Mr. Mark's Music Together
Mark's Musings
Your serious hard-working child
By Mark Adamczyk on September 07, 2014

I just finished reading an article by Paul G. Morehouse, an early childhood music specialist on the West Coast that reminds me of just how hard young children--toddlers, preschoolers--work and how serious they are about the work they do. We adults, in our contrariness, call our children's energetic work "play".

Young children are not solely music learners. After all, the music they make is real. Spontaneously and naturally, young children produce sounds and rhythms that conform to a song’s structure. For them, neither melodic nor rhythmic inaccuracies detract from the authenticity of music-making experiences.

Paul G. Morehouse,  PhD, director of The Institute for the Study of Music-Making Behavior. http://istudymusicbehavior.com

Professor Morehouse is talking about musical activities, but the same "work-ethic" of youngsters holds true for all their various and sundry activities. We adults call it playing, and wish we could do more of it ourselves, but for your young child, playing is hard work. (Play is really the work of childhood." - Fred Rogers) All children, your child, don't experience play as, well, child's play. For them, it's what they do, with all their focus, all their heart, all their being.

Watch your child play. He or she isn't pretending, at least not the way we adults think of pretending--going through actions meant to look like we're doing something, while we aren't really doing it. Your child is really doing it, as far as he or she's concerned.

When adults (myself included) watch children playing instruments in one of our "play-along" jam sessions in music class, for example, we're watching children really playing instruments. Oh, sure, they don't necessarily sound so polished to our grown-up ears, but each child is not thinking that he or she is learning how to play an instrument ("Gosh, I don't sound very polished."), or how to make music ("I'm glad I'm in a music class learning how to play music better!"). He or she is really doing it ("I'm awesome!"), as far as they are concerned ("I'm playing the drum just the way Mom does!"). As Mr. Morehouse says, each child's performance is authentic, each is sincerely doing the best he or she knows how to do. Luckily, a child's temperament allows him or her to instantly--and more or less constantly--adjust and accept that he or she could do better. That's where the learning comes in. Although, mostly, your child is going to play it his or her way, over and over again. That's learning, too.

I've just described a music-activity situation, but of course your child is serious (not pretending) about everything he or she does. Reading a picture-book (that your child has memorized from hearing you read it to him or her so many times), giving "baby" (a doll or stuffed animal) a bath and putting "baby" to bed, sharing a simple activity with a sibling, "talking" to you in what comes out, unfortunately, as an unintelligible mumble. Even given that a very young child's speech is often unintelligible, you can be certain that your child is never mumbling the sentence "I'm just pretending/learning to talk to you." To them, the implied message is always, "I'm talking to you" or "I'm actually reading this book" or "I'm really making music".

I wonder if she sings to her eagle?
By Mark Adamczyk on April 17, 2014

This is a photo-essay about a 13-year-old girl who uses an eagle to hunt, just as her ancestors did. Plus she lives at the top of the world. The bird looks almost as large as the girl. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26969150

Not really anything to do with music, I wanted to share. I found these pictures emotionally touching.

Music is Better for your Child than Spinach!
By Mark Adamczyk on March 28, 2014

Music is Better for your Child than Spinach!

Here's a quote from a research paper by Professor Susan Hallam, Institute of Education, University of London.

[There is] a strong case for the benefits of active engagement with music
throughout the lifespan. In early childhood there seem to be benefits for the development of
perceptual skills which effect learning language subsequently impacting on literacy which is
also enhanced by opportunities to develop rhythmic co-ordination. Fine motor co-ordination
is improved through learning to play an instrument. Music also seems to improve spatial
reasoning, one aspect of general intelligence which is related to some of the skills required in
mathematics.

You can read the whole paper, The power of music: its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people or look for references and articles about it on the web, there are plenty. Or just read on and take away the point I want to make: Musical playtime is a vital part of your young child's daily routine. Like spinach, even more so, musical activities shared between you and your child are wonderful ways to bond with your child and to help your child's developing mind and developing body. Plus, music-making is a lot less messy than, say, creamed spinach and a LOT less green.

Make some time to make music with your child every day! (And consider a music-inspiring Music Together® class every week!)

I'm sharing a music video with you
By Mark Adamczyk on December 13, 2013

I am sharing a music video with you that I put together for Halloween (although it wasn't done by Halloween, but that was the plan!) It is me singing a "round", a simple song that has built-in harmonies and counterpoint, if you get a bunch of people to sing it starting at different times. I didn't have a bunch of people with me at the moment, so I started singing it at different times myself. I put in some Halloween-themed pictures, none of them very scary. So, if you want to see how a musical round works and look at a bunch of not-very-scary Halloween-themed pictures, then the video link below will be just your cup of tea!

 

(have you seen) the Ghost of John from mark adamczyk on Vimeo.

Mission Statement
By Mark Adamczyk on March 30, 2013

I came across this quote from a famous and admirable music teacher, from whom I derive much inspiration and insight. These words, on a good day, match what I feel about the work I do. (The not-so-good days are few and far between, fortunately!)

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
Shinichi Suzuki
 

Music and Empathy
By Mark Adamczyk on September 25, 2012

Music affects the emotional well-being of children, research finds

Exposure to music can makes kids more empathetic, a recent study has found.

The University of Cambridge research, though preliminary, may affect how school systems, policymakers and educators view music and its relationship to a child's development.

Read the whole article here. 

Music Lessons and Brain Development
By Mark Adamczyk on September 14, 2012

Here is a recent article from ABC News about how beneficial formal music instruction can be for your child.

Music Lessons Linked to Lasting Brain Benefits

Music lessons early in life may have lasting benefits on the brain, a new study found.

The study of 45 young adults found those with at least one year of childhood musical training had enhanced neurological responses to sound, a trait tied to improved learning and listening abilities.

Read the whole article here.

 

Article on Music and Infants
By Mark Adamczyk on March 26, 2011

Birth of the beat

 This is an article I ran across at ScienceNews.org that discusses the natural rhythms that are inborn in infants. There is also a fascinating discussion of research on mother-infant "talk" and how there appears to be natural musical rhythms there as well. If you have an infant, after you read this article, you're going to be second-guessing everytime you play with your child!

 

On being interviewed by the press
By Mark Adamczyk on September 07, 2010

I've been interviewed a few times by the press for various and sundry. Local papers, a national publication (for a business I was starting), once even by a theatre critic in the Sun-Times for a stage musical that I worked on in the city (um, that would be Chicago, not Lake Bluff). I was just interviewed by the Pioneer Press, which is being gracious enough to run an article about Mr. Mark's Music Together in a couple of their papers this week. (I'm blushing. Not really.) I never know how these are going to turn out. I must have said a thousand, maybe five thousand words about my new program, and the article will have, what, three or maybe four short quotes from me? Did I get what I wanted to say across to the interviewer? Did I bury her with words and she'll just choose tidbits at random? I sure hope I was grammatical in most of my responses. OMG, I hope I, like, didn't start, like, using the word 'like', like, too much! (I do that when I get nervous.)

I have to say--regardless of what the interviewer quotes me as saying--I think this is the interview I talked the most at. I was just clipping along like a sibilant streak, gushing about early childhood and music, Music Together philosophy, what's great about the classes, etc. It was pretty easy to gush, mainly for two reasons: one, the reporter didn't try to shush me up (not too much) and two, I've been gushing about this stuff for years. It just gets easier, even though I'm really not much of a public speaker, I get shy, I get tongue-tied (I have terrible tip-of-the-tongue syndrome), I stop making sense after a while. (Stayed tuned in a couple of sentences.) But, believe you me, when I get up on my soap box about something I really believe in, it's hard to get me to step down. And my work with families and music-making is one of those things I really believe in. As in, I've seen so many families have so much fun making music. I've seen so many children using music in their development and becoming happier, more centered children for it. Not just in music classes, but families I meet at parties, performances, parks, etc. who enjoy singing together where ever (home, school, church, picnics), who actually enjoy taking their kids to lessons, who enjoy singing Beatles songs over and over because that's what one of their kids is learning to play on the guitar, or piano or diggereedoo.

 Listening to music is like reading the paper or a news feed or blog. Participating in making music is like writing the article or being interviewed or blogging, more fulfilling and generally more fun.

Being photographed for the article, however, was like sight-reading music, at least for me. Much more stressful than the interview. 


Community support
By Mark Adamczyk on June 09, 2010

I just have to gush for a minute or two. I am getting such positive responses and encouragement from my families about my new centers and classes. I have to give up teaching at an Evanston location in order to focus on my centers and my families there are all bummed about that--but even so, they're so darned supportive for me and my new endeavor. It's just touching, I don't have a better word for it at the moment (although I'm 85% sure there IS a better one). Gosh, I know a lot of nice people, how cool is that?

I have this habit of calling my families, well, "my families". I guess I take this teaching thing kind of personally. I think of my classes as big family gatherings. (Some classes with long-time-attending families have become sort of their own "family" group, friends who start hanging out together in other locations besides music class.) Big, fun family gatherings, mind you, not those tense kinds of gathering that you see enacted in plays and movies and such.

So, anyway, to all my families that have been encouraging me and my new centers, thank you, thank you, thank you.