Music Education for Parents Is Very Important

Assume that your child went to regular school and every day the teacher asks you to help him a bit with his homework for quick progress. For you it will not make much effort because you went to school too in your childhood. So if your talented child has started taking music lessons, isn’t there a need for music education for parents too?

I’ve been teaching at music school for many years, and I am always apprehensive of parents who bring their children to music school but have no intention to understand anything about music education themselves.

When parents want to do something to help their children in their development, they begin taking music education for parents immediately and try to learn as much detail as they can about the new study. In the first few months they do it quite easily, because as adults their memory and logic helps them a great deal, but the further assimilation of information becomes harder and harder.

Firstly, it is because the adults often have urgent matters to look into, or things to discuss with their spouse. Perhaps they are very tired at work and think that today is not the most appropriate day to monitor their child’s home studies. Or they think that the child should now become independent.

Secondly, you think that since you have participated only in the theory lessons, how can you help your child when he practices? After all, it is your child who is performing with the instrument, not you. As an adult, you know from life experience that for a good result, the theory and practice must necessarily go hand in hand.

But music education for parents is simply just necessary. Why? The answer to this question is easy: if you want to help your child become a useful member of society, you should simply be familiar with and understand what he’s doing when he’s growing up.

How can you help your child learn and further develop musical ability if you do not have the necessary knowledge in this field?

You may not believe me, but in order to help your child get good knowledge you do not need to thoroughly study the biographies of composers and spend a few hours practicing the musical instrument like your little musician needs to.

So what is music education for parents? What does this mean? It means that you should know and be able to organize the process of music education of your child, create the conditions required to arouse and sustain his interest in the lessons, and help him go higher and higher.

Many parents are surprised and shrug: so what else can I do? Now I will reveal to you only the very basic few truths that you, dear parents, should know well:

1) Right from the birth of your child, you are responsible for the development of his musical abilities, since they are not inherited.

2) You should know the basic criteria on which to search for the first and most important music teacher in the life of your child.

3) If prior to starting his music education your child cannot decide on which musical instrument to learn, you need to know exactly how to help him make this most important choice.

4) Even before finding a music teacher, you should know exactly what you personally want out of the music lessons.

What future would you like for your child? Don’t you want him to increase his IQ by means of music lessons? Do you want your child to achieve his highest potential or do you just want him to play for “leisure”? In the latter case, you will be only deluding yourself. My experience with parents suggests that this desire of parents is satisfied too quickly, and the child does not realize the true value of his invested efforts in learning music; and sooner or later he leaves musical training.

I repeat: these are just some of the things that you, dear parents, need to know and understand well.

Life Insurance Continuing Education Classes For All Insurance Agents

The Life Insurance continuing education classes offered online are streamlined and well devised to ensure that all insurance agents meet all the insurance CE requirements as set by the state to obtain or maintain their current licensing status. Life Insurance is the most profitable insurance product to many insurance companies and of course it is one of the most difficult products to sell owing to it long term care feature as well slightly high premiums that go into its policy. Definitely the insurance agents dealing with this product get better brokerage or commission in selling this product owing to its intricate complexities and high cost of premiums.

It is but imperative that insurance professionals dealing with this product have competent knowledge and skill in delivering persuasive and appealing sales pitch to sell Life insurance policies to people in the state. Life insurance continuing education classes are being conducted by majority of states either online or through classroom sessions to impart thorough knowledge on the rules, features, business plans, marketability and laws governing life insurance policies. This would definitely up skill the insurance professionals to answer any related queries by the general public without having to fumble for information.

It is mandatory that all licensed insurance agents, underwriters and brokers must complete a few courses in Insurance CE on an ongoing basis as the procedures, rules, principles, terms and conditions governing insurance policies tend to change periodically from location to location over a period of time. One has to be well aware of the necessary changes made and sell the insurance products as per the guidelines provided in the insurance continuing education classes. Nowadays insurance CE classes are provided online and as well as in classroom sessions. Alternatively you can also purchase insurance continuing education credits online if you prefer to work that way.

On an average every state offers around 25 life insurance continuing education courses in order to fulfill the Department of State requirements to handle insurance products. The training and courses are offered for all insurance trainees, professionals, and property and casualty dealers as well as beginners who wish to start their careers in Insurance sector. There are over dozens of insurance continuing education classes that deal with property and casualty, annuity, risk management, auto insurance, health and life insurances. The catalog mentioning the various insurance products also consist of flood and fire insurance policies which are extremely comprehensive and customized to meet the needs of customers in times of emergency.

As insurance industry is dynamic and customer’s expectations from the insurance products also keep changing from time, the rules and regulations governing the insurance continuing education courses are amended from time to time and the insurance advisor has to keep himself abreast with the changes to be able to convince the customers better and suggest a policy that suits their needs. This is exactly the reason why the government has made it mandatory for all insurance advisors to take training session for stipulated period of hours every year.

Somatic Education for Musicians

“To make the impossible, possible, the possible easy, and the easy, elegant”-Moshe Feldenkrais

These words could well describe a musician’s goals in using technique to realize musical inspiration, whether it be refining a compositional idea or perfecting a demanding instrumental passage. Yet they were written to describe the goals of a Sensory -Motor learning method that uses gentle movement and directed attention to increase ease and range of motion, improve flexibility and coordination, and prevent and treat many common overuse and misuse injuries musicians encounter.

Tendonitis, Repetitive Stress Syndrome, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, sore backs, necks, shoulders, etc. are all too common among musicians. Many conditions require medical attention and it is wise to consult a doctor when pain or discomfort alerts you to a problem. But treating the symptom may not get at the cause. Fortunately, there exist a number of methods oriented toward the development of body awareness in movement which can be used to prevent these injuries and, where they already exist, apply non-medical approaches to improving our functioning. Grouped together under the name “Somatic Education,” these methods address postural and movement issues extremely relevant to musicians but often neglected in the pursuit of instrumental skills.

Its not surprising that movement education is of value to musicians. All music production involves movement, and it follows that paying attention to the way we move to make music will affect the music we make. Exploring this simple connection can have profound affects on biomechanical health as well as developing sensitivity and power in music production.

Historical Roots

Somatic (from the Greek work Soma, meaning “living body”) education might be thought of as a physical education that does not separate mind and body. The roots of the Somatic approach go back to the Gymnastik movement of Northern Europe and the Eastern U.S. during the late 1800′s. These teachers shared ideas about posture and movement, which were at odds with dominant models in classical ballet, physical education, religion and medicine. Gymnastik pioneers rejected the separation of mind and spirit from a mechanistically conceived body, encouraged self-developed values over conforming to an ideal, and approached physical education as a unity of movement, body structure, and psycho-spiritual health. Following the disruptions of two world wars, strands of this shared vision came together as old pioneers and new methods established schools and spread their work. Today thousands of educators practice methods such as Sensory Awareness, the Alexander Technique, Ida Rolf’s Structural Integration, Moshe Feldenkrais’s Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration, Gerda Alexander’s Eutony, as well as Aston-Patterning, Body-Mind Centering, Trager Work and others. After exploring a few common threads running through these approaches, we’ll look at the two most commonly used with musicians: The Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method®.

Importance of Movement & Awareness

Musicians are familiar with the notion of our instrument being an extension of ourselves; and in a way, the primary instrument is the self. A pinnacle in our species’ evolution of motor skills, playing an instrument demands a highly complex use of the neuromuscular apparatus. But precious little of a musician’s training involves refining one’s ability to move efficiently, sense strains, and attend to more of oneself while making music. Without this training, we unwittingly develop neuromuscular habits that are physically stressful and increase our vulnerability to injury. When the movement is poorly organized, forces are created that generate unnecessary heat in the joints, with shearing and other stresses in the connective tissue and muscles. Done repeatedly over time, damage and injury are more likely to occur. Postural problems from sitting and standing for long periods, instrument-specific problems (such as pain in a picking hand) and simple tension leading to unnecessary muscular contraction are common results of inefficient movement patterns.

The first step to recognizing harmful habits is to find out what we do already, that is, become aware of our movement. When we exert a lot of muscular effort, it is impossible for our brain to make the sensory distinctions needed to improve our neuromuscular organization. With this in mind, many Somatic methods use gentleness, delicacy and slowness of movement to notice what is actually happening. It is analogous to the way a slow ballad tends to reveal many nuances of the sound: tone, intonation, and time all become easy to notice when we slow everything down. In the same way, paying attention to subtle distinctions becomes easier when we slow our movement and avoid excess effort and strain.

Mind, Body And Environment-A Functional Whole

Movement occurs through an information feedback process between our senses, muscles and central nervous system. As we move, our senses of touch, balance, sight and sound send our brain information about our position and muscular activity and it responds by modifying the outgoing messages to our muscles. All this occurs in response to the challenges of our environment. You play a note, hear the sound, and make changes or adjustments for the next attack, all while considering the environment or context (the style of the music, the room or audience, other musicians). These elements exist as a functional whole–one never occurs in the absence of the others.

Similarly, the source of a given problem is often a combination of a physical limitation, mental, or emotional attitude, and the special challenges of the instrument itself. Each element may contribute and working in one area will have results in another. The pianist’s sore wrist may be related to one or more of the following: a shoulder that does not move freely, a mental attitude that results in practicing too long without breaks and/or a bench height preventing comfortable arm position. Treatments that focus on one of these elements to the exclusion of the others are often limited in effectiveness.

The holistic approach recognizes that difficulties are often part of a general underlying dysfunctional movement pattern. The manifestation of the problem may be far from its source and improving the general pattern often improves specific complaint.

Finding Our Own Way

Just as different styles of music call for different instrumentation, aesthetic choices, and musical values, somatic educators recognize that context and individuality play a significant role in determining appropriate action. For this reason, Somatic educators avoid general prescriptions for all to follow. Rather than espousing any one ‘right’ way of doing something they encourage individuals’ in developing the ability to sense, discover, and decide what is best for themselves. They promote our ability to trust our subjective and immediate perceptions of ourselves and cultivate the capacity to distinguish between acting to conform to an “external ideal,” and spontaneous natural action born of knowing oneself.

Let’s look at these principles in action in the work of two towering figures in modern education, F.M. Alexander and Moshe Feldenkrais.

Alexander Technique

F. Mathias Alexander (1869-1955) was an Australian-born actor who found himself losing his voice during performances. After doctors were unable to offer anything but rest as a treatment he began a thorough study of himself which continued over a ten-year period. This study revealed that he pulled his head back when speaking which led to pressure on the larynx, and vocal chords and resulting hoarseness. This head and neck position also caused him to lift his chest, narrow his back and grip the floor with his feet. He thereby realized his speech organs were influenced by misusing his whole self. Alexander went on to refine these insights into a more efficient use which he called “primary control”. This consisted of having his head forward and up in conjunction with lengthening and widening his back. Yet in spite of having found a more efficient organization he confronted an obstacle: overcoming the force of habit that continually reinstated movement patterns deep in the nervous system. He saw that focusing on the end result was obscuring the “means whereby” his movement took place. Alexander went on to refine a technique of “inhibiting” all automatic impulses just at the moment of movement and replacing this with “conscious constructive control.” He overcame his habitual wrong use and not only his voice problem but his nasal and respiratory difficulties vanished too. The end of his experiment was the beginning of a lifetime’s work refining and teaching his technique first in Britain and later all over the world. Endorsed and supported by such influential people as Aldous Huxley, John Dewey, and George Bernard Shaw, the Alexander technique proved especially valuable to vocalists (and has been on the curriculum of acting schools and music conservatories for decades.) In a typical Alexander session, the teacher uses gentle manual guidance to increase the student’s physical awareness in basic movements such as sitting-to- standing, and walking. Students will be trained to inhibit habitual patterns and recognize good coordination of the head, neck and trunk.

Gary Burton and the Alexander Technique Berklee College of Music Executive Vice President and vibraphonist Gary Burton credits an injury-free musical career to attention to his own biomechanics and lessons with an Alexander teacher. His interest in these matters came early in his development: “In my teens and early 20s,” Burton states, “when I practiced, I did a lot of thinking about how I was moving and what was moving and noticing tension. Over the years, I made changes as I became more aware of what was involved physically.” After a year of studying the Alexander technique, Burton developed a sense of how to hold his neck and head which felt correct. He developed a lasting body awareness and new habits yielding benefits that go beyond playing the vibraphone. “I’ve always had the unprovable assumption,” he says, “that the reason I’ve never had any back problems, after years of lugging a vibraphone around, lifting it in and out of car trunks, is because I’m quite aware how I move, when I pick something up where the pulls and strains are, and how to do it carefully.”

The Feldenkrais Method®

Moshe Feldenkrais was a Russian-born engineer, physicist and athlete who worked with Nobel Prize winner Joliot-Curie in early nuclear research. As one of the first Europeans to earn a Black Belt in Judo (1936) he introduced this Martial Art to the West through his teaching and five books on the subject. In the early 1940′s, after suffering a series of crippling sports-related knee injuries, he was given a 50- percent chance that surgery could repair his knees. But the doctors warned that if the surgery failed, he might end up with crutches or in a wheelchair. Feldenkrais chose not to undergo the proposed surgery and instead be began to study neurology, anatomy, biomechanics, human movement development, and systems theory. Using his own body as his laboratory , after two years of research and experimentation, he taught himself to walk again. Feldenkrais continued his studies and tested his ideas with friends and colleagues, treating their aches and pains, muscle and joint problems, and even serious neurological conditions. By accessing the power of the central nervous system and our extraordinary ability to learn, he found he could achieve improvement in people where many other approaches had failed. He continued to refine his ideas into a system known as the Feldenkrais Method, eventually training practitioners in Israel and the U.S. Today, there are thousands of practitioners worldwide and the Feldenkrais Method is taught in numerous physical rehabilitation centers, universities, theater and music programs and community education centers.

While Alexander had focused on the head-neck relationship, Feldenkrais– with his background as a Judo master–was especially interested in how the central, powerful muscles surrounding our pelvis and trunk properly do the hard work while the extremities fine-tune our movement. When, due to rigidities in trunk and pelvis, the smaller muscles are forced to take over work more efficiently done at our center, strain and injury often follow.

The Feldenkrais Method is taught in two formats. In group classes, called Awareness Through Movement®, the Feldenkrais teacher verbally leads students through movements which gradually increase in range and complexity. Based on developmental movements, ordinary activities, or more abstract explorations of joint, muscle, and postural relationships, the emphasis is on learning which movements work better and noticing the changes in your body. As students become more aware of their habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities, they develop new alternatives with improved flexibility and coordination the result.

Private Feldenkrais lessons, called Functional Integration®, are tailored to each student’s individual learning needs. Performed with the student fully clothed (usually lying on a table or in sitting or standing positions) the practitioner, through gentle touching and movement, communicates how you organize yourself physically and the student learns how to reorganize his or her body and behavior in more expanded functional motor patterns.

Learning Not Healing

While there are clearly therapeutic benefits to both the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, they are educational in nature and achieve their results by tapping our vast potential for self-awareness and self-direction. The learning process used is not goal-oriented but exploratory, and works much like the way we learned as infants to sit, stand and walk–essential abilities that we all learned without a teacher. Without the idea of achievement (and the judgmental activity that accompanies it,) students are free to discover what they are doing (not what they are “supposed to be” doing) and from there explore other possibilities.

Learning this way reduces compulsive, self-destructive movement patterns. Practitioner Paul Linden’s comment shows the results: “he didn’t feel that he had learned a static formula which dictated the right way to play, but that he had increased his awareness so he was better at reading the cues his body and the sound of the music were giving him.”

Both Feldenkrais and Alexander refused to accept the opinion of experts and rejected the Western cultural emphasis on one correct way for everyone. Rather, by paying careful attention to their movement, they learned what they needed to improve their use of themselves. Through the methods they founded they demonstrated their implicit trust in the individuals’ ability to find his or her own way to better coordination.

Any program of treatment for overuse and misuse injuries should take advantage of the power of Somatic Education which is the power of learning that is every person’s birthright.

1 Don Hanlon Johnson, Body 2 Paul Linden Body Awareness Education for Musicians: A Case Study Illustrating Basic Exercises and Principles

Copyright © 1996 by Richard Ehrman