Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

The Impact of Music on Child Functioning

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

The Impact of Music on Child Functioning

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: For a long time, music educators have suggested that music, either in the form of music education, music practice, or exposure to music, can have a significant impact on school achievement, school attendance rates and students' conduct, both in elementary and secondary education (Koopman, 2005; Waller, 2007). Educational scientists have addressed the question of what effects music education can have on child development from a research point of view. Some researchers claim to have found effects on cognitive growth, such as the increase of the ability to concentrate and academic achievement. Also effects in the social and emotional domain have been reported (Bastian, 2002; Elliott, 1995; Gardner, 2004). From a large-scale longitudinal study Bastian (2002) arrived at the conclusion to have identified a significant improvement of social competencies, an increase of motivation to learn, a significant improvement of IQ, and the ability to concentrate as a result of enhanced music education, consisting of playing Orff-instruments, recorder lessons, lessons on other musical instruments, and special music projects.

Understandably, musicians and music educators point at studies like these to underpin the importance of music education. The leading organization in the United States of America, The National Association for Music Education (NAfME, before MENC), goes even further by putting on its website under 'Facts and Figures' the 'The Benefits of the Study of Music' "The study of music helps to achieve: success in society; success in school and learning; success in developing intelligence; success in life." Claims like these are supported with statements of opinion leaders, among them president John F. Kennedy, who said in 1962: "The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in life of the nation, is close to the center of a nation's purpose - and is a test to the quality of a nation's civilization" (MENC, 2009).

1.1 Previous review studies

Waterhouse (2006) wrote a critical review on multiple intelligence, the Mozart effect, and emotional intelligence. As to the Mozart effect, that is to say the effect of music exposure on intelligence, the available evidence did not support the belief that the Mozart effect is a mechanism that can improve spatial skills without practice or emotional arousal. The evidence disconfirming the Mozart effect suggested that there is no effect at all. The evidence confirming the Mozart effect, however, suggested that certain compositions of Mozart may be a pleasant means of inducing emotional arousal and may thus provide a brief improvement in spatial-temporal skills precisely because it induces such arousal. Waterhouse (2006) also argued that it may be that cortical arousal stimulated by music can prime cortical circuits for spatial processing where the circuits for music and spatial processing overlap. In sum she concluded: "The evidence to date does not justify advocating music as means to improve spatial skills 'for free.' The Mozart effect theory should not be taught without consideration of the disconfirming evidence or without consideration of the possibilities of the mechanisms that may underpin the Mozart effect (Waterhouse, 2006, p. 216)."

Eady and Wilson (2004) studied the effects of music education and concluded in their literature review of the influence of music appreciation and music performance on students' learning performance, that several studies and observations show a possibly positive impact of music on both academic achievement and study skills. Eady and Wilson emphasized popular music and music technology. Various studies and observations indicated that music can influence learning in core subjects (such as language and mathematics) as well as contribute to the attainment of core goals of learning.

Hallam (2010) concluded in her review on the power of music education that positive effects of active engagement with music on personal and social development only occur if it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. …

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