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Win Friends & Influence People Through Music -- Is It Possible?

The idea that studying music improves the social development of a child is not a new one, but at last there is incontrovertible evidence from a study conducted out of the University of Toronto.

The study, published in the August issue of Psychological Science was led by Dr. E. Glenn Schellenberg, and examined the effect of extra-curricular activities on the intellectual and social development of six-year-old children. A group of 144 children were recruited through an ad in a local newspaper and assigned randomly to one of four activities: piano lessons, voice lessons, drama lessons, or no lessons.

Two types of music lessons were offered in order to be able to generalize the results, while the groups receiving drama lessons or no lessons were considered control groups in order to test the effect of music lessons over other art lessons requiring similar skill sets and nothing at all. The activities were provided for one year.

The participating children were given IQ tests before and after the lessons. The results of this study revealed that increases in IQ from pre- to post-test were larger in the music groups than in the two others. Generally these increases occurred across IQ subtests, index scores, and academic achievement.

While music teachers across the country greeted the new research enthusiastically, in fact, many other studies have previously shown a correlation between music study and academic achievement.

In 1997, well known music researchers Frances Rauscher, Gordon Shaw and their team at the University of California (Irvine) reported that music training is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children's abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning math and science. A group led by the same two scientists had earlier showed that after eight months of piano lessons, preschoolers showed a 46 percent boost in their spatial reasoning IQ.

The March 1999 issue of Neurological Research published a report by another group of researchers, also at the University of California (Irvine), who found that second-grade students given four months of piano keyboard training, as well as time playing newly designed computer software, scored 27% higher on proportional math and fractions tests than other children.

Students with coursework and experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT, according to a Profile of Program Test Takers released by the Princeton, NJ, College Entrance Examination Board in 2001. This report stated that students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation.

Another part of this same study shows that longer music study means higher SAT scores. For example, students participating in the arts for two years averaged 29 points higher on the verbal portion and 18 points higher on the math portion of the SAT than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. Students with four or more years in the arts scored 57 points higher and 39 points higher on the verbal and math portions respectively than students with no arts coursework.

Another study also found support for a relationship between math achievement and participation in instrumental music instruction. The researchers found that students who participated in instrumental music instruction in high school took on the average 2.9 more advanced math courses then did students who did not participate.

In fact, various studies over the last 10 years suggest teaching kids music can heighten their aptitude for math, reading, and engineering. (One explanation for improved ability in mathematics is that music theory is based on mathematical truths. Rhythms are divided into fractions - half notes, quarter notes and eighth notes. Scales have eight tones, and the steps between them follow an equation.)

A McGill University study in 1998 found that pattern recognition and mental representation scores improved significantly for students given piano instruction over a three-year period. The researchers also found that self-esteem and musical skills measures improved for the students given piano instruction.

And data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 revealed music participants received more academic honors and awards than non-music students, and that the percentage of music participants receiving As, As/Bs, and Bs was higher than the percentage of non- participants receiving those grades.

In 1994, a report entitled "The Case For Music Study In Schools" was printed in Phi Delta Kappan, the professional print journal for education. It included details of research conducted by physician and biologist Lewis Thomas, who studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. Thomas found that 66 percent of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group.

The same report asserted that the very best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley industry were, almost without exception, practicing musicians.

The world's top academic countries also place a high value on music education. In a study of the ability of fourteen year-old science students in seventeen countries, the top three countries were Hungary, the Netherlands, and Japan. All three include music throughout the curriculum from kindergarten through high school.

St. Augustine Bronx elementary school, about to fail in 1984, implemented an intensive music program, and today 90 percent of the school's students are reading at or above grade level. And a ten-year study at UCLA tracked more than 25,000 students, and showed that music making improves test scores. Regardless of socio-economic background, music-making students get higher marks in standardized tests than those who had no music involvement. The test scores studied were not only standardized tests, such as the SAT, but also in reading proficiency exams.

Music training helps under-achievers as well, according to research published in Nature magazine in May 1996. In Rhode Island, researchers studied eight public school first grade classes. Half of the classes became "test arts" groups, receiving ongoing music and visual arts training. In kindergarten, this group had lagged behind in scholastic performance. After seven months, the students were given a standardized test. The "test arts" group had caught up to their fellow students in reading and surpassed their classmates in math by 22 percent. In the second year of the project, the arts students widened this margin even further. Students were also evaluated on attitude and behavior. Classroom teachers noted improvement in these areas also.

In 2005, it appears the pace of scientific research into music making has never been greater. The most recent evidence from the University of Toronto confirms what many other researchers have already detected - that music boosts brainpower, academic achievement,socialization skills, and emotional health.

It's logical, when you think about it. People who learn to play an instruments are in groups -- bands, choirs, orchestras, combos, worship teams, etc. And working and making music with others is bound to help relateabilty with people and foster close bonds with fellow musicians.

So it appears that learning to play music, whether guitar, piano, or some other instrument, actually does contribute to your ability to "win friends and influence people."


Have You Given Much Thought To Using Community Forums In An Effort To Market Your Internet Business

For the time we spend trying to get visitors to our websites, it is crucial to see some sort of return and that is even the case when using free traffic techniques. For instance, fast targeted traffic to a website is often quoted as a benefit of advertising and marketing on various forums. The simple fact that you are focusing on an audience in your market sector with this method means that you may have consumers in a position to invest in any methods they are searching for. It is critical that you control the hours it will take to search through a forum as well as any posts you decide to make. In this short article we will examine the right ways to address forum marketing.

The preliminary stage of looking for forums is merely to put your market's name plus forum into a standard search engine enquiry. It is a positive indication if there are quite a few shown and, to see if these are working, you need to view what is going on within the sites. There will typically be some sort of member count exhibited and you should also be able to see how many times posts are being made. To make this rewarding, you would certainly expect to see regular activity in terms of posts for the different topics. The actual terms of the forum are an additional consideration since you need people to be able to find your site. We will expand on this in a minute but a forum signature is the typical procedure for this.

Your individual profile is the first area to finalize once you become a member of a certain forum. This gives you an opportunity to give details of your website and your area of expertise. A forum might have its own rule as to when you may have your forum signature in a post and this is something you will need to do when allowed. This signature is effectively a link back to your website in the form of a call to action as well as some other kind of incentive. If you check around a new forum you will see how people do this and essentially this will appear at the bottom part of any posts you make.

You will occasionally hear marketers say that this is a easy way to make some money but in some ways it is far more effective as a long term strategy. By assisting people and demonstrating good intentions, you will make the right impression in your chosen forum. In checking out forum subjects, you can aim for anything related to your signature link or an place which is creating a lot of interest. A good track record and someone who is seen as contributing is how you want to be viewed and will result in people looking through your posts.

If you regulate your time and take care with just how you interact with people, then marketing on forums can bring visitors to your sites.


Community Spirit - Building a Community: A Case Study


The Young at Heart Homeowners Association (name changed for privacy) has long been an active community of young seniors. Built during the mid-eighties, this community has an established Board of Directors, Committees and Social infrastructure and professional management which made it one of the most desirable Adult Communities in its county.

Young at Heart HOA has a Social Activities Committee which is guided by and proudly implements its Mission Statement:

"To provide diverse activity and foster community spirit and assistance to members of the Association and to serve the needs of our greater surrounding community."

The Social Activities Committee has four sub-committees: (a) the Functions Committee which is responsible to plan and organize parties, picnics, and social gatherings; (b) the Game Committee, which organizes indoor and outside sporting events and card games; (c) the Sunshine Committee which runs fund drives and donation campaigns to donate to the local charities; (d) the Operations Committee, which monitors and implements maintenance requirements for the Social activities infrastructure and buildings.

Recognizing the Problem

Sometimes a challenge like aging and apathy escapes attention when the day-to-day appear to be working fine. Very often, Managers recognize "results," and tailor their actions to accommodate the obvious "results" without focusing on underlying root causes which often tend to be subtle and expand slowly over time.

The key is to recognize the community's challenge. In Young at Heart's case it was community apathy and low participation in social functions that were geared to promote community spirit and a sense of neighborhood. This occurred due to a failure to timely revisit the Associations Strategic Plan.

The existing Strategic Plan, to develop a financially secure Community Association which services the needs of its members operationally and socially, coupled with the Mission Statement of the Social Activities Committee were in need of a tweak. Both goals were still applicable, yet both plan's direction needed to shift to keep on target with the evolving needs of the community. The epiphany was the realization that not only was the bricks and mortar of the Association aging, so too were its residents!

The Test

As with any idea, certain experiments need to be conducted and data gathered to lend support to the theory, prior to recommending that changes are in order. This is true, especially in light of a population which generally tends to be conservative and has a reluctance to easily accept change in its pattern of living. In this case, the contemplated changes would also bring forward the somewhat uncomfortable recognition that the average resident age in the community was increasing; turnover was not impacting the age demographics, and the types of activities which were once popular were being replaced by more sedate activities. Their idea of a good time had changed, as well as the emerging need for assistance necessary to maintain the status quo or support those who needed outside quality life assistance to remain comfortable.

The test came to our attention without much ado when the Township sponsored a Senior Outreach Program. The Outreach Program focused on presenting a variety of health-enhancement and assistance programs available to our Community as free services from the Township. The Outreach Program was promoted by the Social Activities Committee consistent with historic methods. As opposed to declining attendance at previous programs, which emphasized physical activity, this program was met with a standing-room only attendance. The membership requested more daytime programs of this nature be provided.

The follow up program, one presented by a local bank addressing savings, lending, refinancing and a hands on demonstration of state of the art banking (i.e. debit cards, ATM cards, and on-line banking) was also a complete success.

It was clear that the Social Activities Committee recognized the Mission Statement could be successfully interpreted by including new types of programs that addressed needs that were more educational and less physical - and still achieve its objectives.

Shaking out our Party Clothes...or Adjust and Adapt the Plan

A strategy meeting of the Board of Directors and Management was called to set forth a "New Direction for the New Millennium." It was decided the Board would roll out a program to the Committees asking their assistance to help revamp the community programs and agendas. The Operations Sub-Committee was directed to make an inspection and recommendations for the replacement of old and outdated furniture, to take advantage of lightweight plastics for tables and chairs, thinking in terms of portability and mobility. Secondly, to evaluate the pool and replace old railings with new assisted lifts, and to examine the exercise equipment and replace it with cardiovascular and low impact aerobic devices.

The Functions Sub-Committee was given the task of working with the Township's Senior Outreach Center to bring in additional speakers and programs oriented towards introducing their services to the membership. While continuing their task of providing "fun" evenings to the community, dinner/dance programs and functions mindful of including our expanding group of members who had become widows and widowers and who were not participating due to cost or concern/perception that the functions catered more towards couples.

The Sunshine Sub-Committee took on the task of doing for ourselves as well as others outside our immediate HOA community. A telephone chain named "Making New Friends" was established to contact new homeowners as well as people living alone, emergency contact lists were updated; and medication and health information was gathered and placed in the same location in each home to enable Emergency/Ambulance workers immediate availability.

The Games Sub-Committee blended men's and women's events where participation was low, added a computer-learning center by recruiting grandchildren (now in their late teens and twenties) to teach members use of e-mail and the Internet. Grandchildren were paid volunteers - which translates into those who work when they can for $25.00 per day.

The Pay Off - A Happy Ending

Residents were interacting, learning and sharing with each other. The community had moved into a new phase of its evolution. They were once again socializing with each other, providing a network and support system for their residents, taking care of each other. They had redefined socialization and the types of programs which promoted it, they had re-organized the Social Committee with an expanded purpose, and they had created a new sense of pride and purpose in the Community.

As Management Professionals, we stopped to re-examine actions and activities we often took at face value, and, in the act of challenging ourselves, had challenged our Community, together Management and the Board had tweaked our focus, and improved the quality of life.

Once again, we are a Community.


Finding the Right Neighborhood

So, you're thinking about moving home? Maybe you need more room to accommodate a growing family or perhaps you are sizing down now that the kids have moved on? You may have been offered a job in another town and are leaving all that you've ever known for a strange new land?

There are many reasons why we might be thinking of relocation and it's worth spending time looking into any prospective new neighborhoods in detail before making any life-changing decisions.

If you have children, being close to a good school is probably high on your list of requirements or it may be that you enjoy nothing better than a round of golf and are looking to buy a place within putting distance of your favorite course. A keen fisherman may want to be in sight of a favorite salmon river or similarly, a dog owner near to a park, a hiker or mountain bike enthusiast just a short distance to some great trails, and so on. Many of us are increasingly aware of our carbon footprint and it might be important to be within walking distance of our workplace or local stores in an effort to reduce our daily reliance on the car.

Okay, so you've identified the things you do want from a neighborhood, but don't forget to check the possible negatives that may be lurking behind the facade of what appears to be your dream location.

Consider having a chat with residents and see what they have to say about the area, and indeed the house you maybe looking at. They may have spotted repeat visits from the Pest-Off van over the years or be aware of serious flooding issues at the property. They may be able to warn you of some less than community-minded local inhabitants.

Of course, you will need to look into the possibility of even greater long-term threats. Check to see if planning permission has been granted to build an intensive pig farm down the road, or if a new highway has been scheduled to cut a swathe through the lovely view you were planning on enjoying from the deck of your new home.

So, when you start looking at new homes, don't just look for the positives but bear in mind the potential problems too. Do a little background work on the immediate area and who knows, you might just save yourself a whole heap of headaches in the future.


Organization Strategic Planning

Organization planning is an attempt by a manager, with or without the assistance of a resource consultant, to improve the performance of an organization by systematically analyzing and, if indicated, changing one or more of four basic organizational elements:

(I) The fundamental structure;

(2) The design of positions;

(3) The allocation of power;

(4) The staffing of key positions in the organization.

Any top manager can become a more effective organization planner. In fact, the top manager in any organization is the only one who can make the critical decisions necessary to think through an organizational plan and implement it. The top manager is fortunate if he has a fellow manager, either line or staff, who can help-perhaps just to act as a sounding board or a devil advocate, or simply to lend a sympathetic ear. In any event, for the organization plan to have a chance of success it must represent the convictions, experience, commitment, and judgment of the manager responsible for obtaining results from that grouping of people he calls his organization.

An effective organization planner can anticipate with reasonable accuracy how the organization will perform in response to changes that are made in any of the four elements identified in the definition of organization planning.

Realistic and patient implementation of plans is as important in this view as the planning process itself.

These should be stated at the outset:

1. There are no rules of organization. If someone mind is fixed on absolute notions of span of control, an appropriate number of levels from top to bottom in an organization, complete preference for profit center organization, an absolute aversion to task force management, or any other methodology or dogma of organization, it will have difficulty in improving his effectiveness as an organization planner. There is no universal set of rules.

2. Personality factors obviously must be considered in organization planning. That is, the personalities of individuals holding key positions that affect the direction of the organization must be taken into account in planning. Modelling organization decisions to accommodate personality strengths and / or weaknesses should be done reluctantly and only after a thorough analysis and recognition of the trade-offs involved in such compromises.

3. Changing structure is the most disruptive of all actions that an organization planner (i.e., a responsible manager) can take. Managers often have unrealistic expectations of the short-term impact of structural changes. Time and patience are needed to see the impact of any structural change of significance.

4. Proper structure facilitates organization performance, but it is no way guarantees success. Conversely, improper structures can, and many do, function reasonably well. However, improper structure is an impediment to full effectiveness.

5. All aspects of organization planning (structuring, designing positions, managing power, and staffing) must be approached from the point of view of what the top manager in the organization is trying to accomplish. What are his short- and long-range objectives?

6. Most if not all controversy over the issue of decentralization versus centralization and the conflict in line and staff relationships results from management power plays.

7. Probably because of its emotional overtones and its potential to cause conflict, the most neglected aspect of organization planning is the systematic analysis and management 0/ power allocation.

8. Invariably all the benefits to be gained from a well-planned organization (in the areas of structure, staffing, position and design, and power allocation) cannot be gained at the same time. The top manager must make trade-offs to get the optimum balance of benefits from these elements. The trade-offs can be made systematically only when their impact on obtaining objectives and overcoming obstacles is accurately perceived.

9. Work, or activity that passes for work, will expand to fill time all given objective. Systematic job design to provide a full challenge and a full workload directed towards the objectives of the organization are a must. Enforcing that design, where necessary, cannot be avoided.

10. There is a clear advantage to involving in planning those individuals who will be vitally affected by any changes resulting from the organizational planning process.

11. Organization planning is not a science, but it is certainly more than a seat of the pants art. Principles and processes have led to significant improvements in the ability of many managers to enhance the effectiveness of their organizations.


LeBron's Dedication to Community Involvement Programs

Many people are not aware that NBA's MVP LeBron James is not just focused on his exceptional basketball career. Due to his adamant desire to help youth and their families, he has established an array of community involvement programs.

James has an insurmountable amount of respect and dedication to care and provide for the needs of the people around him through inspiring community involvement programs. He began such efforts in 2003, the year he was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. In December 2003, he visited the Ed Davis Community Center in Cleveland, Ohio, and gave sweatshirts, along with $50.00 gift cards for KB Toys to more than one hundred children who played basketball in the Tiny Tots League at the Center.

In 2004, James established the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF), which empowers children and single-parent households through innovative programming and initiatives, strengthening the ties between family members and building hope through education, physical fitness, and better health for those dealing with adversity.

Some of the foundation's most important national community involvement programs include: The Playground Build Initiative, in partnership with State Farm, which is focused on developing family-centered safe play spaces, where children can be physically active in a multi-dimensional environment that encourages creative play; and the Meal & a Movie events, in partnership with the Coca-Cola Company, which provides disadvantaged families with the opportunity to spend quality time together, enjoying a special meal and viewing a not-yet-released family-friendly movie.

The LeBron James Family Foundation has established other community involvement programs, one being in partnership with Nickelodeon, to encourage children to be physically fit and environmentally aware with the Big Green Help Initiative.

In September 2005, James donated 1,000 backpacks full of school supplies to area youngsters in both Akron, Ohio and Cleveland, as one of his community involvement programs, through the LeBron James Family Foundation, in partnership with Target. James distributed these backpacks and supplies personally at two locations on September 2, 2005.

James, through his foundation's Playground Build Initiative, funded the first state-of-the-art playground at the St. Bernard Recreation Center, located in New Orleans, in February 2008. This recreation center was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Upon its completion, this playground will have the very best of equipment, a custom-designed jungle gym, picnic tables, outdoor barbecue grills, gardens, as well as a specifically designed safety surface that will replicate a basketball court.

In July 2008, James received the NBA Community Assist Award for the previous year, in recognition of his outstanding efforts in his community involvement programs, as well as his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work.

The league presents the NBA Community Assist Award monthly to recognize players for their community involvement programs and their charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA Player who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their respective communities.

James was honored for the success of his Annual King-for-Kids Bike-A-Thon, which is held in Akron, Ohio every year. The event raised more than $150,000.00 for three local non-profit organizations, which were the LeBron James Family Foundation, the Akron Area YMCA, and the Akron Urban League. More than 2,000 participants attended this day-long event, which raised awareness and funding for viable community involvement programs, while recognizing and awarding local youth who had achieved exceptional academic success, improved their physical fitness and made viable contributions within the community.

Other community involvement programs that James has participated in include visiting the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, along with his teammates, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams, Wally Sczerbiak, Sasha Pavlocic and Lorenzen Wright to provide gifts, as well as assist the children in the decorations for the Christmas holidays.

In February 2009, in LeBron's effort to assist in community involvement programs, and as part of the Cavaliers Fit as a Pro Program, James taught twenty-six sixth graders from Holy Cross Elementary School in Euclid, Ohio, his cool-down yoga routine, at the Cleveland Clinic Courts. Each student received a Cavaliers yoga mat.

Additionally, James and his foundation, along with State Farm and the No Fault Sport Group, teamed up to provide and dedicate a playground for the children at the Robson Boys and Girls Club in North Phoenix, Arizona. This continued the community involvement program initiative that began in February 2008, in New Orleans.

James indicated that he knew that the economy was bad. He said that, "Any time you get the opportunity to initiate community involvement programs for the good of the kids, it means a lot to me and a lot to our foundation."

LeBron's foundation has partnered with several businesses throughout the country, with a hands-on approach to community assistance, in helping to create or re-create the places where families live, learn and play. At this dedication ceremony, James brought both of his sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce, to test out the playground areas.

As it relates to James' professional basketball career, there is much to be said about his accomplishments. In 2003, at the age of 18 he was selected with the number one pick in that year's NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and signed a $90 million shoe contract with Nike before his first debut with the team. Although the NBA lists him as a small forward, he often plays the position of "point forward," due to his extraordinary talent to run the offense like a point guard.

"King James," as he is often called, has set numerous records, such as NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003-2004 as well as being named to the All NBA and All Star team every season since 2005. As the focal point of the Cavaliers' defense, James has led the team to consecutive playoff appearances from 2006 through 2009.

James was also a member of the United States Men's National Basketball Team, and has won the Bronze Medal in the 2004 Olympics, as well as the Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics. He also was runner-up for the 2009 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Over the past year James has averaged 32 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists, which of course, led him to receive NBA's MVP Award. There has been an extensive amount of conversation and controversy about this award, as James has been continuously compared to Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) and Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat).

However, he has remained focused from the start. At 6'8" and 250 pounds, James has continued to sharpen his already astonishing skills, and due to his outstanding averages, there was no other choice. That's why they call him "King James."


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