Daily Schedules of the World’s Most Brilliant People


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Music & Productivity – Part 3 – Dr. James Gerber

Written by Amy DeCaussin
Director of Projects & Social Media

This is part three of a three part series on “Music & Productivity” – View Parts One & Part Two Here

Dr James Gerber at the organ

Last week in Part 2 of Music & Productivity, we learned about Joey Salamon, an artist whose work is closely tied to music during its stages of production.  This week I was interested in discussing the subject of music and productivity from an expert in the field of music.  Dr. James Gerber is the Music Associate at All Saints’ Episcopal Church & Day School in Phoenix, a place that is very well known for its phenomenal music program.  I was not disappointed as I found Dr. Gerber to be incredibly insightful on the subject.  While listening to music is a wonderful experience, creating music is an amazing experience as well.

Above is “Herbert Howells: Salve Regina” performed by the All Saints’ Episcopal Church Choir

Formal education in music, such as private lessons requires a great deal of discipline.  The student must practice on a regular basis and repeat the musical phrases over and over in order to get the perfect sound.  As a result, many musicians become intense perfectionists.  “Musicians, as part of their practice process are continuing to work at things–they are never satisfied.” Explains Dr. Gerber.  Practice becomes a state of being.  There is always room for improvement.  The skills musicians acquire from their practice can be very beneficial to other parts of his or her life.  When applied to other fields of study, “They will be the ones that make the scientific discovery because they don’t give up.” Gerber says.

In addition to discipline, the practice of music can also give us experiences in other skills.  “Experience creates competence, which drives confidence, which creates resilience.” Mitzi Montoya, Vice President and Dean of Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Art at ASU said during her talk at the Girls in Tech Catalyst Conference this week in downtown Phoenix.  “It is both an emotional process and also an analytical process.  In western tradition is both a visual as well as an aural process.” explains Dr. Gerber.  You can work through your emotions through music, gain better analytical skills, learn new ways to visualize things and excel in the ability to listen on many levels.  Throughout most of history music was passed on through aural tradition.  It wasn’t until the medieval period when a system of notation was developed.  When you are able to write things down, they begin to take on a whole new level of meaning.  Music has enhanced the development of language.  “Music can transcend language barriers.  It is cross cultural.  You can express things through music that you can’t through spoken word.” says Dr. Gerber.

Above “Prelude, Fugue, and Variation by Cesar Franck” James Gerber on the Organ.

Music is also a physical experience, engaging the body.  Rhythms found in music are based on the natural rhythms of the body.  We usually have a natural physical response to what we hear.  Music can make us want to get up and dance, or help us through a long run.  It requires physical skills as well.  For example, the technique of playing the violin is a physical skill that takes time to develop–how to hold the bow, executing the finger patterns properly on the strings, how the violin is held and how the person playing the violin is sitting or standing is very important.  Beyond that, professional musicians are often called to produce music even if they aren’t in the mood.  They develop an ability to switch into performance mode.  No matter what is going on aside from the music, they learn to brush it aside and focus only on what’s in front of them.  These are all great skills that can be used in other areas of life, especially the work environment.  Music is a wonderful way to develop them.

Another wonderful experience musicians have is connecting with other people.  When they play in a group such as a band, an orchestra, or choir is they become a part of a community.  Just like a sports team, the musicians have to work together to create the sound.  They listen for each other and work collaboratively through their creation of song.

Above “Tomás Luis de Victoria:Nigra sum sed formosa.” All Saints’ Episcopal Church Chamber Choir

It is clear that whether listened to, studied, practiced or performed, the benefits of music on productivity are great.  If you haven’t experienced participating in the creation of music, you may want to consider it.  It is a great way to “cross train” your brain.


You can check out the All Saints’ Chamber Choir at their concert “Music of Stars, Lights & Heaven” next Sunday, May 17th at 3pm.

Laboratory5 Inc. is a small business based in Tempe, Arizona

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Music & Productivity – Part 2 – Artist Joey Salamon

Written by Amy DeCaussin
Director of Projects & Social Media

This is part two of a three part series on “Music & Productivity” – View Part 1 Here

When considering the topic of music in the context of productivity in the world of art, the first creative person to come to my mind is illustrator Joey Salamon.  Joey spends countless hours in his studio listening to music while working on his artwork.



Bright and colorful, Joey’s work seems to look like you could almost hear the dance party going on in the picture.  “I listen to music pretty much 90% of the time.  A lot of my pieces have a lot of energy and a lot of color.  Music that reflects those things gives me similar energy.  A lot of times I will listen to upbeat wild songs that reflects how I work.”

Joey creates posters for music bands.  The ironic thing about his process is that he usually doesn’t listen to the band’s music while creating their poster.  He does this because he says he already has an idea of what he is going to create for them.  He says,  “In that process I still need the music to reflect the energy needed to create that.”vay2BJ0RmVQzn5L740LsVBJbyyfcAvSb14UjndHc8NEmNJLNT4Adr-2q8LPoV04nBmzpPfIncYDSaAEZhP_MINhzS6RKB37eK39GFCM93HwFVMMbaBAjZkyK0x3V8G0uxu4vkYkRT2Yxw_T6lYq3eL2KLLqbJ1n0IMVVsjkMsoS97WxmAOGbcruHVYpTir7SO_RmHaYlv5I_fwhDZ89IHI5ZgWM

Pictured above is a poster designed for Matisyahu, a Jewish reggae, rock and hip hop rapper who recently played at the Marquee Theater in Tempe, Arizona.  Joey flew out from his home in Detroit, Michigan for the concert.

Joey’s choice of music depends on what he is working on.  If it something repetitive, like the poster shown below, he enjoys music that is more relaxing like Tyco and Delicate Steve. RiYFGichS6vu5oaGQYZLCq7Jshk9lER8oowPz1vZMS9VN3w1lZRezdAp8Hq0Fjb8u5oWwj7WabI2EevyeyfQxrUylIvYVjsQds1yG8jve71wUAlRmoGfW28s3cHEDPHtK--xkuS9mZOJBXbv2qRICe3PfnRTw7-UpIUUvW9cf2Mep0c1CCs_ksrS9uN1pbW-iACrWuFSbZ5PkOcQJgk3q7snJSR

When Joey is feeling energetic, he will listen to work that is more spontaneous and upbeat.  He will listen to a vast array of music in different genres, one right after another.  Joey will listen to MIA, new age hip hop and then switch to heavy rock such as Rage Against the Machine.  “When I want to be influenced in different ways and be pushed out of my borders I will listen to them because I find that the stuff they are talking about is very relevant and important and not just something poppy.” Joey explains.  Then he pauses a moment, “well I like pop music too.” Joey has an eclectic choice in music genres.dL1FRFXnC30xCQVI7uxf8kQmHucLn-W9PJ5A9imEDLTt3uXKiX7zWu4umODCFoJQ6bkebW4QjkR0vD2H-jm_lIwlxY63UCg4gXNG1FU8Dl-REl8u298WnQ62xwXJc1VkH8S1p3bhtblcc2uxaoOTpekmjyQIGcaGH8uW2jhHtY6xm2nGOwcU2fkj9Uo_V95oBiBjoXIYWoO6WY8uqTI_0z6D4CJ

Shown above is “Beyond the Killing Fields” created in 2014.  Below is a t-shirt design for Polyphonic Spree, a choral rock band from Texas.


Listening to music sparks a physical reaction to many which can inspire and motivate you.  “Music connects with your emotions and psyche in a much different way than those who are playing the piece.” explains Dr. James Gerber, an expert in the field of music who will be the focus of part three of this blog series next week.  The listener is allowed to explore and respond to the music in a free and undirected way.  It is different than how the musician creating the work experiences it.  This parallels the experience of the viewer who looks at the artwork–free to allow their eyes to wonder across the page.

3XIqQFJV4eeO0eXJcT52G3qMgne408UZzfuwO5P080DRE_f6aza5mW9NWBIKt3y_NgWDqshEGwcdllBeJ5bB1Y0UGM7yAc-mqDKFrahsSYeY3SaCFtW6EOYj8ybN51iwS-FXFh-5IKkmFJpEjRGZnZ15cXQJ06D-WY0V_MGuk169o7jgCnWM6cIPnBdRj-5apGqB8SLzVGGmi_AgWb0RAnARG5--1I have known Joey since we both attended Grand Valley State University to study art.  My observation is that Joey’s connection with music runs deep. We would be working in the studio and he would find a song that he loved and play it over and over again–a compulsive act that I also do in my studio today.  It is like squeezing the energy out of a song and pouring it into the artwork.  I cannot imagine Joey’s work without music.

Laboratory5 Inc. is a small business based in Tempe, Arizona

Visit our website: Laboratory5       Follow us on Twitter: @lab5     Become a fan on Facebook: Laboratory5
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