Piano, Composition, Theory Developmental Fitness Musikgarten Math Tutoring
Developmental Fitness is a learning enhancement, performance enhancement, and stress reduction program utilizing gross motor skills, Brain Gym ® activities, dominance profiles, Earobics CD's, and Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) to stimulate and improve the communication system between the brain, the senses, and the muscles of the body.
The program specifically targets the 13 developmental skills shown at the base of the learning pyramid shown above. When developmental skills are fully established, learning comes easily and students seem 'mature' for their age. If this developmental foundation is not securely learned, learning and maturity levels are more chaotic, as in the toppled pyramid illustration on the next page. When stronger skills must compensate for weaker ones, tasks require more time and effort than they should. Weaker skills are particularly vulnerable under stress, often pulling down stronger ones during testing or performance situations, creating frustration, stress, and anxiety. Everyone has a mixture of stronger and weaker skill areas, but thanks to the neuroplasticity of the brain, it's never too late to improve them.
Skills processed in the survival portion of the brain include body awareness, spatial awareness and balance, which are vital to organization, focus, attention span, and memory. Activities using simple manipulatives such as ropes, balls, and hoops target this area. Skills processed in the intellectual portion of the brain provide critical neural connections between the left and right hemispheres for whole-brain processing and literacy skills. Whole-body movements such as galloping, marching, and jumping rope target these important areas. Repetition and refining of activities is necessary for improving skill development. In a comprehensive motor skills program, students should meet the refining goals of each activity. When targeting lagging skill areas, specific activities should be continued daily for about 2 weeks until refining goals are easily met without excessive concentration. As with any skill, the actual time will vary from person to person based on both the quality of movements and the amount of practice.
While learning disabilities have always existed, the number of children displaying them has greatly increased over the last 30 years. Three factors in our society have contributed to this increase. First, children's television programming began to shift learning from active to passive modes. Then safety concerns began limiting the types of playground equipment available and the amount of outdoor space for children to play. Where previous generations freely travelled and played in neighborhoods, walking or biking great distances, children now in their 20's and 30's played in fenced yards or playgrounds. Finally, as technology has advanced, electronic toys, video games, and smart phones have increasingly entertained children, replacing free, creative whole-body movement play with primarily visual stimulation. This lack of movement has been detrimental to the learning foundation of gross motor skills, and overall skill development is now often too weak to allow stronger skills to compensate for weaker ones. And so the number of children with learning disabilities continues to rise and research is now showing that visual processing problems like dyslexia are actually listening problems.
Sound and movement are interrelated because one generally creates the other. Sounds move the air waves and movement often creates sounds, as when we hear the buzzing sound created by the rapidly moving wings of a bee. Because of this close relationship, both sound and movement are processed through the ears, specifically the inner ear. If perception of sounds or movements is distorted, then language, pitch, and movement can also be distorted affecting the voice, the eyes, the hands and arms, or the feet and legs. The ears are also the first sensory organ to mature and are fully functional by the 6th month of pregnancy. The infant hears the mother's voice very distinctly through bone conduction, and the acoustic nerve begins to relay sounds to the brain registering the rhythm and frequency of the mother tongue or native language. This provides the foundation for language development and listening skills. The infant also learns spatial orientation through the mother's positions of sitting, standing, lying, and moving, again relaying information from the ears to the brain to provide the foundation for balance and gross motor skill development. This important neural development between the ears and the brain should continue throughout the early childhood years as the primary learning emphasis. But sedentary children watching visual stimulation is now unfortunately far more common. Musikgarten classes for young children provide a natural return to the preferred learning mode of the ears through an excellent curriculum combining music and movement activities. Older students and adults can also benefit from a comprehensive review of developmental and listening skills or they may wish to target specific areas of weakness. Musicians, artists, and athletes functioning at very high levels of sensory-motor integration can also benefit from the program.