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American Music Conference News Update


Welcome to the latest American Music Conference news update. Our goal is to inform you and your staff on the latest trends, research, education, and advocacy to help you in your music education activities. We will send additional updates from time to time. Please submit comments or questions to joel@amc-music.org. For more information please visit the AMC web site at amc-music.org.


The Power of Music in Keeping Kids Off Drugs

Group Drumming Boosts Cancer-Killer Cells in Study

Music/Arts Education in the the New Administration

The Power of Music:

Children Say Music, Family, Sports Keep Them from Drugs

Asked what keeps them away from illicit drugs, more than 25,000 children replied: music, family and sports. Music was the number 1 factor, followed by family and football, the government said. The responses, ranging from a single word to a photograph to expressions in art, music or poetry were collected as part of a four-month youth marketing campaign for children ages 9 to 17 that was funded by Congress. AMC is looking into the study and will report back with further information shortly. In the meantime, check out the article at: http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/kidsdrugs001206.html

Group Drumming Boosts Cancer-Killer Cells in Study:

A groundbreaking study due to be published in the January 2001 issue of Alternative Therapies links a specific type of group drum playing, known as Composite drumming, with an increase in Natural Killer (NK) cell activity, one of the mechanisms through which the body combats cancer and viral illnesses. These findings reinforce the theory of a mind-body connection that influences the immune system, and may point the way to reversing the "Classic Stress Response" which depresses immune system function.

Led by Barry Bittman, MD, the research team tested a variety of different group drumming protocols and non-drumming control groups made up of healthy adults at the Meadville, PA-based Mind-Body Wellness Center. In their findings, titled Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music Therapy on Modulation of Neuroendocrine-Immune Parameters in Normal Subjects, they found that one group drumming method in particular correlated with increases in NK cell activity, Lymphokine-Activated Killer (LAK) cell activity and chemical changes that together signal a strengthening of the body1s natural immune response and a direct connection between the external senses and the natural immune system.

"These results appear to point the way to a very exciting avenue of future research," Bittman says. "This is the first major controlled scientific investigation of the effect of this specific music-making protocol on activities of specific immune system cells that seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally-infected cells."

"The beauty of drumming as opposed to other activities is that you can take it anywhere, teach it in only a few minutes and offer it to groups of ill and well people alike," Bittman adds. "Composite drumming enables people to enjoy myriad psychological and physical benefits. While immersed in this form of music making, their tension is rapidly transformed into a joyful, moving and enlivening experience. I believe group drumming should become an integral component of whole person care."

In modern cancer research, an important goal is to identify therapies that stimulate "cell-mediated" immune responses. This group drumming study appeared to stimulate just such a response: in the group drumming protocol tested by the Bittman team, test subjects showed significant increases in NK cell activity and LAK cell activity, compared to unchanged levels or even actual declines in control subjects. This represents a reversal of the so-called Classic Stress Response, in which stressful activities depress immune function, and suggests that drumming might be a beneficial "stress-buster," analogous to laughter.

The study also found that the participating drummers improved their ratios of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to cortisol, a condition beneficial to immune system function, and found similar increases in NK cell activity stimulated by interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma, two examples of substances called "cytokines" that help drive the immune system.

In their research, the study team examined four types of one-hour group drumming sessions: Basic, in which an instructor spent half the time discussing drumming and half the time leading the group in the actual activity; Impact, in which the same drumming technique was used but actual drumming was increased to 80 percent of the time; Shamanic, in which a Mayan shaman led the group and punctuated the drumming with a presentation of spiritual and cultural elements; and Composite.

It was the Composite method that showed the strongest results in preliminary testing and formed the basis for the final experiment. Subjects began their session by passing hand to hand hollow, bead-filled "shaker eggs" around a circle, faster and faster until inevitably they would drop to the floor. The levity that this produced was followed with an activity in which participants played their drums in rhythm with the syllables of their own names. After periods in which all participants drummed together varying tempo and rhythm, they spent a half-hour drumming along with 2 "guided imagery" themes.

As a check, participants in all the experimental and control groups were asked to attend the sessions at the same time of day and on the same day of the week, and were asked to refrain from alcohol, drug use, sex and other behaviors that might influence their body chemistry. People who played the drums in their everyday lives were excluded, and two psychological tests, the Beck Anxiety Scale and the Beck Depression Scale II, were administered before and after the sessions to eliminate the subjects1 state of mind as a potential wildcard. Control groups listened to drumming music rather than playing, which further helped isolate active drumming as the proposed factor in the team1s findings.

Bittman cautions against oversimplification or exaggeration of the study results. "If someone asked me right now, ŒIs this treatment valuable for cancer patients?1 I would say we have only the first step to say there1s promise, and we need more research," he says. "Future investigations will study the effects of group drumming on subjects who already have cancer and other diseases. We also need to determine how long the beneficial changes last and the frequency of sessions required to maintain the benefits. Ultimately we will explore the applicability of the therapy outside a controlled clinical environment," Bittman explains.

To get more information on this exciting study please log on to the AMC website www.amc-music.org.

The Election of George W. Bush: What It Means for Music/Arts Education
(Thanks to Bob Morrison for this excellent review)

The uncertainty of the outcome of the Presidential election has finally concluded. Some people will be happy with the outcome. Others will not. Regardless of personal political beliefs there will be a new President next month and with this change of administration comes new opportunity.

In what was one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, Texas Governor George Walker Bush will be sworn in on January 20, 2001 as the 43rd President of the United States of America. There is always a period of uncertainty that surrounds a new administration. While education has been a major theme of the just completed campaign, discussion of music education or the role of federal funding for the arts has been muted.

It is clear that the first initiative of the new administration will be education. This being the case, a new opportunity will be created to make the case for the role of music and arts education. Prior to the election there was a great deal of opinion that a new administration under President-elect Bush would be bad for music/arts education. This is a point of view worth revisiting.

The best way to project the positions of the new President is to look at the record. While we will not see President-elect Bush wielding a saxophone on talk shows, there is reason for optimism. In public statements and through his actions as Governor it is clear that the incoming President supports federal funding for the arts and is a proponent of music and arts education in our public school. Here are some key elements of the Bush record:

Support for Federal Funding of the Arts

"I believe we should continue federal funding for the arts, but give states a greater say in how the funds are spent. I don't believe we should spend public money to support obscene material or denigrate religion," the ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP) quotes George Bush as saying. "As far as increasing the budget, that would be a decision that would have to be made at that time," a Bush spokesperson told THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.

According to the HARTFORD COURANT, (based on National Assembly of State Arts Agencies figures) Texas ranks 50th in state giving to the arts, with 26 cents per capita for fiscal 2000. According to the Inquirer, as Governor of Texas, Bush has regularly increased funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts, (TCA) adding a total of about 1.2 million during the last four years. The annual state arts budget now stands at about 7.5 million. And during Bush's tenure as Governor, although he did not initiate, significant efforts were started with his tacit support, to build a cultural endowment for Texas.

Support for Music and Arts Education

In the area of Arts Education there appears to be greater support. Indeed, George Bush and his wife, Laura, have promoted arts education in Texas, John Paul Batiste, Executive Director of the Texas Commission on the Arts told the Philadelphia Inquirer. More importantly the record supporting arts education is clear. In fact, the state of Texas is currently celebrating "The Year of Arts Education in Texas" from August 2000 to July 2001. This celebration coordinated by The Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education. Below is the text from the Official Memorandum from the Office of the Governor declaring the yearlong celebration:

"Education prepares children for a lifetime of learning and enriches their quality of life. Although reading, math and science are critical to a youngster's success, art(s) instruction is also a major building block in school curriculums. Whether involving music, drama, dance or design, the arts add joy to a child's life, stimulating creativity and enhancing learning ability. Arts education in schools takes many forms. Young people may play an instrument in the orchestra, paint a mural, sing in the choir or act in a play. Regardless of the activities they enjoy, children develop a greater understanding of history, culture and the rich traditions found in our communities and our society. Students also learn discipline, focus and self-confidence and gain knowledge of how to express themselves both in individual and group activities.

The Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education represents a variety of arts organizations throughout the Lone Star state. Members work to advance quality fine arts education for all Texas students, from early childhood to college. The Coalition has designated the Year of Arts Education in Texas, beginning in August 2000, to encourage families, educators, civic and business leaders in their support of arts programs and activities in their communities.

I urge all Texans to recognize the importance of arts education in helping students develop their creative abilities and skills. The arts challenge young people to reach their full potential and enable them to lead more productive and satisfying lives.

Therefore, I, George W. Bush, governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim August 2000 to July 2001, The Year of Arts Education in Texas, and urge the appropriate recognition whereof."


"How Will the Outcome of the Presidential Election Impact the Arts Community?"
Arts Wire CURRENT --
October 31, 2000

Stephan Salisbury
"Culture, the non-issue"
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER -- http://inquirer.philly.com/
October 15, 2000

Frank Rizzo
"Candidates Keep Low Profile On Issue Of Federal Funds For The Arts"
THE HARTFORD COURANT -- http://courant.ctnow.com
October 1, 2000

Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education

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