Effects Of Music On The Mind

This essay has a total of 3329 words and 12 pages.

Ttt

Effects Of Music On The Mind

Are people typically geniuses? Statistically, people probably are not. In fact, most people
probably aren't even intellectually gifted at all. Most people are likely to be pretty much
average, maybe a little bit above average, or a little below, but very average none the
less. It is universally understood that people strive to learn to become wiser and more
informed about the world around them. The more people learn, the more powerful they
can become. It is the speed at which people learn that separates the geniuses from the
average people and from the learning disabled. Geniuses don't run into problems while
learning, because they learn very fast. It is everyone else that could really use help. One
solid way to increase the speed at which people learn is with music. People learn through
music and their minds grow faster because of it. Some music, when implemented
properly, can have positive effects on learning and attitude. Music is a powerful thing, and
when we understand its significance, it can bring dramatic changes both positive and
negative into our lives.
The earliest stages of learning for young children are the most important. The
fundamentals of learning are instilled into a child at a very young age. How much
importance is placed on these fundamentals can have dramatic affects on the future of
the child's learning. Music, when applied in a constructive way, can have positive effects
on a child's ability to learning and can help them in many ways.
One way that music can make learning easier for a young child is by implementing music
lessons into a child's normal activities. A small study was done two years back involving
ten three-year-olds who were tested on their ability to put together a puzzle and the speed
at which they could do it ("Learning Keys" 24). After the initial test was taken, five of the
children were given singing lessons for 30 minutes a day and the other five were given
piano lessons for 15 minutes a week (24). The lessons were conducted over a six- month
period of time, and after the six months, all of the kids showed substantial improvement
in the speed at which they could put together the puzzle (24). The researchers
understand this skill in putting pieces of a puzzle together as the same reasoning that
engineers, chess players and high-level mathematicians use. In this study of inner-city
kids, their initial scores were below the national average, but afterwards their scores
nearly doubled (24). The term given to this type of reasoning and thought that goes into
putting pieces of a puzzle together is called abstract reasoning. By teaching music,
people exercise the same abstract reasoning skills that they use for doing math or some
other exercise in which the people have to visualize in their head. An eight month study
was conducted by Frances H. Rauscher of the University of California at Irvine. In this
study, nineteen preschoolers, ranging in age from three to five, received weekly keyboard
and daily singing lessons while another fivteen preschoolers received no musical training
at all (Bower 143). At the begining, middle and end of the study, the subjects were tested
on five spatial reasoning tasks (143). After only four months, scores on the test to
assemble a puzzle to form a picture improved dramatically for the group with the musical
training, while the control group didn't, even though both groups started out with the
same scores (143). It can be stated that this kind of improvement may not be substantial
enough to alter the way people are fundamentally taught, but its results cannot be
ignored. Rauscher explains, "Music instruction can improve a child's spatial intelligence
for a long time, perhaps permanently" (qtd. in Bower 143). Implementing such changes
and improvements into a young child's learning could have great effects on them in the
future when dealing with the same spatial reasoning skills.
With its resulting improvements in spatial reasoning, music can also be a very helpful
tool when actually implementing it into the classroom and intergradting it with basic
school curriculum. In New York City, a program called Learning through an Expanded Arts
Program, or LEAP, has been going on for a while and provides both music and the arts is
implemented into the school curriculum to improve scholastic scores of children at all
levels (Dean and Gross 614). One way in which music is implemented is with math. They
call it "musical math," in which the teacher incorporates rhythm with counting and
gaining a grasp on the fundamentals of math (618). With the rhythm, they are able to
learn basic elements of math like fraction and multiplication. Christine Bard, the LEAP
consultant explains, "Music helps teach the precognitive skills. It gives students the
capacity to trust themselves by providing internal discipline through a highly repetitive
structure" (qtd. in Dean and Gross 618). On the whole, students' feeling of self-confidence
and accomplishment are great and most importantly, the students' attitude toward math
and learning is increased dramatically (618). Music as a separate and thorough
curriculum can have dramatic positive changes in the learning process of young people.
Mary Jane Collett, the Director of the Office of Arts and Cultural Education of the Division
of Instruction and Professional Development of New York City Public Schools says:
... a well taught sequential music curriculum not only results in music learning that has
inherent value; it also gives students the chance to listen, react, see, touch, and move.
Instruction in music skills, appreciation, and theory also provides a wealth of learning
strategies that enhance children's analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating skills. Students
learn to process information and transfer knowledge through these concrete, kinetic, and
cognitive experiences (Collett 61).
Mary Jane Collett is an advocate for a program called Learning To Read Through The
Arts (LTRTA), which makes music and the arts a separate course in the elementary
curriculum instead of using it as an aid to different parts of the curriculum here and there
(61). Music is taught through listening to different types of music while talking about the
music, trying to understand it and interpret it in different ways and in many ways, imitate
it (63). She further explains:
These integrated music experiences provide excitement in learning for children and
thereby improve students' reading, writing, thinking, and analyzing skills and strategies.
Learning through all the senses expands the learning process to accommodate different
learning styles. Opportunities for integrating communication arts, literature, science,
social studies, and the arts are limited only by the educator's imagination, creativity, and
open-mindedness (64).
Music, when involved in the classroom, can have great effects on the early stages of
learning for the very young up through elementary age school children. Music can also
have significant effects on older people in a learning environment. Music does not have
the same effect on older people as it does on younger people, however. It is easily
understood that for young children, getting them to do fun musical things like learning to
play an instrument is somewhat easy compared to getting an adult to do the same thing.
Children will do it because it is something new and exciting whereas adults need to be
motivated to do something because they won't do something simply because they have
too. For adults it is a matter of choice, but when they choose to involve music into their
everyday lives, the effects can be just as dramatic. One important aspect that music can
have on learning for people of all ages is attitude. It seems logical to assume that it is
more helpful for adults who are less likely to want to do a particular job or activity, but
music can change this and give a listener a more positive attitude and motivation. As we
will see, by simply listening to pleasant music in the background while doing an arduous
task can make it seem so much easier, or in some cases, music may not increase positive
attitude, but will ease the strain of an activity. A study was conducted by Shawn E.
Mueske, a graduate student at Mankato State University, to determine the effects of
background music on a biology lab. He wanted to determine the effects of background
music on attitude, achievement, time spent in the laboratory and on task behavior
(Mueske 6-7). He used a control group which entailed one lab where no music was
present, and one experimental group which listened to popular/soft rock music at an
appropriate soft sound level for background music (14). He found that there was no real
difference in attitude or achievement among the two groups, but there was a significant
increase in time spent in the laboratory and time spent on task (18-28). Listening to
music as background can help people when they're thinking, learning, or working, but the
music needs to be implemented correctly. It can be easily understood that if it's vocal
music, it needs to be somewhat quiet, for if it isn't, it can be very distracting to the mind.
It is logical to conclude then that if it's instrumental, it can be somewhat louder than
vocal music, but not too loud because any music that is loud enough will make it hard to
learn or think. When people listen to music in the background, it is very important that
they listen to music that they are familiar and comfortable with. It is not necessarily
better for people to listen to music that is supposed to relax them if they are unfamiliar
with it. It is better for people to listen to music they are comfortable with and know well
and like. A study of 50 male surgeons was conducted to see if they performed a basic
surgeon-related task better and more efficiently while listening to surgeon-selected music,
experimenter-selected music, or no music at all (Allen and Blascovich 882). The test
monitored skin conductance response frequency, pulse rate, blood pressure, speed and
accuracy (883). The experimenter-selected music was Pachelbel's Canon in D. Both
conditions with music showed significantly better results than the condition without
music, but the condition with surgeon-selected music was clearly even higher than the
other (883). Another study was conducted on 54 people (25 males and 29 females) to
determine the difference of subject-selected music, experimenter-selected music and no
music, on affect, anxiety, and relaxation (Thaut and Davis 210). This study was done
under the understanding that stress is a major factor to health problems of the day. It is
important to cut down on stress in our daily lives and any way that we can do that is
beneficial to our health in some way or another. One way to try and cut down on stress in
people's everyday lives is by listening to music. In past years, there has been quite a bit
of music created for the sole purpose of relaxation and the reduction of stress. The
Continues for 6 more pages >>