On 16th March FriendlyFlutes opened their doors to offer free flute and clarinet lessons as part of National Learn to Play Day. Click here for more info and pictures from our day!
There are 15 million people in the UK that either want to play an instrument or used to play one. The Day is designed to welcome people into music shops and to inspire them to get playing.People are often surprised to discover that they are musical and simply need a musical “experience” to get them inspired to start playing.
Beaumont Woodwind's student flute reaches final of MIA Awards
The new entry-level flute from Beaumont Woodwind has made it to the final of the Music Industry Association Awards. The flute features a silver-plated nickel silver body, double ring keys, split-E mechanism and offset-G.
People who learned to play an instrument while young are more responsive to complex sounds, making them better equipped to listen to a conversation in a noisy cafe or train carriage, researchers said.
Even those who had only played music for one to five years as a child showed a noticeable improvement over those who had never done so, in their brain's ability to process sounds. Although previous studies have shown that playing music has a healthy impact on our brain, the new paper is the first to demonstrate that the effects last for many years after people have given up the hobby. Professor Nina Kraus of Northwestern University in Illinois, who led the study, said: "All these [previous] studies have been done in people who at the time of testing were still playing an instrument.
"This is really the first time that it has been demonstrated that in the more typical scenario - where someone has played a musical instrument for a number of years in childhood but then stopped - that prior training has a long-lasting effect on how their nervous system responds to sound." The researchers used electrodes to measure brain activity in 45 volunteers aged up to 31 as they listened to eight "complex" sounds, each comprising an array of different frequencies and timings to replicate the characteristics of speech or a piece of music. Althouth they did not directly test participants' hearing, monitoring the brain signal enabled the scientists to see how effectively the nervous system processed various elements of sound. Compared with people who had never learned an instrument, those with some level of musical training had a stronger brain response to the sounds, the researchers reported in the Journal of Neuroscience. They were particularly effective at being able to pull out the "fundamental frequency", the lowest frequency in sound which is key when listening to speech and music in noisy environments.
Prof Kraus said: "Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning. "We infer that a few years of music lessons also confer advantages in how one perceives and attends to sounds in everyday communication situations, such as noisy restaurants." There was no significant difference between those who had given up music after one to five years and those who had continued playing for up to eleven years, although the benefits from musical training were shown to dwindle slightly over time. The scientists are already carrying out a second study to find out whether learning different instruments shapes the brain in different ways, and are planning a further experiment to see whether the benefits are still present in older adults.
Researchers have identified what they say are the oldest-known musical instruments in the world.
The flutes, made from bird bone and mammoth ivory, come from a cave in southern Germany which contains early evidence for the occupation of Europe by modern humans - Homo sapiens. Scientists used carbon dating to show that the flutes were between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. The findings are described in the Journal of Human Evolution.
A team led by Prof Tom Higham at Oxford University dated animal bones in the same ground layers as the flutes at Geissenkloesterle Cave in Germany's Swabian Jura. Prof Nick Conard, the Tuebingen University researcher who identified the previous record-holder for oldest instrument in 2009, was excavator at the site. He said: "These results are consistent with a hypothesis we made several years ago that the Danube River was a key corridor for the movement of humans and technological innovations into central Europe between 40,000-45,000 years ago. "Geissenkloesterle is one of several caves in the region that has produced important examples of personal ornaments, figurative art, mythical imagery and musical instruments."
Musical instruments may have been used in recreation or for religious ritual, experts say. And some researchers have argued that music may have been one of a suite of behaviours displayed by our species which helped give them an edge over the Neanderthals - who went extinct in most parts of Europe 30,000 years ago. Music could have played a role in the maintenance of larger social networks, which may have helped our species expand their territory at the expense of the more conservative Neanderthals. The researchers say the dating evidence from Geissenkloesterle suggests that modern humans entered the Upper Danube region before an extremely cold climatic phase at around 39,000-40,000 years ago. Previously, researchers had argued that modern humans initially migrated up the Danube immediately after this event.
"Modern humans during [this] period were in central Europe at least 2,000-3,000 years before this climatic deterioration, when huge icebergs calved from ice sheets in the northern Atlantic and temperatures plummeted," said Prof Higham. "The question is what effect this downturn might have had on the people in Europe at the time."