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Music Makes Kids Smarter – Prove Me Wrong

In past generations, singing and playing instruments was an integral part of family life. A great way to express and entertain yourself and others. We did not realize it, but we were also exercising our brain while we played, causing us to be creative, more vibrant, smarter, etc. In our current generation, we tend to be passive listeners and consumers as a society, and as a result, short our mental development and our children the opportunity to reach their mental potential.

Humans are “wired” for music. Until recently, scientists did not know how music affected the brain. The advancement in technology allows scientists to actually “see” brain activity via PET scans and MRI imaging scanning the blood flow in the brain. Our brains are “wired” with neural pathways. Most activities only cause a portion of the brain to “light up” with activity; thus, the saying, right brain/left brain, etc. But there are actually four parts to the brain and music makes ALL of the areas “light up” and create new neural pathways as a person is learning and playing an instrument. Those neural pathways remain in tact and can be used for other things besides music. Norman Doidge, in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, shares case after case of people forcing their brain to change and adapt either voluntarily with discipline, or involuntarily due to odd incidences. Studies confirm that our brain has plasticity. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is proven to be a case of “can’t want to,” rather than too old to change.

Daniel Levitin passionately explores the connection between Music and the Brain in his book of the same name. Google, watch video clips on YouTube, or go to his website. It’s an exciting time of discovering how little we know and how much there is to learn. There is definitely enough evidence to recognize it is not in a music teacher’s imagination. Music has a huge impact on activity in the brain. You can physically/visually see the growth and changes that happen inside the brain. The possibilities are endless. The implications for music therapy and music education are profound. Just check out PBS video “The Music Instinct.” Neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks relays a true story from his book, Musicophilia, where a man was indirectly struck by lightning through a telephone and three weeks later composing and playing the piano for the first time. Sacks believes the man was “re-wired” through that experience. The list goes on and on.

But even if you are still skeptical about music making kids smarter, let’s look at the other benefits. Socially, music is an ageless hobby creating interaction with great people. Take a look at any school band or orchestra or top-ranking choir and you will find a huge percentage of the members are in the top 10% of their class and college bound. Striving for excellence is a given in a musical group. Everyone has to perfect their part for the group to perform at their best-NObody “sits on the bench.” Everyone has to pull their weight or the whole group suffers. Creativity, especially in jazz groups is developed, honed and embraced. Who couldn’t use more creativity in their workforce? Creativity is what makes the difference and gives any company the cutting edge. There are many benefits of being involved in making music, but the neural pathways drives home the point and gets our attention. Scientists are reluctant to state that playing a musical instrument makes you smarter, but all the indicators are there, so let’s look at it from the opposite angle. Instead of trying to prove that music makes you smarter or good for you and your child, try to prove that it is not. I can’t think of a single reason how learning a musical instrument is detrimental, can you?

Give your child every opportunity and advantage you can. Enroll them in music lessons and watch them grow and mentally develop as they play, create, express, and struggle through the rigors of the discipline mastering an instrument. You will discover a more creative, brighter and mature person in the making.

iPod Music Downloads – Homework To Do Before You Download Another Song

Many websites are giving away free iPod music downloads. So how true is it? Well, there are copies of songs you can technically download but I have to warn you first that the legality of most of these sites is highly questionable. If you have been visiting forums or reading news updates, there have been numerous reports of infringement of copyright laws when downloading from these illegal iPod music download sites.

Free sounds good but it is often tagged with a hefty price when you are caught doing so. Moreover, the song quality is often poor. Folks may argue that downloading at iTune is not cheap, with songs going for $0.99 per piece. Gone were the days when people would not even frown at paying for a 10-songs CD at $15 – 20.

It is pretty much a Catch-22 situation as iPod manufacturers keep packing in more memory and boosting the capacity of newer iPod models. They can hold more songs than the older generation ones, hundreds to thousands of them. iPod users, driven by their hungry urge to quickly build up a collection of songs, often then fall prey to these illegal music download sites.

Fortunately, there are now paid membership sites for legal iPod music downloads other than iTune. So iPod fanatics can still enjoy their music without limits – access to huge libraries of songs, both latest and oldies without compromising on the quality of the music and of course, not burning their pockets. This is indeed good news for us as we can have the best of both worlds.

Here is some handy information to help you do your homework when you look for an iPod music downloads site:

1. iPod Music Download Fees

This is the main reason why people are flocking to these membership sites. Most of these sites are charging for lifetime or yearly membership subscription for the cost of one nice dinner out. For that, you can have unlimited access to as many iPod music and music video downloads. There are no per download fees at all. But please do not quickly jump onto any site you come across, and be sure to look around for the best value for money.

2. Range of iPod Music Downloads

Whether you are a Pop music fan, or simply love soothing jazz music, there is a paid membership download site out there that can meet your needs. Read up on each site and find out the range and type of music they carry.

3. Wide Selection of Music Files

By this, I meant that the selection of music files must be huge enough, and they need to provide almost every song that has ever been composed. Find out if they constantly update their media library. You will be surprised that some of them even have the latest hits, and not some outdated, past hits only.

4. Easy-to-Navigate Membership Area

Is the membership area easy to navigate around? Is it easy to find the song you want? Do they provide step by step instructions on how to download the iPod music files to your iPod?

5. Downloading Speeds of iPod Music Files

Does it take forever to download a long list of songs?

6. Free Media Downloading Software Provided

Most sites provide free media downloading software so it can be considered as an industry norm. If they charge you for the software, it is time to look elsewhere. One thing you need to find out is whether their software is compatible with your system, ie what are the software system requirements?

7. Customers’ Feedback

Good customer feedback often means that the service level is excellent and should be able to meet your expectations.

8. Excellent Technical Assistance

Needless to say, you do not wish to face a situation where you are stuck and cannot find the technical support you need. Not every site is equal in this aspect even though almost everyone boasts of top-notch support service.

The above information I have shared should be sufficient for you to find a good iPod music downloads site. You may be wondering how you are going to assess and compare some of the qualities I mentioned without accessing the member’s area. Fret not, as I have done some of the legwork and would be revealing the top sites for iPod music downloads in my next article. Alternatively, you can always read up at music forums.

The content of this article is provided for the purpose of education and illustration only and is in no way associated with Apple, iTune, or any company or subsidiary of Apple. This article may be freely reprinted or distributed in its entirety in any ezine, newsletter, blog or website. The author’s name, bio and website links must remain intact and be included with every reproduction.