Music and brain development; it's unequivocal

Have you ever wondered why at Scotch, we consider music to be such an important element of every boy's learning and development?

Aside from the mandates contained within the national curriculum, or a personal desire of any particular leader, it's largely due to the ever-growing body of evidence that clearly shows the impact of learning a musical instrument (including singing) on brain development and function.

Throughout several decades, notable neuroscientists and psychologists have dedicated time to detailed scientific research to explore what happens within the brain not only when one listens to music, but when one plays music. The advent of MRI and PET scanning technology has provided researchers with clearer ways of objectively measuring the effects and reactions.

In 2021, Emeritus Professor Dr. Alan Harvey worked with our former Music Curriculum Coordinator, Mrs. Jennifer Sullivan to provide parent and student workshops which discussed some of the research and findings of various studies. Dr. Harvey is a world leading neuroscientist, who also happens to be a musician. One of Dr. Harvey's notable public presentations was his 2017 TEDx appearance, where he was able to demonstrate the effect music has on the brain in real-time, by having his neuroscientist colleague Andrew Price undergo an EEG whilst listening to a series of pieces of music performed live by a string quartet from Perth Symphony Orchestra. I invite you to watch Dr. Harvey's presentation; it provides for a fascinating insight into the human brain.

Musician, educator, researcher, and lecturer Dr. Anita Collins has long been interested in how music learning can enhance human performance. She's spent years translating the results of studies undertaken by neuroscientists for the everyday parent, student, teacher, and school leader. Dr. Collins advocates for access to a strong music education for every child in Australia and was the expert consultant for the ABC documentary Don't Stop the Music

Dr. Harvey and Dr. Collins agree that the research tells us:

• Music education has a positive impact on the social and cognitive development of children and these effects are long lasting: better hearing, better motor skills, improved memory, better verbal, and literacy skills, and in many cases better mathematical skills.

• When involved in community or social music making, there's a very positive impact on the way children interact at a social level, including children that come from different cultural backgrounds.

• Multiple areas of the brain are activated when listening to music; however, when playing music, many areas of the brain are activated in intricate, interrelated and astonishingly fast sequences. Playing a musical instrument activates practically every area of the brain at once; it's the brain's equivalent of a full body workout. It seems these benefits are unique to music; they are not replicated through other activities including the other art forms or sports.

For these reasons, we're passionate about every student at Scotch engaging in meaningful musical learning, through our Music Tuition programme, our Classroom Music programme, our Co-Curricular Music Ensemble programme, and the various performance opportunities that are an extension of the learning environment. We trust that the Scotch Community will partner with us on the journey.

Scott Loveday
Head of Performing Arts

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