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

Think for example of a string quartet. When the first violin “gives the signal” to begin, the delays of the rest of the group are all inferior to 10 milliseconds. Moreover, during the performance, their synchronisation improves.

This ability of anticipation and coordination is absolutely extraordinary, even more, 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, to be able to play together, literally learn how to “read” other musicians during a performance, recognising their littlest movements, their way of breathing and feeling the sounds of music.

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

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

2. the communication between the different brain regions.

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 good government requires parliamentarians to communicate well with each other.

Beyond our current knowledge, a corollary 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

FIRST STEPS IN MUSIC – LISTENING. A FREE 5-day course online

Gordon UK – Music Research Institute is launching its first project!

FIRST STEPS IN MUSIC – LISTENING is a FREE 5-day course online that will help you to create a musical listening path with your students.

In the last weeks, we have worked hard to prepare this training opportunity and we hope you’ll find it interesting!

You will find many tips on how to create a good environment for listening, and insights on the role of silence and movement in children’s musical learning. At the end of the 5th day, there will also be a special gift for you.

This offer is exclusively for subscribers to our newsletter. So, if you don’t want to miss out, subscribe to the link below👇🏻 Check your inbox (or junk mail) to start the course 📨

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A new paper from Music and Cognition

Our new paper is out today, investigating the impact of a musical intervention on preschool children’s executive function!

Frontiers in Psychology is the largest journal in its field, publishing rigorously peer-reviewed research across the psychological sciences, from clinical research to cognitive science, from perception to consciousness, from imaging studies to human factors, and from animal cognition to social psychology.

Thanks to Creative Futures and my colleagues Alice Bowmer and Katie Mason for this first step together!

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02389/full

Music and Executive Function

Our paper regarding the impact of music on the development of the executive functions in children 3-4 yo is getting ready! This is the next step after the research we run last year with Creative Futures and the University College London. Describing the activities and highlighting the process that brought us to significant changes is such a long process… but we love it! #musiceducationnerd 😂
We will then publish the activities and the musical examples of our research! Stay in touch!

My three words for music therapy

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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