A child is never too young for classical music. We’re pleased to share this article from HuffPost…

In The Digital Age, Young Kids Need Classical Music More Than Ever

And maybe the rest of us do, too.


There’s a sticker on the plastic-wrapped CD I’m holding that reads, “Produced by Phil Ramone.” The late, great producer, who died in 2013, has a name brand that few other music producers can rival: He worked with Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Madonna and Sinéad O’Connor. This album, though, is a little different. It’s classical music, curated for children.

“He actually started as a child prodigy violinist,” said Marc Neikrug, a renowned classical composer who collaborated with Ramone on the album, “Sunken Cathedrals,” after being introduced by Dr. Rock Positano, a podiatrist with a special interest in music’s value to medicine. “The three of us were all very, very interested in promoting classical music to children, for many reasons.”

Parents have heard about the specific benefits of classical music for developing minds and calming babies for decades — imagine a mother playing Mozart through headphones stretched over her pregnant belly — but the scientific debate has continued to rage.

In an age when children develop surrounded by constant stimulation and distraction, however, Neikrug sees a very particular value in classical music. “I’m concerned about a world in which there is an almost corporate, aggressive move to lower people’s attention spans, so that your brain actually can’t focus for more than half a minute on anything without needing some other stimulus,” he told me. “That’s terrifying. How do you even absorb and learn things? How do you expect kids to do well in school?” With TV viewing consistently on the rise, including among very young children, some studies have suggested that frequently watching television as a small children or infant can harm attention spans later in childhood.

Where does classical music fit into this landscape? “I think it’s really important to let kids, at the earliest age, build some kind of ability to focus,” Neikrug said. “Great music can do that, because you’re drawn into what you’re listening to.” A two- or three-minute waltz may not seem so long to concentrate on, but it’s “a good attention span, for kids,” he said. “We picked the pieces very deliberately to be not too long.”

The pieces are calm, beautiful, and simple, the sort of music that won’t rile a kid up or throw up constant distractions. Much like reading aloud to a child, calm classical compositions engage a child in a form of entertainment that’s low-stimulus and substantive.

“I think it’s really important to let kids, at the earliest age, build some kind of ability to focus.”Marc Neikrug

All of the pieces on the two-part album are unadapted, complete works of classical music, either solo piano or piano with violin, from Schubert to Schumann, Mozart to Debussy. “Both Phil and I, and Dr. Rock, were completely convinced that we need little, short, beautiful pieces for kids. They happen to be really good for adults, also,” he points out, though the words “Classics for Kids” on the cover might scare some grown people off.

The ability to fully enjoy classical music later in life, Neikrug argued, is one of the potential benefits of playing classical music for a child. “If you listen to classical music at an early age, even if at the age of say, eight or nine to 20, they go off into that world [of popular music] […] if you come back to it, it’s the same as learning another language early,” he said.“They come back to it.”

This doesn’t mean you should toss all of your Raffi albums or trash all the screen devices in your home. “I’m not an advocate for disregarding the reality of living in this world,” Neikrug said. “I just don’t think it’s mutually exclusive. I would say someone who grows up able to focus for an hour […] and equally able to text under the table with one hand, is fine.”

So how does one get modern adults to pick up an album of classical tunes that might benefit their kids? “In the end, I think it’s the people,” said Neikrug. “Phil Ramone was one of the great record producers, and it’s two very respected people in the classical music world. It’s not Yanni. It’s not ‘Sesame Street.’” Parents who grew up on Ramone’s music — from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga — can let their babies do the same, even from infancy. Maybe, along the way, those babies will fall in love with the quiet joys of classical music.

We’re all aware of the many positive effects of music on learning and the brain, but what about classical music vs. jazz? An interesting article found on PsyPost…

Classical and Jazz musicians show different brain responses to unexpected events, study finds


Scientists at Wesleyan University have used electroencephalography to uncover differences in how the brains of Classical and Jazz musicians react to an unexpected chord progression.

Their new study, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, sheds new light on the nature of the creative process.

“I have been a classical musician for many years, and have always been inspired by the great jazz masters who can improvise beautiful performances on the spot,” explained study author Psyche Loui. “Whenever I tried to improvise I always felt inhibited and self-conscious, and this spurred my questions about jazz improvisation as a model for creativity more generally: What makes people creative improvisers, and what can this tell us about how we can all learn to be more creative?”

The researchers used EEG to compare the electrical brain activity of 12 Jazz musicians (with improvisation training), 12 Classical musicians (without improvisation training), and 12 non-musicians while they listened to a series of chord progressions. Some of the chords followed a progression that was typical of Western music, while others had an unexpected progression.

Louie and her colleagues found that Jazz musicians had a significantly different electrophysiological response to the unexpected progression, which indicated they had an increased perceptual sensitivity to unexpected stimuli along with an increased engagement with unexpected events.

“Creativity is about how our brains treat the unexpected,” Loui told PsyPost. “Everyone (regardless of how creative) knows when they encounter something unexpected. But people who are more creative are more perceptually sensitive and more cognitively engaged with unexpectedness. They also more readily accept this unexpectedness as being part of the vocabulary.

“This three-stage process: sensitivity, engagement, and acceptance, occurs very rapidly, within a second of our brains encountering the unexpected event. With our design we can resolve these differences and relate them to creative behavior, and I think that’s very cool.”

Previous research has found that Jazz improvisers and other creative individuals show higher levels of openness to experience and divergent thinking — meaning the ability to “think outside the box.”

But without additional research it is unclear if the new findings apply to other creative individuals who are not musicians.

“We looked at three groups of subjects: jazz musicians, classical musicians, and people with no musical training other than normal schooling, so the results are most closely tied to musical training. It remains to be seen whether other types of creative groups, e.g. slam poets, cartoonists, interpretive dancers, etc. might show the same results,” Loui explained.

“It would also be important to find out whether these differences emerge as a result of training, or whether they reflect pre-existing differences between people who choose to pursue training in different styles. We are currently conducting a longitudinal study to get at that question.”

“This is the first paper of a string of research coming from our lab that use different methodologies to understand jazz improvisation,” Loui added. “We are also doing structural and functional MRI, as well as more behavioral testing, including psychophysical listening tests and also production tests, where we have people play music in our lab.”

The study, “Jazz musicians reveal role of expectancy in human creativity“, was also co-authored by Emily Przysinda, Tima Zeng, Kellyn Maves, and Cameron Arkin.

A LESSON FROM TED-Ed on how how playing an instrument benefits your brain – Anita Collins

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. What’s going on? Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Lesson by Anita Collins, animation by Sharon Colman Graham.

View full lesson: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-playing…


Here’s an idea many families may be wise to note: Research shows letting your kids learn music can help them do better in other subjects and enhances skills they’ll need in other areas.


“The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” explains Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.” What’s more, a study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in Psychological Science, found an increase in the IQs of 6-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons.

Another study, led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found children who had just 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks.

According to many music teachers, the piano can be a great first instrument. There are several reasons. First, pianos are simple to play; children can begin their music studies as soon as their fingers can reach all the keys. In addition, a piano can help students learn to read music because it’s easy to see the relationships between pitches in both melodies and chords and the way they look written out on the staff.

Regular piano playing sharpens fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination in the young. Plus, studying piano has been shown to improve memory and build good habits such as focus and perseverance, diligence and creativity.

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A TEACHER FOR YOUR CHILD OR YOURSELF? Contact us at Jacobs Music and we will be happy to help you find the perfect piano teacher to guide your musical journey.


Children-Helping-Children at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts with a Perform-a-Thon for the Love Orphanage in Haiti…

We at Jacobs Music were very happy to present forty-six talented young pianists on a unique Steinway Piano at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on October 14th. The children participated in a Perform-a-thon which raised much needed funds for the Love Orphanage in Haiti.

The orphanage was founded by Haitian native Gabriel Fedulis in 2011 in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. In natural disasters, children often face the most severe suffering. Some of the children were orphaned or abandoned as a result of the earthquake; others have almost always lived in homeless poverty. They faced life-threatening conditions – lacking basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and sanitation. Through consistent love and attention, all have been nurtured back to stable health. The continuing mission of Love Orphanage is “to change the lives of impoverished children in Haiti by providing a stable and safe home that nurtures the whole child – mental, emotional, and physical well-being.”

BRAVO to all!

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We had a wonderful day at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 15th where outstanding students from ages 6 – 17 were recorded in the Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio. Their performances will be submitted to WWFM – The Classical Network radio and many will be selected for inclusion on KIDS ON KEYS, the monthly show hosted by Steinway Artist and winner of the prestigious 2017 ASCAP Deems/Taylor Award for Broadcasting, Jed Distler. KIDS ON KEYS is proudly sponsored by Jacobs Music and airs on the first Saturday of each month at 1:00 p.m. Tune in and enjoy this remarkable young talent!

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Steinway Artist, Terry Klinefelter at the Piano and Paul Klinefelter on the Bass at Jacobs Music of Ephrata…

It was a great day at Jacobs Music of Ephrata yesterday when Steinway Artist and  Assistant Professor of Piano and Jazz Studies at West Chester University, Terry Klinefelter treated us to a wonderful afternoon of music from a diverse group of composers including Scarlatti, Mompou, Albéniz, Jelly Roll Morton, Eddie Gomez, Cedar Walton, Consuelo Velázquez, and Chick Corea. Joining her on several selections was her husband, the respected bassist Paul Klinefelter. We thank these outstanding performers and all of our guests for joining us in Ephrata!

We’re so pleased to share this article, which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, inspired by Lang Lang’s most recent gift of a Roland Piano Lab.

Pianist Lang Lang gives nearly $1M for piano education in Philly

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Internationally acclaimed pianist Lang Lang has donated almost $1 million to six Philadelphia schools for music education. He was at Thomas Holme Elementary in the Northeast.

Lang Lang, the internationally acclaimed pianist, knew he had to get pianos into Philadelphia classrooms.

 “Philadelphia for me is a second home,” he told a rapt audience of second graders at Thomas Holme Elementary School on Friday. “I felt always very emotionally attached to the city of Philadelphia.”

The children sat at state-of-the-art keyboards in the school’s brand-new piano lab, made possible by a grant from the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. The Chinese musician has invested nearly $1 million in six Philadelphia schools, equipping them with not just the pianos but funds to support them for three years.

 When he was a teenager, Lang studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he developed both an appreciation for cheesesteaks and hoagies and a sense of frustration that the city’s schools did not all have robust art and music programs.

“I felt pretty sad,” said Lang. “Music and art should be part of the regular system.”

Lang listened — and played along, enthusiastically — to a group of second graders, who only began to learn piano a few weeks ago. He clapped and cheered for their version of the first few measures of “Ode to Joy.”

At Thomas Holme ES, some  pianists play for – and with – the world-famous @lang_lang, whose foundation made their music possible.

“I am really happy to see our kids already playing some Beethoven stuff,” he said, giving thumbs ups and high-fives to the children.

Along with Holme, Muñoz-Marin and Francis Scott Key Schools won foundation grants this year. Fox Chase, Southwark and Steel Schools received the grants last year, for a total investment of $780,000 in city schools.

Lang’s gift is a boon at Holme, a K-6 school in the Northeast that already had a rich art and music program, even including dance.

It would never have been able otherwise to afford keyboards, headphones, Lang’s piano curriculum, and other accoutrements, said Crystle Roye-Gill, the school’s principal.

“This donation is taking us to another level,” Roye-Gill said.


Lang Lang reacts to the enthusiastic reception he received as he entered the music lab at Thomas Holme Elementary School.

The $30,000 check Holme will receive annually for three years will allow the school to begin an after-school piano program for students and parents, and also provide funding for research into just how its arts push is affecting students academically and socially.

“They’re just getting a more well-rounded education,” Roye-Gill said of her 605 students.

Music teacher Nicholas Petit said Lang’s investment helps keep Holme an attractive neighborhood option in an area where families often choose other schools.

“We’re not a magnet, we’re not a charter, but we have some of those top-flight things that magnets and charters offer,” Petit said.

The students took full advantage of having a celebrity in their midst.

They peppered him with questions — how old were you when you started playing (2½), is there any piano player in the world better than you (Maybe you someday, if you practice a lot).

And they listened raptly as Lang performed two duets with Maxim Lando, 14, a Lang protege. (Lang, whose left arm is injured, played with Lando on Wednesday night at Carnegie Hall.)

Lang had a grand piano shipped in pieces and assembled on Holme’s modest stage early Friday.

It was, 7-year-old Daniel Cheeseman said, maybe the best day of his life.

Daniel is a brand-new piano student, and was the boy with enough courage to ask Lang if he was the best pianist in the world. Lang was nice and funny, Daniel said.

“I think he was great,” Daniel said. “He is so cool.”


Sound, expression, study: New pianos expand creative possibilities on campus

Oct. 2, 2017 noon

Through a selection process spanning two years, dozens of new Steinway & Sons pianos have been purchased for the new Lewis Arts complex at Princeton University.

In June, Princeton graduate student Andrew Or and Nico Toy of the Class of 2018 traveled to the Steinway & Sons factory in Queens, New York, with music lecturers Margaret Kampmeier and Jennifer Tao to select the last of 48 new pianos that have been purchased for the University’s new Lewis Arts complex.

Henry Valoris, production manager for the Department of Music at Princeton, said the task of buying so many pianos — the largest piano purchase for Princeton in recent history — began in 2015, with trips to the Steinway factory and to their representatives at Jacobs Music in Philadelphia and locally in Lawrenceville.

“Over the course of two years, we probably played over 200 pianos to select the 48 pianos,” Valoris said.

On the tour of the Steinway & Sons factory, among the clatter of tools and compressed air sounds, the students and faculty could see the entire process of piano-making, from raw materials to the finished product.

“I thought it was interesting how much of the process is entirely handmade versus put into machines,” Or said.

The process for building grand pianos begins with the frame. Layers of conditioned wood are glued together in one continuous length and are bent into the iconic piano shape. The process from start to finish takes about a year, and about five finished pianos emerge per day.

To select pianos, the faculty and students played each piano in two acoustically different rooms at the factory and were listening for which piano had the best sound for its intended use.

“The qualities that we are looking for would be the pianos that have a wide range of expression,” Tao said.

The pianos selected by Tao and others are now dispersed throughout the Lewis Arts complex. The New Music Building adds 17 individual practice rooms and five teaching studios, complementing the department’s facilities in the Woolworth Center of Musical Studies. In addition, the building offers new faculty and staff office space and direct access to Lewis Center for the Arts colleagues from the other disciplines, such as dance and theater, who are also in the three-building complex. The structures are joined together on the lower level via the 8,000-square-foot community space called the Forum. This proximity allows for new opportunities for collaboration.

“We are here all in the same complex,” said Michael Pratt, director of the Program in Musical Performance and conductor of the Princeton University Orchestra. “We belong together and we can communicate with each other.”

Opening of the Lewis Arts complex

A Festival of the Arts logo

Princeton University will celebrate the opening of the Lewis Center for the Arts complex with a Festival of the Arts Oct. 5-8 on the Princeton campus. The festival, which is open to the public, will feature dozens of concerts, plays, readings, dance performances, art exhibitions, screenings and more at venues across campus, most of which will be free.