Part 14: A Fun Way To Teach Your 2-Year-Old to Sight-Read & Play Music
-- And Expand the Core of His Intellectual Capacity!


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A Monthly Column

Win Wenger, PhD

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Part 14
13 July 1997

A Fun Way To Teach Your 2-Year-Old to Sight-Read & Play Music — And Expand the Core of His Intellectual Capacity!

The bulk of the following article was written in October, 1989 and published in SALT in 1990, but the crucial event concerning it may be said to have occurred in early February, 1995.

I have never met Washington Post reporter Susan Okie, but I am eternally grateful to her. Without her "Science Notebook" for 2/6/95 having crossed my desk, I would have missed entirely:

1) The publication in Science February 3, 1995, of Gottfried Schlaug, Lutz Jancke, Yanxiong Huang, and Helmuth Steinmetz: "In Vivo Evidence of Structural Brain Asymmetry in Musicians."

2) The crucial footnote which cited studies I had missed demonstrating that the crucial trait, musical perfect pitch, basis of Schlaug's article, is trainable. It's one thing to know that perfect pitch is trainable because of your own personal experience and because of the by-product of the method described below. It's another to see the formal study cited which demonstrates that fact and tells one that he is not alone on some of the important issues. This had to be buried among the footnotes where editors and peers at Science wouldn't catch it, because Science wouldn't be caught dead publishing the out-of-paradigm fact that human intelligence can be profoundly improved, regardless of whatever evidence. In the Schlaug paper, the key footnote is # 20, citing D. Sergeant (1969), A. Bacham (1975), C./L. Krumhansi (1991), and others in a series of studies demonstrating the trainability of what has always been assumed to be a "born" trait, like intelligence itself has for so long been so considered to be. 

3) The whole body of important work going forward at Dusseldorf University by Schlaug and his colleagues.

As you will see below, we had taken an interest in musical development during early childhood because our theory of building up crosslinks in the brain ("Pole-Bridging") told us that children who sight-read and played music, as distinct from only playing music at an early age a la Suzuki Method, would enjoy great intellectual advantage over their counterparts.

I knew of the many powerful advantages conveyed when children learn to read the printed word at an early, pre-school, age. The methods which achieved that at age 2 years, 1 year, often 6 months of age, had to be pleasant games - you couldn't push" a child 2 years or younger into reading. So, figuring that the younger the child, the greater the developmental boost to the brain also for learning to sight-read and play music, I wondered out loud to Susan, my brilliant and creative wife, what kind of game method might be invented to achieve that combination of skills for children one and two years old. She told me! The method published below is her invention.

 --But the best was yet to come.

1) The incidental by-product of her method, published in 1989-90, is that the children so taught develop not only relative but perfect musical pitch.

2) The Dusseldorf Study, published by Schlaug in Science Feb. 3, 1995, demonstrates that people who have perfect musical pitch also have a left plenum temporales which is physically double the size of that crucial organ in the brains of ordinary people!!! Part of our word-processing left temporal lobe, the left plenum temporales is the part of your brain which handles nuances of word-meanings, and so is the very core of your intellect!

This core organ of intellect is not only physically larger in people who enjoy perfect pitch - it is so much larger that it is physically double in volume that of people who don't have perfect pitch. That is a huge, profound physical difference, utterly astonishing to see in terms of the physical brain, and has to convey enormous intellectual advantage!

We had not sought to create perfect pitch - until Schlaug's study I had considered perfect pitch a mixed blessing at best. I am cursed with it, in that ensemble groups and choral groups I've been part of, seem to love to transpose for the convenience of one member or another the music into different keys. Hence, I had to transpose back in my mind as we went - no problem for those without such pitch; probably no problem for the many whose musical skills vastly exceed mine - but a major bother for me. However, I've also felt that somehow my musical perfect pitch was a key part of my quick ability to understand what other people are saying or leading up to.

Summary/Significance:

- People with perfect pitch have a profoundly superior left plenum temporales and intellect.
- Following is much of the text of the article describing a simple method to create, among other things, perfect pitch in young children from an early age.
- Do this for your child, grandchild, niece/nephew or the kid next door and you create for him or her a tremendous, wonderful intellectual advantage and basis of life understanding.

Training Music Sight-Reading and Perfect Pitch in Young Children,
As a Way to Enhance Their Intelligence

Win Wenger, Ph.D. and
Susan Honey Wenger, M.A.
Gaithersburg, MD 20884

Abstract: The following paper suggests an experimental program for easily training children, ages 1-5 years, to sight-read and play music and to gain relative or perfect pitch. By integrating phase relationships between widely separate, key regions of the brain, the writers propose an easy, game-like procedure that will significantly increase the lifetime intelligence of children.

As simply as this:

1. Face the young child away from the piano or other keyboard instrument, as part of a game.
2. Sound a single note on the piano, while saying (or singing) the name of the note - "A," "B," or whatever. (Flats and sharps can be introduced a little later in this training, other than being named when hit during the child's "miss.")
3. The game is to have the young child turn to the keyboard and try to hit the same note on the keyboard - on first try if possible. When s/he strikes a single note, say or sing the name of the note s/he struck - but the correct "hits" then get reinforced with laughter, applause, hair-tousle, hug or whatever is reinforcing for that child in that context in a light-hearted kind of way. The "misses" are part of the game but are less reinforced - too absolute a non-reinforcement would be another kind of reinforcement and make the game less light-hearted.
 4. At the start of each round, set a 3" or 56" or larger card vertically on the music rack above the keyboard, just a short segment of base and treble clef bars upon which rides, prominently, the note you're about to hit.

Don't point out the card. Just change the card each time to the next note you're about to hit. It may be immediately, or it may be several hours (spaced, of course, over several weeks at 2 to 5 minutes of this game each day or so), before the child catches on that the card has something to do with the note you are hitting. Only when s/he asks about it do you minimally explain that where the note is on the card, shows where the note is on the keyboard. Now the child has both eye and ear to help guide him or her on the keyboard.

After the child has the first game well in hand (including, eventually, those sharps and flats): you can do the same thing with sequences of 2 and 3 notes. Once that skill is well in hand, simple tunes will make sense to the child and be well within his/her competence to likewise pick out and play. Likewise combinations of notes, chords. Likewise the game of which other note most sounds like this one, as developing the sense of octaves.

From there, the child will be well equipped to take full advantage of conventional music training if desired, or of Suzuki training, now widely available and which is excellent for developing playing skills and attitudes. If you use Suzuki, though, continue to reinforce the sight reading on the side or at home, since Suzuki training does not teach sight reading until much later and it'd be a pity to waste the reading skills already developed. Even without such follow-up musical training, though, a major boost to the child's intelligence will have been accomplished by the above game.

Children too young (or developmentally too young) to as yet be able to pick out a single key on a conventional keyboard, may be able to do so with full benefits by being started on a special keyboard whose individual keys are broader, so long as its pitch is true.

(The above technique was created by Susan Wenger during October, 1989.)

Purpose of this technique:

The purpose of this technique and game is not that of training the child to become a musician. That may indeed often develop, and a musical perception and background make for a far richer and more rewarding lifetime experience. --But the purpose here is not that of making the child into a musician.

The purpose of training perfect pitch and music sight reading skills, in children between ages one and five years old, is to substantially improve their intellectual intelligence for a lifetime.

We predict that normal children ages 1 to 5 years will, within several years, average no less than ten to thirty points "I.Q." higher, similar to though not quite so strong as the gains made from another brain-building procedure, Image Streaming as discussed below. In very young children who Image-Stream, sharp gains are observed immediately. In older children and in adults, and in most developmentally young people of any chronological age, such gains are also substantial but gradual, though these gains continue developing for some time beyond the interval during which Image Streaming was practiced. Since the structure of brain process in Image Streaming is so similar in principle to that of the sight-reading and playing of music, we can expect the patterns of gain to likely be similar.

Even in adults and college students, the eventual gains from Image Streaming, per eighty minutes of practice, accumulate at the rate of a full point I.Q., so we expect substantial gains with some form of this sight-reading training procedure even with older children. However, the greatest and most immediate gains may be expected with children who are so young that most of their habits and short-cuts for perceiving and thinking have not yet been formed and who, for that reason, can obtain the most benefit from a given amount of such training.

Why should training to sight-read bring any benefit in terms of intellectual skills or intelligence? Can an early experience in music relate somehow to later academic abilities?

Why are people who learn, early in childhood, to sight-read and play music, usually several standard deviations above average in intelligence? It's long been assumed that they had an inborn natural "gift" - most of which, of course, are never developed. Early economic and cultural disadvantage can be a preventing factor, though ours is an information-pervasive environment. There definitely do appear to be some instances of special "gift." Recent discoveries, however, point toward early musical development itself being a main cause of this subsequent higher intelligence, not merely a co-by-product of social privilege or the magic wand of a "genius gene."

 Discovery of Brain-Integrative Factors:

The phenomenon of Image Streaming (defined below), was discovered early in 1975. From that time on, we observed that the practice of Image Streaming enriches the intelligence of its practitioners. In 1984, we developed a simple hypothesis to account for this increase in intelligence (as set forth below). In spring of 1989, with the results of the Reinhert Studies, which formally measured and are measuring some of the effects of Image Streaming on physics students at Southwest State University, this hypothesis, called "Pole-Bridging," became a supported theory.

 Definitions:

Image Streaming is the practice of letting oneself become aware of the spontaneous free-flow, free-association, visual mental imagery which is going on all the time as a reflection of unconscious perceptions, thoughts and understandings. Part of this practice also is the describing of these images aloud while examining them. To be effective, this describing bust be out loud, to an external focus - a person as a listener, or to a tape recorder as potential listener.

This is quite different from the directed imagery which is familiar to many people and programs. Image Streaming, being undirected, when brought conscious constantly surprises the viewer with unexpected images and associations,. This imagery appears to arise in other, subtler-signalling regions of the brain. This different location is significant in giving rise to higher intelligence, according to the theory of Pole Bridging.

This constantly ongoing stream of images is usually unconscious, but virtually every person can readily self-train or be trained to bring this resource stream conscious./ That general ease of training, in turn. makes Image Streaming an excellent candidate for any program which seeks to improve the intelligence of large numbers of people. In the aforementioned study, students who practiced Image Streaming as an enrichment outside of class, gained in general intelligence at a rate of a full point's "I.Q." per eighty minutes of practice, with substantial increase for 25 hours of practice, among other benefits.)

Pole-Bridging - Combines in expressive form the activities and/or perceptions which are characteristic of widely separate regions of the brain. One should involve these perceptions or activities closely together, for an immediacy of experience feedbacks which forces those widely separate regions of the brain to work closely together.

--In Image Streaming, the left temporal and parietal lobes (expressive and articulative, and specific associative) are caused to work closely with the right temporal lobe (making general sense), and with wide additional regions of the brain including apparently the right optic chiasm at the rear of the brain.

--In the above method for developing both sight reading and music playing skills and relative or perfect pitch. much of the motor cortex is involved with the left temporal (reading recognition), the right temporal (music and aesthetic response), and with wide-ranging auditory regions of the brain. In addition one of the writers, who enjoys perfect pitch, speculates that this automatic ready-made auditory orientation becomes a great help to all the areas of the brain which make sense out of or otherwise sort out sounds. / (This hypothesis, concerning effects of perfect pitch, might eventually be tested by bio-instrumented comparison of the brain behaviors of persons with and without perfect pitch, in response to diverse auditory stimuli.)

Obviously, causing widely separate regions of the brain to work closely together, by building up communication between those regions, will cause the resources of each such region to become more available to the operations proceeding in the other regions. This is a factor in the improved intelligence observed to follow such Pole-Bridging activities. A still more significant issue in Pole-Bridging, though, is the factor of Phase Relationships.

Phase Relationships concern the length of time between when one part of the brain receives a stimulus and when other parts of the brain become involved in the processing of that stimulus.

Significance of Phase Relationships (in Pole-Bridging Theory)

All of the brain sooner or later lights up on any major stimulus. The length of time before this happens, though, is the critical issue. Ertl, Herrmann, and others have consistently found for decades, that closely integrated phase relationships between left and right hemispheres, at least, are associated with higher intelligence; wide lags with lower levels of intelligence. One of the writers found this same relationship, left-right, in studies he performed on his own students during 1969-70 and again in 1970 in testing eight pre-identified geniuses.

If there is too great a delay between the time when some initial part(s) of the brain get(s) that stimulus and the rest of the brain thence receives that stimulus, then the first part completes its operations and writes close-out instructions into that stimulus as it is passed along into the rest of the brain. (In effect, the first part says, "That's the way it was done, folks!" and the rest of the brain, saying "Yeah," shuts down.)

If the phase relationship is closer, however, other parts of the brain are reverberating with the first on that stimulus before the first has completed its processing. What results then is a much more involved set of instructions getting written into that stimulus as it is passed along into the rest of the brain. (In effect: "Here's what we've come up with so far, folks, but there's this to be checked out, that to be investigated, with such-&-such still to be found out!")

A brain so instructed does many more things, and much more involved things, with that stimulus. Consequently:

  A person with well-integrated, tight phase relationships (not only left-right but, apparently, in all directions within the brain) will characteristically sense more relationships, and perceive more and richer meanings with that stimulus and generally. --In other words, be considerably more intelligent.

The Reinert Study (1989, 1990 op.cit.)/ supported this theory of phase relationships and Pole Bridging, in 3 ways:

1. The overt, overall gain in intelligence of Image Streamers at a rate of a full point "I.Q." per eighty minutes of easy home practice - a considerably greater rate of gain in intelligence than by other means thus far studied. 
2. In perceptual and learning styles, the students who Image Streaming zipped strongly and immediately into integrated balance of brain functions, as measured on the Kolb. Students who enriched with a different method, moved sharply further toward extreme imbalance, as most college physics students do during their course of study.
 3. The combination, of viewing these inner images and describing them aloud, was crucial to the outcome. Those students in the Reinert (1989) study who did everything else in the procedure but did not describe aloud those images to a listener or to a tape recorder, not only did not gain as much as those who did so: they showed no gain whatever during the interval of the experiment. It is the combination of these regions of the brain which is significant in increasing intelligence, and in the other benefits associated with Image Streaming or other forms of Pole-Bridging.

[Ed. note, 2007 — Regrettably, the Reinert study was not completed and was thus statistically inadequate. Therefore we've temporarily withdrawn the statement that the intelligence gain was scientifically proven, although the rate of gain reported does match our incidental observations.]

With modern PET-Scan, CAT-Scan, blood-flow imaging and other equipment, it should be far easier than ever before to test further the theory: that to integrate phase relationships between various regions of the brain by Pole-Bridging between those regions, combining those regions' several activities into some expressive form which yields immediate experiential feedback, increases intelligence.

Relationship to the proposed early training of music skills in young children:

As an excellent further test of the Pole Bridging theory, we suggest a longitudinal study of intellect and intelligence in young children taught as described at the start of this paper, compared with closely matched children not so taught. Such musical Pole-Bridging integrates brain behaviors which are very different from those of Image Streaming, and brain regions which are somewhat different. If the behaviors so integrated are different and intelligence still increases substantially, then the common factor causing the increase will be the integration of diverse brain functions - the dynamic principle, not just the particular brain behaviors which happened to be combined in the one lucky technique of Image Streaming.

The prediction is that young children who learn these music skills by such a method will enjoy more than 10 points I.Q. advantage over children who are not so trained. To be frank, this average advantage in intelligence could well be upwards of 30 points I.Q. - with all which this can mean in terms of a lifetime of enriched experience and in terms of potential contribution to our society and culture.

If this prediction is confirmed in the context of music training, that should cause a significant increase in public support for the arts and for arts education. As already shown at the start of the (music sight-reading article segment of this) paper, this particular procedure is certainly simple and easy enough to make testing this proposed experiment feasible for any reasonably competent musician, music teacher or music education program which can also arrange access to the appropriate child-level I.Q. tests. Even ordinary parents, siblings or tutors who at least know musical notation should be able to conduct this program successfully.

Such further confirmation, from another context, of the Pole Bridging Theory, should encourage further investigation and development of this theory. Given the great number of diverse brain functions, and of the identified regions of the brain where some of these functions are localized, it should soon be feasible to create 10,000 different specific Pole Bridging techniques, each effective in increasing intelligence, or as therapies and/or remediations.

[We abridge the foregoing article at this point, to better pursue the goals of this present paper. Please note that although the contents of the foregoing were touched up for editorial purposes of readability, their meaning was unchanged and, in particular, the predictions made then were not in any way "touched up" but appear as they were published in 1990.]

The gist: Image-Streaming, and this easy game form of teaching young children sight-reading, both express activities of widely separate regions of the brain. When those activities are expressed together in such forms, immediate feedback induces these widely separate regions of the brain to work more closely together, with improved phase relationships. This results in cumulatively higher intelligence.

--This apart from, and in addition to, the intelligence gains to be obtained from training perfect pitch, an accidental by-product of the Susan Wenger method of training sight-reading, which expand the size and powers of the word-meanings-involved left plenum temporales.

Conclusion:

When the hard physical evidence of cat-scans et al demonstrates that incredible doubling in physical size of the brain's main organ for intellectual understanding, how can anyone of conscience go on letting our present schools and home practices lay such terrible waste to our own children's minds? Please let us hear from you, at the Talkback link provided below.

Gifted Computer Games Programmer wanted: to work on spec, own part of the results. We have outlines for a computer game to develop in preschoolers inner musical skills to Mozart-like level; also for another game to teach preschoolers in weeks of fun a quantity-sense, number sense, relationships-sense, and the whole of arithmetic and secondary school level math. Why make 12 years of drudgery and misery out of what can be accomplished to far higher level in a few playful, joyous weeks? The music program would implement advanced versions of the above Susan Wenger Method (1) to a far finer degree than even gifted musician parents could normally take it; (2) bring these advantages within reach of all children and not just those of parents who can themselves sight-read and play music and are alive enough to want to share that with their children. Please get in touch with us at the above address(es), and/or bring this to the attention of those of your friends who are gifted computer games programmers. Thank you.




NEW, for babies and children learning to
sight-read and play music!

Go right now to the "Boowa & Kwala" entry at the UpToTen Kids website, and when YOU finish doodling, let your toddler begin. This is a great supplement to the method given in the above article. A good musical development means a 15- to 20-point "I.Q." advantage to your child's intelligence. Provide your child this musical game, and play with your child the musical game described in the above article; what easier way to give your child this huge, wonderful and rewarding advantage in life?

Why are you still here? Go now to UpToTen's Write your own music page, start playing, and get your child started! Age range 1-6 years.




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