Two things need to be said before we get to the meat of this post, and to the story of Episode 18. First, you need to know that ten minutes before world-renown, world-record-holding musician Evelina De Lain sat down to talk with Craig and me, she was bicycling in the rain through London. Second, you need to know that for the average podcast blog post, I take about a page of notes when previewing the show. In order to help me understand everything we talked about when we got started, I took four pages. Keep both of those things in mind in mind.
Longtime followers of Good Sentences, (and by that I refer primarily to Craig and myself) may know that the two of us once did a video podcast called The Games and Writers Show, and if you followed that project you might already have met Evelina. The focus of that interview, (an interview in which a schedule conflict prevented me from joining) was her amazing performance in Nepal which holds the Guinness world record for highest elevation grand piano performance. As I said on the Good Sentences Instagram account, anybody can climb a mountain and play the piccolo. It takes some doing getting a grand piano into the Himalayas.
But Guess What?
We didn’t talk much about that. Instead we had a thirty-minute conversation that was one of the most informative, eye-opening talks I’ve ever had with anybody.
[Ed. Note – the “e” and “m” in STEM stand for “engineering” and “mathematics.” Why do you still listen to this guy?]
While all of those things, especially the marshmallow, sound delicious, there is a price paid, often times, when these become the exclusive focus of an education. It means not only a lack of attention to the Arts and Humanities, but often times a conscious decision to defund those programs in favor of STEM. Music is lost, drama is lost, art and literature are lost. Thrown away.
Evelina sees a problem. Her point is that not only are these disciplines important on their own accord, but the type of learning that the brain does during a piano lesson, say, forms new synaptic connections in the brain that only learning to play music can create, but which aid phenomenally in learning the STEM subjects. Logic is served through the development of an artistic skill. There is a good deal of research to support this and there are lots of good articles online about STEM transitioning to STEAM, adding the “A,” adding the Arts.
There are two areas in which Evelina has been working with regard to using the arts to help develop cognition in general. One is something she calls “Inside the Music.” If after you hear her talk about it you don’t want to book a session, then you’re not me.
This part of the conversation moved into a long and simply fascinating description of the second aspect of music therapy in which she’s involved, where she works one-on-one with developmentally delayed children, and through giving them piano lessons she has seen amazing results. By realizing that difficult behaviors are often triggered by a child’s frustration over not being able to express himself or herself verbally, she has been able to address the root of the behaviors, which as one can imagine, will produce successful results much more thoroughly lasting than simply reacting to the behavior.
There is much, much more to experience in this episode and I encourage you to block out thirty minutes of time to give yourself a gift. I am very sure that by the end you’ll understand my four pages of notes and you’ll understand the sort of person who might ride a bike through the rain.