Legendary music producer John Barnes has joined the campaign to support the development of Soft Mozart 2.0. He joins musicologist Hellene Hiner, who spearheaded the original Soft Mozart software. Soft Mozart, an innovative – yet traditional – system for learning the piano first launched in 2002 and continues to be used today in 60 different countries. Although he’s a classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Barnes brings a pop sensibility to the project. Hiner envisions version 2.0 as bridging gaps between genres, uniting people under the common banner of music literacy. Learn more at indiegogo.com/projects/music-education-2-0-soft-mozart-way#/.
“I believe music education and music literacy are more important today than ever,” says Barnes. “Music prepares young people to do well in life, no matter what they do in terms of a career. Understanding the intricacies of music through practice and discipline can instill confidence. Learning music also develops creativity, patience and, when playing with others, an appreciation for teamwork. The versatility of Soft Mozart is what really got my attention. The software is great for schools of course, but people of any age and skill level can quickly become more proficient at the piano.”
Today, Barnes is CEO at Innersound Studios, where he and his team produce music for the entertainment industry, from movies and TV shows to studio recordings. His professional credits including working closely with artists like Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, Kenny Loggins, Julio Iglesias, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Ciara and of course Michael Jackson. In 1985, he lent his talents to the USA for Africa campaign, the collaboration of leading popular musicians that resulted in the famous “We Are the World” song and video.
“Music has been such a vital part of my own life,” adds Barnes, “and I want to say ‘thanks’ by giving back to the community. Supporting the campaign for Soft Mozart 2.0 allows me to do that. My hope is that Hellene Hiner’s remarkable software product begins a new era in music education for the masses.”
Funding for music education in public schools has sadly been on a steady decline, particularly since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. According to Department of Education data shared by the NAMM Foundation, 40 percent of U.S. high schools in 2010 did not have an arts requirement for graduation. The situation is especially unfortunate because research shows enormous value in music education.
Learning to read music and play an instrument well confers advantages that extend into every other academic disciple, while also teaching important personal and social skills. A New York Times feature story on high achieving individuals revealed music as common tread. Listening, focusing and collaborating were singled out as important skills that music strengthens.
The connection between music and math has been noted for some time – learning piano, for instance, can strengthen the kind of cognitive functions that are equally important in understanding mathematics. Put another way, both music and math are a type of abstract language – learning one smooths the path to learning another.
The Indiegogo campaign for Soft Mozart 2.0 launched on December 3 and will run for two months. The goal is to raise $500,000, which will go toward updating the software, creating mobile apps, generating awareness and hiring technical support, among other tasks.