Sam Holland, Executive Director of the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy welcomed the attendees – over 700 representing every one of the 50 states and numerous countries. He officially opened the conference and then turned the podium over to Brenda Dillon to introduce the opening keynote speaker, Barry Bittman.
Recreational Music Making: A Scientific Perspective for the Future
Dr. Bittman began his session by declaring that he is not here to talk about pedagogy or about technique, but about how to change lives. He began by addressing stress, something all of us have experienced in our lives.
Dr. Bittman launched into a discussion of some scientific elements. Cells contain the DNA that serves as the instruction booklet for our bodies. The mechanism that causes every human reaction in our body. He further elaborated on DNA and remarked, “Whoever thought you’d be sitting through an opening session on DNA?” 🙂
He added that he could not have given us this lecture 10 years ago, because the the Human Genome was first sequenced on June 26, 2000, a greater discovery than the splitting of the atom, according to Dr. Bittman. Several clever animations were then played to further explain this discovery and what it means. A sequence that occurs of four primary elements that determine everything that happens in our bodies.
Dr. Bittman announced that this information is significant because there is research being performed now to reveal that that the first keyboard lesson reduces stress on a DNA level. As part of the research, they first had to create a stress-inducing experience. They gave one experimental group puzzles that contained no straight edges, had images on both sides, included extra pieces, had missing pieces, etc. Another group just relaxed and enjoyed themselves, the third control group participated in their first keyboard group lesson. The results of the experiment: nothing. Was it a failure?
Dr. Bittman, on his third sleepless night, wondered if perhaps each individual responds differently to stress? Indeed, a DNA fingerprint revealed that each person had their own unique fingerprint for stress. They discovered, for the first time, that stress could be reversed on a DNA level. The group that participated in the group keyboard lesson showed three times greater reversal of the stress gene on a DNA level than those that just participated in a natural relaxed setting.
Why does it work?
Next, Dr. Bittman demonstrated with a volunteer from the front row how the group keyboard lesson was conducted.
Student was encouraged to breathe, close eyes if desired and, when they felt comfortable, join in an improvisatory exercise by playing any black keys with the right hand only. A Clavinova Connection technology was used to accomplish this.
The basic result is that the student is amazed that they are able to accomplish what they thought they could not. They are able to beautifully play music. Dr. Bittman shared some information about the Disclosure Theory that supports the results of this experiment.
Dr. Bittman’s conclusion:
Creative musical expression can serve as a catalyst for meaningful verbal expression.
He also stated that when he asks most students what they like the most about their music lessons, their response is the same: their teacher.
Teachers have an incredible opportunity to change the lives of their students.