Music has the ability to evoke emotion in a way which transcends other senses. This is so striking that it’s not surprising to find the part of the brain governing our perception of music is in an area described as ‘primitive’, proving that our response to music has a long evolutionary history. Clinical tests have shown that children as young as five months old respond rhythmically to music and seem to find it more innately interesting than speech.
If further proof of the power of music, as a language of emotion, is needed it can be seen in programs of music therapy for people living with dementia. Faces light up, confusion and fear are relieved and for a while distress and disconnection are banished. The memory of a long life may be lost, but the memory of music remains.
Of course there is no music without musicians which is why our performing artists: players of instruments, composers, lyricists, singers and music teachers are a precious part of our cultural landscape.
Playing its own wonderful tune in the West End is the Newcastle Music Academy (NMA) a friendly, dynamic and professional academy designed with only one goal in mind: to give its students first class results. They provide tailored music tuition in guitar, bass, drums and percussion, voice (singing), piano/keyboard and DJing, describing themselves as ‘a family of musicians with a culture for excellence in our own music…and a passion for helping those we teach’.
The Academy provides tailored lessons which means you tell them what you want to achieve and your tuition is then structured accordingly. If you are wondering how this student-led teaching works in practice the Academy cuts to the chase ‘We don’t just teach songs, we show you how to master your music. You are not just going to learn how to play songs with us; you’re going to learn the foundational techniques and musical concepts behind the music you wish to play.’
One of the most effective routes to success, in any field, is finding a mentor or guide. The Academy mentors all its students, whether they are taking their first music workshop, or a professional muso taking a masterclass.
Real world experience is also vital to becoming a great musician, so the Academy creates opportunities for its students to play live. The Principal, Gianni Michelini, explains “Students … pursue opportunities to perform live throughout the year at various events with which [we are] involved, such as Lizotte’s Student Showcase and of course our famous Ultimate Jam Nights at Newcastle Panthers. These are held regularly as an informal open mic with a professional five-piece band. Anyone can get up and play or sing and the nights are free, family friendly and open to the public.”
Newcastle Music Academy, 461 King Street, Newcastle West. Phone: 4929 3060 or 0434 827 0580434 827 058. Find them on Facebook: Newcastle Music Academy. firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.newcastlemusicacademy.com.au. A moving example of the power of music to help those with dementia can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ. Three studies on how music affects the brain were presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. Abstracts of the papers are available online.
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