Even though the benefits of music for learning and personal development are well known, when there are budget cuts to education, music and the arts are often easy targets. Yet what we need is more music rather than less, as Peter Luff from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Griffith University tells a reporter from ABC news.
If you need to be reminded of the benefits of music education, Carolyn Phillips has a list of 12 benefits of music education, namely:
- Training and development of language and reasoning centres in the brain;
- Development of spatial intelligence, which includes mathematical thinking and the way we create mental models and perceive the world;
- Development of creative problem solving skills;
- Improvement on test scores in other subjects;
- Building of empathy and compassion through exposure to other cultural norms and practices;
- Learning the importance of detail and excellence;
- An appreciation of the value of sustained effort;
- Teamwork and discipline;
- Self expression;
- Learning the performance skills of communication and cooperation which translate into valuable workplace skills;
- Learning to conquer fear and take risks; and most of all
- ‘An arts education exposes children to the incomparable.’
Research into music, improvisation and creativity
This is some great research. Parag Chordia at the Music Intelligence Lab at Georgia University of Technology, Atlanta USA, has been researching creativity from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience. Three things of note here. Firstly, as a musician he argues that music, like language, is central to all cultures. Secondly, he believes we all have creativity inside us and that it’s not confined to only a talented few. In this interview with a reporter from the online magazine, Science Nation, he talks about his research and how the brain functions differently when its improvising versus playing music from a set score.
LaDiDa – iPhone app
The third item I found interesting about Chordia’s work is that he’s created an iPhone app called LaDiDa. For $3 you can sing into your phone and the app creates musical accompaniment. It mends your poor performance so that you sound great, complete with a backing band. It does wonders for the ego. Try singing your favourite power ballad into the app and you might decide to change your career today. (Yes, I can sing!).