WOODWAY, TX (Jan. 25) – This article draws attention to a local learning center where music and math share the spotlight. Many fail to notice the Music & Math Masters Studio signage on the Midway Center marquee, standing on the north side of West Highway 84, near the merger of Hewitt and Estates Drives, near CVS Pharmacy. Even people visiting Marcos pizza, miss seeing the studio, next door. In similar fashion, many others fail to see or even suspect a connection between music and math.
Music & Math Masters Studio is the relative newcomer among several education service providers operating in the area, such as Kumon, Sylvan, and Mathnasium learning centers. Not only is it the largest music-math learning center in the area, but it is the area’s only retail affiliate of Music & Arts, Inc., a national chain that sells and leases band and orchestra musical instruments.
Charles Perkins is the owner, curator, founder, director, and lead instructor at Music & Math Masters Studio. After 70 years, his career accomplishments include retirement from CIA as an intelligence analyst (33 years) as well as retirement as a math educator from Texas (10 years). He eagerly greets visitors who express curiosity about its name with his ideas about the synergy between music and math. The textbook definition of synergy is two or more things working together to achieve something they could not otherwise achieve individually. Similarly, when music and math are combined, they contribute immeasurably to the brain’s development. Both will benefit the brain’s thinking processes in ways that one alone cannot. Concentrated study, however, on either one could make an ordinary individual sufficiently savvy to become successful. “Can music and math provide a model for a more harmonious world?” That is the intriguing question that dominates Perkins’ thoughts.
“To my knowledge, there has not been a fully comprehensive study on the interplay, between music and math,” he said. “Dr. Albert Einstein and Dr. David Kung (Professor of Mathematics at St. Mary’s College of Maryland) are two prominent math-musicians who have reached identical conclusions, independently about their connection. Author Joseph Eger, on page 2 of his book, Einstein’s Violin, wrote “People are always surprised when I tell them that Albert Einstein was never without his violin; most don’t even know he played the violin.” Professor Kung, a lifelong violinist, authored the book How Music and Mathematics Relate, which was a highly acclaimed breakthrough in 2013.
Music & Math Masters opened its doors at 100 Midway Center, Suite C, in the City of Woodway on 7 September 2013. According to Perkins, “After more than 35 years of independent analysis he has gained a deeper appreciation of the harmony that exists between music and math.” His business slogan is simply: “To transform clients, ages 3 and up, into masters in one or more specialties—music, vocal, or math.” After years of careful planning, Perkins decided to have the studio’s location at Midway Center because of its proximity to the crossroads separating Hewitt and Woodway communities.
“Nearby residents are the primary beneficiaries of this location,” he added. “There are close-knit communities here that have demonstrated a propensity to involve their children in out-of-school training activities and engage them in a variety of hobbies. They also prefer to have better access to relevant activities, which are of interest to stay-at-home parents, homeschoolers, and retirees.” In addition, he said, “Both Midway ISD and China Springs ISD are two highly recognized independent school districts that have common curriculums offering superior musical and academic programs. Therefore, the studio’s location is ideal.”
Usually, those entering the studio tend to over look his 50-year old B&W panoramic photo of the 250-member Longhorn Band, prominently displayed on the rear slat wall. It represents a relic of Perkins’ past that triggers fond memories of his years playing in bands and studying mathematics as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. Another smaller artifact—a mechanical slide rule, lies on a nearby table within the 3,000 square-foot studio. It too, goes unnoticed. He used it as a key device to train his peers in remedial math during his first year as a Central Intelligence Agency employee in 1972. More than 36 years later, three years following his retirement from the agency, he would again display it as a highly certified Texas math educator; occasionally raising it high as a show-and-tell prop to gain his student’s attention. Most students thought it quite amazing to see an historic forerunner to the modern day calculator.
With more than 40 years of teaching in his background, Perkins still employs an easy-going, teaching style and quickly responds with the appropriate bank of knowledge his clients need. Regardless of the challenges, he loves going the extra mile to help fill his clients’ information gaps through friendly one-on-one tutoring, differentiated coaching, parallel catch-up lesson plans, expertly simplifying complex math problems and concepts, and boosting their command of math or a musical instrument. “It’s a natural gift,” he explains. “I love the feeling that comes from helping people make significant gains in their academic performances or to discover their natural giftedness. This sense of purpose is what sets my business apart from many other merchants.”
“Since 1942, there have been six music stores operating in the area, such as Buzze, Holze, Lone Star, Brook May, Backstage Pass, and Tarpley, which have foremost projected trends of directly supporting surrounding school districts. Music & Math’s main purpose, however, is to provide high-quality learning services that enable people of all ages and ethnicities to sustain their innate God-given musical and mathematical abilities.” Perkins revealed that, “High achievers and over-achievers often learn, unwittingly, how to apply music and math while attempting to reach higher levels of achievement and accomplishments. Music acts much like a therapist, to set one’s mood, manage emotions, and activate the brain’s state of relaxation; while Math provides the best mental calisthenics possible for the brain’s critical thinking processes. In other words, he believes the brain’s fitness depends, in large measure, on two vital additives: notes and numbers. “To this end,” Perkins continues, “my aim is to provide a safe environment that incorporates high-quality, friendly, convenient, practical, functional, affordable, and motivational services, uncommon to music stores.”
The studio is divided into three sections: retail sales, private tutoring, and recording. Perkins exercises great care in hiring competent staff personnel and instructors, whom he prefers to call, “coaches.” They include post-graduate students enrolled in Baylor School of Music, professional music studio owners, retired band directors, Waco’s renowned certified master repair technician (Mike Delillo), and two highly qualified luthiers. Recently, he added several experienced and professional audio and video recording technicians to his studio crew. Rosemary, his wife of 49 years, efficiently performs her duties as financial secretary, human resources officer, and administrative executive.
According to the After-School All-Stars website, “The hours between 3 and 6 pm are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex (2003).” Perkins reiterated that “Most out-of-school programs offer a range of benefits that could significantly reduce worrisome parental concerns. Participating in dance classes, Karate classes, cycling clubs, sports clubs, and the like are splendid out-of-school activities. By contrast, a supplemental learning center, such as Music & Math Masters, is ideally suited for test preparations, boosting confidence, and improving overall academic performances. My chief responsibility is getting people to seriously consider unleashing their untapped potential. I take great pride in motivating clients to achieve their academic objectives and to wholeheartedly practice their individual skills in either music or math. Although, the bulk of our clients, are not gifted prodigies, they often must face intense scrutiny from parents as well as pressure from peers, to succeed.” Adding, briefly, “I must prevent failure from becoming their dreaded, disheartening, and discouraging option.”
A 1997 Gallup survey revealed 88% of respondents agree that playing a musical instrument is fun. Sharon Begley, wrote in “Music on the Mind,” in the 24 July 2000 edition of Newsweek, that “New research continues to show music lessons, especially piano lessons, can help elementary school students score higher on math tests.” Perkins agrees, and further stated, “Music and math are vital educational resources that are extremely beneficial to improving cognitive development; building an individual’s self-confidence, self-esteem, self-control, self-worth, and self-discipline; and producing better grades and test scores. Music, itself, bears aspects of enhancing listening enjoyment, uplifting spirits, providing an escape from anxiety, strengthening cultural ties, stimulating and inspiring the will, as well as counterbalancing all manner of stresses commonly associated with other things (to include the study of math).
“Unlike some music studios,” he said, “Student recitals are not mandatory.” “But any client who takes music or voice lessons may be asked to volunteer to perform center stage at the Richland Mall during the annual Christmas musical feasts in December. At that occasion we feature our annual showcase of stars. Moreover, there is no obligation to buy an instrument to receive training. Quality instruments from our in-house stocks are regularly used for training purposes. If clients desire to purchase their own instrument, we can easily supply them with a student-model, intermediate-model (step up), or professional-grade instrument at a price they can afford, and on a convenient payment plan.”
Lessons generally start on either the hour or half hour, and end 45 minutes later. The most popular lessons, tailored for beginners and advanced students, are piano, violin, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, flute, viola, sousaphone, trombone, voice, or math—PK-12. The fee structure is set at $120 for all music and voice lessons. Four lessons constitute, a module, and must be paid in advance. A $50 tuition fee (lifetime, non-refundable charge) is also applied as a condition for enrollment. Classes may be scheduled either once or twice weekly. For very young children (between ages 3 and 10), the 45-minute class period, is divided into two separate sessions of 20 minutes and 25 minutes. The fee structure for math lessons is set at $140 for a total of four weekly math lessons. On-site audio and video recording sessions may be booked at the rate of $30 per 30-minutes.
“Breaking news” flashes on TV screens and national emergency broadcast signals are familiar ways the general public or specific audiences are alerted about a particular event. Nevertheless, there have been citizens who somehow still miss important bulletins or who just simply ignore information so critical to their lives. This is a plea for all area residents to take full advantage of a quality-centric learning center operating in their proximity. That’s good news!
Submitted by: Charles Perkins, Sr.
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