Can music help my child learn better?

No one doubts that listening to music, especially at a very early age, affects the reasoning that underlies math and strategy concepts.

New scientific studies have shown that early musical training shapes children's growing brains and boosts their learning power, aiding in the development of logic, abstract thinking, memory and creativity.

This skill somehow helps to also build the skill of being able to form the mental images of physical objects which is an important key to becoming good spellers, and also to higher brain functions required in Mathematics.

Music has the unique ability to make the neurons in the brain to communicate.

Two doctors began working with inner-city preschoolers to see how musical training might affect their brain development. They had four groups:

One was given keyboard lessons;
The second, computer lessons;
The third, singling sessions;
And the fourth, no lessons, only the standard curriculum.

Six months later, the keyboard students performed 34 percent better on the ability to form mental images of physical objects than any other group, including the computer students.

How does music affect the brain?

After birth, a child's brain keeps developing. Both environment and experience continue to create mental circuits and patterns between neurons -- the tiny, electrically charged nerve cells that transfer information through the brain. The brain has trillions of such neurons, but scientists have found that if it does not use some of them and does not form pathways between the neurons, it starts to trim them. It prunes itself. In other words, either you use it or you lose it. The richer the environment the child inhabits, the richer the brain network.

The most critical period of brain development -- a critical window of opportunity -- starts at birth and ends around the age of 10. This is true for both verbal and musical abilities. Recent studies have shown that the neurological foundations for problem-solving and general reasoning are largely established by age one. The spoken language an infant hears creates a complex set of interconnections, which has an important impact on overall brain development.

Similarly, studies suggest that the more parents sing or play melodious and structured music to their baby, the more the baby's brain generates neural circuits and patterns.

There's an overlap in the brain mechanism -- in the neurons used to process music, language, mathematics, and abstract reasoning.

A handful of neural codes is used by the brain, so exercising the brain through music strengthens other cognitive skills. It's a lot like saying: If you exercise your body by running, you enhance your ability not only to run but also to play soccer or basketball."

Teach music first

Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, and children should be taught music before anything else. Some educators have taken that position as a guiding principle. The academic achievements resulting from this approach can be impressive. The gains appear to be social as well. With music children interact better. They stay more focused on the task and listen better to directions. Because music students learn to practice over and over, assignments requiring repetition are handled more easily.

Music teaches children confidence in their abilities and to believe in themselves.

What kind of music?

Does exposure to any kind of music enable a child to learn better?

One enterprising student, a senior in Virginia sought to test that assumption by experimenting with lab mice and different kinds of music for his science fair project. At the start of his project, he ran 72 mice through a maze. He found that, on average, they needed 10 minutes to find their way through the maze. Then he devided them into three groups, exposing one to the heavey-metal bands and the second to classical music by Mozart. A control group had no music.

At the end of four weeks, he timed the mice as they maneuvered through the maz. The control group averaged 5 minutes; the Mozart mice, just 1 ½ minutes; and the hard rock mice stumbled through the maze in an average of 30 minutes.

******** In Conlusion:

Most surprisingly, all of those who have studied the issue agree that learning music and understanding its dynamics make a much greater impression on the brain than simply listening to it.

There are many reasons to teach music to children, and enhancing their brain power is only one of them. It would be regrettable if that became the main focus of music education.

Music also soothes emotions and excites enthusias. Music should be taught for these values -- and not least for the pleasure it brings the listener.

********* Excerps taken from an article in Parade Magazine, June 14, 1998, p14

Quotes from

Governor Zell Miller of Georgia
1993 Research on College Students better performance after listening to Mozart

Researchers: Dr. Gordon Shaw, a physicist at the Univeristy of California at Irvine
Dr. Francis Rauscher, a psychologist at University of Wisdonsin at Oshkosh
The Mozart Affect

Dr. Mark Tramo, a nueroscientist at Harvard Medical School
"There's an overlap ...

David Merril, Nansemond River High School, Suffolk Va Science Fair project

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From the desk of Jeannie Kirkpatrick:

I have personally found that music has helped me to do problem solving. Without early music lessons, I would have been hindered in these skills.

To parents: The decision to give music lessons must be a commitment. It takes a lot of hard work. But the habits that are formed through music lessons help in every area of adult life. You will not see the results at the time, but results will reveal themselves at adulthood.

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Visit the following Musical Links:

Bible Numbers For Children
Caring Cherers Musical Links

We look forward to serving you in the future.  May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand. The staff at Caring Cherers Caring Cherers

If you would like to become part of the Caring Cherers Team please read the following and let us hear from you. This is a team effort for God's heritage:

The Hoover Dam Project
Reclamation Directors

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Caring Cherers

Founded by George and Jeannie Kirkpatrick
August 1, 1988