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Music Education: A Source for Brain Power

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Music Education: A Source For Brain Power

In today's society, people are constantly looking for new ways to have students produce more from their public education. Some argue that more funding is the answer, while others say that better learning facilities will help. Studies recently conducted show that a simple change in the curriculum will produce the outcome that people are searching for. The simple change is music education. Music education has been shown to improve general academic skills as well as social skills in children. If music classes are added to a child's schedule, they will begin to show an increase in learning that educators are looking for. Get rid of the ideas of more funding and better facilities, all the students need is a simple music course in their everyday lives.

Recent studies prove that music education is an effective way to increase the way children perform in overall academics. Jenny Yoon makes it clear in her dissertation to Biola University, that the effects of music education are only positive. Many studies show the connection of music education to academics, test scores, and grades. Research has shown great benefits between music and standardized tests. A study was taken with 5,000 children that took the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). One fourth of the students were taking part in some kind of music class. In the end, the one fourth of

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the enrolled students scored higher overall on the test than the other students. The study also showed that if they continue with music education, they would achieve higher than other students. Furthermore, those students enrolled in music classes "score fifty-one points higher on the verbal section of the SAT and thirty-nine points higher on the mathematics section." (Yoon 9)

A current experiment conducted by Eugenia Costa-Giomi (spring'99) showed incredible results with children and the effect piano lessons had on this group. The test made it clear that children who took piano lessons showed a greater increase in academic ability, than those who didn't take them at all, or even children that dropped out of lessons. The test showed that after two years of instruction, the child who took the lessons showed great increase in general and spatial test scores. The students who dropped out and didn't take lessons, stayed at the average level (Costa 207). Vast results were discovered in cognitive ability as well. The child that took three years of lessons showed and increases of twenty-one percent in total cognitive abilities. She stated that students with more dedication and enthusiasm showed faster growth in their ability to play the piano there was also a greater and faster increase in cognitive ability. She suggests that music educators take note to the studies taken. If the music were mainstreamed into the public school system, then educators, state officials, and parents would find the results that they have been looking for. (Costa 207)

A great deal of research has been conducted to show how exactly music education effects the human mind. People want to know how and why music causes these great results. They want to know what does it do to the brain that causes these results to

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occur. Dr. Frances Rauscher, of the University of Wisconsin, led an experiment to find out how music affects the mind. He discovered that music education increased the

Spatial reasoning ability. He also found that music helped stimulate neural circuitry. The neural circuitry system of the brain is what helps process information that has been thought to the child. If the neural circuitry system in stimulated, this will result an increased spatial reasoning ability. He tested this by subjecting a person, exposed to music lessons, to figure out a complex puzzle. Although he did not finish the puzzle, he completed a greater amount than his contender who was exposed to no music lessons. Rauscher also claims that music generates neural connections. These neural connections produce neural networks. Neural networks mimic the brains learning and decision making process. If these connections are increased, they have a direct positive effect on abstract reasoning. Even the reasoning need to figure out complex math was increased. ("Making Music)

In an other study, Professor John Jenkins performed a test with two people that had experienced epileptic brainwaves more than ninety percent of the time. He than exposed these two cases to Mozart for five minutes. After the five minutes were up, he noticed that the epileptic brainwaves had dropped from ninety percent activity to fifty percent activity. In another study conducted by Professor Jenkins involved an eight-year-old girl. In a four-hour period, this girl had experienced nine seizures. When exposed to a Mozart sonnet for ten minutes every hour, her seizures had dropped to only one seizure.

Music education should not be overlooked as a possibility to reform a school's performance. Today, many people are beginning to believe that music can be the savior

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to currents school problems. I recently held a conversation with Dolores Sanchez an elementary school principal for almost twenty-two years now. She has been working in the Camden school district, a district that receives a threat by the state to be taken over almost every year. This has been occurring for nearly twelve years now. When I asked her about where she stands on the topic of integrating music to the children's schedules, she immediately responded with enthusiasm. She claims that adding music into the children's schedule would help the student's performance in almost every subject. She also stated that music is a great boost in the children's confidence. Mrs. Sanchez stated, " In this area, if a child is feeling low, they can turn to drugs and other things. Music can help them steer away from those problems."

The government also has been toying with the idea of trying to create a national curriculum, where music classes will be required to take. Bill Clinton was quoted saying

that, "learning improves in school environments where there are comprehensive music programs. We need to keep supporting. . . ." This type of support should continue until music is a part of the lives of children.

Our country is one of the last to catch on to this great discovery. Dr. Peter Suzuki, President of Yamaha Corp., states that in countries



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