What we know about the cognitiveeffects of musicResearchersat Northwestern University have found that musical training enhances cognitiveskills, including development of language, speech, memory, attention and vocalemotion. Scientists describe the brain’s ability to adapt more easily aftermusical training during youth, calling it ‘neuroplasticity’. (NeuroscienceNews, 2018) Additionally, an article inthe Independent online (Baker, 2016) also links music to improved cognition,concluding that listening to music during study can help improve focus.
This can be known as the ‘Mozart Effect’, asstudies show that classical music particularly can improve concentration and memorywhen learning or revising. When testingthe results of listening to Mozart for 10 minutes, scientists claimed(controversially) that it raised listeners’ spatial IQ scores by 8 or 9 points.(Jenkins, 2001) Whether or not this istrue for every learner, it does seem to be generally acknowledged that songlyrics are often easy to remember. AdamSinicki (2018) explores the reasoning behind this, stating that the key factorsfor recognition and recall in songs are repetition, connections between lyricsand melody, patterns and rhymes and emotional connection. Other valuable elements to musicOthernotable benefits to using music to enhance learning can be seen through bothpersonal experience and classroom-based experience. For example, when teaching in Year 1, Inoticed that the children remembered how to count to 100 through singing thenumbers to a repetitive melody. Theywere able to use this when counting big numbers. Similarly, much of the French vocabulary Ican still remember was learnt through songs.
The connection between the melody and the lyrics resonates much morethan words learnt on their own. In terms ofconfidence and creating a feeling of belonging, music can unite people throughits inclusivity. Everyone can make musicusing his or her voice, hands and feet and surroundings, and working togetherto create music is very rewarding and community-building. Different types of music and instruments andsounds can also help to generate understanding and tolerance between differentcultures.
Additionally, singing anddancing raise endorphins, helping to improve mental health, confidence andenthusiasm for learning. (Horn, 2013) In practiceI am reallyexcited about using music and singing to enrich my teaching practice and givepupils the best opportunities for learning, self-expression and well-being aspossible. I intend to use song to learntricky concepts, adapting ideas like the maths big numbers song for KS2 classesin Science, Maths and Literacy.
I alsolike the idea of using music or rhythm to help improve behaviour, withtechniques such as repeating clapping patterns or little songs to get attentionor to help a smooth transition between subjects or classes. As well asusing music throughout a range of subjects, I hope to provide pupils withextra-curricular musical activities, such as choral singing or dancing. In a variety of ways, I hope to promote anddevelop a love of music among pupils, encouraging them to develop in confidenceand be brave, make mistakes, work together and boost their learning experience.