Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

It’s not just one or the other

Jazzmatazz!

Jazzmatazz!

Music has played a key role in my life­long learn­ing. Intro­duced to the clas­sics by our ele­men­tary school music pro­gram, the entire school was bussed once each year to hear the Min­neso­ta Orches­tra at a young people’s con­cert. I fell in love with Mr. Tweedy, the tim­pani play­er. He added dra­ma to the music. My moth­er bought clas­si­cal LPs that intro­duced chil­dren to the instru­ments and imme­di­ate­ly acces­si­ble com­po­si­tions.

Don’t get me wrong. I devoured my share of The Mamas & The Papas and Bread and Herman’s Her­mits and The Bea­t­les, but lis­ten­ing to clas­si­cal music opened my mind to oth­er forms as well. By the time I was in high school, Joni Mitchell led me to jazz. I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’m con­vinced there are jazz affi­ciona­dos in the children’s pub­lish­ing world because there are a num­ber of excel­lent books on the peo­ple, music, and expe­ri­ences that are a part of our unique­ly Amer­i­can musi­cal form. Among our read­ing lists, I’ve just updat­ed my Favorite Books about Jazz list.

I was spurred to do this by Stephanie Cal­men­son’s book Jazzmatazz! (Harper­Collins). It’s a book that joy­ful­ly enlists every mem­ber of the house­hold in an irre­sistible jazz beat: “Doo-dat, did­dy-dat, did­dy-dat, doo!” A per­fect read-aloud, it will have your fam­i­ly or your stu­dents or your sto­ry­time lis­ten­ers danc­ing in the aisles.

From This Jazz Man to Dizzy to Sweet­hearts of Rhythm to Wyn­ton Marsalis’ Jazz A-B-Z, you’ll find a book for every age and intrigue lev­el on that list.

Jazz A-B-Z

Wyn­ton Marsalis’ Jazz A-B-Z

In a recent edi­to­r­i­al in Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can (Novem­ber 2010), “Hear­ing the Music, Hon­ing the Mind,” the sub­ti­tle is the the­sis: “Music pro­duces pro­found and last­ing changes in the brain. Schools should add class­es, not cut them.” It has been near­ly twen­ty years since the Mozart Effect saw “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major” pro­duc­ing baby genius­es around the world. That blip in the best­seller list not with­stand­ing, stud­ies have con­tin­ued which “have found that music lessons can pro­duce pro­found and last­ing changes that enhance the gen­er­al abil­i­ty to learn.” Instru­ment train­ing, devel­op­ing skills in pitch, tim­ing, and music-read­ing, all of these things con­tribute to the abil­i­ties to mul­ti­task, focus, and learn. The edi­to­r­i­al con­cludes that “music is not just an ‘extra’ ” even though music pro­grams in pub­lic schools have dropped by 50 per­cent in Cal­i­for­nia.

In our home, a wide vari­ety of music is play­ing 24 hours a day (yes, real­ly). We know it helps us think, rea­son, and focus. Con­sid­er music as impor­tant to your child’s devel­op­ment as books. A wide vari­ety of each will help your chil­dren dis­cern their own pref­er­ences (lis­ten­ing to a lit­tle yodel­ing and bag­pipe music nev­er hurt any­one). You’ll have giv­en your chil­dren gifts that will be with them always.

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