Focus

Focus

“Music isn’t just learning notes and playing them.  You learn notes to play to the music of your soul.”  –  Katie Greenwood

MIS Featured: San Jose Mercury News

MIS featured in San Jose Mercury News, in an article that discusses the music gap in the Bay Area.
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MIS Featured: Palo Alto Weekly

MIS featured in Palo Alto Weeky, in an article that discusses the current state of K-8 music education within the Ravenswood City School District.
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MIS Featured: San Francisco Classical Voice

MIS featured in San Francisco Classical Voice, in an article that highlights the benefits of music education.
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Is Music the Key to Success?

This article explores the correlation between music and high achievers. You can access the article through this link.

Why Music?

Here are 16 reasons why a substantial music education benefits students of all ages:

  1. Music training has been linked to spatial-temporal reasoning skills – i.e. ability to read a map, put puzzles together, form mental images, and recognize relationships between objects
  2.  Musical symbols, structure, and rhythmic training utilize fractions, ratios, and proportions, which are all important to the study of math
  3. Increases problem finding/solving, logic and thinking skills like analysis, evaluation and the linkage/organization of ideas
  4. Optimizes brain neuron development & circuitry
  5.  Assists motor development, especially coordination of hands, eyes and body
  6. Expands multiple intelligences and helps students transfer study, cognitive and communication skills from subject to subject in any syllabus
  7. Group orchestra and/or ensemble activities help promote cooperation, social harmony and teach kids discipline while working together toward a common goal
  8.  Music augments memory. For example, most people learn their ABC’s by singing them. Repeating a tune in a predictable rhythmic song structure makes memorization easier
  9. Singing helps to aid/improve reading ability and instruction
  10. In vocal music, learning rhythm, phrasing, and pitch greatly enhances language, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary skills. This is especially noticeable when using songs in first and second language study
  11. Music training improves critical reading and writing
  12. Consistently participating in music boosts creative thinking
  13. Reading music and performing memorized pieces help students to think ahead
  14. Improvisation helps students to “think on their feet”
  15. Preparing for performance is connected to self-esteem & self-efficacy (concept of self capacity). Students learn to strive for their very best.  This promotes habits of determination and perseverance, which students then apply to future endeavors, academic or otherwise
  16. Children who study music consistently have a better attitude, are more motivated and are less intimidated by learning new things

The Ravenswood district is designated as a Performance Improvement District, and is working diligently to meet strict national benchmarks.  Affirming that music is a priority in the curriculum, the district superintendent has asked MIS to implement our music education program in more schools as quickly as possible, and we have the enthusiastic support of both classroom teachers and administrators.  As we continue to build our relationship with the East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park communities, we are more excited than ever about what we can accomplish together.

Educators know the many reasons that a solid music education is one of the most important parts of a child’s learning.  A growing body of evidence reveals that children who participate in the arts are more imaginative, focused, and productive learners, who develop crucial critical and creative thinking skills.  Read about one such study below:

Study Links Music, Speech

Palo Alto Daily News, Daniel Velton, Staff Writer

A study conducted at Stanford University has shown that learning and mastering a musical instrument improves part of the brain involved in spoken language, a finding that could have effects on the way educators view the role of music in the classroom.  Dr Nadine Gaab, currently at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford when she conducted experiments involving people between 18 and 24 years old.

“People have already shown that musical experience has a positive influence on Language, ” Gaab said. “What we showed is why.” During the study, the test subjects, all of whom were native English speakers, were exposed to a progression of sounds with similar-sounding syllables such as “ba-da” or “ga-ka.” Another test involved listening to three tone sequences and determining their order from lowest to highest.

The study showed that musicians (most of whom were trained in and played classical music) performed better in the tests than their non-musician peers.  “The musicians showed a more efficient brain,” Gaab said, “They used less effort to keep track of fast changes.”

The brain activity was analyzed by an MRI test that measured the levels of oxygen use in particular regions of the brain associated with the processing of sound.  In the tone test, musicians discerned the sequences correctly at least 85 percent of the time, compared to the 50 percent average of their non-musician counterparts.  The ability to perceive the tones could be compared to distinguishing syllables in reading and language comprehension.

Gaab said that subsequent studies could involve younger children and shed light on music’s potential to help youth with reading disabilities.

Local music educators hope that studies such as the Stanford experiment alert lawmakers who could influence funding for music in the classroom.  Virginia Fruchterman, a board member of the Music in the Schools program, said, “I would hope this gets the attention of people in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. so they stop looking at the arts as frills.”

Olga Yoffe, co-president of the Palo Alto branch of the Music Teachers’ Association of California, said that she hopes studies such as the one at Stanford will pave the way for possible funding and expansion of music programs in schools.  “Music requires concentration and logical thinking,” she said. “There are patterns inside the music, and the faster you recognize the patterns, the better.”  She said the skill could carry over into language, which also has patterns.

Interesting Links