via Psychology Today: This article was originally written for PediaStaff, a provider of pediatric therapy services.

A friend of mine, and fellow music therapist, Kat Fulton shared a story with me recently:

I utilized drumming at a camp for kids who have parents with cancer. We sang, chanted, and drummed. At the end of it all, I invited each child one by one to come to the center whenever they wanted. When they got to the center, they could cut off the drumming and share something they are thankful for. Then we’d continue drumming. After drumming and singing, and playing rhythm games for an hour, you can imagine how supported and safe these kids felt among their peers. One little 6-year-old girl came to the center and said “That my mom can still be happy.” Her father had passed from cancer.

This little girl experienced what many other children and adolescents have experienced before: group support and the feeling of safety that allowed her to share a big feeling. All facilitated through drumming.

Drumming isn’t an experience that “only” music therapists can use. In fact, many professionals with a little bit of training can use drum and percussion experiences to help children with special needs in the areas of motor strength and control, speech and communication, social skills, emotional expression, and cognition.

But what exactly is drumming? And how can it help children with special needs? Let’s explore…

What is Drumming?

When I first approached Kalani, a professional percussionist, Orff-certified music educator, and music therapist, and asked “how do you see group drumming used as a therapeutic tool?”, he responded with “how are we defining the term ‘drumming’?”

Kalani then shared with me an article he wrote with music therapist Bill Matney called “A Taxonomy of Drumming Experiences.” This article outlines various type of drum-based experiences: Drum Play, Traditional Drumming, Guided Interactive Drumming, Drum Circle, Musical Improvisation, Clinical Improvisation, and Technique-Oriented Play.


When they envision “drumming,” most people think of the Drum Circle, which the taxonomy on the Music Therapy Drumming (MTD) website describes as an interactive group process that utilizes a variety of drums and percussion instruments. Although drum circles can be used for recreational purposes, they can also be used to target other goals. The drum circle facilitator, or leader, need not be a formally trained musician, but s/he should have some musical skills and some sort of training in drum circle facilitation.

However, “drumming” can include any number of experiences, from traditional playing to improvisation to “drum play.” For the purposes of this article, “drumming” will refer to any type of group drumming experience–the exact type of which will depend on the goals of the group.

Does Drumming Work?
The evidence seems to say “yes.” In December 2010, a research study was published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This study looked into the effectiveness of a drumming program in LA called “Beat the Odds”

What did the study find? That participating in drumming activities led to significant social and emotional improvements for the students involved.

This wasn’t the first study to look into how drumming helps children. One of the earliest studies, published in 1976 in the Journal of Music Therapy, investigated how a percussion “game” improved social behaviors for children with mental retardation.

Since then, research has provided support for the positive effect of drumming experiences on social behaviors, grief, self-expression, self-esteem, group cohesion, depression, behavioral issues, bimanual coordination, and learning for children and adults both with and without disabilities (you can find a short bibliography at the end of this article).

How Does Drumming Help Children?

This is all well and good, but what exactly can drumming do? And, more specifically, how can it help children with special needs?

Music therapist Bill Matney shares that there are many reasons why drumming can be useful as a therapeutic tool. Drums and percussion instruments are progressively accessible, physical, sensory, portable, socially interactive, expressive, cultural, and offer a unique aesthetic experience. Someone who has never played a musical instrument in his/her life can pick up a shaker and participate in a drumming experience.

For children with special needs, drumming can be a powerful tool to help them address:

  • Social Needs. Drumming often occurs as a collaborative, interactive process. If facilitated correctly, participating in drumming experiences can help a child work on skills such as turn-taking and sharing, as well as help them feel they are part of a group contributing towards a group process.

  • Communication Needs. Playing a drum or percussion instrument can be a useful way to communicate nonverbally and to “listen” to another person’s nonverbal communication.

  • Fine and Gross Motor Skills. This may almost seem self-evident, but different playing techniques can be used to help work on different fine and gross motor skills. This can even be true for developing lower extremity strength (e.g. imagine standing and playing a large conga drum).

  • Emotional Needs. As with the girl Kat Fulton worked with, participating in a drumming activity can help a child feel safe enough to express his/her feelings. Additionally–and speaking from experience–there’s nothing much better for releasing anger than banging on a drum.

  • Cognitive Needs. By participating in a drumming experience, children can be working on attention, impulse control, and decision-making skills.

As with many interventions, there are contraindications involved. Kalani notes that too loud a volume, playing with poor technique, and using instruments with a high vibrotactile response can potentially pose problems. This is why getting trained as a facilitator is important.

What Training is Required?
One of the benefits of utilizing drumming experiences is that trained leaders or facilitators do not have to be trained musicians (a pre-requisite for becoming a board-certified music therapist). There are various training programs and resources around the country that offer training for future drumming facilitators.

via SAX & HONEY: One of the most frequent questions I get asked by my students is “When is the best age to start playing the saxophone?”

People often assume that because I am a full-time professional player and saxophone teacher that I must have started very early in life. They also often assume too that, unless you start practising music as young as possible, there isn’t much hope for you becoming a competent player.

The truth is though, the best time to start playing the sax is that moment when you feel that you’d really love to be able to pick the instrument up and make it sing.

The “right” time to start playing the saxophone for me personally was when I was introduced to the instrument by a new friend while on holiday.

As soon as I had the sax in my mouth and started making the first tentative sounds, I realised with an absolute passion that, no matter how hard it was, no matter how rubbish I sounded, playing the sax was something that I wanted to do. I was in it for the long game. I was 26 years old and from that moment on I enrolled myself in the persona of a sax player.

So really the short answer to the title of this blog post, in my opinion at least, is that the best age to start playing the saxophone is when you have the desire to do so.

And that could be at any stage of life. I have taught children as young as five years old. My oldest student is over 80 years old, and I teach students of all ages in-between.

In this blog post I’m going to focus primarily on the childhood years and early teens. I’ll be covering the teenage years and adulthood in a subsequent post so please do sign up to my blog if you’d like to find out more about that topic.

The “pull not push” philosophy

When it comes to teaching the sax, my approach is not to “push” anyone, and especially not children, into music. I prefer to “pull” them into it. And I aim to do that by making the learning process as fun, enjoyable and inspiring as possible.

I strongly believe that if you force children into music, then what you can risk ending up with is a very capable musician who hates playing their instrument. The last thing I want is a competent but unhappy musician!

I believe that the best (and happiest) musicians are the ones who love playing. The ones who feel a connection to music and who love their instrument with a passion. My role is to nurture that passion – and I don’t think that can be done by force.

Of course we need to teach children how to be tenacious, responsible and dedicated and to understand how essential practising their instrument is (even when they don’t always feel like it.) In my opinion though, the best way to achieve this is by bestowing these traits, and the whole subject of saxophones, with an irresistible magnetic pull.

Playing the saxophone as a child

The two main advantages of starting playing the saxophone very young are that you have more time left in which to learn and your brain is so very well set up for absorbing and retaining information.

If you make learning fun for the very young student, the rate at which they can learn is astounding. Children can also be much more open to making mistakes than older people, it just seems to bother them much less. This more carefree approach accelerates learning because it allows greater freedom of expression without worrying about how they look or sound. Younger kids are also at the stage of life where they are learning new things pretty much all the time, and so they are often more comfortable than an adult who may not have been in a learning situation for a long while.

The best saxophone for kids

There are of course some physical considerations when thinking about a very young person taking up the sax. They have to be physically big enough, and strong enough, to be able to pick up and hold the instrument.

A typical alto saxophone weighs about 5 kilograms, and sometimes more depending on the model. That’s well over half a stone – a lot of weight to have hanging round your neck. A young person’s hands also need to be big enough to cover the keys. So, in my opinion, and this is of course dependent on the individual, the youngest I think that you can seriously take up the sax (in terms of being able to comfortably handle the instrument at least) is around 7 years old.

The great news for kids though, is that there is a saxophone which has been specially designed for children! It’s called the Trevor James Alphasax and it’s a real innovation in saxophone design. The Alphasax looks and sounds pretty much exactly the same as a regular alto, however it’s been completely redesigned and some of the very lowest and very highest keys have been removed. As a result it is much lighter, weighing in at 1.86 kg which is 33% lighter than a regular saxophone. I have personally owned two of these instruments and I think they are excellent for children as a starter sax.

One of the downsides to starting the sax very young is that children can sometimes be rather easily distracted and sometimes their concentration span is still developing. Lessons that are thoughtfully structured, that include lots of fun activities and short breaks for a bit of conversation and sharing of ideas, are often more compelling and enjoyable to a very young person than say a solid 60 minutes of saxophone tuition.

Starting in your early teens

By the time kids are in their teens, the physical considerations of playing the sax (the weight of the sax, the distance between the keys etc) are usually not so much of a factor as they are for younger children.

Teenagers are still very much in the learning frame of mind too, which means they’re ideally placed to take on new information in an open way.

Some younger teens can be more self-conscious and less communicative. They may also have a lot of other significant changes and demands in their life, both personally and at school, so these challenges may affect how they respond to their lessons and how much time they realistically have to practice.

Having said that though, anywhere in your teenage years is a great time to start because, you have so many more years ahead of you in which to learn and grow. So if the desire is strong then I would certainly suggest starting the saxophone as a teenager.

As a saxophone teacher, my primary objective with younger students, whatever their age or ability, is to encourage them to enjoy the experience of learning the sax. If I can do that, and if I can inspire a passion and genuine love for the subject, then everything else will flow from there.

via flowkey: Did you know that when you’re learning to play the piano you are actually improving several skills that will help you be more successful in other areas such as university or work? In fact, multiple studies link the study of music to increased success in other fields, as this article from the New York Times points out.

So what is it that makes musicians more successful in life? Here is a list of six essential skills that you will master by practicing the piano:

1. Playing the piano sharpens your concentration

When you’re playing the piano, you have to focus on the rhythm, pitch, tempo, note duration, and several other things. Even though your’re doing something you acutally enjoy, this is really a multi-level concentration exercise.

In fact, studies have shown that every time a musicians picks up his or her instrument, there are fireworks going on in his or her brain (for more information, see this Ted Lesson). Playing an musical instrument is perhaps the only activity during which almost all brain areas are simultaneously activated.

2. Playing the piano teaches you perseverance

Learning new songs on the piano takes time and effort. Until you can actually play a song fluently by heart, you’ll probably spend several weeks practicing it. As you look forward to being able to play the song, you stay motivated, learn patience, and increase your perseverance. These skills will always help you when you are confronted with difficult tasks at school, university, or at work.

3. Playing the piano teaches you discipline

Playing the piano can be quite challenging. However, practicing frequently and working hard will not only teach you perseverance, but also discipline. Consider the parts of the song you will have to practice over and over again. There is one “magic key” to successfully playing the piano (and yes, I will share it with you, just like that): practice, practice, practice.

Practicing regularly requires discipline. Maybe at the beginning it will be harder for you. Maybe you have to come up with some little treats to get yourself there. However, slowly but surely, you’ll get used to it and being disciplined about your practice time won’t be hard at all

4. Playing piano improves your time management skills

Many of us have quite busy schedules. Unfortunately, scientists haven’t found a way to make one day last more than 24 hours yet. So to get all your activities and duties done, you need to organize them. When you get used to practicing regularly, you also learn how to use your time efficiently and how you can use a 20-minute time slot for a quick piano lesson.

5. Playing the piano improves your emotional intelligence

Playing the piano enhances your listening skills. These are also very important when you interact with other people. Emotions are not only expressed by facial expressions and body language, but also by the tone of voice, the speed of speech, and the melody of speech. People who play an instrument are better listeners, and it is not surprising that studies have actually revealed that musicians are more perceptive in interpreting the emotions of others.

6. Playing the piano increases your memory capacity

Playing the piano stimulates your brain. While you learn and play songs, the stimulated areas of your brain become larger and therefore more active. The areas that are responsible for the storage of audio information, particularly, are more developed in musicians then in non-musicians.

So when you play the piano, your ability to memorize audio information increases. The chance of saying something like: “I’m sorry! Maybe you told me, but I really don’t remember…” most likely will occur less often.

Isn’t it amazing what playing the piano can do for you? If you’ve always been looking for an excuse to pick up that tricky piano, well, here — now you’ve got more than one. 🙂

via Sacramento Press: Are you looking for an after-school activity for your child?

Do you want to appeal to their artistic abilities as well as provide them with tools to succeed in other parts of life?

If so, strongly consider enrolling your child in piano lessons.

Obviously designed around artistic talent and music ability, piano does offer more to learn than just the keys. There are many ways children who take piano grow to become well-rounded, successful adults in their studies and relationships.

Read on to learn the 4 benefits of piano lessons for children:

1. Children Learn Hard Work and Discipline
Ask any musician and they will tell you the key to success is practice, practice, practice.

Learning piano takes the dedication to sit down and concentrate. It takes committing to something when you are not being told to or checked on.

Committed students learn the value of their efforts and go on to apply discipline in reaching any goal, not just learning a new song.

They also learn to try again. Piano is not something one easily picks up, and by sticking to lessons and practice, children see the value in learning from mistakes and having perseverance.

2. Piano Lessons Improve Performance in School
Perhaps one of the most valuable benefits of piano lessons are the boosts in cognitive skills.

Children with musical training go on to have stronger neural connections, better memory and IQ, and better information processing.

In essence, the time spent learning notes and songs primes their short and long-term memory for academic use later on. Particularly in math and science, piano students shine in their ability to pick up patterns and understand abstract concepts.

3. Music Builds Strong Emotional and Social Awareness
Music is meant to make us feel something. Children in piano lessons are taught to listen for the emotions a certain piece is trying to create.

As children learn to pick up such effects from changes in music tones, they are actually becoming more aware of how voices change depending on a situation.

This makes them more likely to pick up when someone is angry or upset, as well as happy or surprised. Being able to notice such differences makes them more empathetic in their relationships.

4. Learning Piano Builds Confidence
After taking individual or group lessons, there is always time for a performance.

Playing in front of an audience teaches children confidence by making them shake their nerves and trust in their ability. This shines true in many areas of life later on from sports to academics and careers.

Confidence is also built by criticism.

Piano students will often receive corrections from their instructor or their peers, and the more they learn to accept and work on their faults, the better off they will be.

Learning to give and receive critique reminds students no one is perfect and helps them turn negative experiences into something positive.

via LENS PRO: School is out, the days are long and it can be tough to keep kids entertained all day. If you love photography like we do and want to get your kids involved, too, check out these 3 summer activities you can do together. It may even give you an opportunity to try some new gear, too!

Would your kid be more excited to: Sit at the edge of the pool and smile for a photo OR be told to jump into the pool and create the biggest cannonball possible?

Photographing your kids underwater can be hours of fun for all of you and is something they’ll remember forever. Using an Ikelite Underwater Housing is a safe way to take a camera and lens into the pool. Additionally, if your child doesn’t like going underwater completely, it will protect the camera from splashes.

It’s important to note that any activity around a swimming pool requires additional safety precautions! Only photograph kids underwater if they are skilled swimmers and always have another person in the pool whose only job is to look after the children to prevent drowning.

One thing you can do to enhance this experience for you kids is to get creative with props. Capture images that reflect what your kids current interests are: sports, wearing a dance or super hero costume, etc. Take a look at DigiSmiles and Alix Martinez Photography for inspiration! Additionally, it’s a fun way to capture family time from a different angle.


  1. Plan to shoot in the pool when the most amount of light is on it and with the sun behind you. As you go deeper into water, light gets dimmer. If there isn’t much light, consider using underwater strobes.
  2. Get close to your subject, ideally within 2 ft if possible. Water reduces contrast, color and sharpness.
  3. Use a high shutter speed to capture action: ideally 1/125th or faster

Want your kids to spend more time outdoors? Send them out into the yard or stroll around a park and have them point out things they’d like to see close up. Flowers, pine cones, water droplets, insects, etc. Then grab a macro lens and show them things that are tough for our own eyes to see!


  • Use a Canon 100mm Macro or Nikon 105mm Micro for general macro photos.
  • Use extension tubes to make your own lenses a macro.
  • If you’re looking to get up and personal with an insect or want to see the individual ink dots on a newspaper, use the Canon 65 MP-E Macro lens, but beware, you’ll want some bright lights, too, if you shoot in the 3x to 5x range!
  • When shooting outside, the wind can be bothersome. Take the item to a calm area, if possible, to avoid blurred images.
  • Interested in photographing butterflies? Photograph them later in the day when they are settling down for the night.

BONUS: Does your child have hot wheels cars or other small realistic toys? Shoot them with a macro or tilt-shift lens to make them look life size!

A fun way to get your kids involved in photography at night is to have them create light trails with a flashlight while you do a long exposure. Make sure they have a large flat area to move around on so they aren’t tripping over things in the dark!

Ideas to try:

  • Have them spell their name – for smaller kids who can’t reverse the letter, remember you can flip the image vertically in Photoshop later.
  • “Draw” a photo like a dog or car.
  • Outline an object in the yard.
  • Play an altered version of Pictionary where you only have 30 seconds to “Draw”, then are able to look at the photo to make a guess.


  • You’ll need a camera that can shoot in full manual mode or shutter priority mode.
  • Use a tripod to keep your camera steady during the long exposures.
  • A nice accessory to have is a remote shutter so you can easily control how long the shutter is open.

These photo activities aren’t just fun but educational for everyone involved. Additionally, you’ll surely get photos for your summer album and memories that will last a lifetime. Before you know it, you’re kids friends will want their photos taken underwater, too!

Is there another photography activity that you do with your kids? Let us know in the comments below!

Children’s music is music composed and performed for children. It is used for both entertainment and educational purposes where different cultures, good behaviors, history, facts and skills are taught to the children in an interactive and interesting way.

Children’s music is mainly made for the preschoolers or the children that have yet to attend schools. It is usually being categorized into nursery rhymes, sing-along, lullabies and stories.

Introducing music to your children shall bring them many benefits. Your children would be able to learn a lot from the music and it can also help in their brain development.

Check out the following article for the benefits of music for children now!

Via The Conversation: How music benefits children

Popular ideas, such as the “Mozart effect” – the idea that listening to classical music improves intelligence – has encouraged the belief that “music makes you smarter”.

This interest in the relationship between musical aptitude on ability and intelligence has been around for some time. But despite these beliefs being pretty widespread, there is still no conclusive evidence to actually prove that listening to certain types of music really can improve your intelligence.

In 1974, music researchers Desmond Sergeant and Gillian Thatcher said that:

All highly intelligent people are not necessarily musical, but all highly musical people are apparently highly intelligent.

And “apparently” is the key word here, because the evidence regarding musical listening in itself is mixed. Research has shown that listening to music shows an improvement in certain kinds of mental tasks. But these are specifically short-term improvements involving “spatial-temporal reasoning” skills – puzzle solving type tasks.

Listening vs playing

But while listening to music is all well and good, what about actually playing it? Research that focuses on how or if playing a musical instrument can impact on intelligence, often looks at how learning in one area can lead to improvements in other areas – an idea known as “transfer effects”.

This is the idea that learning to play the violin, or the drums, could help children to do better in their spellings or a science project. And this is in part the reason why some parents naturally encourage their children to learn an instrument – because of a belief that it will in some way make them more intelligent.

While some studies have shown how musical training can shape brain development. And that improvements in small motor skills and general intelligence have been linked to musical training. A recent review suggests that actual evidence supporting this idea of “transfer effects” is limited at present.

But despite these finds, there is still a wealth of evidence suggesting musical learning is beneficial. And with this in mind, drawing from my experience as a professional musician (drummer), music teacher and performing artist, I decided to investigate the effects of individual musical instrument learning on aspects of cognitive and behavioural development.

I also looked at the impact on “socio-emotional” development, which includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions, as well as the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others.

All the children who took part in the study had typical school group music lessons, but half of them had also chosen to learn an instrument individually for the first time that year.

The results showed that children who had started individual music lessons developed a better awareness of their “aim” and “force” in relation to their own motor skills as well as improving their “fluid intelligence” – which is the ability to solve new problems, use logic in new situations, and identify patterns.

This suggests that musical instrument learning encourages the development of a physical sense of self in relation to the how we use objects in the world around us, as well as developing a specific kind of intelligence that is used in problem solving.

Music and social development

As part of my research, I also wanted to understand whether parents and teachers noticed any changes over the year in terms of the children’s socio-emotional well-being. The results showed that the children who had chosen to learn an instrument were considered by both their parents and teachers to be less anxious than those who had received only group lessons.

These children were also thought to internalise their problems less compared to the children who had only received the group sessions.

This is also reflected in my research looking at adult musicians, who explained that the “social structures” surrounding musical learning are the bits that they most appreciate, and have had the biggest impact on their lives.

This includes the opportunities to travel, the exchanges of culture among friends around the world, and their ongoing ability to be foster creativity in their lives through music.

Musical learning

It is clear then that music can have a big role to play when it comes to children’s learning. Not necessarily just in terms of intelligence, but also in term of their physical development and social well-being.

Research also shows how musical learning can help children to apply themselves, as well supporting the processes involved in teamwork and appreciation of working towards shared goals.

Valuing music education includes nurturing the development of these abilities, and these skills and mindsets. Which is why developing a culture of creativity and musical learning in our schools should be a key part of children’s lives.

Music is a vital part of every kid’s growth. An excellent tune can usually illuminate their eyes, urge them to move and also dance, as well as aid infuse a feeling of self-confidence. And also it doesn’t end there.


The media’s popularization of searching for from research studies suggesting a causal web link between songs training as well as spatial reasoning in kids (Rauscher et al. 1993, 1997) has actually captured the attention of several and also stimulated rate of interest in the inclusion of music in early childhood education and learning.

Music Early Child Development

I’ve heard a million parents lament the fact that they didn’t get their children interested in music sooner. There are also hundreds of adults out there that wish they had learned how to play an instrument when they were younger.

Studies actually support the idea that music stimulates certain brain connections and can actually help children grow smarter!

Music also provides an invaluable outlet for safe expression of feelings and emotions, and can also serve as an important learning tool throughout your children’s lives!

Music helps educate in many ways, by developing children’s memory skills and nourishing their spirit.

Now, some children are a bit resistant to music at first, but you can easily find ways to encourage them to enjoy music in many different forms early in life.

You need to simply adopt some creative ways to introduce music in your children’s life without forcing them to take on a task they aren’t interested in (Hint: don’t go buy a saxophone and tell them to practice or else).

Here’s how you can successfully and gently introduce music into your children’s life:

Music and Child Brain Development

1) Allow them the opportunity to select an instrument they are interested in. Even if that instrument is something you consider too large or incompatible for them. When they do, be willing to let your children make their own decisions and encourage them.

2) Play a variety of different music in the home whenever your children are around. Turn on the radio and turn off the TV, and make a point to try and play something different every day.

3) Teach your children how to sign songs. Children learn through music. You can use songs to teach numbers, the alphabet and even help develop basic memory skills.

4) Help your children make up their own songs. This will encourage them to use their natural creativity and talent.

5) Hum a tune with your child. When they try something a little different, praise them.

6) Consider taking your children to age appropriate concerts. There are many concerts specifically designed with children in mind, chock full of songs and beats that will entertain and delight even the youngest of children.

Music is an important part of the developmental process children go through.

Why Music is Important for Child Development 

Children who are involved in activities such as band or other musical outlets are less likely to get involved in problematic behaviors and dangerous after school activities.

Music has even reportedly increased the intelligence of newborns, particularly building spatial reasoning. Music also makes the world a happier place to live in.

You’ll enjoy learning as much as your children will, and you can even explore music together!

By introducing your children to music while they are still young, you will ultimately improve their lives and their appreciation of the world in many ways.

Even if that instrument is something you consider incompatible or too large for them. Be willing to let your children make their own decisions and encourage them when they do.

Teach your children how to sign songs is a good idea, as it provide them with many benefits of music in early childhood education. Children learn through music. You can use songs to teach numbers, the alphabet and even help develop basic memory skills.