Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain - Anita Collins

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What's going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians' brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Lesson by Anita Collins, animation by Sharon Colman Graham.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Benefits of Music in the Workplace

The Benefits of Music in the Workplace by Menzie Pittman of the Contemporary Music Center, Founder, Director of Education & the NAMM Foundation

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Healing Qualities Of Music

Recent studies have confirmed what some experts have believed for many years - music has healing powers. The proliferation of diseases, especially the chronic and terminal type, demands that humanity looks for solutions from all viable sources. This quest explains the growth of the alternative medicine industry. Admittedly, there are still many health complications that baffle doctors. There are no cures for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's. In almost every community, there are terminally ill people, waiting to die any minute. Many of these are isolated in homes, or taken and abandoned in hospices. For such unfortunate persons, music can bring relief and healing even as doctors continue to search for a permanent cure.

Studies show that music helps to assuage pain. Pain is one of the most dreadful aspects of disease. Pharmaceutical companies discovered this fact a long time ago and created pain-killers. Consequently, every time one feels some throbbing in any part of the body, the natural tendency is to ask for a pain-killer. Music is a priceless but effective method of alleviating pain. Patients listening to music experience quick relief from pain than those who don't. Next time you experience headache, try music and see the wonders of melodies and beats.

Parkinson's disease patients also experience better moods and have greater mobility when they listen to music. People suffering from this illness are usually the elderly. Their families undergo a lot of financial and mental agony as they seek to aid patients to live a near-normal life. Music, however, can be used to bring back some life and energy to such individuals. This stems from the fact that music stimulates the brain, where all mobility is coordinated. If you have a Parkinson's patient, try exposing them to music and you will some transformation.

However, it is important to understand that not all kinds of music will create a healing effect in patients. Different types of music have varying effects on people. It is advisable to let a patient to listen to the type of music he or she likes. The sick person tends to associate music with some experiences. Relatives and friends need to help such patients to make person to identify the right kind of music. Generally, though, soft music with moderate beats tends to have a more powerful impact than fast-paced and loud songs. For example, hymns and blues would be more efficacious in this regard, than hip hop. In the final analysis, though, the music that uplifts the patient's mood and engenders positive thinking and attitude has the greatest healing effect.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 Benicia Art Walk - A Great Summer Day by the Bay, Go Fly a Kite!

A Great Summer Day by the Bay
Go Fly a Kite!

Saturday, July 12th
3:00pm - 7:00pm

Event Promises Art, Entertainment, and an Exploration of Steampunk

The Benicia Second Saturdays Art Walk kicks off the 2014 season at 21 downtown venues that include businesses, galleries, and public art.

Boasting one of the most active arts communities in the Bay Area, Benicia is home to over 200 artists, including painters, sculptors, stained and blown glass artists, printmakers and bookbinders, textile and ceramic artists, jewelers and multi-media artists.

Benicia Art Walk presents the opportunity to experience art in Benicia, and for visitors to enjoy the dining, shopping, music, and history that Benicia has become known for.

The Art Walk takes place in Benicia's historic downtown First Street area, from Military East to the scenic waterfront along the Carquinez Strait. Spend the day strolling our downtown, take in some of our exciting art offerings, and take advantage of the opportunity to shop and dine, too.

To download the brochure, please click HERE

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Benefits Of Learning To Play A Musical Instrument

Learning to play a musical instrument is a skill that benefits the musician physically, intellectually and socially throughout their lifetime.

Fine motor coordination

Have you ever noticed how clumsy a chimpanzee is? While immensely stronger than a human being, a chimpanzee is unable to perform delicate tasks. Somewhere along the line humans traded strength for dexterity and rose to the top of the food chain as tool makers.

Learning a musical instrument capitalizes on our natural abilities and hones our fine motor skills through repeated practice.

Group identity

Have you ever heard a grown up call themselves a "band nerd"? Be it a band nerd, or a groupie who is "with the band", learning an instrument in a group setting as is done in most schools provides a format for social cohesion.

Even after leaving this setting, it is often the case that people who have learned an instrument will form long term relationships with others who have done the same.


Studies have shown that students who have learned to play a musical instrument are on the whole smarter than their peers. This may be due to many factors, but brain scans of students while playing their instruments show increased activity in large areas throughout the brain. As they say, use it or lose it.


It takes concerted effort over a long period of time to learn the language of music and its application. In adult life, there is no other character quality that more defines success than discipline. From firefighters to computer engineers, a disciplined mind is the most prepared.

Status and Achievement

Someone who plays a musical instrument will never lack for entertainment, an important thing among adults. In informal gatherings such as campfires, reunions, and meetings, a musician is the center of attention.

Fun, stress relief and spirituality

Playing a musical instrument involves a part of the brain that, when triggered, can be a mildly euphoric trancelike state. Priests of all faiths master instruments from the lute to the flute and use it in their worship both publicly and privately. Similarly, the playing of a musical instrument allows a quick mental place to get away from the stress and pain of life.

Effect Others Positively

A musician can influence lives. During the physical performance of an instrument, people can be moved to tears, to action, to donate, and to come together as a group for change. We look to the huge benefit concerts as the most obvious examples of these. Bob Geldof was knighted for Live Aid at age 34, and raised millions for hunger relief.


The mind-body connection is finely honed by the many hours of practice. Movements must not only be synchronized to sound, but anticipated in advance while other action is being performed.

Self Confidence

If a child can master a musical instrument, they already know that they can master other things. Like life, education, and social life. What their time on earth has in store for them is not such a struggle as it would be otherwise. For them, long term effort is part of a cause-and-effect relationship.

Prestige within the musical community

While learning to play any instrument is difficult, there are instruments that are more so than others. Learning to play a harmonica may not carry the same prestige as learning to play a violin, but both are not easy if mastered.

There are many ways to benefit from the learning and playing of a musical instrument. Each person will benefit in their own ways over their own lifetimes.

John Bottomley has been a freelance editor and production technician for McGraw-Hill, a newspaper publisher, webmaster and blogger. His articles and pages number in the thousands, and he currently lives and works from his home in the Charlotte, NC area. His company Genius Goods Inc owns and operates violins for students dot com.
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