Benefit Concert this Sunday, December 3 at 4p

Benefit Concert this Sunday, December 3 at 4p

Join us for a family-friendly concert this Sunday!

 

Sunday, December 3 at 4p at Pilgrim Congregational Church

 

Our students have been working hard to prepare for our annual benefit concert. This year, our concert will benefit the Heartland Alliance. OPSA students made cards and bracelets for immigrant children being held in detention centers around Chicago. Donations may be made here or at the concert. See you there!

 

An Evening of Community

An Evening of Community

Giving Artfully at Oak Park String Academy

On October 16 at 6:30p, our Monday night group class students will be visited by a speaker from Heartland Alliance. Students will learn about why we are having a benefit concert, who we are helping and how they are supporting. After we hear from the Heartland Alliance representative, Giving Artfully Kids instructors will lead the children in making friendship bracelets and cards for the children we are supporting. Students who are coming into the studio for their piano rehearsals with Melissa on this same evening may stay awhile before or after their rehearsal and make a gift as well. All are welcome at this enlightening and fun event. Please join us for an evening of community!

 

10 Children’s Books for Teaching Growth Mindset

10 Children’s Books for Teaching Growth Mindset

Having a “Growth Mindset” is something we help OPSA families develop as they work towards mastering a challenging skill such as making beautiful music on the violin or cello. Here are several books to help you grow this mindset with your child. To learn even more about this concept, be sure to attend our February Workshop to hear Stefanie Faye Frank speak about the brain and how developing a Growth Mindset can benefit you and your child.

(written by Brandi Jordan and reposted from here)  

10 Children’s Books for Teaching Growth Mindset

Written By: Brandi Jordan

Growth Mindset, a term coined by Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, is the idea that when people change their beliefs about their own efforts, they can better adapt to create successful outcomes.  In other words, when you believe that you will succeed after practice and effort, your odds of doing so improve.  It’s a powerful theory that’s gained popularity and been adopted by schools across the country.  So, how do you introduce the concepts associated with growth mindset to your class? One of the best ways is to incorporate children’s books about growth mindset.  Here are 10 books to start a discussion and help your students change their perception about their abilities and efforts.

Growth Mindset Children’s Books

1. The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Perseverance and creativity are key to creating marvelous things, but what happens when things go awry?

2. Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Rosie learns a powerful lesson about success and failure in this adorable children’s book with a strong female lead character.

3. Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

Streeeeeetch your brain and learn new things with the tips in this children’s favorite.

4. The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett

What would it be like to never make a mistake? Beatrice Bottomwell is a perfectionist who must confront her very first mistake in this fun book.

5. What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada

Change your mindset about problems and you may find that nothing is as bad as it seems!

6.  Thanks for the Feedback, I Think… by Julia Cook

Feedback, both positive and negative, can create growth opportunities. It’s all about how you handle it!

7.  Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

Teaching children that it’s okay to make mistakes is one of the most important lessons they can learn.

8.  The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Creativity is on the rise in this adorable book that encourages children to embrace challenges that put them outside of their comfort zone.

9. The OK Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This little book emphasizes to children that being OK at something is okay!

10.  Making a Splash: A Growth Mindset Children’s Book by Carol E. Reiley

Compare a growth mindset to a fixed mindset in this children’s book that addresses different attitudes and ideas about learning.

OPSA Benefit Concert to raise funds for Heartland Alliance

OPSA Benefit Concert to raise funds for Heartland Alliance

2017 Benefit Concert

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was a Japanese violinist and humanitarian. Witnessing the destruction of his homeland due to the second World War, he formed a vision to help nudge the world toward peace through its children. Through music, Dr. Suzuki hoped to build noble hearts in children all around the world.

With this in mind, we produce an event each year that connects our students from Oak Park and surrounding areas to the larger world they live in. Last year, our students helped to raise money for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) through their music. This year, our music students are collaborating with Heartland Alliance and Giving Artfully to help immigrant children currently in limbo and being held in detention centers in Chicago. OPSA students will be making keepsakes for the children there, writing cards of encouragement and also performing several events to help raise awareness of and funds for immigration challenges, especially with regards to children. Heartland Alliance will be the recipient of the funds we raise.

For the benefit concert, we will be collaborating with other Oak Park area musicians to create a global concert featuring music from around the world. Last year, we performed music from Syria, Lebanon, China, Romania, and more. This year, the concert will include special faculty performances, global music, and even a holiday sing along. Local Suzuki students from neighboring studios will join to play music together and hopefully make the world just a little more peaceful and beautiful.

Here are two pieces from our concert last year.

Hallelujah

Flatbush Waltz

All children are musical

All children are musical

The following is a repost of this article by Stephen M. Demorest, Professor of Music Education at Northwestern University. It sheds light on the common misconception of “being talented” or not. Enjoy!

A Hungarian film titled “Sing” recently won the Oscar for best short film. “Sing” tells the story of young Zsófi, who joins a renowned children’s choir at her elementary school where “everyone is welcome.” Soon after joining, Zsófi is told by her teacher Erika not to sing, but only mouth the words. On the face of it, she accepts her teacher’s request stoically. But later in the movie, her anguish and pain become obvious, when she reluctantly tells her best friend what happened. The movie goes on to reveal that Zsófi isn’t the only choir member who has been given these hurtful instructions. The choir teacher’s defense is, “If everybody sings we can’t be the best.”

I have been a professor of music education for the past 28 years, and I wish I could say that the story of a music teacher asking a student not to sing is unusual. Unfortunately, I have heard the story many times. In fact, research shows that many adults who think of themselves as “unmusical” were told as children that they couldn’t or shouldn’t sing by teachers and family members.

All children are musical

The 2017 Oscar-winning short film ‘Sing’ explores the experience of a child who is told not to sing. Meteor Films

Children are natural musicians, as they readily sing, dance and play music from the time they are infants. People ask me all the time how they can tell if their child has musical talent. I assure them that their child – indeed every child – has musical ability that can be developed into a satisfying and lifelong relationship with music.

However, as they get older, some children begin to get messages from peers, family members, the media and (unfortunately) music teachers that they may not be very musical – that they don’t have “talent.”

The ‘talent’ mindset

Shows like “American Idol” have promoted the notion that singing is a rare ability reserved for the talented few, and that those without such talent entertain us only by being ridiculed and weeded out.

This “talent mindset” of music runs counter to what psychologist Carol Dweck calls the “growth mindset” that is considered critical for learning: Students who view their success as a result of hard work will persevere through challenges, while students who believe their success lies with some innate ability – like “talent” – are more likely to give up. My own research found that if children have a negative view of themselves as singers, they are much less likely to participate in music of any kind.

These self-perceptions of a lack of musical talent can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Research shows that adults who dropped out of music as children may lose their singing skills through lack of use and opportunity. Kids who love music but do not think of themselves as musical could miss out on many of the social and cognitive benefits of music participation, on the experience of feeling connected to others through song. These benefits have nothing to do with talent.

The 2016 ‘American Idol’ finalists, La’Porsha Renae and Trent Harmon (winner). Fox

Get children singing

How can we send children the message that singing is for everyone? I argue that change could begin both at home and at school.

For example, if you are a parent, you could sing the music you loved growing up and not worry about how good you sound. Having an adult in the home committed to music and singing without shame may be the most powerful influence on a child. You could sing with your kids from the time they are little, sing with the radio, sing in the car or sing at the dinner table.

As for my fellow music teachers, I ask that you encourage all of the children in your classrooms, schools and communities to sing whenever and wherever they get a chance. The sad truth is, when we, the musical experts, discourage a child from singing, it can deliver a fatal blow to the child’s musical self-image.

Music teachers need to teach in a climate of collaboration and participation where all voices are heard and valued – not one of audition and competition where only the best can sing.

The movie “Sing” is actually titled “Mindenki” in Hungarian, which means “Everybody.” That’s the uplifting message that Zsófi and her choir mates teach Miss Erika in the end. Singing is not reserved for the few: Either everybody sings or nobody should.

Talent is not born, but developed.

Talent is not born, but developed.

The following is from a recent article in The Guardian written by Wendy Berliner. We found it particularly interesting and relevant to families involved in Suzuki training. One gem from the article,

“Einstein, the epitome of a genius, clearly had curiosity, character, and determination. He struggled against rejection in early life but was undeterred. Did he think he was a genius or even gifted? No. He once wrote: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”   For the full article, click here. Enjoy!

When Maryam Mirzakhani died at the tragically early age of 40 this month, the news stories talked of her as a genius. The only woman to win the Fields Medal – the mathematical equivalent of a Nobel prize – and a Stanford professor since the age of 31, this Iranian-born academic had been on a roll since she started winning gold medals at maths Olympiads in her teens.

But look closer and a different story emerges. Mirzakhani was born in Tehran, one of three siblings in a middle-class family whose father was an engineer. The only part of her childhood that was out of the ordinary was the Iran-Iraq war, which made life hard for the family in her early years. Thankfully it ended around the time she went to secondary school.

Mirzakhani, did go to a highly selective girls’ school but maths wasn’t her interest – reading was. She loved novels and would read anything she could lay her hands on; together with her best friend she would prowl the book stores on the way home from school for works to buy and consume.

As for maths, she did rather poorly at it for the first couple of years in her middle school but became interested when her elder brother told her about what he’d learned. He shared a famous maths problem from a magazine that fascinated her – and she was hooked. The rest is mathematical history.

Is her background unusual? Apparently not. Most Nobel laureates were unexceptional in childhood. Einstein was slow to talk and was dubbed the dopey one by the family maid. He failed the general part of the entry test to Zurich Polytechnic – though they let him in because of high physics and maths scores. He struggled at work initially, failing to get academic post and being passed over for promotion at the Swiss Patent Office because he wasn’t good enough at machine technology. But he kept plugging away and eventually rewrote the laws of Newtonian mechanics with his theory of relativity.

Lewis Terman, a pioneering American educational psychologist, set up a study in 1921 following 1,470 Californians, who excelled in the newly available IQ tests, throughout their lives. None ended up as the great thinkers of their age that Terman expected they would. But he did miss two future Nobel prize winners – Luis Alvarez and William Shockley, both physicists – whom he dismissed from the study as their test scores were not high enough.

There is a canon of research on high performance, built over the last century, that suggests it goes way beyond tested intelligence. On top of that, research is clear that brains are malleable, new neural pathways can be forged, and IQ isn’t fixed. Just because you can read Harry Potter at five doesn’t mean you will still be ahead of your contemporaries in your teens.

According to my colleague, Prof Deborah Eyre, with whom I’ve collaborated on the book Great Minds and How to Grow Them, the latest neuroscience and psychological research suggests most people, unless they are cognitively impaired, can reach standards of performance associated in school with the gifted and talented. However, they must be taught the right attitudes and approaches to their learning and develop the attributes of high performers – curiosity, persistence and hard work, for example – an approach Eyre calls “high performance learning”. Critically, they need the right support in developing those approaches at home as well as at school.

Maryam Mirzakhani
 Maryam Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel prize, but showed little maths ability, to begin with. Photograph: Clay Mathematics Institute

So, is there even such a thing as a gifted child? It is a highly contested area. Prof Anders Ericsson, an eminent education psychologist at Florida State University, is the co-author of Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. After research going back to 1980 into diverse achievements, from music to memory to sport, he doesn’t think unique and innate talents are at the heart of performance. Deliberate practice, that stretches you every step of the way, and around 10,000 hours of it, is what produces the expert. It’s not a magic number – the highest performers move on to doing a whole lot more, of course, and, like Mirzakhani, often find their own unique perspective along the way.

Ericsson’s memory research is particularly interesting because random students, trained in memory techniques for the study, went on to outperform others thought to have innately superior memories – those you might call gifted.

He got into the idea of researching the effects of deliberate practice because of an incident at school, in which he was beaten at chess by someone who used to lose to him. His opponent had clearly practiced.

But it is perhaps the work of Benjamin Bloom, another distinguished American educationist working in the 1980s, that gives the most pause for thought and underscores the idea that family is intrinsically important to the concept of high performance.

Bloom’s team looked at a group of extraordinarily high achieving people in disciplines as varied as ballet, swimming, piano, tennis, maths, sculpture and neurology, and interviewed not only the individuals but their parents, too.

While the jury is out on giftedness being innate and other factors potentially making the difference, what is certain is that the behaviours associated with high levels of performance are replicable and most can be taught – even traits such as curiosity.

Eyre says we know how high performers learn. From that she has developed a high performing learning approach that brings together in one package what she calls the advanced cognitive characteristics, and the values, attitudes, and attributes of high performance. She is working on the package with a group of pioneer schools, both in Britain and abroad.

But the system needs to be adopted by families, too, to ensure widespread success across classes and cultures. Research in Britain shows the difference parents make if they take part in simple activities pre-school in the home, supporting reading for example. That support shows through years later in better A-level results, according to the Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary study, conducted over 15 years by a team from Oxford and London universities.

Eye-opening spin-off research, which looked in detail at 24 of the 3,000 individuals being studied who were succeeding against the odds, found something remarkable about what was going on at home. Half were on free school meals because of poverty, more than half were living with a single parent, and four in five were living in deprived areas.

The interviews uncovered strong evidence of an adult or adults in the child’s life who valued and supported education, either in the immediate or extended family or in the child’s wider community. Children talked about the need to work hard at school and to listen in class and keep trying. They referenced key adults who had encouraged those attitudes.

Einstein, the epitome of a genius, clearly had curiosity, character, and determination. He struggled against rejection in early life but was undeterred. Did he think he was a genius or even gifted? No. He once wrote: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”

And what about Mirzakhani? Her published quotations show someone who was curious and excited by what she did and resilient. One comment sums it up. “Of course, the most rewarding part is the ‘Aha’ moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding something new – the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a clear view. But most of the time, doing mathematics for me is like being on a long hike with no trail and no end in sight.”

The trail took her to the heights of original research into mathematics in a cruelly short life. That sounds like unassailable character. Perhaps that was her gift.

Great Minds and How to Grow Them, by Wendy Berliner & Deborah Eyre.