-sounds of my father's clarinet playing  "Stardust". It was
just... well, comfortable.  Music was everywhere in my home, from my father's Big Band Leader
enthusiasm, my mother's violin, hearing my grandfather's greeting in Italian operetta by singing
"anybody home?" just before the door slammed.  All five of us siblings received piano lessons
from our mother. Good music was all around us, and the passion for it, to me, was understood
and yet unexplainable.

Let's explore this question:
"Does Music Make Kids Smarter?"  

Here is a little test:  Who said these statements?

"I get most joy out of my violin"  and
"I often think in music ... I see my life in terms of music...I get most joy in life out of
(answer at the end of article)

If we define smarter as higher IQ and test scores, specific studies have supported the kids
=MusicC2 theory. For example, a University of Toronto study has demonstrated that music has
been shown to increase IQ nine points in 6-year-olds who took weekly singing or piano
lessons. Also, the College Entrance Exam Board conducted a survey which showed that SAT
students who sang or played a musical instrument scored 51 points higher on verbal and 39
points higher on math college entrance exams. And, a recent Stanford University study
revealed a molecular basis for the "Mozart effect."

How do I personally see music's affect on life skills? To me it's easy. I see music keeping us
focused in the here and now, and in a fervent almost passionate way. The immediate feedback
we receive when we make mistakes and the ability to make immediate corrections is a great
skill to develop. Confidence is raised along with one's level of musicianship. Stage or just plain
living room performance for mom and dad = preparation for public speaking or just that extra
ease in conversation.

Personally, music keeps a place of gladness in my being.

Here are some things that you can do to help music make a difference for your child:

Sing! Hold your baby and allow him/her to feel the vibrations of joy through your chest. Don't
worry about the quality of your voice, your happiness transcends. Your baby loves you!

Play good music and sing and dance to it with your child. Or just listen. Good music is
everywhere and includes country, rock, jazz, big band, and, of course, classical. Classical is
always great, try the Baby Einstein products. Finally, silence is good, too. Give your baby time
to absorb and take in just you and his/her surroundings. Constant loud music in the car or
anywhere can be traumatic and anxiety provoking to your baby. Just use your own good
common sense.

Developing that ability, gift, passion or just planning old attraction for music is the key to
allowing this musical experience to become and integrated , intrinsic part of your being. Who
says that "music makes kids smarter?" Well, I see it just about every day, and, you might just
want to ask every "little musician's" parent!
written by:  Kathleen Kniskern, SDA

Answer to "who said this?"Albert Einstein                 
"What Instrument should my child play?"

Well,believe it or not, your child will tell you!  Your job,-  mom, dad, grandparent, or other caring significant other,- is
to introduce your little genius to music.  When you listen to music, ask your child if they like it, or just what they think.  
"What part do you like the best?"  Just paying attention to music is the very important first step. Then, of course,
your child will be more inclined to pay attention on his own!

The ideal situation is when someone in the family plays an instrument or sings.  Playing an instrument
demonstrates to your child your passion and enthusiasm for music.  And, of course, your child hears that instrument
and feels an attraction to it because of your love.  But, even when your child falls in love with your playing an
instrument, he may choose a different instrument for himself because of the uniqueness of your child.  Either way,
you have "set the stage" for your child to be an appreciator of music.

O.K.,  now what about the family that has no musician in the home?  First of all, just singing along with your favorite
songs, or singing acapella (alone, without any musical accompaniment) shares your joy of music. Your child will
become engaged with you and want to sing along. Don't worry about the quality of your voice or even about being
on pitch. It's the fun, enthusiasm and the attention to music that you are teaching your child.  And let's face it, it is a
great sharing experience!

I can still hear some parents say, "OK now what about me, who simply has no music in the home?"  Well, start! Get
some CDs and play them in your car or home occasionally (quiet, talk time is always good too!).  Any good music
that you like is good. And of course children's music is something they will remember forever (especially if you sing
along!) Some music suggestions are: Broadway shows, movie themes, classic rock, big band, jazz, or simply
good music. Good music is found everywhere in todays' music; - rock, country,classic, etc.  Also try an occasional
trip to a fun, live musical experience such as Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or try getting together at home to
view PBS orchestras and musicals.

Also there are a variety of childrens' programs in our area that introduce your child to music. Look for programs
that demonstrate live music: a teacher who sings, plays the piano, guitar and introduces other instruments into the
class. An interactive approach like this is a great atmosphere for children to learn;  "hands on"  is always
memorable!  In this type of approach, they really become a part of music and become able to distinguish between
the different instruments while paying attention to pitch, rhythm, and harmony. This is where different aspects of an
instrument become apparent and attractive to your child. As your child learns and notices the different instruments,
point them out as you both listen to music. The saxophone is certainly different from the drums! You will soon see
that your child will notice and talk more about one instrument than of the others, and as time goes on, they may
even change their mind about a specific instrument but still be interested in music!

Now lets hear from the kids themselves. Yesterday I asked some of our students why they chose their instrument:

  •        "My brother plays drums and I hear the violin and I thought it was cool."-Brody Cepiel, age 8, violin
  •        "Its really fun for me to play. The keys are interesting and I can hear what I'm playing right away."-
    Jonathan Pflegl, age 10, piano student (Mom, Maria, who is a vocalist and has just completed her degree in
    music, says, "We always,always had music in our home. Jonathon recognizes composers!")
  •        "Because I like the music notes on the piano and I like the music too!"-Pooja Dutta, age 5, piano
  •        "I've always liked listening to music and I've always loved singing. I make my own CDs and sing
    along. I also write my own music"-Alyssa Rovella, age 14.(Mom, Sandra, says that- "Alyssa has been
    singing in church and church choir since she was 2 years old")
  •        "My mom kinda inspired me- she always played the piano really nice in my home."-Lauren Hoffman,
    age 10, piano student.
  •        "I like the music and I sing all the time. Someday I will study flute because it sounds really nice"-
    Vanessa Mickalonis, age 8, voice student.
  •        "I think its a cool instrument and I like the kind of music I can play." -Maggie Brownson, age 11, drum

So, Mom and Dad, in following these
techniques along with your child enjoy your
musical journey!

written by: Kathleen Kniskern,  SDA