We live in a technological age and with that comes benefits and rightly so, we have access to the world, with so much information readily at our fingertips. Does it have a downside?

I speak to a lot of children who seem to say they don't listen to music, at home or with the peer groups and as a musician and teacher, this baffles me. The love of music is an emotional response and music psychologists state it's as natural as language. So why are more and more children not participating in this natural love of music? Could this be due to the length of time children spend on their devices?

An article published by The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee ‘Impact of social media and screen-use on young people's health'[1] states that ‘In the context of screen-time, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health reported that there was "moderately-strong evidence for an association between screen- time and depressive symptoms". (ibid)

I have 4 children, 3 of them between the ages of 10 and 16 and just from a parents point of view, I see a lot of these "depressive" behaviours when they have been on devices for too long, however, I never see these behaviours elsewhere, other than the standard teenage behaviours expected.

If the amount of screen time is primarily social media or games, is this distracting from listening to music and if so, should we be limiting screen time down to a healthy amount and introducing more music to the household?

More research needs to be done in this field, but for the most part, guidance should be released on the healthy level of screen time allowed for children and guidance for parents and schools to follow or enforce.

I know that this will be an unpopular article, no child likes to have their device taking off them or limited and no parent likes to be told that they are spending too much time on their device, however, it is an important article non the less.

Could parents support the benefits of music by utilising technology in a more controlled way? Maybe creating an environment where technology is supported to listen to music within the household? Amazon Alexa sits in nearly every room of my house and is played continuously.

Clearly, we understand that the love of music comes, in part, from environmental factors. Does the family home have music playing? Do peer groups listen to music regularly? However, if the family home is filled with the sounds of rock, punk, funk, or classical music then, the children within that household will find it natural to listen to this music outside of the family home. If, the family home, however, is filled with silence and parents are sitting with technology in their hands, then, more than likely the children within that home will follow suit, clearly with the odd exception.

 

Bibliography

 

Publications.parliament.uk. (2019). [online] Available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/822/822.pdf [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].

Rcpch.ac.uk. (2018). Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health. [online] Available at: https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-05/final_rcpch_response_to_social_media_and_screentime_consultation.pdf [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].

 

[1]Publications.parliament.uk. (2019). [online] Available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/822/822.pdf [Accessed 28 Aug. 2019].

What is working memory?

Working memory is a subset of your short term memory, it is the shortest of all your memory and only lasts for a couple of seconds.  We can train the brain to remember more information by using techniques such as Neuroplasticity.

Can drumming enhance your working memory?

This is the research I am currently involved in.  In short, I believe it can, I believe drumming can enhance your working memory, due to the technical pattern recall that drummers need to achieve when playing their instrument, however, we need to achieve a good level of research on this in order to prove this theory.

To start and to test this theory at a low level I have set up two tests.

  • Digit Span Test 
  • KIMS Game

Digit Span - The digit span test devised using George Armitage Miller formula from his famous article ‘The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two’ ‘which he said that we can hold seven items in short-term memory, plus or minus two

KIMS Game - A famous visual memory test, which test memory allocation and recollection.

I have selected 5 participants to take part from Triple-T Drumming School of Drums, between the ages of 10-16 and between RSL Grade 3-4.

Keep a look out for results of this low level research and some low level conclusions coming soon.

Miller, G. (1955). [online] Www2.psych.utoronto.ca. Available at: http://www2.psych.utoronto.ca/users/peterson/psy430s2001/Miller%20GA%20Magical%20Seven%20Psych%20Review%201955.pdf [Accessed 20 Aug. 2019].

 

Research into musical personality has been ongoing for many years.  Trying to figure out this modality is possibly the key to understanding the talent in which a young musician has and how they tend to form their craft.

It is said that between two personalty traits, Introvert and Extrovert, Introverts will tend to practice in seclusion at ease where their extrovert counterparts will find periods of separation a lot more difficult.

Does this mean that introvert personality makes a better musician?

‘Introverts tend to direct their energies inwards towards a more subjective response to what goes on around them’,  ‘This can take the form of painting, writing stories, making up rhymes, or improvising’.  ‘These forms of creativity tend to blend well with the musicians personality which incorporate a sense of sensitivity and intuition, which is needed in performance’. (2002)

When I think about drummers, I think about introvert personalty, I think about the hours of practice in seclusion, happily running through parts and improvising.  I am not, however, an introvert, I fall between the category of introvert and extrovert.

We also have to remember that your personalty is equally influenced by genetic and environmental factors, So if you feel you have inherited your drummer fathers extrovert personality (sorry kids) then you will enjoy the social settings of what singing provides. 

Music lessons at young age should be fun and playful, which will engage both personalties and teachers should be prepared to make lessons fun and engaging, not to go into the technical stuff first. Play a game with your student, I know parents are paying you good money to teach their child an instrument, however your job in the early sessions is to get them hooked on music.  Once you have got them hooked, they will move on to the next stage with ease.

Bibliography

Geldard, E., McPherson, G. and Parncutt, R. (2002). The science and psychology of music performance. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.7,9.

A child will be internally motivated to play with musical instruments and any parent who went out and purchased a small keyboard for there toddler, or one of those little drum kits, flutes, tambourines etc, will see that you don't need to motivate a child to enjoy a musical instrument.

Why does this motivation stop?

Parncutt and McPherson state 'Any effort on the part of a parent to pressurise development will tend to destroy the child sense of motivation' (2002)

We all want our children to be the best at what they can be and can swamp this internal drive and motivation.  Once your child has developed a fun, musical sense of motivation, harness and monitor this but take care not to swamp with invasive motivation.

Bibliography 

Geldard, E., McPherson, G. and Parncutt, R. (2002). The science and psychology of music performance. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.10,11.

Understanding the concept of being born with the ability to play music is somewhat of a mystery. There is enough evidence to suggest that music is as natural to humans as language.

Oxford Dictionary defines ability as noun. /əˈbɪlət̮i/ (pl. abilities) 1[singular] ability to do something the fact that someone or something is able to do something.

Over the past century there has been a number of attempts to devise a scientific test to measure the ability of musical potential, which would inevitably save parents and carers the expense of forking out money for lessons, But do any of these tests hold any scientific evidence? 

'One of the main scientific test to measure the ability of potential musicians in the UK was Mills Group Tests of Musical Ability which used psychometric techniques which tries to find the limits of a persons hearing, which implies the better the persons hearing, the better there musical ability' (2002).  'These tests were somewhat flawed due to non musical persons, scoring sometime higher than their musician counterparts.' (1938)

'All children have musical ability, arguably some more than others. However the 'Ability' comes from the stimulating experiences that the child receives from the home environment from an early age' (2002).  Playing fun and stimulating musical games, or watching musical performances from parents or older siblings, will enhance that Childs ability to have intense positive experiences with music.

Hopefully, with growing technology and more funding for research, we could devise a scientific test, which could possibly measure a Childs musical ability, Until then, We, As teachers and parents/carers will have to just provide a stimulating musical environment for children to enhance there ability and to enjoy what they do.

Remember: All children should have access to music lessons, even if you think the don't have the 'Natural Ability' too play an instrument. They do! Give them a chance.

Bibliography 

Seashore, C. E. (1938). The Pyschology of Music. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Geldard, E., McPherson, G. and Parncutt, R. (2002). The science and psychology of music performance. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.4,10.