Music Lessons Are Beneficial to the Brain

By DeZarn, Guy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 8, 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Music Lessons Are Beneficial to the Brain


DeZarn, Guy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


When residents of Alexandria decried the excess of sex and violence in our public schools, the School Board apparently thought they spoke of the proliferation of the sax and violins.

How else to describe a decision to budget a measly $25,000 for musical instrument repair and purchase, while splurging on a $25 million white elephant - Apple computers and the Internet?

Yet with the stroke of a pen, the board did just that. What makes the actions all the more reprehensible is that they fly in the face of all recent studies on how learning occurs.

Scientific support for teaching children to play an instrument at an early age is now trumpeted by medical journals, brain researchers and major medical centers.

It turns out that the brain, while young and malleable, actually changes its makeup when exposed to music training. Brain cells that would otherwise be sloughed off are used to wire the brain in a way that improves the spatial-temporal abilities critical to solving math and science problems.

For a system steeped in low achievement, particularly in math and science, here is a solution. For a system seeking tools to teach mental discipline and physical responsibility, here is the violin, the piano and the saxophone.

Given what we know of music's unique ability to teach formation of mental imagery and the ability to reason in sequence, why have the leaders of our school system ignored this approach? Why, when the very skills needed to excel in science and math are literally at our fingertips, do we look elsewhere?

Studies confirming the remarkable success of music instruction also expose the computer for what it is - a powerful, albeit oft-abused, machine, ill-suited to instruction in elementary schools.

In research highlighted by the medical journals, 78 preschoolers of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds were divided into four groups. Those children given two 15-minute piano lessons weekly scored an average of 34 percent higher on tests of spatial-temporal ability than groups given computer instruction. Those given no instruction revealed no improvement.

Little surprise that amid the money and influence of the city's snake-oil salesmen, their pitches amplified by their school board mouthpieces, these compelling facts are drowned out.

Big money is riding on the "wiring" of our schools. The violin lobby is easily muted.

And while you rarely see a trumpet case toted into the offices where decisions are made, Alexandria can claim a glut of purveyors of peripherals championing high-tech policies that are as expensive as they are flawed.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Music Lessons Are Beneficial to the Brain
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?