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On the Study of Music
Value of Music Education

............and why I advocate for music education in our schools.  Jackie Bhuyan, April 6, 2010

 Besides being simply pleasurable, learning music involves all parts of the brain, and requires the coordinated use of auditory skills; visualization;  the assimilation, analysis and organization of incoming information; and immediate response including the use of motor coordination.  Music should be begun at an early age, even in preschool, to develop the complete brain to the fullest.  Music is afterall, an innate part of us human beings...... our response to rhythm begins in the womb in hearing the heartbeat of mother.  Also, music played by a mother during her pregnancy awakens an awareness of familiarity in babies after they are born.

1.  Learning music DEVELOPS THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN, particularly the frontal cerebral cortex where decision-making, planning and judgment take place in a way no other studies do which involve left-brain thinking .

In the brain, there are axons, the nerves that carry messages, which are covered in myelin....and is found in greater degree in the right brains and the bridge, the corpus callusum between the right and left brain, in those who study music.  This provides more channels for the transfer of messages in the brain, and to GREATER CRITICAL AND CREATIVE THINKING, along with an enhanced ABILITY TO VISUALIZE CONCEPTS AND IDEAS.  These abilities lead to enhanced learning of for instance, languages and mathematics, and thus improved test scores, including significantly higher SAT scores.   This ability is carried on into more success in any given career....... it allows for more innovative workers, and to greater ability to do research and development in science and technology.


3.  LISTENING ABILITY becomes more acute.....leading to greater awareness and ability in speech and the learning of languages, and also in interacting with others. 

Recently, it has been discovered that stroke victims whose left brain is affected, and thus  lose the ability to speak, can when so directed, use their right brain to sing those words and thus communicate their needs, etc.

4.  STRESS ...Music is a great way to relieve stress. ... performing music allows one to express emotions and feelings that cannot be done in words. 

Eliminating stress is vital to good health.  Under prolonged stress, there is also a prolonged elevated level of cortisol produced by the body.  ELEVATED CORTISOL LEVELS  lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, and when occurring over a long period of time lead to weight gain...and eventually to diseases such as diabetes and heart problems.  These elevations in blood sugar will occur as a physiological phenomenon even if one is on a low-calorie diet....and can occur even in very young children.

5.  Participation in group activities such as band, orchestra, choir and musical dramas teaches children to work together....to have ETHICAL VALUES  ....... a sense of responsibility and respect for others in working together to create and present a successful production/concert     ...and thus also and a sense of accomplishment and good self esteem.   This kind of activity also has the side effect of instilling an eagerness to excel in other academic subjects AND TO BE ENGAGED IN SCHOOL.... leading to a decrease in dropout rates.

6.  Learning music teaches DISCIPLINE AND PERSEVERANCE .... the realization that to develop a skill takes work and a long time.

7.  Learning music is of a LIFELONG BENEFIT whether for a professional career or simply for everyday pleasure.  It provides a means to participate more fully in various community activities (community band, orchestra, choir; open mic sessions; cultural programs; church groups, etc.) and in family musical groups.

FOR MORE INFORMATION (and some of the many resources I have read).....................................

National Association for Music Education  at  http://www.menc.org

Susan Hallam, "The power of music:  It's impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people".....of the University of London

International Journal of Music Education  at  http://ijm.sagepub.com


"White Matter Matters", Scientific American March 2008    (www.Sci.Am.com )

"Music Education beyond the Mozart Effect" by Daisy T. Lu, PhD.  at                                                        http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/dl.html

"Music, the food of neuroscience?" by Robert Zatorre,  NATURE Vol. 434, 17 March 2005                      (www.nature.com)

"Musical intervals in speech" by Ross, Choi, and Purves, Duke University Center for Cognitive          Neuroscience      www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0703140104

"At 60, He learned to sing so he could learn to talk"  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/22/health/22stro.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted

"This is Your Brain on Music" (published by Penguin Books) by Daniel J. Levitin, musician and neuroscientist at the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Music of the Hemispheres" by Clive Thompson on Daniel J. Levitin and his work http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/31/arts/music/31thom.html?pagewanted=print

"Music on the Mind" by Nick Zagorski on Dr. Charles Limb, physician and musician.....                             http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/hmn/s08/feature4.cfm

"Neuroscience Working for Music" by Lucie Renaud, April 26, 2004, La Scena Musicale, Vol. 9, No. 7 and the work of Jean-Paul Despins, Professor, Universite du Quebec a Montreal

"Music, Medicine, and the Art of Listening", by Peter van Roessel and Audrey Shafer, Journal for Learning through the Arts: A Research Journal on Arts Integration in Schools and Communities, Volume 2, Issue 1, Article 14, 2006

"Language, music, syntax and the brain" by Aniruddh D. Patel, of The Neurosciences Institute, San Diego, California, 2003 (Nature Publishing Group  www.nature.com)

"Enhanced learning of proportional math through music training and spatial-temporal training" by Graziano AB, Peterson M, Shaw GL, Department of Physics, University of California, Irvine, CA (March 1999)

Arts Education Partnership:  for ongoing information on current legislation at state and national levels, groups working for arts education, further resources on data, information and contacts.  www.aep-arts.org

BOOK;  "A WHOLE NEW MIND:  Why right-brainers will rule the future", by Daniel H. Pink, published by The Penguin Group, New York, NY

Neuroscience and the brain on music...a lot of research is being conducted at various universities around the world with more understanding of the value of music and music training everyday.

                 Copyright 2010 by Jacqueline Tschabold Bhuyan.  All Rights Reserved.