Alternative Journal #3, April (WR) : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Recent Brain Research on Young Children by John W. Flohr, Teaching Music, June 1999, p. 41-43,54.

Submitted by: Paul Brownlow


Flohrs article evaluates and explains the new research about music instruction and its effects on the brain. He cites his own study along with others and then details the results and findings of each.

His first evidence is from a study he did with D.C. Miller. This study tested the activity of the brain with an EEG scan. They found that the brain responds differently to different types of music after the age of five. Before the age of five there is no measurable difference in brain activity.

The authors next example was from a study done by Frances Rauscher and her colleagues. She used behavioral tests to see how music influenced the brain. Her findings were presented at the American Psychological Associations 102nd Annual Convention. She reported that children who received music instruction scored higher in spatial task ability than those who had not (p.42). This, according to the author, resulted in a lot of publicity about the importance of music education. Some spin-offs of this research included the book, the Mozart Effect written by Don Campbell and the article, Your Childs Brain, by S. Begley published in Newsweek. Next, Flohr noted a few other studies that were relevant to Raushers findings. They were The effect of Music Training on Preschoolers Spatial-Temporal Task Performance from the Journal of Research and Music Education and The effect of Orff-Based Music Instruction on the Spatial Temporal Skills of Young Children presented at the Orff-Schulwerk Association.

Finally, Flohr listed the new techniques that are available to researchers for brain evaluation. The ones he named were the EEG, MRI, and the PET Scan. He said these tests were revolutionary and some were too new to have any posted results. His conclusion listed five reasons why music education is vital. They are adaptations from R. Shores Rethinking the Brain: New Insights into Early Development. They are as follows:

1. The nature/nurture debate

-music may affect the circuitry of the brain

2. The effects of nurture.

-early care is important in the development of the child and music should be a part of that early care.

3. Optimal music learning

-window of opportunity for music education is crucial

4. Minimal Disadvantages

-music education may counter some of the earlier negative consequences from early childhood.

5. The value of early music education

-research over the past ten years indicates to the importance of early music education.

Flohrs article comes at a very good time. All the documented research he presents allows school administrators and educators to make informed decisions. I do not necessarily know if this will change the minds of people today, but in the future I believe music will be seen as a core curricular subject. Researchers are noticing that music itself maybe cannot be easily evaluated, but the effects it has on other subjects is measurable and amazing.

I liked how the author took the reader from the early research to the present and explained each study. He does not offer much of his own opinion, but mere fact from each study. I appreciate this review because I will be able to use it in my own research for my thesis proposal. His sidebar showing the progression of technology was also a great feature to help the reader understand what was and is now being tested. Brain research is so new, and I believe it will demonstrate why music education is considered vital by many.

Music educators are constantly defending their own programs. This article makes it easier for us to do that in an research-based manner. Over the next fifteen years, I believe policy makers will require more music in schools because it is so integral in all aspects of education. Perhaps, there will be a day when music will be considered standard and science will be the frill of education.

-- Anonymous, May 28, 1999

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