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The Intelligent Musical Guitar Player

Jimi Hendrix, 5th Dimension Club, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1967
Jimi Hendrix, 5th Dimension Club, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1967
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Music, Intelligence, and YOU by Jake Randal

"The musician is constantly adjusting decisions on tempo, tone, style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling--training the brain to become incredibly good at organizing and conducting numerous activities at once. Dedicated practice of this orchestration can have a great payoff for lifelong attentional skills, intelligence, and an ability for self-knowledge and expression." - Ratey John J., MD. A User's Guide to the Brain. New York: Pantheon Books, 2001.

So many parents wish they'd gotten their child into music sooner. But it is better to start late than not at all. Many children grow up and are disappointed they never started learning a musical instrument. But the time to start is now!

Music can benefit young and old alike. Studies have linked significantly improved math skills with those children who have learned to play an instrument. An ability like that can lead to more self confidence and a strong sense of accomplishment. It can give a child, or adult, something extra. The training can help develop skills not only in music, but also in life. Those who have learned to play can even help others through their music. There is a definite relationship between music and healing. Music can also bring joy into a room!

"Studying music encourages self-discipline and diligence, traits that carry over into intellectual pursuits and that lead to effective study and work habits. An association of music and math has, in fact, long been noted. Creating and performing music promotes self-expression and provides self-gratification while giving pleasure to others. In medicine, increasing published reports demonstrate that music has a healing effect on patients. For all these reasons, it deserves strong support in our educational system, along with the other arts, the sciences, and athletics." - Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Leading Heart Surgeon, Baylor College of Music.

Often children need to be strongly encouraged to continue playing. I mean, a half an hour a day to practice can take a lot of discipline. However, if you keep encouraging them, they should stick at it and they WILL thank you in the long run. The trick is to show your son or daughter the options for musical instruments to make sure they pick the one they like. If all your child listens to is rock for example, they might automatically want to play the drums or the electric guitar. But there is so much more to music than pop culture. Get some classical CD's, from guitar to piano to flute. Look into jazz music and maybe the saxophone. There is everything from world music to big band to opera out there and if you can expose your child, and yourself for that matter, to the different types of music, you can really expand your cultural horizons. Listening to the music first can really help to inspire and it can give you the motivation to keep practicing. Just remember, they did not get that good overnight!

If your child has their heart set on an instrument, let them play it. If you make your child play what you want your child to play, they could lose interest fast and it would be hard to get them to keep practicing. Hey. It's never too late to start. You should try playing it if you like it. It will take dedication, but the benefits of music are incredible.

It will be great if you and your child can explore music together. You can encourage each other and watch as your self confidence grows. Remember. There is no instant gratification here. Your real confidence comes after practicing for at least two years. Preferably you should aim to practice for half an hour a day, 6 or 7 times a week. Of course, that's just a guideline. The more you practice, the better you will become. Try to set a goal that works for you and make sure you stick to it. If you miss a day, don't say, "That's it, I can't do it anymore." Remember the long term. Missing a day will not kill you. Missing day after day after day will. If you miss one day, that should be all the MORE reason to play the next. I know, it sounds like common sense, but it's hard. Make sure you encourage your child to stick at it and praise them constantly in their progress. In the end, the hard work pays off!

In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students (NELS:88, National Education Longitudinal Survey), researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12." This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time. - Catterall, James S., Richard Chapleau, and John Iwanaga. "Involvement in the Arts and Human Development: General Involvement and Intensive Involvement in Music and Theater Arts." Los Angeles, CA: The Imagination Project at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, 1999.

A research team exploring the link between music and intelligence reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. -- Shaw, Rauscher, Levine, Wright, Dennis and Newcomb, "Music training causes long-term enhancement of preschool children's spatial-temporal reasoning," Neurological Research, Vol. 19, February 1997

Those are two great quotes to really think about. Your child can improve their math skills and reasoning skills simply by learning to play an instrument. They can also bring encouragement through their music and have an extra boost of self confidence in knowing they had the discipline to learn the instrument. All those benefits are on top of just actually knowing how to play an instrument! And if you want to give it a try, learning an instrument can improve your skills as well!

About the Author

Jake Randal also maintains Instrumental-Bargains for the best selection and prices of instruments. ThousandsofPosters has the best selection of posters, art prints, and designer frames anywhere.

" Now here's a musical guitar guru... Let me introduce you to John Petrucci. The thinkin' man's guitar player"

John Petrucci: Guitar World Presents John Petrucci's Wild Stringdom - sheet music at John Petrucci: Guitar World Presents John Petrucci's Wild Stringdom Performed by John Petrucci. For electric guitar. Includes instructional book and examples CD. With guitar tablature, standard notation, chord names, guitar chord diagrams, instructional text, performance notes, introductory text and guitar tab glossary. Soloing and Progressive Rock. 92 pages. 9x12 inches. Published by Warner Brothers. (WB.0349B)
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Rock Discipline - DVD - sheet music at Rock Discipline - DVD Performed by John Petrucci. Edited by Tim Landers. DVD video. Published by Warner Brothers. (904154)
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Updated: 3/17/07