Page 5 - The Benefits of Music Education
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“Our data have con rmed a rapid transfer of cognitive bene ts in young children after only 20 days of music training.  e strength of this e ect in almost all of
the children was remarkable.”
Dr. Sylvain Moreno, Rotman Research Institute
Overview of Music Study’s Bene ts
You may have noticed that stories about music and the brain appear frequently in the media. More than two hundred neuroscientists around the world are involved in researching the e ect of music on brain function and structure, and their work is garnering regular media attention.
Musical experience draws on nearly every region of the brain, making music an ideal experimental tool to explore brain function. Following is a summary of recent  ndings.
IQ, Memory and Focus
Many researchers have linked music lessons with improved IQ and academic performance. In a formal study conducted through the University of Toronto and published in 2004, researchers compared the IQ performance of children in music lessons with those in drama lessons or
no extra lessons at all. IQ was measured before and after the lessons.
 e students in the music group showed greater increases in full-scale IQ scores than those in either of the other groups.2 IQ scores are widely accepted as standardized predictors of academic achievement.
Recent studies have also indicated that
individuals who are musically trained show better working memory abilities than those
who are not. Working memory is the type of memory that allows us to remember things
even while our minds are busy with other
matters – crucial for such essential tasks as mental arithmetic and reading comprehension.
Much has been written about the importance of developing focus or self-discipline in children as preparation for success in life. Current
research shows this is one of the key outcomes
of music instruction.
Learning to play an instrument or sing requires signi cant levels of attention and concentration.  ere is evidence that children who take music lessons have greater abilities to focus their attention. Music training seems to be
a very active form of mental training that increases childrens’ cognitive capacities, enabling them to perform better in many other aspects of their life.
2. E. Glenn Schellenberg, Music Lessons Enhance IQ (Psychological Science, 15)
Scienti c Proof
Now, in a research breakthrough, neuroscientists are demonstrating that there is a causal connection between music study and cognitive growth.
 e use of technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) has given researchers a better understanding of exactly what happens inside the brain when it processes music and how this activity contributes to better learning and functioning.
 e research is showing that learning to play an instrument leads to changes
in a child’s brain that make it more likely they will reach their full cognitive
and academic potential.
Participating in musical activities – whether playing an instrument, singing or listening – stimulates a whole network of brain areas, each interacting with the others to contribute to enjoyment and understanding of the music.  is brain workout leads to improved structure
and function through a process called neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.  e improvements are responsible for many of the bene ts
of active participation in music.
 April 2014 The Royal Conservatory 3

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