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Music Makes You Smart!

April 25, 2010

With a mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, I often wonder what my old age–I mean REALLY old age–will be like.  Mom turned 90 this year, with no other illnesses, other than her Alzheimer’s.  Her heart is beating away, she doesn’t have diabetes, heart disease, or bad breath.  Her hair is thick and shiny, and her eyes still have a little of their old sparkle.  But her mind is completely gone.  Do I want to live to be that old?  Certainly not, if I have no mind to manage my life, and  nothing to live for.  I would hate to think of my 2 boys–now men–having to deal with my demise.  It’s pretty grim.

So what am I doing to keep my mind in shape?  Yoga has been proven to alleviate stress, which has a soothing effect on the brain, so I’m counting on that being in my favor.  But I learned something yesterday that blew my mind.  I was attending an Orff workshop–something we music teachers like to do–where we were sight reading, playing xylophones and glockenspiels, drums and recorders.  The facilitator, Artie Alameda, is a master teacher, and she was sharing some of her techniques with us.  As a sideline, she was also excited about sharing some of her research that shows the importance of music experiences in elementary education.  The latest research shows that the one activity that produces more electrical activity in the brain–second only to a seizure–is sight reading music!

Living here in the country as I do, the opportunities for making a living teaching Yoga are slim.  So I supplement my income by accompanying for the high school choir, and directing the choir at a local church.  These jobs involve a lot of sight reading!  You can bet that six days a week when I’m reading music, I will now be thanking my lucky stars for this gift to my brain.

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