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Music training strengthens children’s brains, decision-making network

Medical X-Press – Staff Writer

“If the brain is a muscle, then learning to play an instrument and read music is the ultimate exercise. Two new studies from the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC show that as little as two years of music instruction has multiple benefits. Music training can change both the structure of the brain’s white matter, which carries signals through the brain, and gray matter, which contains most of the brain’s neurons that are active in processing information. Music instruction also boosts engagement of brain networks that are responsible for decision making and the ability to focus attention and inhibit impulses.”(more)

How to improve the school results: not extra maths but music, loads of it

The Guardian – Josh Halliday

“Abiha Nasir, aged nine, walks quietly into the small classroom, takes a seat, adjusts her hijab and picks up the drumsticks. A shy smile spreads across her face as she begins to play. She was just five when she turned up at Feversham primary academy’s after-school clubs, leaving teachers astounded by her musical ability and how her confidence grew with an instrument in hand. Last year, Abiha successfully auditioned for Bradford’s gifted and talented music programme for primary school children, the first Muslim girl to do so. The assessor recorded only one word in her notes: “Wow!” Abiha’s teachers say her talent might have gone unspotted in many schools, where subjects such as music and art are being squeezed out by pressure to reach Sats targets and climb league tables.”(more)

Playing brain games ‘of little benefit’, say experts

BBC – Staff Writer

“Brain training games may not provide the benefits to brain health they claim to, according to experts. Instead, a report from the Global Council on Brain Health recommends that people engage in stimulating activities such as learning a musical instrument, designing a quilt or gardening. It said the younger a person started these activities, the better their brain function would be as they aged.”(more)

How music and songs boost language learning

Multi Briefs – Sheilamary Koch

“If you’ve ever studied a new language, you know how overwhelming it can be to absorb all that new vocabulary, pronounce things right and correctly use the grammar. Singing a language can make it easier to learn, according to research that found people who sang words or short phrases from a foreign language instead of speaking them were twice as good at remembering them later.”(more)

Why not put music at the heart of education?

The Guardian – Stephen Moss

“But I prefer the purity of the Colwyn Bay version: let’s give every child the chance to learn an instrument. Yes, let them act and paint and write poetry, too, but learning to read and play music gives you access to a new language, other worlds. It is one of the greatest gifts, along with security and self-belief and simple love, that a child can be given. Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, where teaching music and learning to play an instrument are the foundation of children’s schooling; it should be the model for us to follow. The principle is that a child is never too young to start a relationship with music; creative play is the key and it should never be a chore; musical exploration will feed into other disciplines; children should be allowed to develop at their own pace and go into music as deeply as they wish.”(more)

Using Music And Rhythm To Help Kids With Grammar And Language

KQED News Mind/Shift – Robert Siegel and Andrea Hsu

“Gordon has previously published research showing a correlation in children between good rhythm skills and a good grasp of grammar. She found children who can detect rhythmic variations in music have an easier time putting sentences together. “One thing that rhythm and grammar have in common is that they both unfold over time, and our brains form expectancies about what’s coming up based on what we just heard,” says Gordon. Consider the following sentence: The boy read the book that his mother gave to him. “When we hear ‘The boy read,’ then we’re expecting an object after that,” Gordon says. “Then when we hear ‘The boy read the book that,‘ then we’re expecting an additional clause – something else about the book.” By age 5, Gordon says children typically understand and use complex sentences. But studies have shown that about 7 percent of children have what’s known as specific language impairment or developmental language disorder, which hinders their language skills even though they have IQs in the normal range and don’t have autism or hearing impairment.”(more)