5 ways music can improve your health

Staying fit can have lasting benefits throughout your life, but physical fitness is only part of the goal. Keeping your brain active and healthy can pay dividends in old age as well. Listening to, dancing to, or performing music can give your brain a good workout without you realizing it.

Music has been shown to be good for your brain in a variety of ways. It can help people process information while also soothing and relaxing them. Here are five ways music can improve your health.

Music can fight depression

Along with cognitive benefits, music can also improve mental health. Elderly individuals with dementia saw improvement in both cognitive functions and depression after participating in music therapy sessions. Music therapy can involve writing music, singing, dancing, or even just listening to music. Playing happy, familiar music is an inexpensive, effective way to help fight depression.

New music challenges the brain

Music stimulates the brain, and it seems that new music may make the brain work even harder. Scientists say music gives your brain a workout because the brain has to make sense of the notes and sounds. While listening to familiar tunes from your youth is fun and good for your brain, keeping up with new songs and musical styles may give your brain an extra workout. Turn on the radio and listen to the latest hits, and you may find you like what you hear — once your brain gets used to the new sounds.

Music can help dementia patients

People with dementia or Alzheimer’s may have difficulty communicating and can feel anxiety with new situations. Playing familiar music can help a person recall words and communicate their needs with caregivers. Music can also help calm people and ease the transition to new activities or tasks. Dancing and singing together, or just listening to music, can help people with dementia connect with their family.

Kasey Bradburn, operations manager for Granite Mesa Health Center, said, “Music can have enormous benefits for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The songs that a person knows and remembers can help bring back happy memories and ease anxiety.”

Create social connections through music involvement

Seniors often feel isolated and lonely as they move into a new phase of life that may have fewer connections to loved ones and friends. Getting involved in music can help give people new opportunities for social involvement. Join a choir or a band, or go dancing to meet new friends with similar interests.

Improve overall brain function

Music can improve several brain functions, such as memory and processing. Researchers found that older adults had better processing speed and memory when classical music was playing in the background. Listening to music that was more pleasing to the subject generated the most benefit, though any music at all led to better performance than no music. So, turn on your favorite tunes, and you may find you can think a bit better.

Giving your brain a workout can be easier and more fun than you might think if you give music a try. Turn on your favorite music, try out some of the new tunes, or join a band and reap the health rewards. Unlike a physical workout, it’s unlikely that you’ll pull any muscles in the endeavor, so this exercise is all benefit at no cost.

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To Save the Sound of a Stradivarius, a Whole City Must Keep Quiet

The “Vesuvius” violin, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1727, in the Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy. The museum is assisting with an ambitious recording project to preserve the sound of Stradivarius instruments for future generations.

The people of Cremona are unusually sensitive to noise right now. The police have cordoned off streets in the usually bustling city center and traffic has been diverted. During a recent news conference, the city’s mayor, Gianluca Galimberti, implored Cremona’s citizens to avoid any sudden and unnecessary sounds. is home to the workshops of some of the world’s finest instrument makers, including Antonio Stradivari, who in the 17th and 18th centuries produced some of the finest violins and cellos ever made. 

The city is getting behind an ambitious project to digitally record the sounds of the Stradivarius instruments for posterity, as well as others by Amati and Guarneri del Gesù, two other famous Cremona craftsmen. And that means being quiet.

A Stradivarius violin, viola or cello represents the pinnacle of sound engineering, and nobody has been able to replicate their unique tones.

Fausto Cacciatori, the curator of Cremona’s Museo del Violino, a museum devoted to musical instruments that is assisting with the project, said that each Stradivarius had “its own personality.” But, he added, their distinctive sounds “will inevitably change,” and could even be lost within just a few decades.

“It’s part of their life cycle,” Mr. Cacciatori said. “We preserve and restore them, but after they reach a certain age, they become too fragile to be played and they ‘go to sleep,’ so to speak.”

The instruments at the Museo del Violino also include violins from the Amati and Guarneri del Gesù workshops.

The instruments at the Museo del Violino also include violins from the Amati and Guarneri del Gesù workshops.Credit Isabella de Maddalena for The New York Times

So that future generations won’t miss out on hearing the instruments, three sound engineers are producing the “Stradivarius Sound Bank” — a database storing all the possible tones that four instruments selected from the Museo del Violino’s collection can produce.

One of the engineers, Mattia Bersani, said that the sounds in the database could be manipulated with software to produce new recordings when the tone of the original instruments degraded. Musicians of the future would be able to “record a sonata with an instrument that will no longer function,” he said.

“This will allow my grandchildren to hear what a Strad sounded like,” said Leonardo Tedeschi, a former D.J. who came up with the idea for the project. “We are making immortal the finest instrument ever crafted.”

Throughout January, four musicians playing two violins, a viola and a cello will work through hundreds of scales and arpeggios, using different techniques with their bows, or plucking the strings. Thirty-two ultrasensitive microphones set up in the museum’s auditorium will capture the sounds.

“It’ll be physically and mentally challenging for them,” said Thomas Koritke, a sound engineer from Hamburg, Germany, who is leading the project. “They’ll have to play hundreds of thousands of individual notes and transitions for eight hours a day, six days a week, for more than a month.”

Organizing the project had also taken a long time, Mr. Koritke added. “It took us a few years to convince the museum to let us use 500-year-old stringed instruments,” he said. Then they had to find top musicians who knew the instruments inside out. Then the acoustics of the auditorium, which was designed around the sound of the instruments, had to be studied, as well.

Gabriele Schiavi, 31, playing in Auditorium Giovanni Arvedi, the concert hall of the Museo del Violino, in a recording for the “Stradivarius Sound Bank.”Credit Isabella de Maddalena for The New York Times

In 2017, the engineers thought their project was finally ready to get underway. But a soundcheck revealed a major flaw.

“The streets around the auditorium are all made of cobblestone, an auditory nightmare,” Mr. Tedeschi said. The sound of a car engine, or a woman walking in high heels, produces vibrations that run underground and reverberate in the microphones, making the recording worthless, he explained. “It was either shutting down the entire area or having the project not seeing the light of day,” Mr. Tedeschi said.

Luckily for the engineers, Cremona’s mayor is also the president of the Stradivarius Foundation, the municipal body that owns the Museo del Violino. He allowed the streets around the museum to be closed for five weeks, and appealed to people in the city to keep it down.

“We are the only city in the world that preserves both the instruments and their voices,” Mr. Galimberti said. “This is an extraordinary project that looks at the future...

Giuseppe Tartini

“If Viotti is the father of modern violin playing, surely Tartini is its godfather.”

Tartini was born in Pirano, a town on the peninsula of Istria, in the Republic of Venice (now in Slovenia) to Gianantonio – native of Florence – and Caterina Zangrando, a descendant of one of the oldest aristocratic Piranese families.

It appears Tartini's parents intended him to become a Franciscan friar and, in this way, he received basic musical training. He studied law at the University of Padua, where he became skilled at fencing.

A secret marriage to Elizabetta Premazore, the niece of the Bishop of Padua, in 1710 when he was 18 necessitated his flight from the city some three years later when the marriage was discovered. He eventually found refuge at Assisi where there was a friar at the monastery with some family connections to him. In Assisi, he began to study the violin with Father Boemo—who was most likely the Czech musician Bohuslav Cernohorsky—and played in the convent orchestra. Cernohorsky was later an organist at St. Anthony’s in Padua and Tartini’s colleague. After about two years in Assisi, Tartini was recognized by some visitors from Padua while performing (a curtain blew aside during a performance and revealed him, went the tale). His seriousness and musical ability led to the successful outcome of reconciliation with the Bishop, and he and his wife moved to Venice in approximately 1715 or 1716.

Tartini’s playing was said to be remarkable for its combination of technical and poetic qualities. He was regarded with universal pride by the inhabitants of Padua. He was serious, contemplative, of a scientific turn of mind, and was esteemed as a philosopher and a great musician. He was proclaimed by the Italians “il Maestro delle Nazioni,” the finest musician in the world, while the French termed him “le legislateur de l’archet,” the lawgiver of the bow.

Tartini was the first known owner of a violin made by Antonio Stradivari in 1715, which Tartini bestowed upon his student Salvini, who in turn gave it to the Polish composer and virtuoso violinist Karol Lipiński upon hearing him perform: the instrument is thus known as the Lipinski Stradivarius. Tartini also owned and played the Antonio Stradivarius violin ex-Vogelweith from 1711.

In 1726, Tartini started a violin school which attracted students from all over Europe. Gradually, Tartini became more interested in the theory of harmony and acoustics, and from 1750 to the end of his life he published various treatises.

Sources: Wikipedia
A Violins Life

The Devil's Violin

"Tartini's Dream" by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845). Illustration of the legend behind Giuseppe Tartini's "Devil's Trill Sonata".

The story behind "Devil's Trill" starts with a dream. Tartini allegedly told the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande that he dreamed that The Devil appeared to him and asked to be his servant. At the end of their lessons Tartini handed the devil his violin to test his skill—the devil immediately began to play with such virtuosity that Tartini felt his breath taken away. The complete story is told by Tartini himself in Lalande's Voyage d'un François en Italie (1765 - 66):

"One night, in the year 1713 I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such great art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and - I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the "Devil's Trill", but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me."

Keep Your Brain Young with Music

Music can be medicine for your mind, with benefits from memory improvement to stress relief.

If you want to firm up your body, head to the gym. If you want to exercise your brain, listen to music.

“There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” says one Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”

Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.

Learn an Instrument

When 13 older adults took piano lessons, their attention, memory and problem-solving abilities improved, along with their moods and quality of life. You don’t have to become a pro, just take a few lessons.

The Brain-Music Connection

Experts are trying to understand how our brains can hear and play music. A stereo system puts out vibrations that travel through the air and somehow get inside the ear canal. These vibrations tickle the eardrum and are transmitted into an electrical signal that travels through the auditory nerve to the brain stem, where it is reassembled into something we perceive as music.

Johns Hopkins researchers have had dozens of jazz performers and rappers improvise music while lying down inside an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine to watch and see which areas of their brains light up.

“Music is structural, mathematical and architectural. It’s based on relationships between one note and the next. You may not be aware of it, but your brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of it,” notes one otolaryngologist.

Everyday Brain Boosts from Music

The power of music isn’t limited to interesting research. Try these methods of bringing more music—and brain benefits—into your life.

Jump-start your creativity.

Listen to what your kids or grandkids listen to, experts suggest. Often we continue to listen to the same songs and genre of music that we did during our teens and 20s, and we generally avoid hearing anything that’s not from that era.

New music challenges the brain in a way that old music doesn’t. It might not feel pleasurable at first, but that unfamiliarity forces the brain to struggle to understand the new sound.

Recall a memory from long ago.

Reach for familiar music, especially if it stems from the same time period that you are trying to recall. Listening to the Beatles might bring you back to the first moment you laid eyes on your spouse, for instance.

Listen to your body.

Pay attention to how you react to different forms of music, and pick the kind that works for you. What helps one person concentrate might be distracting to someone else, and what helps one person unwind might make another person jumpy.

Ten Reasons to Read Dr. Fuddle: A Review

Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton was sent to me to review a while ago, and my eight year old stole it, read it and hid it on me. Thankfully it has resurfaced and I can do my long-since overdue review.

10. Piano practice is more fun if you pretend that you have to turn evil monsters into harmless pets by resolving the scales.
9. You’ve memorized The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and you want another story about children being called into a magical land to save it.
8. The book explains what a glass harmonica is, something I’ve been curious about since listening to a particular version of the Carnival of the Animals which acknowledged a section that was meant to be played on a glass harmonica being played on a gluckenspiele instead.
7. You need some new creative names for foods, like Bellini Bread or Rossini Rolls.
6. Reading Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton can be a balance reminding us of the importance of music, when we otherwise read way too many novels about math and science.
5. The abundant references to musical concepts, to composers and songs can help normalize the importance of musical knowledge. It encourages a child to say “I’ve heard of that!” It raises the bar for what is seen as normal everyday knowledge.
4 . The book contains a glossary of music terms a child can refer back to.
3. The book provides positive role models. The children within it are struggling with different challenges – wanting to figure out who they are, and what they want in life. They deal with both guilt and forgiveness.
2.  The book reinforces the idea of practice, that it takes time and energy to improve one’s skills at an instrument, but at the same time that music is not just about developing technical skill and bored routine.
1.Most importantly: the book is fun. It is well written, reasonably fast paced and has a bit of a surprise at the ending.

The book mentions many different songs, most of which one could find samples of on YouTube. If you read the book outloud with your kids, you can have a musical soundrtrack to go with it.

October 5, 3013 by ChristyK of the blog Christy’s House full of Chaos: