Peter Prier is a violin maker who has established a prestigious violin making school in downtown Salt Lake City, UT. Watch him telling the story of how he got to be a violin maker.
By Rigo Murillo
I just came across an October 2010 Scientific American article, in which neuroscientists examined the benefits of learning and practicing music. They found a direct correlation of music learning to the enhancement of general learning ability. Another confirmation of the fact that music makes people smarter.
The researchers found that “assiduous instrument training from an early age can help the brain to process sounds better, making it easier to stay focused when absorbing other subjects, from literature to tensor calculus.” They also discovered that music lessons improves memory and concentration throughout one’s life and boosts the ability to multitask, work in disruptive environments and learning other languages.
This information comes handy at a time when many schools and education administrators are deciding to cut music and arts programs as a first resource. A report mentioned in the article found that, for example, the number of students enrolled in music programs in California dropped 50% from 1999 to 2004.
It seems that it is time for the scientists to educate the educators… just saying. What do you think?
One of the most challenging tasks for a young child in learning the violin is to stay concentrated long enough to stay in place and hold the instrument. Here are some fun exercises that have proven highly successful for keeping pre-Twinklers on task and improve concentration skills.
Let your child stand in play position and place a penny (or any other coin) on top of each feet. Let him/her be still while listening to music (Twinkle variations, etc.) The challenge is to stay still for as long as the music plays. You can ask your child: How long can you stay still? can you stay still during the whole piece?
Ready, aim, look!
Let your child stand in play position with the violin on the shoulder (no bow). Make sure the violin is placed correctly in place. Then, look for an object in the room that can serve as a bulls eye to where your child to aim the scroll of the violin. It can be a lamp, stuffed animal, or anything that’s the height level of your child’s shoulder. As you let your child “aim” at the object, make sure that the feet are lined up too, without twisting the playing position. Let him/her look and the object, aim, and, then, look at the violin and stay still. Count or play music for a minute or two. At the end, let him go back to rest position and take a bow. Repeat and then you can look for a different bull’s eye to make it more interesting and fun.
Candle, be still
With only the bow, let your child stand on her feet play position and let her hold the bow with a nice bow hand, pointing the tip of the bow towards the ceiling. Tell your child that we are going to pretend that the bow is a candle and that we need to keep still and pointing up. Let her hold it for an entire Twinkle variation.
The problem with review is NOT that students don’t want to do it. It is that it’s difficult to do it consistently throughout the Suzuki repertoire.
“Bucket” Review Technique:
Write all the pieces’ names on separate pieces of paper (or better yet, ping-pong balls), put them in a “bucket”. Everyday, have your violinist draw a few pieces of paper (or ping-pong balls) one at a time, reviewing each one, then, put the ones played in a second bucket.
When you’re through, change buckets and go through them again. When your child learns a new piece, add a new paper or ball with its name to the bucket. You can also include all of the pieces in the current book, and have your child LISTEN to it when it comes in the drawing.
This is the easiest way to “hit” all of the pieces before the “favorites” get played more, letting the others get relegated.
This a great example of great phrasing, and that TONE! I like it at this speed. Those who want to “show off” at 1.5X the printed speed can’t come up with the marvelous depth of this interpretation, which needs this tempo and much more. Zukerman gives it all here in this truly beautiful rendition of such a popular concerto.
Aug. 7, 2013 — Listening to music activates large networks in the brain, but different kinds of music are processed differently. A team of researchers from Finland, Denmark and the UK has developed a new method for studying music processing in the brain during a realistic listening situation. Using a combination of brain imaging and computer modeling, they found areas in the auditory, motor, and limbic regions to be activated during free listening to music. They were furthermore able to pinpoint differences in the processing between vocal and instrumental music.
The new method helps us to understand better the complex brain dynamics of brain networks and the processing of lyrics in music. The study was published in the journal NeuroImage.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the research team, led by Dr. Vinoo Alluri from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, recorded the brain responses of individuals while they were listening to music from different genres, including pieces by Antonio Vivaldi, Miles Davis, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, The Shadows, Astor Piazzolla, and The Beatles. Following this, they analyzed the musical content of the pieces using sophisticated computer algorithms to extract musical features related to timbre, rhythm and tonality. Using a novel cross-validation method, they subsequently located activated brain areas that were common across the different musical stimuli.
The study revealed that activations in several areas in the brain belonging to the auditory, limbic, and motor regions were activated by all musical pieces. Notable, areas in the medial orbitofrontal region and the anterior cingulate cortex, which are relevant for self-referential appraisal and aesthetic judgments, were found to be activated during the listening. A further interesting finding was that vocal and instrumental music were processed differently. In particular, the presence of lyrics was found to shift the processing of musical features towards the right auditory cortex, which suggests a left-hemispheric dominance in the processing of the lyrics. This result is in line with previous research, but now for the first time observed during continuous listening to music.
“The new method provides a powerful means to predict brain responses to music, speech, and soundscapes across a variety of contexts,” says Dr. Vinoo Alluri.
The above story is based on materials provided by Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland), via AlphaGalileo.
Journal Reference: Vinoo Alluri, Petri Toiviainen, Torben E. Lund, Mikkel Wallentin, Peter Vuust, Asoke K. Nandi, Tapani Ristaniemi, Elvira Brattico. From Vivaldi to Beatles and back: Predicting lateralized brain responses to music. NeuroImage, 2013; 83: 627 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.06.064
Credit: Image courtesy of Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland)
Because of our high-quality instructional program and un-compromised commitment to excellence, we have families from all over the metroplex coming to take violin lessons at our program. Don't sacrifice excellent Suzuki music education!
These are some areas where our Suzuki music families drive from: