Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lighting up the brain

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks emphasizes the importance of music to our humanity. In writing of the range of musical talent, he states:
"It has been said that even a brief exposure to classical music can stimulate or enhance mathematical, verbal, and visuospatial abilities in children--the so-called Mozart effect. This has been disputed by Schellenberg and others, but what is beyond dispute is the effect of intensive early musical training on the young, plastic brain. Takako Fujioka and her colleagues, using magnetoencephalography to examine auditory evoked potentials in the brain, have recorded striking changes in the left hemisphere of children who have had only a single year of violin training, compared to children with no training."

An article by Matthew Westwood in The Australian quotes Clive Robbins, a music therapist:
"When we are involved in music, more areas of the brain light up than in any other activity," says Robbins, who was visiting Australia last week from the US. "We are so full of rhythm and pitch," he says, emphasising the intonations of his speech...
"Somehow, music is all about companionship, even the infant babbling with its mother - it's a very early form, an innocent form, of companionship - all the way to sophisticated chamber music, where people are living in the almost chess-like intricacies of composition.

"Why music? All the intricacies of our minds, and our needs from the basic to the highest, are there in music."

I cannot think of anything I have heard or read that denied there were benefits to music education. Please let me know of any such arguments. I'd love to look into them.

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