If you’ve read my about page, you know that music cognition is fairly recent, both as a field in itself and as a concept for me. To best explain my choice to be a music cognitive with a passion for early childhood learning, I need to start with music.
My interest in music of multiple genres really started with Faith Hill’s “Breathe” and Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”. Up until that time, I’d never heard of a “cross-over” where an artist will take her song, revise the arrangement, and introduce it to a new genre. Since then, I have switched among country, pop, R&B, hip hop, soul, and funk — finding something in each genre that I have enjoyed.
In 2008, my passion for music intensified. The New Kids on the Block reunited, and Donnie Wahlberg willingly and eagerly introduced fans to the musicians who made up their backing band, the producers and songwriters who helped them create their music, and the artists with whom they collaborated. I learned more about instruments than I ever had before, like the “808” a term I’d heard in many lyrics but never could identify.
Whether in person or via social media outlets, I became intrigued with what happens behind the scenes, especially the required promotion and publicity to make songs popular, worthy of radio play, and necessary for creating a substantial fan base.
In April 2009 I took my first job in the entertainment industry as founder, station manager, and on-air personality of the online NKAirplay Radio. A history in communications helped significantly in this role, and I was given the opportunity to interview multiple musicians including trilingual Canadian R&B artist, Soul; pop artist of 98 degrees, Jeff Timmons; drummer, Chris Coleman; music director and producer, Rob Lewis; George Clinton bandmate, Lawrence LAW Worrell, and Irish hip hop artist, Shaymin. I stayed on with the radio station as their media consultant through the end of 2012 and am pleased to see the station continue to attract listeners and grow their playlist.
In 2011, I became aware of music cognition or the psychology of music. I read physician Oliver Sacks (the inspiration behind the movie Awakenings), Daniel Levitin (a one-time musician and record producer turned neuroscientist), and others to become more familiar with the subject. I knew a little of brain anatomy from my undergraduate course in human anatomy, but there was so much more to know. Neuroscience for Dummies became my greatest friend as did any book I could find on music theory. A background in educational psychology can only take you so far!
Finally, the fall of 2014 brought me face to face with the issue of early childhood education, a topic like brain anatomy that provided a little knowledge). I had no idea the problems that lack of early childhood education brought when children finally entered kindergarten and moved forward. I was shocked at the percentage of children unable to read when they reached third grade. National organizations such as “The First Five Years Fund” is doing its part to lobby the government for funds to expand access to early childhood education including free preschools. I applaud their efforts, but I want to work on a smaller scale. Until I am satisfied that children have access to the quality preparation they need to succeed at the k-12 level, I’m starting with the parents. I know that not every parent homeschools, but homeschooling programs provide excellent material that can be used by any parent or caregiver. And, parents and caregivers are their children’s first teachers.
Let me use my knowledge and my continuing acquisition of skills to help parents of any economical or racial background be those quality teachers that their children need, utilizing music as a fundamental part of those essential lessons.