Research suggest structured lessons in reading music offer greater rewards!


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Music Research at the Turn of the Millennium


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The Second Class Status of Music Education is Based on False Beliefs

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"Excerpts from MuSICA Research Notes",  reproduced by permission of the author, 
Dr. Norman M. Weinberger, Director of MuSICA.
For more information, contact

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"Many of us became musicians to fill an emotional need, not knowing the mind was benefiting too.  As more research ties the mind to health and emotional well being,  music will become both medicine and exercise for the mind!" 

- Music Notes, Inc.

- A particularly noteworthy finding is the total amount of the brain that is involved in active music making, particularly during sight reading and playing. It seems that more of the brain is involved than in almost any other situation, with the possible exception of the abnormal storms of electrical activity that sweep through the brain during an epileptic seizure. 

- The devaluation of music because it involves emotion falsely assumes that music is not cognitive. Actually, music involves as many or more cognitive processes than any other school subject. For example, playing from a score involves most if not all cognitive processes. These include perception of the score and of the music produced, interpretation of images on the page based on prior learning of an abstract language with its own complex syntax, continual and focused attention, planning highly intricate movements, adjusting this motor program to not only match the score,s meter and rhythm but also the ongoing tempo as indicated by the conductor, executing the motor plan to make an appropriate level of sound, with appropriate phrasing, nuance and expression, attending to the results both aural and kinesthetic, and beginning this continual process of problem solving again. Where in all of this is there mental activity less exalted or less important for cognitive development than in reading, riting or rithmetic? Of course, these are important subjects, but so is music. If one is concerned with developing the human intellect, rather than whether the school band wins prizes, how can one possibly justify treating music as a second-class subject in education? 

Music and Cognitive Achievement in Children

The music instruction was extensive, five days a week for 40 minutes per day, for seven months. Students were tested on reading ability at the start of the school year and then tested again at the end of the year. After training the music group exhibited significantly higher reading scores than did the control group, scoring in the 88th percentile vs. the 72nd percentile...after an additional year of Kodaly training, the experimental group was still superior to the control group. These findings clearly support the view that music education facilitates the ability to read.

"Excerpts from MuSICA Research Notes",  reproduced by permission of the author, 
Dr. Norman M. Weinberger, Director of MuSICA.
For more information, contact

Sight-Reading Music: A Unique Window on the Mind

Music research affords the potential to discover new capacities and processes of the human mind. However, music cognition and behavior are often viewed merely as an instance of other, better known subjects. An example is music sight-reading, often believed to obey the laws of language reading. However, recent studies reveal that the study of sight-reading in music provides a unique window on the mind.

A related task in music is sight-reading, that is reading an unknown score while performing the music. T. W. Goolsby has pointed out that music educators have adopted language reading as the basis for instruction and evaluation of sight-reading. He questions whether this is seems that the mental strategy in music is to look ahead to determine where the score is "going" (obtaining the "larger picture"), making inferences about many of the details of the score (given a knowledge of e.g., harmony in Western tonal music), thus obtaining a sufficient framework within which to look back to notes that are just ahead of the notes being performed -- and repeating this complex process again. All of this occurs as often as five to six times per second! Therefore, reading music apparently is not an instance of reading text, but a process unto itself. Consequently, music seems to provide a unique window into the mind.

...Sight-reading makes demands that differ, perhaps fundamentally, from the other tasks. To be successful, mental processes and strategies must match the special demands. That the patterning of eye movements, which are a convenient "window to the mind", is unique to sight-reading forces us to enlarge the way we think about the visual encoding and understanding of symbols, and the resultant behavior. Thus, while having certain commonalties with other activities, sight-reading as a part of music seems to involve a unique combination of mental processes.

Dr. Norman M. Weinberger, Director of MuSICA.
For more information, contact

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