Posted by: Liz Massey | March 18, 2008

Surf’s Up: March 17, 2008

No Irish references today, but a pot o’ creative gold through three very nice hyperlinks.

1. Elaine Fine over at Musical Assumptions has recently penned a post on “A Music Appreciation Guide for the Perplexed,” and it provides more than just a guide to passing college-level music appreciation courses (although it could help you do that, too).

The post makes several very good points about how our brains absorb and process music, which are applicable to how musicians sharpen their “ear” and gain an understanding of the context of the music that they are performing (or perhaps composing, as well).

She writes:


Music Appreciation classes involve a lot of in-class listening. It is nearly impossible for novice listeners to take meaningful notes on a piece they are listening to for the first time, …It usually takes about three hearings (sometimes done on different days) for a new listener to be able to recognize a piece of music, but sometimes it takes four. If you wait to listen to the all the material until the night before an exam, you will probably not do very well. The stuff of a Music Appreciation class is music, and music exists only in time. There are no SparkNotes for pieces of music.

As I’ve said before, nothing takes the place of practice in extending your creative reach, even when we’re talking about a discipline that supports a primary creative medium, such as a knowledge of music history.


2. Maricello at Cello Centered posted a double-blessing of a post Saturday. First, it has this inspiring quote about older amateur musicians from Mark Twain:

“I have learned that there lies dormant in the souls of all men a penchant for some particular musical instrument, and an unsuspecting yearning to play on it,that are bound to wake up and demand attention some day.”

That would ordinarily be enough to get the post a place on the short list for consideration in Surf’s Up, but she includes something perhaps even more exciting–a link to a summary of a study by researcher Frederick Tims, Ph.D., MT-BC, Chair of Music Therapy at Michigan State University.

Tims’ study, called the Music Making and Wellness study, found that that group keyboard lessons given to older Americans significantly improved anxiety, depression, and loneliness scores – three factors that are critical in coping with stress, stimulating the immune system, and improving health. Speaking for the research team, Dr. Tims was quoted as saying, “We feel very strongly that the work we are doing here suggests that abundant health benefits can be achieved by older people learning to play music in a supportive, socially enjoyable setting.”

3. I’ve recently added a new blog about getting and staying organized to my RSS feeder: The authors of this blog state their mission clearly:

Unclutterer is the blog about getting and staying organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place is our gospel…. Unclutterer features tips, organization strategies, product reviews, reader questions and more.

We’re not a personal productivity blog or a site about interior design, but we still hope we can help you in those areas. Getting uncluttered and organized can be the first step to more efficiently tackling your projects and realizing a better-looking space.

Because one of the pillars of my blueprint for building and maintaining “creative momentum” is first de-cluttering one’s mental, physical and temporal workspace, I can recommend this blog because it offers a wide range of tips for reducing clutter. Of special interest are posts tagged “workspace of the week,” which tell the story of successful office/studio makeovers. Some of the end-states of the makeovers are more minimalistic than my personal tastes would allow, but the feature regularly includes artistic and creative workspaces, so it is a wonderful place to turn for ideas for improving the state of your office or studio.




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