Tag Archives: michigan philharmonic

Studies: Music Improves Your (Aging) Life

Members of the Orchard Lake Philharmonic Society gathered for a picnic yesterday with new conductor Nan Washburn and members of the Michigan Philharmonic.

And, it’s thanks to Nan that I can share two recent studies that reinforce the feeling many of us have that playing music — especially in groups — improves our lives as we get a little creaky in the joints.

The first study, published in the April 2011 journal Neuropsychology and reported in the Huffington Post, comes from researchers at the University of Kansas, who examined the mental abilities of people between the ages of 60 and 83 who play music.  They found that people who had begun studying music early in life and had played for more than 10 years performed significantly better on both visual and verbal tests.   While the authors conclude more study needs to be done, they theorize that learning to play music reorganizes pathways in the brain in ways that help ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.   The finding would seem to be in keeping with the studies that have been done on children who study music, which have found an significant larger number of connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  Or, as the Huffington Post headline declares, “Musicians Are Probably Smarter Than the Rest of Us.”

Even more surprising to me was a study reported on NPR this month, coming out of Northwestern University.  In the report on NPR, the researcher reported that musicians may have an edge warding off hearing loss.   Because of their training, musicians were 40% more likely to discriminate words from background noise than non-musicians.   As someone who has spent most of her career in environments with lots of potentially damaging background noise (one audiologist physically blanched when she saw my workspace next to those old 1960’s vintage AP teletype machines!), that study gives me great hope!

 

 

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Filed under Fun Stuff, Music and Aging

Summer and Fall Fantasies …

Received word today that the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis has announced a fantasy camp this fall.   They are looking for 50 amateur musicians – all parts – to take part in a two-day camp in mid-September.  The repertoire is Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, which is scheduled to be performed with the symphony in the second half of their September 16th concert.  You can get more information on the Minnesota Symphony site.

Nan Washburn

The information comes courtesy of Nan Washburn of the Michigan Philharmonic, who has just been named the new conductor of the Orchard Lake Philharmonic Society Symphony Orchestra.  The appointment received some coverage in local papers this weekend. Speaking both as a new board member of OLPS and a member of the orchestra, I’m delighted that Nan is coming on board.  The repertoire she has chosen for our fall concert is intriguing (Gluck, Ravel, Sibelius, Berlioz, and Mao Yuan).

The OLPS Symphony is looking for additional players, especially all strings.  If you play and want to get involved with a group, now is your chance!  Rehearsals begin Thursday, September 15th at West Bloomfield High School.  Additional information and registration materials are available on www.OLPSMusic.org.

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Filed under Events and Calendar, Opportunities to Play