Here are 5 Predictions for the 21st Century
- Meaningfull Music Making will become known for the brain, what we all know diet and exercise is for the body (from the neck down).
Neuroscience is showing that nothing uses more of the brain than Music Making, although this is still not yet widely known.
This is not the Mozart Effect – rather what I call The Meaningfull Music Making Effect.
It was Alfred Tomatis who first coined the phrase Mozart Effect – which became popular in the 1990s. What is less well known is the research of Musicologist John Sloboda who, also in the late 1990s demonstrated at Sussex University the huge impact that listening to Music, from the soundtrack of your life, could have on being able to shift your emotions.
Back in 2013, after seeing the Plymouth Experiment, advanced Alzheimer Sufferers literally coming back to life, listening to and singing their favourite Music – I connected the dots in an extended way and thought about Music Making as a lifestyle choice and workout for the brain.
What I was missing, at that time, was the other end of the spectrum, if you will – which I discovered in the most unlikely of places – Hell Week Training of The US Navy Seals.
In many ways, You can think of Navy Seals as being at the opposite spectrum of health to an advanced Alzheimer sufferer – whereas sadly Alzheimers does lead to a progressive shutdown – Navy Seals are vibrantly fit, alert and out through one of the most punishing training regimes – perhaps in the world.
And on the toughest day of Hell Week – by accident, one year The Navy Seals discovered that, by Singing – no Navy seal actually rang the D.O.R bell to quit.
To put that in context – typically 100 trainees start hell week, only 40 complete.
The Navy Seals have access to the best of everything – and now they are reseaching, experimenting with Music as a means to increase their resilience.
Yes ofcourse there is such a thing as the war cry – and even watching a David Attenborough program on chimpanzees going into battle, there were certain ” musical sounds” if you will.
Yes This is something very different –
My take on this is that when Alzheimer Sufferers and Navy Seal Trainees reach the end of the capabilities of their Physicality – it is when,…. They reach for their Musicality… that they can reach another level – in the case of the Alzheimer sufferer this is reawakening, re-animating and talking with loved ones … in the case of the navy seal this is going to another level of performance, of endurance… on what I think of as The Helliest Day of Hell Week… when they are up to their necks in mud in the mudfaps between San Diego and Tijuana New Mexico.
This is why I believe it is possible that in the 21st Century Music Making will become known for the brain what Diet and Exercise is for the body.
2. From Mozart Effect To Meaningfull Music Making Effect
The Mozart Effect was popular in the late 1990s, however this has since been disproven, although John Sloboda’s research, les well known is more valid – this is something I refer to as the meaningfull music effect – how listening to music form the soundtrack that shaped your life can have a dramatic effect on shifting your emotional state.
However it is the Meaningful Music Making Effect that will have the greatest impact.
This makes sense if I use a simple sports analogy – what is better for you watching a game of football, or actually playing football ? The answer is obvious, its playing.
And yet when I talk to people about this, the mozart effect comes up,
It was Neuroscientist Anita Collins who did a TEDTalk showing what happens in the brain when a musician makes music, her presentation goes on to demonstrate that yes it is Music Making more so than Music Listening that has the greatest benefit.
But one question that has been missed, that I will attempt to answer is this.
Obviously if someone is drawn to a particular instrument, then it would make sense to start with that, and make music using that, usually starting with the soundtrack that shaped their life. And this is what typically happens when, for example I teach, train and coach beginners and beyond in guitar playing – they want to start with the music that means most to them (if that happens to be Mozart – that’s great, except I can’t help… though if you enjoy rock/blues or indie styles…. http://www.coventryguitartuition.com/2018/02/06/rockbluesindie/ ..
But what about those who are maybe interested in the health benefits, I want to learn Muic because it’s good for my brain, but are not drawn into any particular instrument, whether its guitar or anything else ?
Well then it will either be singing or percussion.
Why – the easy answer is that Navy Seals will be investigating singing – and likely because they are looking for the edge, we may never know exactly what it is that they come up with – Seal Singing Secrets will likely stay classified.
But what is less classified is what a Bradford Primary school did using music, drums and percussion to improve the SATs results, completely turnaround the performance of a failing school, allowing their students to finally start reaching their potential.
which brings me on to…
3. Meaningfull Music Making Central To Education and Not At The Bottom Of The Education Hierarchy
Despite the fact that the Observer Newspaper, back in October 2017 published that The Secret of Great Sat Results is Music and lots of it – this is not the mainstream education view.
And yet at onetime, a long time ago, before the invention of the printing press in 1450 by Gutenberg – all learning was done through song and music – this would be how cavemen learned and swapped stories around a campfire.
Ron Clarke academy has done incredible things by making Music Making central to all subject learning – now this is very different to the hierarchy right now – where Science, Engineering, Maths are at the top, and the Arts are at the bottom – this was the research findings of Sir Ken Robinson who shares this in his book In Your Element.
Infact from time to time, schools go through a phase of dropping music altogether – which is a huge mistake. what I refer to as the monumental master of life and music disaster
So why isn;t Music more mainstream in school – well part of the reason is hat’s called the diffusion of innovation – it takes time for an idea to be adopted – right now yes there are early adopters..
But its just that this is not known about by the majority.
Infact this also goes for my fist point – Meaningfull Music Making becomeing known for the brain what diet and exercise is for the bodt – this isn;t well known – I remember a few years ago someone with more neuroscience expertise than me said ” But Andre as Neuroscientists we all know that…” But actually the man in the street doesn’t.
I bought a green brain (nope not a real one ) and in the benefits section, it says nothing about Music Making as a great way to keep healthy – it does say, reading, doing problem solving – but nothing about Music Making – and by that I mean Music Making where You are making measured progress – playing only what You can already do, might be fun…
but… nope.. that doesn;t count… sorry!
Curiously the one carry over rom music in education is the timestables – remember the singy songy 1 x 2 = 2, 2 x 3 = 6 although the education system in the UK has trid to get rid of that… even … though…. it works like gangbusters
which brings ne onto…
4. Audiolisation and Not Visualisation
Have you noticed that the world is getting more visual. Yes if you’re a certain age then you might remember a song Video killed the radio star..
But I mean things like
- Videos getting annotated, with writing appearing on them… wasn;t there a few years ago
- If You shop on amazon – you’re home page is all visual
Back in the 1970s the only continuous 24 hour medium was radio – if there was a breaking news story at noon – you had to wait until 6 pm to hear it.
Now the bombardment is constant.
In case you need more proof – the real long standing difference between President Donald Trump, and Barrack Obama (and nope I’m not here to debate any politicss) is this..
Twitter..didn’t exist… when … Obama.. came to power.. that’s another level of technology.
And we are all affected by the way – I remember watching the start of a film made in 1956, the story of Moses with Charlton Heston.. and within 60 seconds I was bored … why … a static screen, I was used to jump around video stuff, as we all are..
But from an evolutionary standpoint, I believe man is wired for music – and the proof for that is the many thousands of years that man has used musicality (eg animated stories and songs around the campfire) to share and teach.
Because technology is accelerating so fast – the sooner people get back to some form of Meaningfull Music Making, where yes they have fun, but also make measuable progress … and here’s that unpopular essential word… Practice.. the better.
I am reminded what Elon Musk said in an interview… where technology degrades…. and by degrades he meant forgetting… he gave the example of the Ancient Egyptians forgetting how to build pyramids… and the Romans forgetting how to build their sophisticated aquaducts.
I believe part of the counter is not to completely ignore technology, but to be aware of this increased visualisation… an dto counter it with what i call Audiolisation.. which could be as simple as some meaningfull music making.
There are indigenous people around the world who still do this, one part of China that borders Tibet, where the people at the end of the day.. all get together… and make music.. together.
4. But I’m NOT Musical
This is a big lie. Everyone is Musical; yes there is a condition called AMusia, including Congenital Amusia – people who from birth cannot process Pitch – but that only affects around 4% of the population.
Here’s the challenge – the ” But I’m Not Musicals” are more likely 80% of the population – and if you do the maths – 80 can’t go into 4.
These are limiting beliefs – what I Call ICan;tTATIONS – you’ve heard of incantations – well an ICan;tTation is something someone tells himself – which as long as they believe that, stps them from playing music.
A huge ICan’tTATION by the way is Jabofianism – the idea that Music isn’t all that important, its just a bi of fun.. though if you’ve read through this far.. unlikely that applies to you.
The other ICan’tTation – is a lack of belief in self – and yet Everything about You i Musical – How You walk, swing your arms – that is all rhythm.
Your earliest Musical memory… is….. 4 months before you were born… listening to your mothers heartbeat…
The fact that your favourite music is in what is called 4 4 time (4 beat to the bar) is NO Accident!
They have don eultrasound experiments showing that the mothers heart beat sound heard by an unborn baby is the same as listening to a 4 beats to the bar playing drum.
To say you are not musical is like saying You don’t breathe !
In a real dirct sense Music is life! When Don Maclean sang the song Miss American Pie, this wasn;t just a song about Buddy Holly when he sang – the day the music died – this .. song…. applies.. to everybody…. Don;t Die With YOUR Music Still In You.
But Now we come to perhaps the most important reason of All
5. MindfullNess Through MusicMaking
When Neuroscientist Charles Limb did his TEDTalk on Musical Improvisation, while I was fascinated by him doing a rap, and showing keyboard players in FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonator) chambers.. itwas his last comment that really grabbed my attention.
It was (and I appologise for paraphrasing, though I have kept the integrity) something like, tht was weird, at the point of improvisation, the bloodflow out of the pre-frontal cortex – what that seems to suggest is that the inner critic, the social awareness side is dis-engaged
And then he said… well this is probably a mistake as its only a preliminary finding… and I got excited, because I believed he was absolutely right…
And my take on this was what I call Moving The Mind Dial To Music.
It was Dr MIchael Thaut Of Neurologic Music Therapy who said ” The Brain thta is engaged in Music Making is transformed by Music Making”.. and that got me thinkign about the real challenges everybody faces.
Sure Anita Collins in her TEDTalk shows the brains of Professional Musicians and how there is a whole ” jubilee explosion of fireworks going on” – but … then… what about the ordinary person… what about someone who can’t sit around and play guitar al day, sing all day, or play whatever their preferrd instrument happens to be.
This led to what I call Deep Sensory Engagement, what You can think of as Mindfullness through Music Making. Now the big difference between this and other forms of mindfullness is that Mindfullness, which has got popular over the last few years is very subjective, whereas using Music Making, and because I have been fortunate now to have helped many people from age 12 through 72 progress and even perform guitar live … I have an appreciation of what the underlying patterns are.
The mistake people sometimes make, is they have this sense that they must “connect” (be present with0 the music – but they believe that their musicality depends on them having perfect pitch.
And this is not true. From what I have discovered the starting point is rhythm – because unless and until You connect to the rhythm of the music, You cannot be present with the music.
However the type of Music does matter if Your aim is to be fully present with Music Making – You must always be able to process the music, in at least some way, in realtime – if Your aim is to be present, then Angry Music is to be avoided – and here is why ?
There is such a thing as diminished responsibility – as in, I didn;t know what I was doing – that is in the law of the land – now while there is no law against making angry music, if Your aim is to be fully present, and I would suggest this is perhaps the highest aim anyone could have out of any kind of music making, on any instrument – then You stay vigilant while you play and practice.
There is certainly a different quality to the Music when You are fully present – if you think of the sculptor what happens – his or her mind is really focussed and yet the actualy movements, chips he makes on the block of wood are very small.
As You begin to practice, Your focus absolutely must go up, and as your focus goes up, the movements you make become smaller and subtler.
I sometimes tell my students when I am teaching, coaching or training them in guitar – that a 20 minute practice session absolutely can be better than an hour – but that is provided they are fully focussed, fully engaged, and fully mindfull of their music.
And while a professional musician might be able to become mindfull, move their mind dial to music a lot faster than You can right now – it is when you really engage with music that is when You get the full benefits – when You become fully Mindfull Of The Music You are Making.