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Is It True That Studying Music Can Help A Person (fill in the blank)?

Let’s face it, there’s research out there proving almost anything you can think of.  But the ability of music in general, and learning to play piano specifically, to help people in a variety of ways has been studied and researched and proven time and again for decades.  Over the next several posts, I would like to make my readers familiar with just a few ways music does indeed help students.

This week we will look at the claim that music study makes you smarter.  You may have heard of The Mozart Effect, which is the title of a book by Don Campbell based on studies showing the physiological, psychological, emotional, and academic changes that have occurred in animals and humans when listening to specific kinds of music, usually a certain Mozart sonata in controlled study situations.  In these studies, researchers were looking for measurable differences in performance with the music verses without the music.  They were able to confirm improvements in accuracy, efficiency, and comprehension with the music.  As far back as 1996, a study was conducted on students taking the SAT exams by the group that creates, issues, and oversees the tests.  This study compared scores of students who sang or played a musical instrument to scores of students who did not, with a clear result: the students who studied music scored on average 51 points higher in the verbal part of the test, and on average 39 points higher in the math portion.

There are varying theories of how this happens and why, and as more studies are done and more sophisticated testing methods employed, we should have even more evidence in the near future.   In a 2014 Psychology Today article, author Christopher Bergland boils down the research to three main “Brain Benefits of Musical Training:

  1. Musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight.
  2. Beginning training before the age of seven has been shown to have the greatest impact. The age at which musical training begins affects brain anatomy as an adult.
  3. Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain.”

To put it simply, musical training changes the way the brain functions, for the better!  Musical training as a young child can reap benefits far into adulthood and open windows of opportunity academically and socially.  We’ll discuss the social benefits of music education next week.

Please let us know if you have questions or comments!  I look forward to hearing from you!

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Earliest memory about music

What’s your earliest memory about music? Do you remember a special lullaby your mom sang to you? How about a tune your music box or toy played when you wound the key? Some of our earliest memories revolve around music – certain people, places, foods, seasons, etc., are tied in our memories to a song! It’ s a powerful tool to unlocking some of our oldest remembrances. And sometimes those events are significant enough to alter our pathway through life!

As a toddler, I was given a toy piano for Christmas. It is (I still have it!) wooden with a little bench to match, and had plastic keys that made a “clickey-click” sound along with the music note when you played it. Anyone else have one of those? I named mine “La La” and I loved it! I remember playing and playing, singing along, making up songs and pretending to sing familiar tunes. As I got a little older, my attention switched from my little piano to my new love, ballet lessons. I loved everything about ballet: the leotard and tights, the ballet slippers, the beautiful room with the barre and mirror, and especially, my teacher Miss Joan. She was wonderful and beautiful, and she loved six-year-old-me. But after two years of lessons and recitals, Miss Joan decided to move her studio to a larger town, and my parents were unable to take me that far for lessons. I was devastated and bored.

My birthday is in September. The year I turned 8 my parents told me one September Saturday morning that we were going to an estate auction – a common occurrance for our family. This house was in town, not one of the farm auctions we most often went to. We entered the front door and stepped into the living room, and my attention went directly to the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – a large, ornately carved, upright piano. It was HUGE! It had real ebony and ivory keys which sounded terribly out of tune, but I didn’t care! Can I have it for my birthday present, Daddy, PLEEEEZE? And so it began…..

I’d love to hear some of your favorite first music memories, and even how they may have contributed to who you grew to be.

And if you are looking to help inspire that creativity in a young person in your life, enroll them in Flynn Music Studio – a new way of teaching and learning piano that combines twenty-first century technology with proven teaching methods and personal attention.

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