Tiffany Koo (Age 5) - Chopin Nocturne #20 C Sharp Minor
Chopin Valse No14:Japanese 8yo play piano
14 Year old Concert pianist and composer Jennifer Lin performed full bio.
Lin, starts by playing Joseph Hoffman's "Kaleidoscope," then Robert Schumann's "Abegg Variations." She talks about the process of composition and discusses the state of flow, when she can improvise beautiful music instantly -- a state of mind that cannot be forced. Lin invites audience member Goldie Hawn to choose a random sequence of notes, from which she improvises a beautiful and surprisingly moving piece, known to draw tears even via podcast. She finishes with a lightning performance of Jack Fina's "Bumble Boogie."
Susan Haffey - Dell Computer Corporation
When I was young, my mother insisted that I take piano lessons. Unfortunately, I absolutely hated playing the piano. To make matters worse, my mother also insisted that I practice every morning for at least thirty minutes before I went to school. Although this process seemed very cruel to me at the time, there is now scientific evidence showing that my dreaded childhood music training may actually have improved my memory. According to a study published in the journal NATURE this week, psychologists report that adults who learned to play a musical instrument as a child have a better verbal memory (i.e., memory for spoken words) than adults with no music training. (1) In this study, researchers investigated both verbal and visual memory (i.e., memory for pictures) in a group of 60 female college students. Of these students, thirty had received at least 6 years of training with a musical instrument before the age of 12, and thirty had received no training.
To measure verbal memory, each subject was orally presented with a list of 16 words that was repeated three times. After each presentation, the subjects were asked to recall as many of the words as they could. Visual memory, on the other hand, was measured by presenting subjects with a bunch of simple figures. They were then asked to draw as many of the figures as they could from memory. The results showed that subjects with music training remembered significantly more words in the verbal memory task compared to subjects with no music experience. In the visual memory task, however, there were no differences in performance between the musicians and non-musicians.
These findings show that music training at a young age may actually change how your brain works! So how can we explain these results? In the past, brain imaging has shown that a region called the planum temporale (which is involved in auditory perception) in the left hemisphere of the brain is larger in musicians compared to non-musicians (2). If this increase in the musician's brain size is due to cortical reorganization (i.e., better connections between brain cells or more brain cells), then it is possible that some cognitive functions also mediated by the left side of the brain may be more developed in musicians. Since verbal memory is primarily mediated by the left hemisphere and visual memory is mediated by the right hemisphere, adults with music training should have better verbal memory (but not visual memory) than non-musicians which is exactly what the researchers found in this study.
But what do these results mean? Although this study shows that music training during childhood can have long-term effects on verbal memory,a number of questions remain unanswered. To begin with, only females were included in this study --- would males with music training also have improved verbal memory? Or, how much childhood music experience is necessary to significantly improve verbal memory? Could adults with no music training be able to improve their memory by learning to play a musical instrument? If learning to play a musical instrument can improve cognitive functioning in the adult brain, then music therapy may represent a novel way to promote rehabilitation in brain damaged patients. Although it's not known how exposure to music training early in lifecan affect the brain's circuitry, it is clear that music can have a positive effect on brain functioning. I never would have guessed that all the miserable hours that I spent pounding away at the piano keys may actually have been good for me. I think I'm going to give my mom a call and tell her that those music lessons may not have been so bad after all... (1) Nature (1998) Vol. 396 (2) Science (1995) Vol. 267(5198) 699-701.