Music On The Mind: Newsweek Articles

Music On The Mind: Newsweek Articles

Music On The Mind is a series of articles in Newsweek magazine on the Shaw Report, the first study which documented the benefits of music study.

Music on the Mind

by Sharon Begley (excerpted from Newsweek Magazine)

“….The most controversial finding about the musical mind is that kid’s piano lessons can help children do better at math. When a researcher at a recent conference in New York brought up these studies, he got an auditorium full of laughs. Yet the link, reported in 1997 by Gordon Shaw of the University of California, Irvine, and Frances Rauscher at the University of Wisconsin, has held up.”

“…Last year Shaw compared three groups of second graders: 26 kids got piano lessons plus practice with a math video game, 29 received extra English lessons plus the math game, and 28 got no special lessons. After four months the piano kids scored 15 percent to 41 percent higher on a test of ratios and fractions than the other kids.”

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“…But might music work its magic simply by making school more enjoyable, or because kid’s piano lessons bring more one-on-one time with teachers? If that were so, then music should bring about improvement in many subjects. But it doesn’t. Although kids who receive piano lessons often improve somewhat across the board due to the “good mood” and attention effects, finds psychologist Martin Gardiner of Brown University, ‘they just shoot ahead in math. This can’t be explained by social effects or attention alone. There is something specific about kids, music and math.’ “”…The brain seems to be a sponge for music and, like a sponge in water, is changed by it. The brain’s left and right hemispheres are connected by a big trunk line called the corpus callosum. When they compared the corpus callosum in 30 nonmusicians with the corpus callosum in 30 professional string and piano players, researchers led by Dr. Gottfried Schlaug of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found striking differences. The front part of this thick cable of neurons is larger in musicians, especially if they began their training before the age of 7.”

“….Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, but scientists are finding that it works those charms through the brain. Several lines of evidence suggest that the human brain is wired for music, and that some forms of intelligence are enhanced by music. Perhaps the most striking hint that the brain holds a special place in its gray matter for music is that people can typically remember scores of tunes, and recognize hundreds more. But we can recall only snippets of a few prose passages.”

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From “The Heart of Teaching”

(Newsletter distributed to Elementary School Teachers)

“Educational researchers have known for years that certain kinds of music can increase concentration and boost retention in learners. Now it’s being found that the effects of music are even more wide-ranging than currently thought.”

“The power and effectiveness of using music to enhance learning, abstract thinking and memory retention are well documented.”

“KIds who listened to Mozart for ten minutes before taking a standardized test raised their scores in spatial and abstract reasoning. On an intelligence test, the gain was nine points after only ten minutes of listening.”

“On standardized college entrance exams, students taking music classes scored 20-40 points higher than students who didn’t take music.”

“Worldwide, all of the countries that are top-rated in science and math have strong music and art programs.”

“People who listened to light classical music for 90 minutes while editing a manuscript increased accuracy by 21% in a University of Washington study.”

“Researchers have found that whatever an individual’s musical preferences, music…..invariably calms the listener’s mind and body rhythms; improves spatial perception; and promotes better communication of emotions, concepts and thoughts.”

Copyright 2015 Walden Pond Press

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