Brain Development

Improving Cognition

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The cognitive structures developed through music instruction help to expose and illuminate more general organizing structures relevant for other disciplines.

Research in Music Education, 2009

Music education matters to me because of its broader life applications. By encouraging students to immerse themselves in its complexity, I am asking them to engage in scholastic subjects such as mathematics, science, history, culture, linguistics, and physical education, among others. More importantly, when those same students immerse themselves in that same complexity, they are hopefully developing self-discipline and problem-solving skills while practicing, team building skills and empathy while rehearsing, and communication skills and self-control while performing. They have the opportunity to sharpen focus and purpose, and to enhance self-worth through a very rigorous work ethic.

Today's music class is an enhancement of the core curriculum. The brain is a complex instrument and music teachers find new ways to approach learning. An example is when we divide and subdivide rhythmic notation. Recently, a student said, "Oh, that's just like the KFC method that we use in math!"

KFC teaches kids nonsensical math (KFC means "keep-flip-change"). Keep the first fraction as it is, flip the second fraction, and change the problem to a multiplication problem. The students in class now have created multiple brain connections which inherently allow application of math concepts, coupled with an understanding of note division. Imagine how exciting it is when students realize that the study that they just did of ancient Greece ties into a lesson on the music of Greece. Students utilize skills such as categorizing using a set of characteristics when they identify musical genres.