by Beth Bruno
for Music Lessons
“Music lessons appear to strengthen the links between
brain neurons and build new neural bridges needed for
spatial reasoning. A study compared 19 preschoolers who
took music lessons and 14 classmates enrolled in no
special music programs. After eight months, the study
found: A 46% boost in spatial IQs for the young musicians,
and a 6% improvement for children not taught music. Our
studies also show that making music appears to be much
more beneficial to cognitive development than passive
--- Frances Rauscher, Psychologist, University of
Parents appreciate the importance
of music and the arts, as shown by their interest in
augmenting school programs with private lessons for their
children. But how early should a child begin music lessons?
What instrument is best for beginners? How do parents know
if their children have talent? Jeff McGill, Director of
The Music Learning Center (MLC) in Danbury, CT, answers
these and other common parent questions in the following
Bruno: At what age should a
child begin taking music lessons? How do you help a
student select a first instrument?
McGill: Students may begin studying piano or violin as
early as age four. Each of these instruments offers
particular strengths as a student’s first instrument.
The piano offers an excellent introduction to many musical
concepts that could later be applied to other instruments.
The piano may also offer a young student a somewhat easier
experience than other instruments in that the tone can be
produced more readily than is the case with woodwinds,
brass or strings.
Violin study offers some of the
challenges in producing a tone properly through fingering
position and bowing techniques, but is generally regarded
as an instrument that can more readily develop the
students’ ear, precisely because of those challenges.
Between the two I would allow a younger student to choose
with his or her parent, basing the decision on which
instrument appeals to the student more.
Bruno: Is it best to begin with
group or individual lessons?
McGill: The choice of group versus private lessons has a
lot to do with the individual child. Group classes offer a
dynamic learning environment where students are not only
playing on their own instrument but are also participating
in musical games, ensemble playing, and a variety of other
activities that cannot be duplicated within a private
lesson. In particular, there is a clear advantage in the
development of rhythmic skills for students who study in
group lessons. There is the added benefit of learning
about teamwork and other social skills in this format. For
students who do better on a one-to-one basis, private
lessons may be the best choice. After providing
information about the benefits of each approach, we
recommend that parents base their decision on what they
have seen work best for their child in other learning
Bruno: Does your school teach
music theory, improvisation or other skills needed for a
student to learn to play by ear?
McGill: Music theory instruction is a component in each
student’s lesson curriculum. Most teaching methods and
lesson books cover relevant theory topics with each piece.
Ear training is another topic that is included, whether
through simple “singing along” with lesson pieces, or
in a more detailed program for students studying jazz or
voice. Many teachers include improvisation instruction,
and a program of jazz study may be pursued for most
instruments as well.
Bruno: How do you evaluate
a child’s potential to benefit from music lessons?
McGill: Our philosophy is that every child, or adult, may
benefit from studying music, regardless of the degree of
natural ability that exists. Realistic goals need to be
set for each individual, but most of all, we try to
encourage students to enjoy and become a part of the
process of learning music.
“Recently released 1995 SAT
results indicate that students who take music courses
average more than 20 points higher than the mean in both
verbal and math, and more than 50 points higher than
students who don’t take any arts courses.
The American Medical Association
also gives us a rather remarkable statistic: Of all
students applying for medical school, on average do you
know which student major was accepted more often than all
others – including math, science and biochemistry? Music.”
--- Michael Greene, President of the National Academy of
Recording Arts and Sciences
Muziekonderwijs maakt slimmer en socialer
Telegraaf, 7 april 2000
Van onze correspondent.
Muzikaal gevormde leerlingen zijn intelligenter en
sociaal vaardiger dan kinderen zonder een dergelijke
Deze conclusie verbindt een Duitse professor in de
pedagogiek, Hans Günther Bastiaan, aan een zes jaar
durend onderzoek op basisscholen in Berlijn.
Tussen 1992 en 1998 volgde de onderzoeker uit Frankfurt
twee groepen leerlingen. Het ging om kinderen die twee uur
per week muziekles kregen en zich bekwaamden in het spelen
van een instrument, alsmede om leerlingen die niet aan
deze opleidingsvormen deelnamen.
De onderlinge verhouding binnen de groep van muzikaal
gevormde leerlingen bleek beter dan in de andere groep.
Leerlingen voelden zich er bovendien zelden
Vandalisme en agressie kregen bij de muzikale kinderen
geen kans. Tevens bleek de opleiding positieve invloed op
het intelligentieniveau te hebben, zonder dat deze
ontwikkeling op de ouders was terug te voeren. Minder
intelligente kinderen ontwikkelden zich na aanvang van de
muzieklessen sneller dan anderen.
Op grond van de resultaten pleit de Duitse professor
ervoor om op alle Duitse basisscholen wekelijks twee uur
muziekonderwijs verplicht te stellen. Ook zou de
mogelijkheid moeten worden geboden om op school te