Music Makes Kids Smarter – Prove Me Wrong

In past generations, singing and playing instruments was an integral part of family life.  A great way to express and entertain yourself and others.  We did not realize it, but we were also exercising our brain while we played, causing us to be creative, more vibrant, smarter, etc.  In our current generation, we tend to be passive listeners and consumers as a society, and as a result, shorting our mental development and our children the opportunity to reach their mental potential.
Humans are “wired” for music.  Until recently, scientists did not know how music affected the brain.  The advancement in technology allows scientists to actually “see” brain activity via PET scans and MRI imaging scanning the blood flow in the brain.  Our brains are “wired” with neural pathways.  Most activities only cause a portion of the brain to “light up” with activity; thus, the saying, right brain/left brain, etc.  But there are actually four parts to the brain and music makes ALL of the areas “light up” and create new neural pathways as a person is learning and playing an instrument.  Those neural pathways remain in tact and can be used for other things besides music.  Norman Doidge, in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, shares case after case of people forcing their brain to change and adapt either voluntarily with discipline, or involuntarily due to odd incidences.  Studies confirm that our brain has plasticity.  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is proven to be a case of “can’t want to,” rather than too old to change.
Daniel Levitin passionately explores the connection between  Music and the Brain in his book of the same name.  Google his name, watch video clips on YouTube, or go to his website.  It’s an exciting time of discovering how little we know and how much there is to learn.  There is definitely enough evidence to recognize it is not in a music teacher’s imagination.  Music has a huge impact on activity in the brain.  You can physically/visually see the growth and changes that happen inside the brain.  The possibilities are endless.  The implications for music therapy and music education are profound.  Just check out PBS video “The Music Instinct.” Neurologist and author, Oliver Sacks relays a true story from his book, Musicophilia, where a man was indirectly struck by lightning through a telephone and three weeks later composing and playing the piano for the first time.  Sacks believes the man was “re-wired” through that experience.  The list goes on and on.
But even if you are still skeptical about music making kids smarter, let’s look at the other benefits.  Socially, music is an ageless hobby creating interaction with great people.  Take a look at any school band or orchestra or top-ranking choir and you will find a huge percentage of the members are in the top 10% of their class and college bound.  Striving for excellence is a given in a musical group.  Everyone has to perfect their part for the group to perform at their best–NObody “sits on the bench.”  Everyone has to pull their weight or the whole group suffers.  Creativity, especially in jazz groups is developed, honed and embraced.  Who couldn’t use more creativity in their workforce? Creativity is what makes the difference and gives any company the cutting edge.
There are many benefits of being involved in making music, but the neural pathways drives home the point and gets our attention.  Scientists are reluctant to state that playing a musical instrument makes you smarter, but all the indicators are there, so let’s look at it from the opposite angle.  Instead of trying to prove that music makes you smarter or good for you and your child, try to prove that it is not. I can’t think of a single reason how learning a musical instrument is detrimental, can you?

Give your child every opportunity and advantage you can. Enroll them in music lessons and watch them grow and mentally develop as they play, create, express, and struggle through the rigors of the discipline mastering an instrument.  You will discover a more creative, brighter and mature person in the making.

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8 responses to “Music Makes Kids Smarter – Prove Me Wrong

  1. Wow! Well said. I googled you and found your web sites. What a great concept you’ve developed with the frog character. Every parent or grandparent on earth should be looking at this stuff.

    Buy the kids a book – good. Buy the kids a book that makes their brain develop synapses and “wiring” – best.

    Kudos for good research and tools to use!

  2. Great post! Beside being just plain FUN, studying and playing music can also be of benefit to young adults, stressed out parents, and even senior citizens. We’ve created a series of music learning lessons that can help everyone from an elementary school band or choir member to active seniors. We are passionate about creating new music makers and new music consumers and we hope that our approach might trickle down and eventually lead to keeping more music programs in our schools. Take a look at the following videos:
    http://www.dlpseniors.info/
    http://www.dlphomeschoolers.info/
    http://www.dlpboardingschools.info/

    Thanks!

  3. Great post Sharon – here’s hoping that the NSW ed dept read it and listen …I’m appalled by how little music is done in NSW compared with other states in Australia. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi Sharon, really enjoy reading your blog. YES Music DOES make kids smarter! I had a parent register her daughter for music lessons, just because they wanted her to do better in Math. (She also learned to play the piano!) Better Math skills with the benefits of music lessons! Who knew? lol Keep on writing and have an awesome day! Cheers, Glory

  5. So eloquently and passionately put! Can’t wait to read more Sharon. Glad we found you!

  6. My name is Jamie, I’m currently studying music ed at Illinois State with plans to graduate in two years. I really enjoyed this post – we’ve done quite a bit with music advocacy in our courses (though I know you don’t like the word advocacy!). This is one of the topics we’ve discussed – whether or not music really makes students smarter. Through studies, we’ve found that music does not specifically make you smarter in math, or science, or any other subject, but rather, it really gives you the tools to succeed – hard work, discipline, perserverence, working as a team, performing alone – the list goes on and on.

    Thanks for the great links included! I really enjoy Daniel Levitin’s work!

  7. Pingback: FindProz Blog | Blog | Music Makes Kids Smarter

  8. Tools to succeed- what more could you ask for!

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