"....The most controversial finding about the musical
mind is that learning music can help children do better at math. When a
researcher at a recent conference in New York brought up these studies, he got
an auditorium full of laughs. Yet the link, reported in 1997 by Gordon Shaw of
the University of California, Irvine, and Frances Rauscher at the University of
Wisconsin, has held up."
"...Last year Shaw compared three groups of second
graders: 26 got piano instruction plus practice with a math video game, 29
received extra English lessons plus the math game, and 28 got no special
lessons. After four months the piano kids scored 15 percent to 41 percent higher
on a test of ratios and fractions than the other kids."
"...But might music work its magic simply by making
school more enjoyable, or because music lessons bring kids more one-on-one time
with teachers? If that were so, then music should bring about improvement in
many subjects. But it doesn't. Although kids who receive music training often
improve somewhat across the board due to the "good mood" and attention
effects, finds psychologist Martin Gardiner of Brown University, 'they just
shoot ahead in math. This can't be explained by social effects or attention
alone. There is something specific about music and math.' "
"...The brain seems to be a sponge for music and, like a
sponge in water, is changed by it. The brain's left and right hemispheres are
connected by a big trunk line called the corpus callosum. When they compared
the corpus callosum in 30 nonmusicians with the corpus callosum in 30
professional string and piano players, researchers led by Dr. Gottfried
Schlaug of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston found striking
differences. The front part of this thick cable of neurons is larger in
musicians, especially if they began their training before the age of 7."
"....Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, but
scientists are finding that it works those charms through the brain. Several
lines of evidence suggest that the human brain is wired for music, and that some
forms of intelligence are enhanced by music. Perhaps the most striking hint that
the brain holds a special place in its gray matter for music is that people can
typically remember scores of tunes, and recognize hundreds more. But we can
recall only snippets of a few prose passages."
From "The Heart of
distributed to Elementary School Teachers)
"Educational researchers have known for years that certain
kinds of music can increase concentration and boost retention in learners. Now
it's being found that the effects of music are even more wide-ranging than
"The power and effectiveness of using music to enhance
learning, abstract thinking and memory retention are well documented."
"Students who listened to Mozart for ten minutes before
taking a standardized test raised their scores in spatial and abstract
reasoning. On an intelligence test, the gain was nine points after only ten
minutes of listening."
"On standardized college entrance exams, students taking
music classes scored 20-40 points higher than students who didn't take
"Worldwide, all of the countries that are top-rated in
science and math have strong music and art programs."
"People who listened to light classical music for 90
minutes while editing a manuscript increased accuracy by 21% in a University of
"Researchers have found that
whatever an individual's musical preferences, music.....invariably calms the
listener's mind and body rhythms; improves spatial perception; and promotes
better communication of emotions, concepts and thoughts."