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String & Keyboard Musik: How music helps young people

9:25, 28th November 2019

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Music has always had an important role in our lives, with deep roots in human culture throughout history. Listening to, enjoying and playing music allows us to experience pleasure, sadness, comfort – and touches us deeply, resulting in life-changing experiences. Why does music have such a powerful effect on our brain?

Karen Karana Tse had brain surgery at an early age. As part of her recovery therapy to train her brain after surgery, she picked up music and started learning the piano. She felt dramatic improvements, and as a result strongly believes in the influence that music has on our brains.

Hearing, playing, reading and creating music involves practically every part of the brain.  Listening to music involves the brain’s memory centres, while reading music involves the visual cortex. In addition, listening to or recalling lyrics uses the language centres in the temporal and frontal lobes.

Because playing music requires coordination of motor control, touch and auditory information, most musicians develop a greater ability than the average person to use both hands, together and independently. The resulting increased communications between the left and right brain hemispheres form strong connections between the two motor areas, which are larger in musicians than in non-musicians.

All of this knowledge feeds into Karen Karana Tse’s company String & Keyboard Musik, an innovative programme that seeks to help young minds learn music in a fun and accessible way. She says: ‘After my brain surgeries, doctors were concerned that my illness would affect my brain development at such a young age – at which point they suggested that I begin training in music and learn different musical instruments to stimulate my brain development and assist with recovery.

‘Since then, my diligent practice in musical instruments has afforded me the ability to tremendously improve my memory, coordination, reactions and language development.’

What followed was an exciting musical career, beginning with the piano and eventually including both violin and harp. This love of music led Karen to study music therapy in Canada before returning to Hong Kong where she taught for about a decade.

During her time teaching, Karen found that her younger students struggled to focus for long periods of time, which slowed their progress. These experiences caused her to develop teaching methods that would respond to the needs of the developing mind. In 2015, Karen launched String & Keyboard Musik to bring her methods to a wider audience.

The programme uses brightly coloured instruments to engage budding musicians. The strings of the harp and violin, and also the keys of the piano keyboard, are individually coloured, meaning that students as young as two can follow simple tunes. This helps with a number of key development areas such as language, dexterity and memory.

The four levels of the programme are designed for ages two to eight, after which students can progress to regular instruments. This gradual approach helps avoid frustrations that can arise if young students start with traditional instruments.

To find out more visit: https://www.stringsandkeyboardmusik.com/

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