The Benefits of Music Therapy for Autism

A professional who specializes in autism can suggest different treatment for autistic’s that can have a significant positive effect on their behavior. One such treatment is Music therapy.

Music therapy is a controlled music experience that is used to facilitate positive change in human behavior. Each session of music therapy is carefully planned, carried out, and evaluated to suit the specific needs of each patient. Music therapy can include any of the following musical activities:

o Listening to music and/or musical creation

o Playing musical instruments (any instrument can be used)

o Moving to music

o Singing

As far as autism is concerned, studies have shown that music therapy has a significant, positive influence when used to treat autistic individuals. Participating in music therapy allows autistics the opportunity to experience non-threatening outside stimulation, as they don’t engage in direct human contact.

As was previously mentioned, music therapy is made specific to each individual. This is extremely important, because what may be positively received by one autistic may be negative to another. That being said, let’s take a look at the positive influence music therapy has had on autistic individuals.

Music therapy –

Improved socio-emotional development: In the first steps of a relationship, autistics tend to physically ignore or reject the attempts of social contact made by others. Music therapy helps to stop this social withdrawal by an initial object relation with a musical instrument. Instead of seeing the instrument as threatening, autistic children are usually fascinated by the shape, feel and sound of it. Therefore, the musical instrument provides an initial point of contact between the autistic and the other individual by acting as an intermediary.

Assisted in both verbal and non-verbal communication – When music therapy is used to aid in communication, its goal is to improve the production of vocalization and speech, as well as stimulate the mental process of comprehending, conceptualizing and symbolizing. A music therapist will attempt to establish a communicative relationship between the behavior of a child with autism and a specific sound. An autistic person may have an easier time recognizing or being more open to these sounds than they would to a verbal approach. This musical awareness, and the relationship between the autistics’ actions and the music, has potential to encourage communication.

Another form of music therapy that may help with communication is to play a wind instrument (IE flute). It is thought that by playing such an instrument, you become aware of the functioning of your teeth, jaws, lips and tongue. Thus, playing a wind instrument almost mirrors the functioning required in order to produce speech vocalizations.

Encouraged emotional fulfillment – Most autistics lack the ability to affectively respond to stimuli that would otherwise allow them to enjoy an appropriate emotional charge. Thus, since most autistics respond well to music stimuli, music therapy has been able to provide autistics with an environment that is free of fear, stimuli considered threatening, etc.

During a music therapy session, an autistic individual has the freedom to behave in specific ways that allow them to discover and express themselves when they want and choose. They can make noise, bang instruments, shout and express and experience the pleasure of emotional satisfaction.

Musical therapy has also helped autistic individuals by:

o Teaching social skills

o Improving language comprehension

o Encouraging the desire to communicate

o Making creative-self expression possible

o Reducing non-communicative speech

o Decreasing echolalia (uncontrolled and instant repetition of the words spoken by another)

Keep in mind that although music therapy can have positive effects on autistic individuals, it is vital that an autistic receives such treatment from a trained and experienced musical therapist.

2000-2010 – The Decade That Music Died

Over the past ten years a majority of the top ten songs on the Billboard charts has been consistent trendsetters. Songs that have saturated radio airwaves by the masses are placed in constant rotation to enthrall us. These songs appeal to a certain audience that often allow those in the music industry to capitalize on the opportunity to gain new fans of the most popular genres of music today. But some of these genres of today music have lost the luster for true music lovers, that they often resort to the classic CD’s from their youth just to hear music they deem as good music.

But what is considered “good music”? According to industry executives, “good music” is “any music that can capture the attention of an audience.” However; for the demographic of listeners in their mid twenties to mid thirties, “good music” is music that’s worth listening to many years after, and whose lyrics has meaning and depth.

So if the music industry has released nothing but “good music” over the past ten years, then why is it that the demographic of listeners in their mid twenties, thirties and older doesn’t find it worth listening to?

After further discussion with Atlanta’s LS Muzik Group, a company representative says, “most of the music that is released today has a certain appeal that reflects the trend set during that time. If at that time, snap music or crunk music is the sound that’s in, then that’s what the trend will follow. It is rare that you’d find “good music” [from the likes of] a Neyo, R. Kelly, Usher, Mary J Blige, Anthony Hamilton, or Musiq Soulchild to name a few. Not including good folk, rap, country, gospel, blues, jazz, or alternative rock music from some great artists who are worth listening to also. But out of the few named, there’s really not that many artists today that has potential for longevity. These artists are force fed to the consumer just to make record sales. We truly doubt half of them will be around to play sold out arenas in the next ten years.”

Hoping to bridge the gap between the two demographics of listeners in their mid twenties to mid thirties, the company looks to bring back good music that is worth listening to by adapting the Motown approach by signing good talent and releasing heartfelt songs with meaning.

Although the idea to bring back good music is what LS Muzik Group intends to do, there’s still that certain group of listeners the company may struggle to gain. Mainly because the music industry have already captured the attention of this group over the past ten years with music that has a sound of its own, a sound that has captivated them with what LS Muzik Group deems as over synthesized sounds. It is unclear however, as to how the company plans to win over that demographic, when all they know is what the music industry have force-fed them.

And because of this, the dividing line between the two demographics has left a void in the music industry, simply because true music lovers aren’t as fascinated with listening to over synthesized sounds that has little to no substance. This has crippled record sales over the past ten years.

In spite of the clever marketing initiatives by the music industry to capture true music lovers, the effort hasn’t been significant enough to impact their decisions to enjoy listening to the music released today thereby causing most of the music released today to barely go gold or platinum. This is all due in part not only to the Internet, but because true music lovers in their mid twenties, thirties, and older who enjoy good music, are not buying what is most popular today. But if what’s popular is Trey Songz or Chris Brown, then how is it that either of the two artists survives in such an industry where their level of success or failure is dictated by their marketing, and not their music.

“Record companies have gotten somewhat smart on how they market and release artists. Their idea to market and release Chris Brown or Trey Songz on the same Tuesday as they would Robin Thicke or K Jon isn’t the same. Simply because record sales for Chris Brown or Trey Songz may be slim for the first week of release, that marketing and releasing Trey Songz against K Jon on the same date would immobilize their sales goal of going gold or platinum, against a more likely artist that can, who has a more mature fan base of true music lovers who enjoy listening to good music,” says one industry executive.

This scenario is all too common in the industry today, whereas album release dates are rescheduled all due in part to industry executives being aware of the competition. Often times that competition is welcomed in what appears to be a rivalry to see who can out sell the other, as with the Kanye West and 50 Cent release in 2007. Rivalries such as this makes for clever marketing that will often propel record sales through the roof the first week of release, causing artists to go platinum. However at what cost to record companies? “Record companies can pay millions of dollars to market an artist all at the expense of gaining a few true music lovers. The gamble is to win the few they think will be loyal followers. While hoping the artists does their part to deliver good music to keep them [the fans] loyal.”

But with dismal record sales on the rise, artists are struggling to deliver good music to keep true music lovers devoted. Long gone are the days of the Motown Sound, Disco, P-Funk, and New Jack Swing era that we’ve all grown so accustom to that has found its way in music today through the practice of “sampling”; that most artists have lost all sense of creativity to produce almost anything remotely appealing to true music lovers. In order to win them over without the over synthesized sounds, they must sample or take portions of music from great artists like Teddy Pendergrass or The O’Jays just to get their attention.

So how can music get a fresh revitalization to capture the attention of true music lovers? Well according to LS Muzik Group, “bring back live musicians and artists who feel passionate about love and family values.” This could well be true, being that everything in heavy rotation on the radio is all about sex. “Where are the family values in the songs we hear today, there aren’t any. Most parents today don’t want their children listening to the radio, mainly because all they’re hearing is about sex.” From Trey Songz “Invented Sex”, to R. Kelly’s “Number One”, songs like these have saturated commercial radio and have left somewhat a bad taste in the mouth of true music listeners.

However artists like R. Kelly who has a solid fan base of loyal true music listeners, releasing songs like “Number One” is often well taken, being that an artist of his caliber is able to release just about anything and go platinum.

The musician in R. Kelly has allowed for him to survive in an industry that lacks creativity. Yet, he manages to stay in touch with his fan base while adjusting his talents to accommodate both younger and older audiences with songs like, “Number One”. But can the same be said of an artist [like a] Trey Songz? “Trey Songz is a talented artist; however, his fan base of course is entirely different from that of an R. Kelly or Robin Thicke not only because of the way he’s marketed, but also how he appeals to an audience that doesn’t understand good music. But considers what he sings to be. Keep in mind we are talking about a group that may not have even grew up listening to “good music” from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.”

Because of this lack of understanding, Trey Songz is able to sustain a fan base based entirely on his talents as a singer, songwriter and producer and thereby, creating music that his record label deems worthy of marketing and releasing to his fans. It is this group of listeners who are twenty-five and under, the music industry caters to without a second thought of catering to the older audiences. Why is this? It appears that a majority of the top ten songs on the Billboard charts is created by artists who themselves are twenty-five years of age and under, and who are basically creating music just for their age group. This has allowed for teenagers and young adults with a great deal of disposable income to spend their earnings from part-time jobs, birthday and holiday money on music, thereby pumping a small breath of life into the industry to keep it a live. So what’s going to happen once this age group gets much older and mature? Are they likely to even consider listening to Trey Songz or Chris Brown ten years from now?

The combination of good marketing combined with good talent can make artists such as Trey Songz a huge success because of the trend set in the industry today. Allowing record companies to capitalize off their talents now, and possibly tomorrow, depending on the terms of the artist-recording contract. Whereas in the days of Motown-“good music” was all it took to propel the success of an artist. It was imperative that Berry Gordy developed and released artists he knew could create “good music” that’s worth listening to many years after. This process of artist development became a critical element in the music industry up until 2000, when record labels took the time to develop an artist for longevity.

But if the trend has been set in motion to follow music that’s been hot for over the past ten years, then going against what the industry is doing to bring back “good music” with great lyrical content, is what LS Muzik Group looks to do and pave a way of their own in the industry.

With a well driven team of professionals and a roster of talented musicians and singers like Mr. Tao Jones and Jackie Watson who seek to change the direction of music released in the industry today, it is likely that “good music” can make a major comeback in commercial radio.

But what would be the downside to all of this? One major downside would be discovering more artists like Mr. Tao Jones and Jackie Watson who have the passion to write and sing “good music”. The other is how to reach the demographics twenty-five and under who are captivated with what they’ve heard on the radio for the past ten years. To this group of listeners, growing up in an era where music is either sampled or synthetically created is all they know to be good music. However not understanding where the music they’re listening to originally derived from.

Music from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s is now considered old school to this younger audiences, which today has all become obsolete, leaving room for a younger hip sound that’s all synthetically created like fast food. So what was once old, is now new again.

Take Monica’s “Everything”, a melodic rendition of Denise Williams, “Silly”. This is a classic example of an artist who feels passionate about love and family values, has great talents, a solid fan base, and understands that the industry needs “good music”. However with the odds against her to accommodate her fans, record label, and a younger audience who thinks her music is old school, it is difficult for Monica or any artist of her stature from 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to make a comeback.

“In order to survive in the music industry today, an artist who once were in high demand during those days, would have to readjust their talents to accommodate the trend today in the industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean change the style of music that made them successful for years, but do what it is they do best while incorporating a younger hip sound that will appeal to both audiences.”

However not all artists can readjust and appeal to a younger audience. Artists like Monica are learning that the industry has changed dramatically over the years with an all-new sound that has made it somewhat complicated to adjust to, making it difficult to comeback. But often times an old school artist can return like they’ve never left and go platinum. Take Charlie Wilson, former member of the famed G.A.P Band or George Clinton architect of the band Parliament-Funkadelic, these artists have set a perfect example on how to readjust their talent in rap music to accommodate the trend of the industry to reach the younger audiences. It is this adjustment that Charlie Wilson and George Clinton were able to comeback with rap artists like Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube.

Although this strategy may have worked for Charlie Wilson and George Clinton-it is by far a long shot that other artists of 70’s, 80’s and 90’s can achieve. Because of the generation gap within the music industry, it is clear that fans are divided between what’s considered “good music” and what’s not. Therefore making it difficult to bridge the gap. And if record executives continue to overlook this issue, artist they consider as today stars will suffer immensely with record sales in the coming years, leaving them with a short term musical career. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Buying Your First Trombone – Tips For Beginners

Chances are that if you’ve opened this article, you (or your child) are someone who is interested in learning to play trombone. If so, congratulations! You have chosen an amazing instrument, capable of playing everything from jazz to ska. You have also probably entered into the unknown territory of purchasing an instrument. Fear not, I will do everything I can to steer you in the right direction!

First of all, you’ve probably seen brands such as Tristar and Cecilio on eBay. These prices have insanely low prices. My advice is stay away! You may get a decent horn from these guys, but you also may get a horn that is unplayable. The truth is that there is no concept of quality control with these brands and the instrument wont last. You’re better off with going for brands which I’ll go more in-depth into later in the article.

Terminology

You have probably been exposed to many different terms which you are unfamiliar with in your search for a beginner trombone. I’ll try to explain what each one is and what it does.

Bore Size – The bore size of a trombone is the diameter of the tubing of the instrument, measured in the handslide. Basically larger bores will produce a darker, warmer tone. However, they also require much more air to play. In general, your first trombone should be a small bore (.500″ or.509″). If you are an adult beginner, you may want to look into a medium bore (.525″) however, I would still recommend a small bore instrument for your first trombone.

Bell Size – Bell size is usually directly related to bore size. It is is exactly what the name implies, how wide the bell’s diameter is. A beginner horn should have a bell size of 8″ unless you are using a medium bore where it may have a size of 8.5″

Shank – Shank refers to the size of the opening of the leadpipe. This determines whether the instrument will take large shank or small shank mouthpieces. Your first trombone should have a small shank as all small and medium bore horns have a small shank receiver.

Material – Trombones generally are made of two materials: Yellow brass and Red brass. Yellow brass is the material used in many trombones, including almost all student trombones. Yellow brass produces a strong fundamental sound which keeps its tone well at all dynamic levels. Red brass produces a warmer sound and is more flexible in the colors of every dynamic. Generally, yellow brass is what you’d want for your first trombone.

Key – Tenor trombones should be in the key of Bb. This means that the fundamental note, in first position is a Bb. If you get a trombone with a rotary valve, it should be in the key of Bb/F. Trombone is a non-transposing instrument even though its fundamental pitch is a Bb. This means that when a trombonist plays a written C, a C is sounded.

F – Attachment – This is the part of a trombone which is most easily identified as “the extra tubing around the tuning slide.” With this option, you have a trigger which essentially turns first position into sixth and second into seventh. I would recommend not getting an F – Attachment on your first trombone. A straight trombone is much more free blowing, plus you truly learn the last two positions with a straight trombone.

Which Trombone is Right for Me?

Assuming you are a beginner I would recommend a straight, small shank, yellow brass,.500″ bore, 8″ bell trombone. This trombone will be the most durable and will be the easiest to produce a good sound on. Here are some models I would suggest.

These are new trombones, price is something to be noted. Generally with instruments you get what you pay for.

YSL-354 – This is the Yamaha student model. This was my first trombone. It is very durable, has good build quality, good tone, and great reliability. In my opinion Yamaha makes the best student model on the market, however it is more expensive than other models.

YSL-350C – This is an interesting Yamaha model. This is nicknamed “The Short Bone” in the trombone community. It has a trigger which puts the instrument into C eliminating the need for sixth and seventh positions. This is ideal for a young musician who can’t reach or someone who needs a smaller instrument to travel with.

Getzen 351 – This is a great option for a student model instrument. Very nice student horn, and cheaper than the Yamaha.

Blessing BTB-1280 – This is another great model. Not quite as good as the previous options but still a very viable option and cheaper than the other three.

Giardinelli GTB 512 – I have not heard much about this horn. However, everything I’ve heard is that it’s a great horn for the price. The cheapest option of all my recommendations.

Used horns

Used horns are a great option for beginners. They are much cheaper than new horns and often play just as well. Also, they will hold their value well unless you do major damage to them.

Any of the above are good used. Also, you can probably find pretty good deals on older instruments such as: Conns, Olds (any straight horn), and Kings.

If you’d like to talk to me about your trombone purchase, please feel free to contact me through the website below. I’ll be glad to help you with anything trombone related!

Good luck in your first trombone purchase and in your pursuit of playing this great instrument!