In this video you will see Señor Dan instructing a class of students at Southwest Community Campus, Grand Rapids Public Schools. He is teaching students the difference between heartbeat (steady beat) and wordbeat (rhythm) of the song Rain Rain Go Away. First, you will see a student tapping the heartbeat of the song. Then the student will tap the wordbeat of the song on the board while his peers tap along. This exercise promotes higher order thinking skills including evaluating, analyzing, transferring and applying. It also teaches syntax and auditory and visual perception, all important skills used in reading.

Mind Meets Music and Syntax

Mind Meets Music’s curriculum focuses on four primary aspects of literacy development: syntax, phonemic awareness, perceptual development, and inner voice/silent reading development.  Today, we will explore syntax. Syntax is a set of principles governing the combination of small structural elements (phonemes or musical tones) into sequences.  For example, in language, phonemes become words which become sentences which become paragraphs, etc. In music, notes become rhythmic units/melodic phrases which become melodies, which become songs, etc.  Both language and music are human universals in which these structural elements are organized into a hierarchical system of sequences according to syntactic rules.  Both have combination rules operating at multiple levels.  Both use this knowledge in a variety of ways including detecting errors in usage.  Both use a linear sequence of elements perceived in a hierarchical relationship of organized meaning.  In addition, language and music overlap in important ways in the same areas of the brain processing syntactic relations.  Thus, syntax in language and music share a common set of processes.  When exploring the Mind Meets Music curriculum next, I will discuss how Mind Meets Music incorporates syntax in its curriculum.


Dr. Monique Salinas

Executive Director


The inception

Let me share with you an experience that greatly impacted me.  For over a decade I ran a choral program for girls in West Michigan.   Several years ago, I took a group of my urban elementary choir girls to a swimming party at a local hotel.  When they wrote their thank you notes to their host, they struggled mightily.  I was dismayed.  I felt compelled to make a difference.  I wanted​​ a bigger impact on the educational lives of the girls I was working with.  And I wanted to touch the lives of children in greater Grand Rapids in the area of literacy.  I knew that many, many scientific studies confirmed that music increased brain development and boosted reading skills.  So I did in depth study and research, and over the next several years created a program called Mind Meets Music.  Mind Meets Music is a unique and revolutionary program growing literacy skills and influencing brain development through intense musical experiences.  Mind Meets Music has been field tested on over 600 students in area public schools.  Our most recent test scores calculated by Grand Valley State University show a 34% increase in improvement of the test group over the control group.  This is a tremendous accomplishment!  Ms. Katie Jobson, principal of Parkview Elementary School, Wyoming Public Schools, credits Mind Meets Music as a major influence on a first grade Vietnamese immigrant student’s rapid acclimation to written English.  I am extremely proud of Mind Meets Music.  It is accessible, as well as teacher and student friendly.  Students love the program!  It is not a music class nor does it replace a music program.  Mind Meets Music is taught by a trained and skilled instructor visiting the class in two 30 minute periods a week.  This class time is invested in a musical experience developing syntax, phonemic awareness, audio and visual growth, and silent reading skills: all skills crucial to literacy.  Mind Meets Music is a cutting edge program whose time has come!!​


Dr. Monique Salinas-Stauffer