Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.” Socrates (Greek philosopher) 469BC – 399 BC.

The first time that I heard that music teaching practice builds a better brain, I thought they were pulling my leg.  It sounded too good to be true, but even Socrates thought so.

When my own children were little, we attended a music summer school run by the London Suzuki Group.  Suzuki families really believe in daily music practice and it shows.  The standard of student performance is always top rate.  What really interests me is that the 16 and 18 year olds get their academic exam results during the course.  This is where you really see the results of years of daily music practice – not just one or two A stars each, but ten or more for a significant number of kids.

Findings published in the February 1997 issue of Neurological Research showed that pre-schoolers who received private piano training did 34% better in spatial-temporal ability tests than peers who had had computer, singing or no extra training.  Private piano training requires music practice. Frances H. Rauscher, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

In 1994 it was revealed that more music graduates were admitted to postgrad medical training than biochemistry graduates.  If you want to be a doctor, do your music practice. “The Comparative Academic Abilities of Students in Education and in Other Areas of a Multi-focus University,” Peter H. Wood, ERIC Document No. ED327480?

A study of 7,500 university students revealed that music majors scored the highest reading scores among all majors including English, biology, chemistry and maths; all because of lots of music practice. “The Case for Music in the Schools,” Phi Delta Kappan, February, 1994.

Research at McGill university found three years of piano instruction significantly improved children’s cognitive abilities, academic achievement, and self-esteem.  It’s the music practice that does it. Dr. Eugenia Costa-Giomi, “The McGill Piano Project.

The very best engineers and technical designers in the Silicon Valley industry are, nearly without exception, practicing musicians. Grant Venerable, “The Paradox of the Silicon Savior,” as reported in “The Case for Sequential Music Education in the Core Curriculum of the Public Schools,” The Center for the Arts in the Basic Curriculum, New York, 1989.

  • Some instruments, like the violin are so complicated to play that practicing them stimulates almost the entire brain.
  • Wind instrumentalists benefit from the fact that 80 to 90% of the brains motor control is devoted to the hands, mouth and throat.
  • Pianists and organists have to read and play several tunes at the same time.
  • Sight reading scores is found to involve all four of the cortex lobes and parts of the cerebellum.
  • The right hemisphere of the brain lights up when listening to melodies or playing by ear.  The left is stimulated when reading and understanding musical scores.  It is not surprising that those who have music training in early childhood, develop a larger and more efficient corpus callosum (the bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain).  Dr. Frank Wilson from the University of California’s School of Medicine in San Francisco.

Most of us who play an instrument know, that what really does the trick, isn’t the music teaching lessons, but the music teaching practice.  Repeating or practicing the same movements, over and over, actually makes the neural pathways function better.  So if your children are learning musical instruments, please help them to do some music practice every day.

Actually, none of this happens by magic.  It takes practice, and not just any old practice.  If you would like to make it easier for yourself, The 100 Day Practice Journal will help you to improve the way you practice with your children.

One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn’t do you any good.” Abe Lemons (American basketball coach) 1922 – 2002

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