Friday, March 29, 2013

Instrumental Music & the Mind

Listening to music can soothe, stimulate and even evoke emotion. However, there is little conclusive evidence that suggests listening alone will enhance learning.  The original research on the “Mozart effect” indicated that there was a link between listening and smarts. Follow-up studies have found that students listening to Mozart were more stimulated than those listening to a relaxation tape or listening to nothing at all. While arousal has been shown to improve learning, the effects can be fleeting (Science News, 2010). 

School of Rock & Family Fun at DCM
Although listening to Mozart alone will not enhance learning, there is a growing amount of evidence that suggests playing a musical instrument can enhance skills that can transfer to other academic areas. Nina Kraus, head of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, explains, “There really is now so much evidence showing that musical experience has a pervasive effect on how the nervous system gets molded and shaped throughout our lifetimes.” Long-term studies now show evidence of lasting changes in brain structure and activity as a result of instrumental music learning.

In the long run, musical training appears to improve verbal as well as nonverbal skills. It can help us to hear better, which allows for fine-tuning the ability to separate sounds in a room full of noise. Musical training may also lead to improvement in grammar, the ability to grasp meaning from words and to distinguish a question from a command (Science News, 2010).

Explore more:
Nina Kraus’ laboratory at Northwestern:

Daniel J. Levitin. This is Your Brain on Music: the Science of a Human Obsession.

Check the DuPage Children's Museum calendar for our Tiny Great Performances and Family Fun Friday Nights.  Events feature many talented, local artists including School of Rock, Naperville. Enjoy the art of dance, instrumental music and much more right here at the Museum!

Ehrenberg, Rachel (2010). Science News, “Music of the Hemispheres.”

Colwell, C. & Humpal, M. (Eds.). Early Childhood and School Age Educational Settings: Using Music to Maximize Learning. Effective Clinical Practice in Music Therapy (pp. 110-119).

Cross, I., Hallam, S. & Thaut, M. (Eds.). (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.

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