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Peak Performance: Overcoming Musical Plateaus

Peak Performance: Overcoming Musical Plateaus

When we learn and start to acquire a new skill, just like playing a new instrument, everything seems to be exciting and fun at the beginning! We enjoy the sense of stepping up, trying something new, and are easily satisfied with our progress. Getting better at something we’re good at makes us feel smart, talented and feel like fast learners. But as the process continues the progress seems to slow down. It is easy to become unmotivated, impatient, frustrated.  There are certain times we wonder why we can’t just get better at that beautiful piano piece or sing that new song the way we want to. Self-doubts start to come in and you question your level of intelligence because you can’t keep up with the early pace of growth. Well, you just hit that “musical plateau” which can be the toughest part of your music journey.

But, believe it or not, it’s normal to feel like you’re getting nowhere. It is part of the learning curve. You may think that masters have not undergone that “musical plateau” when they started to learn playing music but they most certainly did. Musical plateaus commonly happen during the intermediate stages of learning. Some even experience it in their advanced learning stage. It can certainly be frustrating but with determination being stronger, you should be able to overcome the musical plateaus that are in your way towards acquiring a new skill or in playing your favorite instrument.

How to overcome musical plateaus? Most of us prefer our comfort zones. But comfort zones in no way contribute to the success of learning. You cannot just repeatedly play an instrument you’re already good at or sing that same beautiful song again and again. You cannot get better if you never try. Constant discovery of new things is one way to overcome a musical plateau. Try to move away from things that are easy for you. Move away from things that are comfortable. Explore a new genre or try to play a complicated piano piece and you’ll see you’re getting that same excitement back as when you first learned a new instrument.

Learning music doesn’t require you to be fast. One must be patient and flexible. It’s fine to slow down and understand that we all go through fluctuating levels of progress. Become a part of Cadenza and we’ll teach you some other helpful techniques to overcome that “musical plateau” you’re going through so you can deal with it in the future. Cadenza is willing to help you pursue that passion and your drive to musical discovery.

Listening to Classical Music – Music Therapy for Children

Listening to Classical Music – Music Therapy for Children

In today’s world, where everything is fast-paced and on-demand leads to plenty of distractions. Remaining focused, especially for children, could be difficult. Dependent on circumstances at home and school, those challenges can be even more pronounced.

 

There are numerous studies that show a meditation program combined with classical music can help these children focus. These mindful music moments could be done in different activities whether it be just listening to music or trying to align your breath, to feel and understand tension, or to relax muscles and calm the nerves.

 

These “mindful music moments” could be a great way to start the day as it re-centers everyone. Having kids listen to classical music every morning would allow them to take a deep breath, so they would not be in a frantically hyper mode at the start of the day.

 

Piano music is great for children with aggressive behaviors. Parents can play the soothings sound produced by a piano to help reduce aggressive tendencies. There are studies that shows that calm and respectful behavior also helps improve relationships with other children.

 

There are plenty of research studies that documented the effectiveness of music that could improve learning outcomes and enhance brain development. There is no school, no part of life, that is immune from stress and anxiety. That is why adding an orchestral or keyboard music to a morning announcement is one strategy to make school less stressful. The world will not be changing anytime soon, so we need to help children learn to cope with an increasingly frantic world.

 

We feel this should become a permanent program that schools could use every day, not just to start the day beautiful and relaxed, but so that these children will feel good and ready to learn throughout the day. We at Cadenza feel you can start this program at home now! Contact us for listening samples, setlists, artists and more!

 

The Value of Music Memory in Piano Playing

The Value of Music Memory in Piano Playing

Musical memory is essential for musicians. Although some may see memorizing as not entirely ideal for other fields such as law, sales, teaching, or literary analysis (as it requires adaptability rather than rote memory) but music, however, requires both memory and adaptability to internalize a piece of music and to translate it to the audience. An effective musical memory is a secret formula for creating freedom of expression and the most direct connection to your audience. Printed notes are very important and sometimes essential, but not being memorized can immensely impact your focus and your credibility as a musician which then affects the attention of your audience as well.

Good musical memory can be seen as a natural gift. But those who were not fortunate enough to be given the gift just means they have to find the will-power to develop it. This begins in the early stages of learning how to play the piano. Each piano player follows a different path for developing their musical memory. These hints can help you as you learn.

Muscle Memory

Repetition during the learning process builds what some call muscle memory. This means that there emerges a situation where the movements of the fingers are associated with specific piano keys when playing a particular piece of music. The player does it by habit or muscle memory, and not by thinking about each finger and each key. Some call it being in the “flow” or “groove”. The mind just takes over.  

Aural Memory

It is also known as having a “good ear”. This is the ability to recognize different sounds and express them easily at the keyboard. Those musicians who self-taught usually have this gift. If you can become a trained musician as well as having a “good ear” you can become a phenomenal musician. Even if you are naturally gifted, hard work is still needed to be successful.  

Photographic Memory

This is the fastest way of memorizing, where the position of the hands and fingers are on the keyboard though simply memorizing the music. Some just need to see it once or twice!

Some are just cognitive benefits some people have, but there are things one can do to help memorization overall.

  • Concentration
  • Understanding of the musical piece
  • Frequent Repetition of playing the piano
  • A genuine interest in the composition and how it was created

Even professional pianists make mistakes. We need to learn the art of practicing and just trust to share the beauty of the music for its own sake. In fact, mistakes while still learning are part of the learning process. No one is perfect but practice makes you better!  Start that journey with Cadenza today!

5 Ways Music Is Good for Your Brain

5 Ways Music Is Good for Your Brain

  1. Itaatherine Loveday of the University of Westminster. “It stimulates the brain in a very powerful way.” Playing an instrument is a rich and complex experience. This is because it’s brings together information from the senses of vision, hearing, and touch, along with fine motor movements. Brain scans have been able to identify the difference in brain structure between musicians and non-musicians. “Music reaches parts of the brain that other things can’t,” says Loveday. “It’s a strong cognitive stimulus that grows the brain in a way that nothing else does, and the evidence that musical training enhances things like working memory and language is very robust.”
  1. Strengthens memory and reading skills. The Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University states this is because music and reading are related via common neural and cognitive mechanisms.
  1. Playing music makes you happy. McMaster University discovered that babies who took interactive music classes displayed better early communication skills. They also smiled more and grew better at working with others.
  1. Music increases blood flow in your brain. Studies have found that short bursts of musical training increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain. Increased blood flow increases memory, cognitive ability and information accessibility. That can be helpful when you need a burst of energy or right before you study for, or even take, a test! Skip the energy drink and practice for 30 minutes.
  1. Musical training strengthens the brain’s executive function in every age group. Executive function covers critical tasks like processing and retaining information, controlling behavior, making decisions, and problem solving.

Bonus benefit: Music reduces stress and depression. A study of patients found that listening to and playing music reduced anxiety. Another study revealed that music therapy lowered levels of depression and anxiety. We all know how this works!

Start your journey today with Cadenza! Join us at Cadenza Music Academy.  Send us an email at [email protected] or call us at 949-416-2355.