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

WHY PARENTS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT DURING MUSIC CLASSES FOR BABIES?

ENGLISH / ITALIAN

As children grow, our music sessions also change!

These gorgeous children started their music sessions with me when they were 5 months old, their parents brought them to every single class (based on the Gordon’s Music Learning Theory) since when they were curious and happy, little babies.

During these years, these parents have discovered a different way to interact, relax and play with their children, through sounds, rhythms and music. You should hear how they sing during the sessions!

Their children are growing fast and soon they will enter in the music room just with their friends – they will turn 3 soon – so right now we are working on their autonomy and independence, to facilitate this change.

Our classes follow in fact the musical and cognitive development of the children; every session is planned based on their needs, to stimulate not only their musical skills but also their general growth.

Parents are fundamental for us during this process so it’s really important to have them on board during the sessions, enjoying the music activities as much as their children.

WHY PARENTS ARE REALLY IMPORTANT DURING MUSIC CLASSES For BABIES?

They are their children’s reference so everything they do is an example for their children:

  • Everything a parent feels during the class affects their child. If a parent is anxious or doesn’t feel comfortable during the session, this will probably influence their child similarly. If a mum or dad is relaxed, then the baby will feel relaxed too 🙂
  • When parents sing or move to rhythms, they are showing their child how to enjoy music; they’re basically saying “It’s fine, we can sing, dance and move in this space”. This will help their child to feel comfortable, safe and enjoy the session.
  • In our classes, we ask parents to accompany our songs with easy ostinatos (repetitive notes or patterns): in this way children will be surrounded by richer music (called polyphony) that will support children’s musical development.
  • Playing and singing together with other parents is also an amazing example for children to collaborate and work as a team.

ITALIANO

Man mano che i bambini crescono, anche le nostre sessioni musicali cambiano!

Questi stupendi bambini hanno iniziato le loro sessioni musicali con me quando avevano solo cinque mesi, i loro genitori li hanno accompagnati ad ogni singolo incontro (basata sulla Music Learning Theory di Gordon) sin da quando erano dei curiosi piccolissimi

Durante gli anni, questi genitori hanno scoperto un modo diverso di interagire, rilassarsi e giocare con i loro figli, attraverso suoni, ritmi e musica. Dovreste sentire come cantando durante le sessioni!

I bambini stanno crescendo rapidamente e presto entreranno nella stanza della musica solo con i loro amici, senza i genitori – avranno quasi tre anni in Settembre – e ora stiamo lavorando sulla loro autonomia e indipendenza, per facilitare questo passaggio.

Le nostre lezioni seguono infatti lo sviluppo musicale e cognitivo dei bambini; ogni sessione è pianificata in base alle loro esigenze, per stimolare non solo le loro abilità musicali ma anche la loro crescita generale.

I genitori sono fondamentali per noi durante questo processo, quindi è molto importante per noi che siano coinvolti durante gli incontri, godendosi le attività musicali tanto quanto i loro bambini.

PERCHÉ I GENITORI SONO DAVVERO IMPORTANTI DURANTE LE CLASSI DI MUSICA PER I BAMBINI?

Sono i riferimenti dei loro figli, quindi tutto ciò che fanno è un esempio per i loro bambini:

  • Tutto ciò che i genitori sentono durante la lezione condiziona i loro bambini. Se un genitore è ansioso o non si sente a suo agio durante la sessione, probabilmente influenzerà suo figlio in modo simile. Se una mamma o un papà sono rilassati, allora anche il bambino si sentirà rilassato.
  • Quando i genitori cantano, tengono il tempo o rispondono in maniera musicale, stanno mostrando al loro bambino come godersi la musica; stanno praticamente dicendo: “È tutto ok, possiamo cantare, ballare e muoverci in questo spazio”. Ciò aiuterà il loro bambino a sentirsi a proprio agio, sicuro e a godersi la sessione.
  • Nei nostri corsi, chiediamo ai genitori di accompagnare i brani con facili ostinati (note o pattern ripetuti): in questo modo i bambini saranno circondati da musica più ricca (chiamata polifonia) che supporterà lo sviluppo musicale dei bambini.
  • Giocare e cantare insieme ad altri genitori è anche un meraviglioso esempio di collaborazione e lavorare di squadra.

SEN family supported by Arsenal Foundation

If you live around the Arsenal Stadium in and your child has specials needs you don’t want to miss this opportunity! Music therapy should soon as well!

Few spaces left on the next PEPTalk group sessions running in January-February. They are lead by a therapist called Louisa who is an advanced sensory integration therapist and Occupational Therapist.

The sessions will focus on sensory integration and be held in the specialist sensory room at The Arsenal Stadium in Islington. The sessions will provide you with practical advice and activities to support the development of your child’s sensory integration which can impact upon the development of a range of different skills including attention, communication, social interactions and daily living skills.

The 5 session block costs £50. For children new to the group sessions, an initial online consultation fee will apply. There will be no fee for children who have already engaged in PEPTalk sessions.

For children living in Islington, Camden and Hackney the initial consultation is paid for by the Arsenal Foundation.

Please contact highburyparkmusic@gmail.com if you are interested in finding out the dates and times of the sessions.

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

FIRST STEPS IN MUSIC

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!

ACCULTURATION. 0-3