Posted on 09/14/2010 at 02:31 PM by Global Reach

Northwest AEA Fine Arts Blog
Volume 2 Number 1

Marlin Jeffers, Educational Consultant

Music Web Sites of the Month:  A colleague Kathy Perret, reading consultant at Northwest AEA shared this site with me.  It has many possibilities to teach musical concepts through social studies. 
Social Studies:
If you investigate the site even further there are musical resources to teach all subject areas as well as classroom management.

Marching Band Sites:
Drum Corp International          
Marching Band
Bands of America        

Iowa Professional Organizations – The following organizations can provide opportunities for professional growth and musical resources for the classroom:
Iowa Music Educators Association
Iowa Bandmasters Association
Iowa High School Music Association
Iowa String Association
Iowa Choral Directors Association
Iowa State Education Association  

ISEA also has opportunities and resources through the Iowa Fine Arts Caucus that can be utilized through the following sites: our national external communication tool--it is moderated for content/comments by an administrator.  A great place for arts advocacy, specific discipline advocacy, arts/human interest articles, etc. This can be viewed by anyone. our state caucus' external communication tool--also moderated for content/comments by an administrator.  A great place for arts advocacy, specific discipline advocacy, arts/human interest articles, etc. This can be viewed by anyone. our state and national internal communication tool.  This is by invitation only and members only.  Great links, wonderful documents and the capability to email blast.  This has been tightened down so that only moderators have the ability to send out emails to the group.  This has been done to avoid spamming.  So, it's safe and will not be abused. Our FB account linked to EDTA, NAEA, MENC, NDEO and more.  We have lots of friends already.  Public site. http://www.twitter/FAC If you tweet, we're here. A secondary site used for real time chat meetings if every needed. Not a primary site.  Members only.

Article of the month:
Music Training Linked To Enhanced Verbal Skills

Music training, with its pervasive effects on the nervous system's ability to process sight and sound, may be more important for enhancing verbal communication skills than learning phonics, according to a new Northwestern University study.

Musicians use all of their senses to practice and perform a musical piece. They watch other musicians, read lips, and feel, hear and perform music, thus, engaging multi-sensory skills. As it turns out, the brain's alteration from the multi-sensory process of music training enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading, the study concludes.  

“Audiovisual processing was much enhanced in musicians' brains compared to non-musician counterparts, and musicians also were more sensitive to subtle changes in both speech and music sounds,” said Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, where the work was performed. “Our study indicates that the high-level cognitive processing of music affects automatic processing that occurs early in the processing stream and fundamentally shapes sensory circuitry.”

The nervous system's multi-sensory processing begins in the brainstem, an evolutionarily ancient part of the brain previously thought to be relatively unmalleable.

“Musicians have a specialized neural system for processing sight and sound in the brainstem, the neural gateway to the brain,” said Northwestern doctoral student Gabriella Musacchia, lead author of the study.

For many years, scientists believed that the brainstem simply relayed sensory information from the ear to the cortex, a part of the brain known for cognitive processing.

Because the brainstem offers a common pathway that processes music and speech, the study suggests that musical training conceivably could help children develop literacy skills and combat literacy disorders.

The study, “Musicians Have Enhanced Subcortical Auditory and Audiovisual Processing of Speech and Music,” is  published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The co-investigators are Gabriella Musacchia, Mikko Sams, Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus.

Study participants, who had varying amounts of musical training or none at all, wore scalp electrodes that measured their multi-sensory brain responses to audio and video of a cellist playing and a person speaking.

The data showed that the number of years that a person practiced music strongly correlated with enhanced basic sound encoding mechanisms that also are relevant for speech. Beyond revealing super-accurate pitch coding vital to recognizing a speaker's identity and emotional intent, the study showed enhanced transcription of timbre and timing cues common to speech and music.

“The study underscores the extreme malleability of auditory function by music training and the potential of music to tune our neural response to the world around us, ” Kraus said.

Previous research has shown brainstem transcription errors in some children with literacy disorders.

Since music is inherently more accessible to children than phonics, the new research suggests, music training may have considerable benefits for engendering literacy skills.

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