Music and its impact on the brain in children

In recent years, there has been a significant body of research conducted by neuroscientists exploring the impact of music on brain development.

Neuroscientists found that the structures and functions of musicians' brains were different to that of non-musicians. Their studies showed that, not only did their brains look different, but their brains also functioned more effectively.

Scientific studies have found that music education stimulates three areas of the brain at once: the auditory, visual and motor cortices. Between the two hemispheres of the brain there is a bridge (corpus callosum) which allows messages to travel. Neuroscientists have identified that musicians have a much larger bridge and the messages that travel between the two hemispheres move in more creative pathways and at a much faster pace.

According to studies, musicians have high levels of executive function, highly developed memory systems and are able to solve problems and puzzles creatively and effectively. Executive function refers to a set of mental skills used when solving complex problems involving logical, conceptual, strategic and emotional elements. Neuroscientists determined that participating in music education raises students' general cognitive capacity. They also found that the greatest gains can be made for students who undertake regular music activities before the age of seven.

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Music education is a core part of the national curriculum. At Scotch College we believe that Music education is essential for every child, which is why we are expanding our programme offerings across Junior, Middle and Senior School.

Our excellent Classroom Music program features a unique application of Kodály, Orff and Dalcroze concepts from Pre-Kindergarten through to Year 12. The instrumental offerings, ensemble opportunities, Sing to Learn program in the Early Learning Centre and Classroom Music programmes we offer are based on the above research that clearly identifies the benefits of regular music instruction.

The impact of such an approach to education is not only evident through an extension of students' musical knowledge, understanding and skills, but also in personal and social outcomes. Engaging in regular music study has a positive impact upon regular schooling outcomes through the development of highly flexible, focused and skilled minds.

This term, neuroscientist Professor Alan Harvey will be visiting Scotch for a day of activities involving music, education and neuroscience. Professor Harvey is one of Western Australia's leading neuroscience researchers with over 200 major publications and a history of significant funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council. He is the author of Music, Evolution, and the Harmony of Souls and has appeared on ABC's Science Show and spoken at TEDxPert.

He will spend the day working with Scotch students and will be speaking about the benefits of music in childhood and the current research surrounding music and neuroscience at a free public talk, Music, the brain and a lifetime of benefit on Monday 31 May 2021.

Jennifer Sullivan
Music Curriculum Coordinator

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Scotch College acknowledges the Wadjuk Noongar and Wilman Noongar people, the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which the College and our campuses stand. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge the Noongar people as the First Peoples of this place.