The link between early music learning experiences and a child’s cognitive development is significant. Unfortunately, many policy makers (and parents) remain unaware of this important and life-changing opportunity for our youngest citizens. Research studies like the two referenced below continue to explore and quantify the music-brain link, providing indisputable evidence and making the case for music learning opportunities for every child.
Study: An experimental study of the effects of improvisation on the development of children’s creative thinking in music
Theano Koutsoupidou: UNIVERSITY OF THE AEGEAN, GREECE, firstname.lastname@example.org
David J. Hargreaves: ROEHAMPTON UNIVERSITY, UK, email@example.com
This article reports a quasi-experimental study of the effects of improvisation on the development of children’s creative thinking in music. The study was conducted in a primary school classroom with two matched groups of 6-year-old children over a period of six months. The music lessons for the experimental group were enriched with a variety of improvisatory activities, while those in the control group did not include any improvisation, but instead were didactic and teacher-centred. Children in the experimental group were offered several opportunities to experience improvisation through their voices, their bodies, and musical instruments. Webster’s Measure of Creative Thinking in Music — MCTM II (Webster, 1987, 1994) was administered before and after the six-month teaching programmes (i.e., pre-test and post-test) to assess children’s creative thinking in terms of four musical parameters: extensiveness, flexibility, originality, and syntax. Analysis revealed that improvisation affects significantly the development of creative thinking; in particular, it promotes musical flexibility, originality, and syntax in children’s music-making.
WHERE TO FIND: http://pom.sagepub.com/content/37/3/251.abstract
STUDY: The effect of piano lessons on the vocabulary and verbal sequencing skills of primary grade students
Joseph M. Piro, LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY, USA, Joseph.Piro@liu.edu
Camilo Ortiz, LONG ISLAND UNIVERSITY, USA, Camilo.Ortiz@liu.edu
A number of studies have reported positive associations between music experience and increased abilities in non-musical (e.g., linguistic, mathematical, and spatial) domains in children. These transfer effects continue to be probed using a variety of experimental designs. The major aim of this quasi-experimental study was to examine the effects of a scaffolded music instruction program on the vocabulary and verbal sequencing skills of two cohorts of second-grade students. One group (n = 46) studied piano formally for a period of three consecutive years as part of a comprehensive instructional intervention program. The second group (n = 57) had no exposure to music lessons, either in school programs or private study. Both groups were assessed on two subtests from the Structure of Intellect (SOI) measure. Results revealed that the experimental group had significantly better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores at post-test than did the control group. Data from this study will help to clarify the role of music study on cognition and shed light on the question of the potential of music to enhance school performance in language and literacy.
WHERE TO FIND: http://pom.sagepub.com/content/37/3/325.abstract