Sunday, January 18, 2015

"Eye Play the Piano" Helps Physically Impaired Children Play the Piano

The power and reach of technology grows every year, and now a Japanese company has created a way for disabled children (and adults) to be able to play the piano using only their eyes. The company FOVE has teamed up with the University of Tsukuba to invent a headset that tracks the eye movement of the user. This of course has many possible applications, but in this case it is being used to play the piano. The wearer of the headset simply looks at panels on the virtual reality headset and this triggers piano notes and even chords.

The system appears to have at least 3 different modes, one where the user can play single notes, a second mode where they can play chords with accompanying bass notes, and a third where they can play a melody and a chord and/or bass note is played along with their melody.

How amazing and awesome is this! Now children who could previously never dream of playing the piano, can now do so and not only play existing songs, but also learn to write new songs utilizing this technology. This opens up a whole new world of playing and creating music for an audience who will immensely benefit from this capability. Take a look at this short 3 minute video demonstration that shows a young boy playing the piano accompanying a choir of physically impaired children singing "Joy to the World".

We first read about this amazing invention though an article in The Guardian here: The Guardian: "Disabled Play Piano Using Virtual Reality Headset". In the article they explain a bit more about the technology and where its leading to next. FOVE and the University of Tsukuba are now seeking funding to help distribute this technology to schools for the physically impaired. Presumably this will start in Japan and hopefully soon spread to the rest of the world. Personally I can't wait to see what future capabilities develop through this as the technology continues to evolve and becomes available to more children and adults who can benefit from it.

That's our musical tech tidbit for the day. We hope you all had a great week and will be back with another post early in the week. Stay warm (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and stay safe!

Peace, Love & Music,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

How Do You Keep Teenagers Interested in Music Lessons???

Many times children will start out learning to play an instrument when they are in elementary school. Very often it will be piano lessons at home, or perhaps a band instrument at school including trumpet, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trombone and drums/percussion being the most popular. However, by the time these same children become teenagers and begin entering high school, their interest in music and music lessons often begins to fade.

There a number of reasons for this of course, not the least of which the number of distractions now presenting themselves these days. Teenagers now have computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones, cable TV, Netflix, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumbler, and the grand daddy of all social media Facebook. With all of these entertainment options and distractions now available is it any wonder that teenagers today have a hard time wanting to stay focused on music and continue learning their instrument.

I can think of several ways to try and rekindle the interest of your teen (or perhaps yourself) in music lessons and music in general. Not in any particular order, here are a few:

  • Try learning a new instrument you haven't played before - Sometimes we get stuck in a rut playing the same instrument for years, and if we just try learning how to play something new maybe an instrument you've always wanted to play this would do the trick.
  • Consider learning songs in a different genre - If you've been taking classical piano lessons for years and perhaps you're tired of it, try beginning to learn how to play popular songs from the radio and YouTube. This is a whole different experience and playing songs that are more familiar to you may help recharge your musical batteries.
  • Try learning from a new teacher - It can be difficult to tell a teacher you've had for a while that you want to move on and try something different but sometimes that what you need to do. Get a new and different perspective from someone else who will undoubtedly have a different style of teaching. In fact don't be afraid to take lessons from several different teachers over time as you'll be amazed what different techniques and tips you'll learn from each one.
  • Start learning how to write your own songs or instrumental compositions - If pop, country or R&B music is your favorite style then try your hand at writing some original songs; if jazz or classical is your specialty then write a few instrumental musical pieces in those genres. Learning the process of how to write your own music will open up your eyes and musical hearts to so many different possibilities.

That's all the ideas I can think of for now, but I'm sure we will add to this list over time. I got this idea for today's post from an article in the Irish Times about how to keep teenagers interested in music. One major theme they discuss is to share with your music students the social importance and impact of playing an instrument. Playing music with others either in a band, an ensemble or any type of musical group can be one of the most satisfying experiences you will ever have. To learn more about what Music Generations and Limerick Voices are doing over in Ireland to help teens stay interested please read Irish Times - How to Stop Teenagers from Tuning Out of Music Lessons

That's all for today boys and girls - Stop back in a few days for our next post. In the meantime go find a quiet spot and play some music, or better yet call some bands and do a jam session.

Music, Love & Laughter,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Monday, January 12, 2015

Preserving Nashville's Music Row for Future Generations

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced that it is placing Nashville's Music Row on its National Treasure list of historically sites that are threatened by development. Along with New York City's Tin Pan Alley and Brill Building, Music Row in Nashville is where so many of America's treasured songs were written and first recorded. The preservation efforts in Nashville came into focus last year when a developer was looking to demolish one of the historic RCA Studio buildings in Nashville. This studio was originally developed by country legend Chet Atkins in 1964 and has been used by a multitude of artist legends over the years including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. The Trust working along with Music Industry Coalition, the Mayor's office and several other groups were successful in saving the studio which for the last dozen years has been rented by singer-songwriter Ben Folds.

As the future of music and technology continue to change, many of the buildings and facilities that were once necessary to create the music of the day are no longer relevant. But that doesn't mean that the historic legacy of some of the most important sites should not be preserved for future generations to see and learn about. RCA Studio A was about to become victim to the development of more luxury condominiums. Similar size recording studios in other cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York as well as international locations have already met this fate with their physical history now gone forever.

Here is the original article where we learned about these preservation efforts: ABCNEWs: Coalition-Announces-Effort-To-Preserve-Nashvilles-Music-Wow. To learn more about the National Trust for Historic Preservation and their efforts to save many of our treasured buildings, please visit them at www.PreservationNation.org/

What musically history sites do you think should be preserved for future generations? Drop us a comment to let us know your thoughts. Until next time, have a great night and we'll be back sooooon with another musical post-it note for you :)

Music, Love & Laughter

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Friday, January 9, 2015

What if the Beatles NEVER existed??

What do you think music would be like if the Beatles never existed? What if Elvis, Elton John, Billy Joel, Madonna, Taylor Swift or [Insert Your Favorite Artist] never wrote or sang a single song? What if most of the artists you grew up listening while growing up never played a note?? Can you imagine never hearing those songs that meant so much to you? Can you imagine what living in a world without all the music we've ever loved would be like?? Well neither can we!!

Most of the musical history we love and cherish so much was created by people whose very first experience learning to play an instrument or sing was in school. I believe our entire musical history past, present and future depends on continuing to keep music alive in our schools and communities. We need to keep as much music and arts education in our schools as possible. If we fail to do so, then the quality of new music we hear will diminish over time as young creative minds are no longer nurtured and encouraged to create.

As part of our “Keep Music Alive” mission, we are publishing a book on May 1st entitled “88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life”. We are searching for inspirational music stories, anecdotes and quotes to include, and I was wondering if you might have a story or quote you’d like to share with the world? Our goal for “Keep Music Alive” is to raise the awareness of how important music is in all of our lives: educationally, therapeutically and our overall happiness. The book “88+ Ways” will help us spread this message with inspirational stories & quotes, highlights of recent research demonstrating the importance of music education plus tips for schools and communities trying to save or improve their music programs.

"88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life"

Here are some questions that may give you some ideas for a quote or story:

  • Did music help get you through a difficult time in your life?
  • As a musician/performer or audience member, did you witness a particular touching situation involving music?
  • Was there a particular song, or artist, that strongly resonated and influencing you while growing up?
  • Was a there a person in your life who influenced you with their music?
  • Did you learn to play an instrument or take part in your school's band or chorus and how did this experience affect you?
  • Was music used to help you during a type of therapy, either to motivate you or to "just get you through it"?

When you look back now, how do you think your life is different, or has changed, because of music?

For more information on the book and story submissions please visit www.lovesongs.com/keepmusicalive or simply visit LoveSongs.com and click on “Keep Music Alive”. Our story submission deadline is Feb 28th, 2015 so still plenty of time to have your musical story included in "88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life".

Please also LIKE our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/keepmusicalivemission and if you have questions about the book or mission you can email us at MusicStories (at) LoveSongs.com.

We hope you all have a great weekend and we'll be back on Sunday with another pppppost!

Music, Love & Happiness

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Saturday, January 3, 2015

UK Artist Rumer: "Access to music should be every child’s basic right"

Greetings and Happy New Year 2015 to one and all! We've got big plans this year for LoveSongs.com and our "Keep Music Alive" Mission including publishing our book "88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life" and the 1st Annual Teach Music America week coming this spring. We are still looking for inspirational music stories and quotes for the book, so if you've got something you'd like to share please visit www.lovesongs.com/keepmusicalive and let us know.

While researching for our mission, we recently came across an article about music education in the UK, and the title of the article really got our attention. It simply states: "Access to music should be every child’s basic right" and the quote came from UK singer-songwriter Rumer. Up to this point I had not been aware of her music, so I did some digging and really liked what I found. Her voice is eerily similar to Karen Carpenter ("We've Only Just Begun", "Close to You"), not a complete match fortunately, but with many of the same warm and beautiful qualities.

Rumer was speaking at the Westminster Education Forum which was an event held in the UK to discuss the future of music education. While there was much debate on the progress of improving music education and how best to continue, it was Rumer's comments that held the audience most captive. We at Keep Music Alive could not agree more. Every child no matter where they live or where they go to school should have the opportunity to be exposed to both music and music education. They should have the chance to learn how to play an instrument at an early age. Doing so would help open up their creativity in so many ways that would benefit both them and society later in life. We need to find a way to somehow make music and arts education an integral part of every childs education experience. When we finally do that, I believe we will be amazed at what the results for our world can be.

Here is the article from The Guardian that first introduced us to Rumer The Guardian - Access to Music Education is every Childs Basic Right. We also discovered another article where Rumer talks about her latest album and her adventure from the UK to California and what the change in scenery (and climate) have helped do for her and her music. Huffington Post - Rumer, California and Into Colour

Finally we'll leave you with an Album trailer for Rumer's new CD entitled "Into Coulour". I have to say I had not heard of an album trailer before (movie trailers yes), but it certainly sounds like a really good idea. Please take a look and listen to the latest musical works from Rumer including her song "Dangerous"' which has landed her once again on the UK Music Charts.

I hope your New Year has gotten off to great start...we'll be back soon with another post and more details about whats happening in 2015!

Music, Love & Happiness

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Monday, December 29, 2014

Playing Music Can Help Boost Your Memory

Thank goodness I started playing music when I was a kid, probably around 10 years old. If I hadn't begun reading music and playing the trombone in the 4th grade, I probably would have a worse memory then I already have :) Previous research has shown that playing music can lead to better language processing skills and enhanced working memory. Now new research has determined that playing music also allows musicians to be better able to store that established knowledge for the long-term.

Dr. Heekyeong Park, assistant professor of psychology along with other researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington, measured electrical neuron activity in the brains of 14 musicians who had been studying classical music for at least 15 years. They had these participants play memory games with both words and pictures while hooked up to an EEG (Electroencephalography) machine. This EEG machine records processing differences in the frontal and temporal lobes, and the memory games were designed to test both working and long term memory.

The study results revealed that the musicians scored higher than the control group of participants on both the working memory tests and the long term memory tests. Currently, the research team is not able to determine why musicians score higher on these memory tests, however these findings provide hope that perhaps some type of musical training may help those who have difficulty with cognitive and other memory challenges.

The team at the University of Texas at Arlington presented their findings in November 2014 at the Neuroscience 2014, the international meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Washington, D.C. - For more information on their study please visit them at www.uta.edu/news/releases/2014/11/music-memory.php We first heard about this study from our friends at the www.huffingtonpost.com - Musicians-Have-Better-Memory

That's for today folks - Happy Monday and just two more days till New Years Eve 2014 and a new beginning in 2015. We'll be back with another post before the clock strikes midnight on 12/31/2014!

Peace, Love & Happiness

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com

Saturday, December 27, 2014

UK Inventor creates Brain Box to help paralyzed make music

Technology and music both will never cease to amaze us. We recently learned how one Brazilian born musician/inventor now living in the UK is helping people who are paralyzed create music using their brains. Eduardo Miranda has been on a mission for the last 11 years, ever since his eyes met someone who had "locked-in syndrome". This is a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes. Mr. Miranda's latest invention is dubbed the "Brain Box", and with it he has found a way for these patients to create music just using their eyes.

This amazing device monitors brain activity through electrodes attached to the back of the head, and can determine where the persons eyes are looking. The person is then able to select which piece of music he wishes to hear by which icon on the screen he or she is looking at.

Miranda, who is head of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research at Plymouth University says:

"I wanted to create something to enable people with severe disabilities to make music. I was struck by an encounter I had once with a man who had had a stroke and was paralyzed completely from the neck down"

To me this technology is quite fascinating. and I can see so many uses for it even beyond playing music. I'm very interested to see just how far this can go someday. In the future, could we all have the computer record and play back music that we hear only in our heads?

To learn more about Eduardo Miranda and his work you can visit him at http://neuromusic.soc.plymouth.ac.uk/. To see where we first learned about this you can visit the KSPR news article here: KSPR.com - Brain-Box-Allows-Paralyzed-to-Make-Music

Mr. Miranda and his associates are also very involved in researching and developing software that can help create music. This video clip above explains a little about it and shows an orchestra playing a piece called "Mind Pieces" which was partially computer-inspired by birds and other natural occurring sounds that the "music creating"program

Well we made it past Christmas and I hope you had a wonderful time with your friends and family. New Years is right around the corner, stay tuned for another post for we hit the big 2015

Peace, Love & Happiness,

Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com