Certainly, the complexities of the activities of the normal brain are far too numerous and complex to attend to in a short newsletter. What I want to briefly achieve is to show the wider and longer term benefits to all students of learning a musical instrument, as we launch the school’s initiative in this area of the curriculum.
Music is what neuroscientists call a whole-brain activity, engaging the right and left hand hemispheres of the brain simultaneously. The right is more predominantly used for pitch, rhythm, harmony, and melody. Interestingly, the parts of the brain responsible for language development use almost identical parts of the brain to the appreciation and formation of melody. Music has also been shown to have a positive effect on memory. Music has power to evoke emotions, and both spheres of the brain can be stimulated differently according to the emotional register of the music: left for joyful or happy music; right for fear-inducing or sad. Music can prepare brain chemicals that stimulate and soothe in equal measure.
Musical activity is defined as activity that activates music centres in the brain. Listening to the radio is a musical activity but it is more passive than active. It is not as powerful a brain stimulant as having your child play an instrument for him/herself. Music can also ‘wake up’ the brain to maths learning and keep it awake. Many of the parts of the brain that build Maths skills are the same as those that react to music.
The craft of music is built on mathematical structures of scales, chords, intervals in tones, beat, rhythm and cadence. Having your child learn to play a musical instrument could have a profound impact not just on intellectual development now. Interestingly the impacts of music correspond strongly with the benefits of being bi- or multilingual, thereby leading to greater neurological health later in life.
When viewed in this way, I ought to begin lessons again myself! I hope it will not be too long before we witness BVIS Royal City awash with the sounds of children playing and enjoying their music.
Mr Mark Sayer – Principal of BVIS Hanoi – Royal City Campus