Sunday, February 19, 2017

Benefits of Choral Singing

While vocalists may just seem like the non-instrumental musicians, all musicians should at least sing in a choir as there are many psychological and physical benefits to choral singing. Many musicians sing in choirs and if you aren't singing in one, you're missing out on this unique pastime. Members of a choir benefit greatly - outside of the musical box.

The idea of a community is strengthened through choral singing. Research led by psychologist Nick Stewart of Bath University showed that people who participate in a choir experienced a bond of togetherness and they felt more involved than others in different social activities. Choir members end up having a better feeling for social well-being.

A number of studies have revealed that there are mental health benefits of singing. A year-long study discovered that participants diagnosed with depression found that some of them ended up no longer being depressed after spending one year in a choir. Other studies have also shown that singing in general releases endorphins (the feel-good chemicals from your brain). Oxytocin helps control stress and anxiety and oxytocin levels are boosted in group singing, which will aid to high-school/post-secondary students who may have a lot on their plate to be less stressed.

Aside from the psychological benefits, choral singing also grants several physical benefits. Singing requires breath control and will help with deep breathing. The deep breathing that is needed in singing results in more oxygen intake and better circulation.

Choral singing isn't just simply singing in a group. Choral singing is a full experience that grants psychological, social and physical benefits to each and every member. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Musician's Survival Guide - Problem of Time Management

"Sorry mom, I don't have time to practice" - The number one sentence that was said by more than 200 young musicians (age 13 to 17) who were surveyed by Amy Nathan about the pain of studying music. Finding time is a huge problem that everyone had to deal with in their life, including elders and child prodigy. None of them will always have time to made another run-through. Flutist Paula Robison once said that "There were times I didn't want to practice. When you're at that age, there are so many other things you want to do."

Here are some helpful tips of fitting practice into a busy day by teen experts of Oxford University:

  • Same Time: Some musicians will set up a daily routine of practice schedule at the exact same time each day, thus it will be easier to remember once it became a regular habit.
  • Different Time: Other musicians will change their practice schedule from day to day in order to create more variety into the "daily grinding" of practice, and can be depending on daily activities.
  • Split Time: Many musicians don't practice in a hour-long session; they split their time into a short period spread over the whole day.  Not only this method can let you to not be tired, it also can help musicians that will wander off somewhere else to be focusing on what they are doing.
For more information, tips, and guides on how to "survive" the world of young musicians, click here.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Mandarin Makes You More Musical?

Mandarin makes you more musical - and at a much earlier age than previously thought. That's the suggestion of a new study from the University of California San Diego. Click here to read the full article.

An international team of researchers shows that among the preschool set – or young children between the ages of 3 and 5 – native speakers of Mandarin Chinese are better than their English-speaking counterparts at processing musical pitch.

The researchers conducted two separate experiments with similar groups of young Mandarin Chinese learners and English learners. They tested a total of 180 children on tasks involving pitch contour and timbre. Where the English and Mandarin speakers performed similarly on the timbre task, the Mandarin speakers significantly outperformed on pitch, aka tone.

Mandarin is a tone language. In a tone language, the tone in which a word is said not only conveys a different emphasis or emotional content, but an altogether different meaning. For instance, the syllable “ma” in Mandarin can mean “mother,” “horse,” “hemp” or “scold,” depending on the pitch pattern of how it’s spoken. Mandarin-language learners quickly learn to identify the subtle changes in pitch to convey the intended outcome, while “ma” in English can really only mean one thing: “mother.” It’s the linguistic attention to pitch that gives young Mandarin speakers an advantage in perceiving pitch in music, the authors conclude. “We show for the first time that tone-language experience is associated with advanced musical pitch processing in young children,” the study co-authors write.

But that said, don’t ditch music lessons for language, or language lessons for music. It’s still true that to succeed at music, you need to study music. And learning an additional language is a demonstrably good thing in itself, too – whether or not it makes you a better musician.

Written by Inga Kiderra and Anthony King and published in UC San Diego on January 18, 2017.