Musicians’ understanding of non-verbal communication

“One of the most interesting characteristics of musicians is their need to precisely anticipate not only what is going to happen, but when.

As a reader anticipates the words whilst reading, so a musician anticipates another musician to play together.

Think for example of a string quartet. When the first violin “gives the signal” to begin, the the rest of the group will have a small natural delay of around 10 milliseconds. Moreover, during the performance, their synchronisation improves.

This ability of anticipation and coordination is absolutely extraordinary, even more so if we consider that it’s not just about playing a note together, but also playing it appropriately, with the right expression which is also dependent on the changing context.”*

How does this happen?

Our auditory system is able to synchronise with the temporal structure of the music stimulus, due to its rhythm and regularity.

Not only this but also other areas of our brain synchronise with the music, especially our motor system.

A musician, learning to play with another literally learns how to “read” other musicians during a performance, recognising their littlest movements, their way of breathing and feeling the sounds of the music.

“It is important to remember that, despite someones age, the practice of music seems to facilitate:

1. the creation of a coherent relationships between the external world and brain activity

2. the communication between the different regions of the brain.

The consequence of the first aspect is to allow a more precise interpretation of the outside world, in particular, the world of sound.

The consequence of the second aspect is more far-reaching, considering that cognition, in general, seems to depend on the good communication skills of different brain regions, like a successful organistaion benefits from good communication throughout its workforce.

Beyond our current knowledge, a combination of these two aspects could be that the practice of music facilitates a common vision of the world around us, through a better synchronization of the brain activities of different individuals, and a better sharing of reality.”*

*D. Schön, “Il cervello musicale. Il mistero svelato di Orfeo”, Il Mulino 2018

My three words for music therapy









Flexibility is a good word to describe music therapy.
Improvisation is another good word.
Unpredictability another one.

Today I run a session with H., my 3 years old autistic patient. 
Today he needed the mum inside the room. 

This was not in my plans but I knew it could happen due to his young age. So she joined the session, coming into the room followed by her second little boy, younger than H., that was playing in the waiting room with her.

H., mum and brother, all of us making music together.

I had to change all my plans for this session. We discovered new musical games that H. seemed to like and we followed his needs.

It wasn’t the easiest session ever but we were there for him, all of us, and he gave us some big smiles and eye contacts. The mum is a pretty special mum and the baby brother as well. This helped me a lot.

The music therapy setting needs to be a safe place for the patients, especially in cases like this one, with really young children.
So it doesn’t matter if this kind of session goes out of the schemes, if I haven’t read about it in my books.
I felt that including the rest of the family was the right things to do, today.
I’m sure that little by little he will be able to stay alone with me again, as he did before.

I learnt something new today and I will keep remembering those three words in my future practice:

Flexibility – Improvisation – Unpredictability


Are you attending a music class with your little one?

Here you can find a description of the ACCULTURATION, the first stage of the musical learning (usually between the age of 0 to 3 years) according to the Music Learning Theory – MLT – of Edwin E. Gordon.

Our courses for babies are based on the MLT with the aim of helping the development of the natural musical potential of the children.

We hope that the following description can help you understand the natural responses of your baby to the music!



Weekly musical suggestion

Good morning everyone!

We would like to wish you a nice beginning of the week with this amazing musical piece! We’re sure you will recognise it!

Today’s weekly musical suggestion is a famous standard jazz called Someday my prince will come, performed in this version by Bill Evans and his trio in 1960.

What do you think about it?

Yes, exactly!

The melody of this standard jazz is the same that Snow white sungs in the famous Disney’s animated movie Snow white and the Seven dwarfs, released in 1937.

Originally written as a waltz by Larry Morey (lyrics) and Frank Churchill (music), and performed by Adriana Caselotti, this song became a famous standard jazz performed during the decades by amazing musician as Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Grant Green, Oscar Peterson, Clare Fischer, Leon Spencer Jr. and many times by Herbie Hancock, who would use it as the basis for a virtuoso showpiece display.

There are also many covers of the song, recorded for example by Diana Ross and The Supremes, Sinéad O’Connor and Julie Andrews.

How can I listen to this song with my child?

To help your children’s musical development you can simply listen to the piece while they are playing or resting.

The brain in children aged 0 to 6 is producing a huge amount of synapses so you can already make the difference by exposing your little ones to complex and various music, helping them through the listening process. Their learning potential would do the rest  🙂

And if your child is already able to read you might want to sing along pretending to be in a karaoke! Follow Snow white’s voice in the link above and have fun!

See you next week!

Marta MusindòAt Highbury Park Music we have decided to take inspiration from our Italian friend Marta!
Marta Noè is a great music educator that runs the Italian blog Musindò, which offers every week a selected musical piece to be listen at home with the children.
At HPM we choose our musical proposals according to the Music Learning Theory of Edwin E. Gordon and our experiences as music educators.
With the aim of helping the development of the musical potential of the child, we follow the principals of contrast, briefness, variety and complexity as fundamental elements of our weekly musical suggestions.

Weekly musical suggestion – HAND PAN

Welcome back to our space of the weekly musical suggestion, especially dedicated to parents and children.

Today is the last day of the year and we would like to suggest to you a piece of instrumental music that follows the principles of the MLT of Gordon (the musical learning theory on which we base our courses here at Highbury Park Music – First steps in music).

This piece is performed with a musical instrument that in 2017 has become more and more popular, the HANG DRUM or HAND PAN.


Sonically the hand pan is a percussive instrument that has the capacity to create many layers of sound, harmonics and ethereal effects.

The hand pan is a convex steel drum played with the hands and tuned with multiple notes. Each hand pan is tuned to a particular scale such as major, natural minor, harmonic minor, hijaz, mixolydian, etc.

Weekly musical suggestion

Christmas is over but we can still feel its spirit. This is the reason why we want to suggest you a hand pan version of the famous Carol of the Bells.

Follow the link and begin your 2018 with a different sound!

How can you listen to this song with your child?

If your child is aged 0 to 3 you can simply listen to this music rocking your baby while you move freely in the room, trying to follow the beat of the melody.

Because this is a cover of a famous Christmas carol, if your child is older then 3 you might want to listen to the original choral version and try to find the common melody or discover the differences.

Here you can find the original version.

The hand pan is a great instrument, able to create a magical atmosphere in which to relax or rest.

We suggest to listen to other songs on Spotify, simply searching for Hang or Hand Pan while you want to take a break form the hard work you do as a parent or even if you want to do some yoga or stretching.

Happy new year!

Marta MusindòAt Highbury Park Music we have decided to take inspiration from our Italian friend Marta!
Marta Noè is a great music educator that runs the Italian blog Musindò, which offers every week a selected musical piece to be listen at home with the children.

At HPM we choose our musical proposals according to the Music Learning Theory of Edwin E. Gordon and our experiences as music educators.

With the aim of helping the development of the musical potential of the child, we follow the principals of contrast, briefness, variety and complexity as fundamental elements of our weekly musical suggestions.

Marta Noè is a music educator specialised in the Music Learning Theory, founder and director of two different schools in Milan, called Musindò. She’s also a wonderful mum!