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Music Advocay

Music Advocacy

Even before a child learns to speak, they learn to communicate and connect with song and sound. Children respond naturally to music. Some suggest that babies are born with inherent musical capabilities because their responses to music are immediate and instinctive: they are not learned.

While every child can enjoy, learn and grow through music, there is increasing evidence to show that active participation in musical activities can actually alter the anatomy and development of the brain. Researchers believe that early musical experiences intensify the development of neuronal synapses. By increasing the number of interconnections between brain cells, music essentially enhances a child's ability to think, learn, reason and create.

It is important to note however, that for music to have a profound effect on brain development, a child must physically engage in musical activities. Furthermore, these activities must provide a comprehensive sensory experience. It is not enough for a child just to listen to music.
Children to actively participate - to feel, make, hear and memorize sounds and patterns; to sing, clap dance and remember movements. The quality and timing of these musical experiences are paramount. Ideally, parents should aim to expose their children to musical activities prior to age two when the proliferation of neuronal synapses is at its peak. However, the number of synapses remain elevated until a child is around 7 years of age, so the benefits of music can still be realised in older children.

Musical elements in the vocalisations of infants aged 2–8 months
Johannella Tafuri and Donatella Villa (2002)
British Journal of Music Education, , Volume 19, Issue 01 , March 2002 pp 73-88
This report is the first stage of a longitudinal inCanto research project, the aim of which is to find out if children who receive an appropriate ‘musical education’, broadly speaking, from the 6th month of prenatal life onwards are able to sing in tune, and if they develop this skill earlier than the general population. In the stage presented here we try to establish the point at which children who have been musically stimulated 3–4 months before birth start to produce their first musical babbling, and analyse the musical content of their vocalisations. For these purposes we organised a weekly course of music for 68 mothers-to-be and for their children after birth. The amount and the quality of the vocalisations produced by the children in the experimental group were found to be higher than reported in previously published studies, and the analysis of the musical babbling revealed the presence of musical patterns belonging to our musical system.

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Music Education 1: The Body
Today Keys To Music starts a four-part series focusing on Music Education. For the entire series Graham will be joined in the studio by Richard Gill, one of Australia's leading conductors, music educators and public advocates for music. In Part 1 of the series they discuss the importance of dance and movement in a child's musical experiences. In this program they will be joined by Dr Micheal Giddens, a leading exponent of Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Download MP3 Audio (22 MB, 30'50")

rowing.JPGMusic Education 2: The Voice
Graham continues his series on Music Education with Richard Gill. In this program they discuss the importance of singing in a child's life. They will be joined by Kathryn Sadler, one of Melbourne's leading singing teachers and choir directors. Download MP3 Audio (17 MB, 24'08")

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Music Education 3: Instruments
Part 3 of Keys To Music's series on Music Education sees Graham and Richard Gill discuss why learning an instrument is good for children. They will be joined by Alastair McKean, Director of Border Music Camp in Albury. Download MP3 Audio (13 MB, 18'18")

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Music Education 4: The Mind

Graham and Richard Gill conclude their discussion on the importance of Music Education for children. In this program they focus on the proven benefits of musical experiences for a child's intellectual and social development. Download MP3 Audio (16 MB, 22' 38")

Why aren't we singing? asks Richard Gill, OAM, as he presents the annual ABC Classic FM Music Makers Address, in which he talks of the joy of singing, the importance of imagination and the inspiration that music education can bring to all ages. A major concern of his is that we have almost lost the joy of singing.
Music Director of Victorian Opera since its formation in 2006, Richard is one of Australia's pre-eminent conductors and a passionate advocate of music education. He specialises in opera, musical theatre and vocal and choral training and his work in developing young musicians and creating opportunities for them is recognised world-wide.
Mairi Nicolson hosts this event, recorded in the ABC's Iwaki Auditorium on August 9.
Why aren't we singing? Real Player Windows Media

TEDxSydney - Richard Gill - The Value of Music Education - YouTubelive from the Sydney Opera House May 28th 2011

Music Advocacy’s Top Ten for Parents

1. In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems.
- Americans Love Making Music – And Value Music Education More Highly Than Ever, American Music Conference, 2000.

2. Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills
- Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.

3. A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background.
- Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.

4. A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased.
- “Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998.

5. First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction.
- K.L. Wolff, The Effects of General Music Education on the Academeic Achievement, Perceptual-Motor Development, Creative Thinking, and School Attendance of First-Grade Children, 1992.

6. In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change.
- Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.

7. According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.
- Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.

8. Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives.
- “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.

9. In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.
- The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.

10. College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness.
- Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.

"I would teach the children music, physics and philosophy;
but the most important is music, for in the patterns of music
are the keys to all learning"
Plato (Philosopher)

Music and Intelligence in the Early Years

by John M. Feierabend, Ph.D.(exerpts only )
The Hartt School University of Hartford From Early Childhood Connections, Spring 1995

What a child has heard in his first six years of life cannot be eradicated later. Thus it is too late to begin teaching at school, because a child stores a mass of musical impressions before school age, and if what is bad predominates, then his fate, as far as music is concerned, has been sealed for a lifetime. (Kodaly, 1951)

In her book Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think and What We Can do About It, Jane Healy supports the importance of nurturing the developing neurological network during the early years of life.

The strength and efficiency of synaptic connections determine the speed and power with which your brain functions. The most important news about synapses is that they are formed, strengthened, and maintained by interaction with experience.

As we learn to use our minds, we process information through certain conditioning. If, for example, we learn music as a logical/mathematical exercise-such as learning to play an instrument through reading, decoding the relationships of symbols, and hence using the instrument to hear music-we establish pathways that will understand music only from this intellectual framework. If, however, the musical mind is engaged in early stimulation through such activities as hearing and responding to music through singing and movement and playing by ear, then we stimulate music intelligence. Stimulating music intelligence appropriately from the earliest experiences is necessary if the pathways are to be built to understand musical phenomena from a musical perspective. An individual who can read a piano score with few errors but cannot express music by ear on the keyboard has learned to use his/her logical/mathematical intelligence rather than his/her music intelligence to understand musical phenomena.


Although these studies began assessing children at age 5, it is probable that the decline of music intelligence begins prior to age 5. Knowing that synaptic connections are at their peak production at age 2, that nurturing stimulates synaptic growth in the early years, and that the brain organizes in ways that inhibit later reorganization, we must recognize that music stimulation should begin immediately at birth in order to preserve music intelligence. Because of musical neglect in the early years, most children of school age in the United States are essentially musically retarded. Considering the short time allocated for music instruction, music teachers must do their best to remediate and develop neuronal pathways in brains where the neuronal network has already been fairly well organized.

Many European countries begin kindergarten as a three year program for children aged 3 to 5. The style of their curriculum emphasizes learning through doing and interacting with peers and is one of exploration and stimulation without formal understanding. While many kindergarten classes for 5 year-old children in the United States have similar goals, there are many advantages to developing the minds of 3 and 4 year-old children by placing them in the hands of informed educators during this critical time when the brain is organizing for a lifetime of thinking. This three-year kindergarten model should be considered and adopted for children in the United States. Almost 55 years ago, Kodály presented strong statements about the importance of musical influences and group experiences during this critical age.

Parents seldom take any particular care over the development of the musical sense in a child, and even the most careful and well-endowed parent cannot provide the group music making of the classroom which is so valuable in the initial stages of music development. Moreover, the majority of children are not given the chance to keep their natural healthy sense of music busy and for want of development this instinct becomes torpid.

Popularised children's music is ear candy. It provides a temporary rush but lacks long term nutritional value. J. Feierabend 1992.

If you wish to read the whole article visit


“In every successful business…there is one budget line that never gets cut. It’s called ‘Product Development’ – and it’s the key to any company’s future growth. Music education is critical to the product development of this nation’s most important resource – our children.”- John Sykes — President, VH1

“The things I learned from my experience in music in school are discipline, perseverance, dependability, composure, courage and pride in results. . . Not a bad preparation for the workforce!”- Gregory Anrig – President, Educational Testing Service

“Music is an essential part of everything we do. Like puppetry, music has an abstract quality which speaks to a worldwide audience in a wonderful way that nourishes the soul.”- Jim Henson – television producer and puppeteer

“Should we not be putting all our emphasis on reading, writing and math? The ‘back-to basics curricula,’ while it has merit, ignores the most urgent void in our present system – absence of self-discipline. The arts, inspiring – indeed requiring – self-discipline, may be more ‘basic’ to our nation survival than traditional credit courses. Presently, we are spending 29 times more on science than on the arts, and the result so far is worldwide intellectual embarrassment.”- Paul Harvey – syndicated radio show host

“It is our job, as parents, educators, and friends, to see that our young people have the opportunity to attain the thorough education that will prepare them for the future. Much of that education takes place in the classroom. We must encourage our youngsters in such pursuits as music education. In addition to learning the valuable lesson that it takes hard work to achieve success, no matter what the arena, music education can provide students with a strong sense of determination, improved communication skills, and a host of other qualities essential for successful living.”- Edward H. Rensi – President and Chief Operation Officer, U.S.A. McDonald's Corporation

“A grounding in the arts will help our children to see; to bring a uniquely human perspective to science and technology. In short, it will help them as they grow smarter to also grow wiser.”- Robert E. Allen – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Corporation

"If parents can't afford lessons, they should at least buy a musical keyboard.... or sing regularly with their kids and involve them in musical activities," Rauscher says.

“Some people think music education is a privilege, but I think it’s essential to being human.”- Jewel – singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist

What are Perfect Pitch, Absolute Pitch and Relative Pitch?
  • Basically speaking, Perfect Pitch (also called Absolute Pitch) is the ability to recognize the pitch of a musical tone accurately and instantaneously, without having external reference. Relative pitch is a more limited version of this ability - and enables you to recognize the pitch of the tone with the "clue" of comparing it to another tone.
  • Let's say you hear somebody play a note on the piano (or guitar, or flute, or drum, or any other instrument). If you can easily recognize that note correctly as B-flat (or some other note), chances are you have Perfect Pitch. Now let's say you don't have perfect pitch - you hear a note, you are told it is B-flat (or some other note), then another note is played. If you can easily recognize the new note, with the help of knowing what the first note was, chances are you have Relative Pitch.
  • But Perfect Pitch and Relative Pitch are much more than party tricks. They are probably the most important advantage a musician can have for playing, singing and composing. Musicians possessing these skills climb much higher, succeed much more, than those without. Consider the following facts:
  • Although a rarity among regular population, in symphony orchestras 20%-40% of the musicians possess Perfect Pitch, even more posses relative pitch. Among top level performers, this is as high as 85%.

  • Perfect Pitch can greatly assist sight reading, singing and performing accuracy and significantly increase tonal memory.

  • Perfect Pitch also enables you to recognize and emulate the tones from sources other than musical instruments (such as train horns, chimes, mower engines, etc.).

  • Simply put, music is based on hearing, and thus your performing accuracy is directly dependant on your hearing accuracy.

More about perfect pitch development & research

More about deafness, the importance of early intervention & cochlear implants

Before signing your child up to learn an instrument we recommend reading this fabulous article reprinted with kind permission from Melbourne's Child April 2010 edition. Key Competencies by Helen Hayward.

Other Articles of interest:

Music Beats Computers at Enhancing Early Childhood Development &

Re-educate the politicians

Curwen/Glover Hand Signs
  • The Kodály approach emphasizes the importance of learning how to sing on pitch. In the 18th century, John Spencer Curwen drew upon an earlier music teaching system known as Norwich Sol-fa, which had been devised by Sarah Glover, and developed hand signs to go with the solfege syllables (do re mi, etc.). Kodály integrated these hand signs into his teaching methods. Hand signs are a way of giving a physical placement for a vocal pitch. The low "do" begins at your midsection. Each pitch is then above the previous one. Thus, you have the hand signs going up when the pitch goes up. The upper "do" is at eye level.






For Parents thinking of hothousing their children in music, think again...

Ambitious parents might heed the case of Yeon-Cheng Ma. She started to play the violin at 2 1/2 yrs tutored by her father, won youth competitions galore. Then younger brother Yo Yo Ma who took up cello at age 4 1/2 eclipsed her. Yeon-Cheng suffered a break down at age 15 over the loss of her solo career. Now a pediatrician, she doesn't hate music- she runs the New York Children's Orchestra but Ma has little patience with parents who push their children. 'The job of a child is to play', she says, 'I traded my childhood for my left hand!'

A Underwood & Pogens 'Little Artists and Athletes. Newsweek p.14-15 1997.


The Kodály philosophy is a system of music education that has evolved from the inspiration and creativity of Zoltán Kodály. This philosophy was not invented by Kodály, but became famous because of his personal guidance of the Hungarian schools. In 1950 the first "music primary" school began in Kesckmet, Hungary. It was in this school that children received daily singing lessons, which in turn taught them the foundations of music. From 1950 to the present, this Kodály philosophy has influenced music education in over a large number of nations.

The musical objectives of Kodály musical training is to train all children to:

  1. Sing, play instruments and dance from memory, a large number of traditional singing games, chants, and folk songs, drawn first from the child's own heritage of folk song material and later expanded to include music of other cultures and countries.
  2. Perform, listen to, and analyze the great art music of the world.
  3. Achieve mastery of musical skills, such as musical reading and writing, singing and part-singing.
  4. Improvise and compose, using their known musical vocabulary at each developmental level.

How is the Kodály Philosophy Taught?

  1. Rhythm symbols and syllables are utilized.
  2. Hand signals (Solfege) are used to show tonal relationships.
  3. The moveable "do" is practiced.
  4. The musical material emphasized is the mother-tongue/folksong.
  5. Concepts are taught according to the child's learning development.
  6. Singing is the major instrument. All children can sing and be successful
The Children:

  • hear it first
  • then sing
  • then understand
  • then read and write
  • then create

Rhythm Symbols and Names

Rhythm Names

Recomended links

Hear Dr Beth Bolton discuss the importance of music education in a brief clip

Listen to the podcasts Keys to Music with Graham Abbott

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French ban on TV: Take my TV

The American Academy of Pediatrics - children under 2 should not watch TV. com/story/mwt/hot/1999/08/17/notelevision
Baby Einstein - videosbad news!,28804,1685055_1685070_1686049,00.html