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Better employees: Athletes or Musicians?

July 22, 2011


I came across a recent New York Times weekly column called Corner Office, which interviews high-level business executives about management style, leadership, and success.  In a recent interview on July 3, 2011, Kathy Button Bell, vice president and chief marketing officer of Emerson, was interviewed and shared her insights about endurance as an athlete and as a corporate employee.

Bell: I think everybody benefits from having played sports.  It makes you a good sharer, for one thing, in lots of ways.  And it makes you more empathetic in general.  I love to see sports in a résumé.  A woman who works for me right now was a Harvard swimmer, and I can tell that every time I talk to her about something.  She’s an endurance athlete.  She’s tough in a pinch.  She will get it done.  And I respect that enormously…

Q. Do you think people can get those qualities just as much from being in an orchestra, or in a dance troupe? 

Bell:There’s something about how hard sports are physically that’s helpful.

While I appreciate her thoughts on the similarities between athletes and effective employees, I wish she would address more directly the question on musicians and dancers, and see what her stand is on how musicians/artists compare to athletes.  In addition, I would have liked to see a more eloquent response to address the question, such as “I don’t know because I have never formally learned a musical instrument”, instead of implying that there’s something about the physical nature of sports that makes it more beneficial.  Nevertheless, in the end, I think almost all of the qualities she mentions (i.e., sharing, empathetic, endurance, getting things done, etc.) as helpful traits in athletes apply directly to musicians.

Eagerly awaiting a sequel interview addressing musicians..


Music Improves Brain Function

July 19, 2011

We have all heard of scientific studies that indicate that music improves brain function.  I wanted to address this fact because this is often a great selling point when I am trying to get parents to sign up for music lessons for their children.  Many children have opportunities to learn a musical instrument in their school orchestra, band, or simply private lessons.  The good news is that scientific research has shown that there is a strong correlation between musical training in children and certain other mental abilities.

In an article published by Live Science, studies by the Institute for Music and the Mind at McMaster University in West Hamilton, Ontario compared preschool children who had taken music lessons with those who did not.  The children with some music training showed larger brain responses on a number of sound recognition tests given to the children.   The research concluded that musical training appeared to modify the children’s brain’s auditory cortex.

Other benefits were found with young children who studied music:

  • Even a year or two of music training leads to enhanced levels of memory and attention when measured by the same type of tests that monitor electrical and magnetic impulses in the brain.
  • Musical training affects attention and memory, which provides a mechanism whereby musical training might lead to better learning across a number of domains.
  • The motor and listening skills needed to play an instrument in concert with other people appears to heavily involve attention, memory and the ability to inhibit actions.
  • A music intervention that strengthens the basic auditory music perception skills of children with dyslexia may also remediate some of their language deficits.
  • Musical training gives an individual the acoustic responsiveness of a child some 2 – 3 years older.
  • When a person listens to sounds over and over, especially for something as harmonic or meaningful as music and speech, the appropriate neurons get reinforced in responding preferentially to those sounds compared to other sounds.
  • Changes triggered by listening to musical sound increases with age and the greatest increase occur between age 10 and 13.
  • Passive listening to music seems to help a person perform certain cognitive tests, at least in the short run. Actual music lessons for kids, however, leads to a longer lasting cognitive success.

So why not learn music today?  For adults, it can provide joy and provide a mental challenge.  For kids, it could improve brain function that will last the rest of their lives.  The scientific research says so.

View the full article here:

thanks for reading music memos!

How to find a piano teacher from the Internet

June 20, 2011
If you are looking for a piano teacher from the Internet, what should you do?  The following are some suggestions to help guide you in finding the right piano teacher for your children or yourself.

  • You could go to Google and type in “piano teachers in Los Angeles”, “piano lessons in Orange County”, etc.  You will find paid advertisers at the top and right sidebar, along with numerous search results.  The variety of websites you will come across may include music schools, online referral services, or individual teacher websites.  These websites will all offer piano lessons, piano teachers, or even online websites that teach you how to play piano online.
  • You could go to teacher directory websites, such as, where teachers pay to have their profile displayed.  Here, you can find piano teachers that teach out of their homes or travel to student’s home for the lessons.  There will be numerous teachers that teach piano in all styles to all ages, from beginners to advanced, and early childhood to senior citizens.
  • You could go to online music referral websites, such as, where you can search a database of music teachers and sort by distance and price.  These music schools often have certified pre-screened piano teachers and you pay the music school, who in turn, pays the piano teacher.  For Opus Music Education, these teachers teach in a variety of styles, and you might be able to find both private lesson and group lesson offerings in numerous areas throughout Los Angeles and Orange County.  Opus offers piano lessons for children, piano lessons for adults, students who want to learn advanced piano or beginning piano, or just to learn piano for fun.
Finding a piano teacher from the Internet can often seem daunting and you might be faced with thousands of search results for piano lessons on the Internet.  But by following some of the above suggestions, you can start on your way to finding a teacher who can teach you or your child how to play piano in no time.

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