ITP KIDS + MUSIC, INC.
To Inform ... To Educate ... To Inspire
a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Scientific Support for Impact of Music on Learning
Do you still sing the ABC song to yourself when looking up a word in the dictionary; or recite the rhyme “Thirty days hath September…” to remember the length of a month? Or, can you recall a parent singing you to sleep with a lullaby?... how excited a marching band made you feel? These scenarios demonstrate how deeply rooted in our memory music is. It is not just in our everyday experiences that we find music, scientists and educators are becoming more and more aware that music can also affect the way the brain works; there is a growing body of research by neuroscientists and educators alike that demonstrates the positive effects of music on learning.
Music shares many processing areas of the brain with those that process language. In the language-heavy environment of school, musical experiences which facilitate processing can impact language skills and therefore aid in learning to read. Studies have correlated listening to the tonal (pitch) and rhythmic (beat) qualities of music with improved perception of phonemes, the sounds used in speech. Anthropological evidence indicates that music developed before language and may well have been necessary for the development of spoken language.
Our brains are divided into two hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum which acts as a bridge to integrate the two sides. While the processing of certain skills resides primarily in one or the other of the hemispheres, most skills require the coordinated activities of the entire brain. Music can support such coherence and contribute to an optimal state for learning.
True learning depends on long-term memory. The same areas of the brain that are involved in long-term memory are engaged in musical processing and emotional response; when these areas are activated, there is a better chance of information being retained (how long ago did you learn the alphabet, or the months of the year?).
In a 2009 symposium on the effects of music and the other arts on learning and the brain (Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain Summit, Johns Hopkins University) scientists and educators met to share findings on the use of arts (including music) education and the impacts it can have on learning. A partial summary of their findings:
The preschool and early elementary years are especially critical to the effective education of children. True learning depends on a creative approach on the part of teachers to find the ways each child learns. Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of cognition and education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, completely revolutionized the way we view the idea of a person’s intelligence and how effective education needs to address individual learning modes. Gardner’s concept, now widely accepted and practiced world-wide, counters the idea of a one-size-fits-all standardized-tested intelligence, and proposes the theory that there are actually at least eight types of intelligence, all of which are incorporated in the ITP Kids + Music sessions:
Using a variety of avenues in teaching offers a much greater chance that learning will occur in the greatest number of children. To individuate (address the manner in which an individual student learns) and pluralize (to teach in such a way that any particular skill can be learned in a number of different ways) ensures that good learners, and not just good memorizers, are created. For example: one could learn about farm animals by reading, discussing, drawing pictures, acting in a play about farm animals or singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm. “Learning how to learn and acquiring a desire to keep learning is what schools ought to be about.” (Gardner, in Hunter 2009/10)
Equally important to teaching content (letters of the alphabet, months of the year…) is enabling the learner to develop the qualities of self-confidence, self-worth, and the means of self-expression. As these qualities develop, so hopefully will empathy, compassion, tolerance, and an ethical sense. In his keynote speech at the Learning, Arts and Brain Summit, Dr. Jerome Kagan (professor of Psychology, emeritus at Harvard University, and a pioneer in the field of developmental psychology) provides an impassioned, humanistic look at Why the Arts Matter. In today’s whirlwind, electronic-driven society the arts preserve humanity. Children participating in musical groups learn the important values of discipline, cooperation, and a sense of being a responsible member of a community. Arts allow many children, especially those with Gardner’s musical intelligence, an alternative way to communicate when “academic” (linguistic and logical-mathematical) achievement is a struggle.
ITP Kids + Music, Inc. is dedicated to using music to help create good learners in unique, creative, and fun ways!