Piano is a major key to better brain health while aging

If you’re going to enjoy a lifelong hobby, you can’t beat the benefits of playing a musical instrument. In addition to bringing joy to yourself and any listeners you might have, you’re doing great things for your brain.

Marie Hampton, who has been playing the piano for more than 80 years, believes the science. “I don’t think I would continue to function if I didn’t play the piano!” she says. “I think it really helps you hang onto your brain. It’s mental exercise.”

Marie lives at Splendido, an all-inclusive community in Tucson for those 55 and better. She and her husband Joe moved there in 2012, and they had an interior wall in their new apartment home removed and another one moved to accommodate her 7-foot grand piano.

Marie plays popular music for residents at dinner time, using the piano situated in a hallway outside the restaurant entrances at Splendido. She is also the accompanist for the Splendido Singers, and shares piano-playing responsibility for Vespers in the community.

Building Benefits over a Lifetime

Marie has studied piano her whole life, from when she was four years old to when she moved to Splendido. She recalls, “When I was a very small child, my brother was taking piano lessons from a German piano teacher in North Platte, Nebraska—a 32-mile drive from our small town of Paxton. My mother would drive us in and I’d sit and listen to his lesson.”

She begged her mother to let her take lessons but was told she was too young. “I was about four at that time,” admits Marie. She found a way around her mother by paying the pastor’s daughter her 10¢ allowance in exchange for piano lessons. “When my parents saw that I was serious, they started paying for lessons for me,” says Marie. “Later, my Grandfather Cornick saw to it that all the children in our family learned to play the piano.”

Marie’s family moved around quite a bit during her childhood. “Everywhere I lived as a child, be it Nebraska, Wyoming, Oregon, or California, I found a piano teacher,” she says. “I always got to study with somebody.” As she grew older and more skilled, she started teaching piano herself—both private lessons and in a private school. “I’d use the money I earned for my own private lessons, every chance I got!” she says. Over the years, Marie has participated in master classes and had private lessons with Lili Kraus, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, Wilhelm Schwarzott, Peter Vincent Marlotti, and Rosina Lhévinne.

Noteworthy Brain Benefits

Playing an instrument on a regular basis offers multiple benefits for your brain. That’s because it simultaneously works different sensory systems in the brain along with your motor skills. This coordination of efforts provides a workout for your brain—the kind of workout that strengthens connections within the brain and keeps you mentally sharp. In turn, this can improve your memory and cognition; one study showed that musicians perform better on cognitive tests than those who don’t play an instrument.

Musical training has been proven to increase gray matter volume in specific brain regions and strengthen the connections between them. Other research has shown that such training can improve long-term memory, verbal memory, and spatial reasoning. And multiple studies have shown that playing music helps improve concentration—not just when playing, but in all areas of daily life.

It should come as no surprise that playing music can reduce stress, but it can also lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and reduce anxiety and depression.

Read more here

Music education could help children improve their language skills

via ABC News

While many people often consider music a universal language, a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study done in Beijing shows that it may help with spoken language as well.

Kindergarten students who took piano lessons showed increased capabilities to distinguish pitch and understand spoken words — and it showed up on their brain scans, according to the study’s findings.

Researchers from the International Data Group (IDG)/McGovern Institute at Beijing Normal University wanted to compare the effects of music education on reading versus standard reading training. The reading training included an interactive reading experience, in which the teacher read words aloud from enlarged texts, and the students read along with the teacher.

“If children who received music training did as well or better than children who received additional academic instruction, that could be a justification for why schools might want to continue to fund music,” Robert Desimone, Ph.D., senior author of the research article and director of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, explained.

A group of 74 Mandarin-speaking children, ages 4 to 5, were randomly assigned to three smaller groups. One group got piano training, the second group was trained in reading, and a third control group received no extra training at all. Piano training included 45-minute piano sessions three times a week.

After six months of piano lessons, researchers found that the students were better at differentiating between spoken words and vowel sounds. The group with reading training had similar results. However, the difference between these two groups came in “consonant-based word discrimination.” The piano lessons group did better; this correlated to the group’s response to differences in musical pitch, which was observed immediately after the children heard a pair of notes in a sound-proof room and were then asked to differentiate between pitches.

While the study involved a small sample size and the differences in performance between the piano lesson and reading groups weren’t found in all studied areas, the researchers say that the findings were still significant when looking at language study.

“The children didn’t differ in the more broad cognitive measures,” Desimone said, “but they did show some improvements in word discrimination, particularly for consonants. The piano group showed the best improvement there.”

Live Mother’s Day Celebration Webcast with Jim Brickman!

Live Webcast with Jim Brickman — Mother’s Day Celebration

Live Webcast with Jim Brickman
Mother’s Day Celebration
Friday, May 11, 2018, at 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT

Make Mother’s Day extra special this year with a free, live concert from Jim Brickman. Invite all the moms in your life and join us online for this free webcast featuring songs, stories, giveaways, and video dedications.

When you RSVP, you’ll be entered to win a brand-new Roland RP102 Digital Piano! Plus, you’ll receive a link where you can share a personal video message to your mom which may be selected to air during the webcast.

Click the button below to register, send your video, and let Jim make this a Mother’s Day to remember.

Register Now

Registration closes May 10, 2018.

Piano Technician’s Guild holds annual DC Chapter meeting at Jordan Kitt’s Music

On Monday, March 12th the Piano Technician’s Guild held their annual meeting at the Jordan Kitt’s Music Showroom and Music Education Center in Rockville, Maryland.

The event featured Yamaha Concert and Artist Master Technician Ace Ugai and a fine Yamaha CFX Concert Grand. Ace called his class: “A Master’s Approach to Performance Preparation.”

Ace Ugai and action removed from a Yamaha CFX concert grand piano.

In his words, a master of the craft must include consideration of the room acoustics ,tuning and action regulation specifically tailored for those conditions. The class identified the sounds and effects to look for, and demonstrated how to listen, evaluate and manipulate all of those facets.

Robin Olson

Mr. Ugai and PTG DC Chapter President Robin Olson

The Piano Technicians Guild, Inc. is the largest non-profit organization serving piano tuners, technicians, and craftsmen throughout the world. Formed in 1957 by the merger of the American Society of Piano Technicians and the National Association of Piano Tuners, the Guild was organized to promote the highest possible service and technical standards among piano tuners and technicians.

The Washington DC Chapter was the first chapter in the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG). We have approximately 70 members in our chapter and over half of our members are Registered Piano Technicians. A Registered Piano Technician (RPT) is a piano technician who has passed a series of rigorous tests given by the PTG.

Learn more about the PTG here…

3D Printed Robot Accompanies on the Keyboard

Watch out Chopin: a Polish university student has programmed a robot to play the piano. The musical robot, which pushes piano keys using pronged 3D printed fingers, was developed specifically to accompany its creator while he plays the violin.

The student behind the project, Wojciech Świtała, was inspired to program the 3D printed robot as part of his master’s thesis project at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow.

Through the project, Świtała found a creative (not to mention, entertaining) way of combining his studies in the faculty of electrical engineering, automatics, computer science and biomedical engineering with his passion for playing music.

While the piano-playing robot admittedly does not have the musical chops of a human pianist (or perhaps even a relative novice), the robot is capable of carrying a tune and provides a nice, simple piano accompaniment.

The robot itself is based on one of Mitsubishi’s robotic arms, which Świtała equipped with a 3D printed hand (more of a prong) and programmed to play certain melodies on the piano. That’s right, the robot doesn’t just play one series of keys, as it can actually be “taught” different sequences.

Świtała explains that users simply have to click virtual piano keys in a computer program and the sequence will be saved and sent to the 3D printed robot, which will then “learn” the melody and can play it back when placed in front of a keyboard.

Of course, because the robot isn’t equipped with a set of ten fingers—like most pianists are—it is quite limited in terms of its musical capabilities. What the two-pronged robotic arm can do is play two keys at once, and press them in good time. In the video demonstration, you can even see the 3D printed bot hit a cymbal!

Świtała admits that the robot is in its early stages and that there are still some significant kinks to work out in its operation. For one, the sound of the robot’s motor is not ideal for producing music (unless you’re specifically looking for a technological buzzing), and the robotic arm is still quite slow.

Read the full article here at 3ders.org

Or learn how to play a lot better than the robot by going here…

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