Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Crossing the Corpus Callosum - Part 1

Last Saturday I went to a conference at Harvard on neuroscience, music, and healing. I will try to summarize what I got out of it into parts.

Currently her lab is researching the effect of "musical training on language processing and execution function in the typical and atypical developing children." Her findings are preliminary, and should not be generalized to the population.
  • Rapid auditory processing is the ability to hear subtile changes in auditory stimuli (ex: say, stay). Its believed that children who have language and reading imparements can't sequence 2 tones at rapid presentation rates.
  • Music acquisition skills and language have a positive correlation - verbal/memory skills, phoneme awareness, spelling and writing skills.
  • Hypothesis: children musician possess better auditory processing that children who are not musicians.
  • Executive functioning (E.F) - "the CEO of the brain" - responsible for self regulating behaviour, emotions, resist impulses and discipline. Being able to control yourself means you are less likely to commit to negative life outcomes (drop-out, crime). Do musicians show better E.F. skills compared to non musicians (adults)?
  • E.F. skills can be improved by musical training. Preliminary research shows that music skills may lead to improved verbal fluency, cognitive flexibility, verbal working memory.
Cool article "Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control"

Here is a video of a program called "Tune into Reading" used by Dr. Gaab, I thought was really cool.

Monday, January 31, 2011

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”


Thursday, January 27, 2011


This is what most of Boston and the street we live in looks like. I remember Jamie Bernstein saying how much she loved snow in NY: because the city never looks that clean - until you get all that slush!
I have never seen so much snow in my life! Thanks Marie for the pic. She was brave enough to go out this morning.

Last week we had to go get our shots. Not at the bar, but the doctor - no need to explain the pain some fellows were experiencing. Ah, sacrifices. So here are some of this weeks highlights.

Monday we went to Community Music Works and it was inspiring to see all these human beings come together for a collective purpose. Thank you so much for opening your doors and showing us some CMW hospitality.
So here are some of the things I got out of our visit:
  • open lines of communication in the community you are planning to move into (through some type of survey) in order to see the needs and challenges that community might be facing
  • the hardest job is to manage people - and it is a skill that is learned
  • Create a process so that you know what you want to get out of the applicant (clear job description), know what they are about.
  • Looking at CV = Sebastian equated it to being INTEL. Check for references, but also relevant work experienced that are not mentioned as references
  • During the interview create a scenario relevant to the work they will be doing to see how they respond to pressure
  • Hire on strengths of individuals, and assign them on tasks that emphasize those areas
  • create a learning organization
  • are you creating space to learn? (teachers, students, staff)
  • conflict is inevitable - train staff to resolve conflicts. This, in my opinion, is vital to the success of the organization
  • share leadership - be clear about the role and job assigned
Something our educator director Erik has always emphasized when making decisions in the fellowship is reaching consensus, not voting for ideas. We move slow, but that is the way CMW operates in some organizational decisions and I think that's why they are successful at what they do.

Another organization that Adrianne pointed out to me was AS220, which is also in Providence. I am interested to see how they are applying the juvie hall detention art programs, so I am looking forward do doing an internship at AS220 and CMW.

On some other news... our trip to Venezuela has been postponed but we are still definitely going. I was hoping not having to deal with any more mountains of snow, but oh well - regla venezolana numero uno: ser flexible ;)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

your brain on improv

So I am a super dork - but one of the areas that has always fascinated me is the brain and music. Charles gave this TED talk about using technology to see the difference of a brain when it is improvising and compare it to your brain when it has learned/memorized something.

"The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader"

How to make a movement in under 3 minutes

It takes guts to follow and stand out! Nurture your first follower as equal.

A movement must be public, you must show the followers.

Leadership is over glorified!!

The force is within us

At-risk populations move around a lot. If current/future fellows align locally with other nucleos, it would create higher possibility of success, because we would be able to reach that population regardless of were they go and remain connected with them over time.

Similar to an epidemic spreads, El Sistema will be more effectively “contagious” by conglomerating in highly populated areas, rather than sporadic segregated growth throughout the country. Maybe comparing ES to an epidemic is not an elegant analogy, but both operate socially. That is, we look at our surroundings and follow trends. The perfect example: Facebook began by connecting a community of students, enabling instant communication between friends, leading folks to acquaintances, mutual friends, and total strangers. Your friends have it, and so do you in order to keep up with them. Like Ben Zander would say: This opens a world of possibilities.

I am excited that some of the fellows and myself are thinking of staying in Boston. The communication between CLCS, Zumix and others would become more fluid, perhaps sharing venues (a particular hall). Seemingly small things like these could really start a movement.

Initial conversations were of starting ES Boston, however the amount of capital necessary would have been enormous. No one has forbidden us from settling where other programs have settled, and perhaps we can think of the proximity of other programs as an advantage that can help narrow the search for a location.

One of the reasons El Sistema works is that it has created a continuum. Programs in Venezuela are coordinated through FESNOJIV, at local, state, and national levels. If a child moves, there is a nucleo accessible to them. This is how they created perpetuity - starting locally. This has to be our long-term goal as an ES community.