Riva Capellari

[email protected]

Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Three Degrees of Influence

Back to School Part 11
This September, many parents will be experiencing the “empty nest” syndrome for the first time. With their sons and daughters off to college, moms and dads depend on their years of parenting to guide their children through their new found freedom while they are away from home.

In her book, Nurture Assumption, Judith Rich Harris contends that a child’s development is influenced more by their peers than by their parents’ efforts. And in 2000, Dartmouth College did a study on the influence of roommates on each other. They discovered that roommates could effect each others GPA for good or ill.
So how important is the choice of your child’s roommate?
The Peer Effect figures in to many adolescent behaviors from substance abuse to academic overachievers and the pressure to achieve financial success. My first two years in the dorm, I roomed “blind” , that is, I did not choose my roommate. Today, students want more say in who will share their room. Facebook’s “Roombug” allows students to choose their own roommates, bucking the traditional idea that rooming with someone you don’t know, someone different from you, contributes to your social and inner growth. Homophily is the technical term for someone like us, who shares similar attitudes and opinions about life and the world. While universities stress the importance of foregoing rooming with a mirror image of oneself, which they say limits exposure to different viewpoints and information flow, what happens when a diversity roommate plan becomes a detriment to a student’s ability to study and succeed in school? The serious student assigned to the dorm’s party master?
Nicolas Christakis’ and James Fowler’s Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, outlines The Three Degrees of Influence Rule. Our friends, their friends and their friends’ friends. “…our connections do not end with the people we know …friends of friends of friends can start chain reactions that eventually reach us, like waves from distant lands that wash up on our shores.” This parallels author Jonah Lehrer’s premise in his book How We Decide, that instead of having free will, there is “a multitude of forces, many outside our sphere of consciousness” that ultimately determine how we make choices. For example, Christakis and Fowler found that a person who knows someone who smokes has a 61% risk of smoking themselves. That drops to 29% for the second degree(friend’s friend) and to 11% for the third degree. They contend that peer influence can be contagious and quantifiable.
This idea also calls into question the power of the super-connector – those people considered to be at the center who exert their influence outwards. These are the people marketers look to to help sell the next best thing. However, this concept is now believed to be a myth, that peer influence is more complex, multi-centric with influence radiating out from a variety of sources in varying degrees.
Social networks are different from “groups” in that they involve a specific set of connections between people and the pattern of these connections becomes more important than the individual. And what flows between these ties is contagious, both positive and negative.
So is it possible to have the best of both worlds? To find a roommate that shares your goals and lifestyle while still providing diversity in other areas that benefit both roommates in expanding their views of the world?
Swarm Logic and the Science of Social Networks, Lynn Helding. Journal of Singing, Vol 68, No.1.

Women’s Voices
If you missed the Women’s Voices program this past May, you can still catch some of the music that was performed. On September 12th at Johnson County Community College, Riva Capellari, soprano and Claudette Schiratti, piano will present a recital of all women composers for the Ruel Joyce Concert Series. The program starts at noon, but get there early as seating is limited and parking can be a challenge. It is free and open to the public.

Vocal Beginnings
For school teachers who are getting back into the swing of teaching, for choir members coming back from a summer off, reVoice is offering beginning vocal classes starting the week of September 26th. The classes are 1 hour in length and run for 6 weeks. The fee is $70.00. Both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are being considered so if you are interested, please let me know what your availability is for these days. The classes will be from 7-8pm. A good way for teachers to learn how to keep their voices strong and healthy throughout the school year and for singers to get their voices in shape for the coming church year. For more information and registration form, see the Services page on my website,

Musical Gatherings
And for those of you who would like to experience solo singing in the midst of a friendly and supportive environment, check out the Fall Series of vocal workshops offered monthly on Sunday afternoons from 2-4 p.m. This is a chance to work on a favorite song and perform for others without the pressure! An accompanist is provided. Afterwards, there are refreshments and time to socialize. A wonderful way to experience music in an informal and enjoyable atmosphere. These sessions are held at my Brookside studio. The cost is $55 for all 3 sessions (September, October and November), $38 for any 2 or $20 for one. See the Service page on my website, for details and the registration form.

Group Presentations
If you are in a group or organization or know of one that might benefit from a presentation on vocal use and vocal health, I have a variety of presentations to offer. From an introductory session to a real hands–on workshop, my presentations and workshops can be designed with the needs of your group in mind. For more details, see the Service page on my website,

Gift Packages
As always, reVoice offers gift certificates that can be used for private sessions, group classes or workshops. A unique gift for any occasion. Contact [email protected] to order.

Comments are closed.