Pedagogy and Products September 11, 2015

This week’s post is all about the science and benefits of listening. We’ll cover both new technologies for hearing your favorite music as well as the educational perks to be gained from being a good listener. As always, just click on the links to read the full articles or get more information about the products mentioned.

Better sound with more bass. For excellence in sound quality as well as enhanced bass check out the new Sound Isolating™ Model SE215 earphones from Shure. Features of these mighty mini earbud-style headphones include Single Dynamic MicroDriver and detachable cables with formable wire for easy replacement and a comfortable and secure fit both on-stage and off. Sound isolating sleeves come in multiple sizes for customizable fit and provide up to 37 dB of isolation to block ambient noise; the sleeves are made available thanks to a partnership with Sensaphonics In-Ear Monitoring Solutions.

Extra comfort features include lightweight, low-profile shape with optimized nozzle angle is designed to rest comfortably in the ear and over-the-ear design which keeps cables out of the way. Priced at just $99, the headphones come with a sleeve fit kit (SML sleeves in both flex and black foam sleeves), cleaning tool, carrying case, and user guide; they are available in a choice of translucent clear and black. Get all the specs here:

Better performance through listening. Your students or children may devote many hours to practicing their instrument, but have you ever thought about just what they could gain in both proficiency and enjoyment by becoming better listeners? According to a recent article titled “Music Education: Let’s Teach Kids to Listen” in the Sinfini newsletter (a website dedicated to preserving and helping others to enjoy classical music), listening to all types of music for the pure enjoyment of it can provide even more lasting benefits than simply playing an instrument, no matter how many hours one devotes to it. Listening to music, whether it is for the purpose of dancing, study, or just plain kick-back enjoyment may in fact, be the best way to raise a true music lover. Author Freya Hellier states that unfortunately classical music has become the be-all and end-all for parents who have bought into what has often become termed the “Mozart Effect.” “…when it comes to the competitive world of parenting, classical music often seems to have a very specific role: it will make Junior smarter, give them an edge on the other kids, transport them to a zen-like state of calm and get them into that school,” Hellier says. The evidence has just not proven these things to be true, and has led to classical music becoming just another one of those things that are “good for you,” what the author terms the equivalent of “broccoli and brown rice.”

Furthermore, it is also untrue that devoting hour upon hour of regimented practice does not necessarily guarantee success as a musician. Hellier says that for every young genius performer who has dedicated hour upon hour of rigorous practice and reached an early stardom, there is another child who ends up hating his or her instrument, and/or resenting parents for “forcing” it on them. In these cases, the important benefits to be gained by playing in band or orchestra (team spirit, cooperation, focus, etc.) fall by the wayside if the player doesn’t enjoy the activity. Often, this is simply the result of stressing rote practice as a character-building activity rather than letting a young child simply listen and absorb classical music in a way that is meaningful to them. I myself will never forget the first-grade program when I got to wear a tin-foil crown and dance along to the magical music of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.” That moment, along with several others, inspired in me a life-long love for that work and inspired me to want to hear other pieces like it.

According to Hellier, creating moments like this for one’s own children/students may require little more than exposing them to all types of music, letting them find out for themselves which pieces speak to them. Furthermore, rote practice should be rounded out by incorporating “the lessons in history, poetry, philosophy, expression, and language that classical music has to offer.” The real importance of such a well-rounded music education may only be realized later in life but will serve a child well, for while very few young performers grow up to be stars of the concert stage, anyone can become a true music aficionado. And, the best way to do that is to listen to music of all types and in all ways. Her advice is simple: “Let’s teach our kids to love music by teaching them how to listen to music. Let them obsess by listening on repeat (in that special way that only kids can do), inventing stories, dancing around. Sing, constantly. Don’t worry about finding child-friendly music, whatever that is. Whether it’s Stravinsky’s Petrushka, a Handel organ concerto or a Beethoven symphony, just stick it on and make it feel normal.” This is hardly a difficult task, because the range and breadth of classical repertoire is as broad and varied as that of any other type of music. Sooner or later you will hit on music which “speaks” to each child and you will have set them on the path to being not only a good listener and music-lover, but perhaps even a better performer as well. To read this interesting article in its entirety, along with information on new recordings, podcasts, or even to sign up for the Sinfini newsletter click on their site at

Gaining Control. New from PreSonus this fall is the StudioLive CS18AI touch sensitive, motorized fader control surface which works in conjunction with the company’s StudioLive RM mixers and Studio One 3. This new digital sound mixer is great for both home and studio use and incorporates features like 18 100mm, touch-sensitive motorized faders (16 Channel, 1 Flex, 1 Master); Built-in 4x2 AVB audio interface with 2 XMAX preamps, 2 balanced TRS line inputs, 2 XLR and stereo headphone output; and simple Ethernet connection.

In addition, this new control system allows you to integrate an iPad, Windows 8 touch screen, iPhone, iPod, or a combination these, thanks to a variety of software integration features and options. Unlike systems which feature channel layers, the CS18AI allows the user to control 64 channels from one 19-inch mountable control surface. Unique Filter DCAs group elements of the mix for you, combining them into an intuitive workflow which makes mixing easy when you’re in the heat of the performance. Color-coded, illuminated selection buttons make the mixing process even easier. For more detailed specs, as well as a video which highlights the features of this new mixer check it out here:

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