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A Well-Tempered Mind: Using Music to Help Children Listen and Learn
by Peter Perret
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Peter Perret, conductor of the Winston-Salem Symphony, chronicles in A Well-Tempered Mind how a brief NPR feature about music and the brain inspired him to create an innovative music education program for first- through third-graders at two elementary schools in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The musicians from his woodwind quintet taught the children to listen to music, detect the roles of the instruments, discern how music is constructed, and even compose their own music. The effects of the quintets intervention reached beyond the music classes and carried into other academic subjects as well, resulting in a significant improvement in the childrens scores on annual state tests. A Well-Tempered Mind describes how the children and musicians worked together, and explores the brain research that seeks to understand how music engages the brains cognitive capabilities ranging from memory and language and emotional processing. Perrets Bolton project inspires a host of tantalizing questions such as: Does music physically change the brain? Can music help kids with short attention spans, dyslexia, and other learning difficulties? Does music influence the cognitive abilities needed for reading and math? Perrets engaging and candid narrative, previously featured in Symphony Magazine, tells of a fascinating journey of discovery into the complexities and intricate workings of the human brain. Further, it opens the door to new and exciting opportunities for education, in its demonstration of how music can be a universal language that expands young minds in unforeseen ways. A Well-Tempered Mind demonstrates that by working together, we can make a difference in our children's lives and replace cultural bankruptcy with a full pocket of good music. Lord knows we need it."
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