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

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.

Music Education

1. The Body

Part one of Keys To Music begins 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")

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")

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"

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")

TEDxSydney - Richard Gill - The Value of Music Education

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 Academic 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 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.