music and literacy

Using music education to improve children’s grammar skills

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

Image from Pixabay, reproduced under Creative Commons CC0.

A study by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is the first of its kind to show a connection between musical rhythm and grammar. It suggests that a child’s ability to distinguish musical rhythm is related to his or her capacity for understanding grammar.

Reyna Gordon, Ph.D., lead author and research fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, studied 25 typically-developing six-year-olds. All were native speakers of English with less than two years of formal music training, with parents reporting that their child had normal hearing, language, cognitive, and emotional development.

The first test was a standardised test of music aptitude. A computer programme prompted the children to judge if two melodies (which were either identical or slightly different) were the same or different.

Next, the children played a computer game that the research team developed called a beat-based assessment. The children watched a cartoon character play two rhythms, then had to determine whether a third rhythm was played by “Sammy Same” or “Doggy Different.”

To measure the children’s grammar skills, they were shown a variety of photographs and asked questions about them. They were measured on the grammatical accuracy of their answers, such as competence in using the past tense.

Though the grammatical and musical tests were quite different, Gordon found that children who did well on one kind tended to do well on the other, regardless of IQ, music experience and socioeconomic status.

SOURCES:
Vanderbilt University: https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/10/30/researchers-explore-links-between-grammar-rhythm/
Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105101238.htm
Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/desc.12230/abstract;jsessionid=827154C613FE7F59764343B3B5892A5C.f02t02

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: LANGUAGE SKILLS
TARGET GROUP: CHILDREN
AGE: 6-YEARS-OLD
MUSIC TYPE: GENERAL
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 25
PERIOD OF STUDY: UNKNOWN
DATE: 2014
PLACE: USA

Investing in music for literacy is money well spent

Anita CollinsIn August 2016, Anita Collins, the well-known Australian music educator and researcher, presented the case that music education could raise pupils’ literacy scores in her home country.

Since 2008, Australia has implemented an annual assessment for students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 called the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). NAPLAN tests the skills that are essential for every child to progress through school and life, such as reading, writing, spelling and numeracy.

The preliminary results of the May 2016 NAPLAN tests were released at the end of August 2016, and presented a disappointing return on the country’s investment in education. So what next?

Anita Collins sees a clear way forward. Rather than concentrating primarily on literacy and numeracy teaching – which she accepts are vital areas of learning – more time should be given to music education which is currently under-used.

She points out that there is now two decades’ worth of rigorous scientific research proving that consistent music education from birth can improve literacy levels by between one and three years. And this improvement, she says, is based on NAPLAN results in Australia and can occur after just more than a year of implementation.

The reason why? Music education supports the early development of the human auditory processing network. This is the network we use to learn spoken language, and the better we can hear and make meaning of sound, the smoother the transition to reading written text and understanding the building block of grammar.

With such strong evidence of the connection between auditory development through music learning and literacy levels, she suggests the Australian government should base its funding on practices that are not just “more literacy more of the time”.

Source:
Anita Collins: http://www.anitacollinsmusic.com/bigger-better-brains/naplan2016

Is Music Good For Your Child?

Education Through Music guitar class

Thanks to: Education Through Music for the photo by Anna Yatskevich

We all know, instinctively, that music is good for us, and for our children. Who can deny the affect that music has on us, its ability to express and understand complex feelings, and our drive as humans to make music, and to share it at the most important points in our lives?

And those responsible for our education systems across the world seem to agree, giving music a central place and in many cases prioritising it above other arts. References are often made to music’s ‘instrumental’ benefits – improving academic achievement, personal development, and life skills.

In this article on the Musicstage website, Anita Holford and Dyfan Wyn Owen, both parents of a young musician, look at whether learning music really can make a difference to childrens’ futures.

(Please note you can ask for the full article to be emailed to you from Musicstage, or you can sign-up to Musicstage, or become a subscriber).

Source:
http://musicstage.co/Musicstage-GB/82e08e38af2d40d98151449f2eff6da2-Is-music-good-for-your-child/WebViewer 

Learning music gives you biological advantages

Musicians biological differences research paperA study by Dr Nina Krauss and Dana L Strait at Northwestern University concludes that musician children and adults who make music demonstrate biological distinctions in auditory processing when compared with non-musicians.

For example, musician children and adults have more robust neural encoding of speech harmonics, more adaptive sound processing, and more precise neural encoding of acoustically similar sounds; these enhancements may make musicians better at hearing speech in amongst noise (see also this post here about focused attention), and reading.

Although it isn’t possible to separate the effects from the demographic and innate qualities that may pre-distinguish musicians, because the lab works with community music programmes involving a wide range of young people including those in challenging circumstances, the outcomes indicate that many of musicians’ auditory-related biological enhancements can develop through musical training and so this may well promote the acquisition of language skills, including in ‘at-risk’ populations.

SOURCES:
Brainvolts (Northwestern University): http://www.brainvolts.northwestern.edu/documents/Kraus_Strait_NYAS_2015.pdf

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
TARGET GROUP: CHILDREN & ADOLESCENTS
AGE: 5-16 YEARS
MUSIC TYPE: GENERAL
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 69
PERIOD OF STUDY: ONGOING
DATE: 2014
PLACE: USA