Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Music to Our Ears - Bravo Philip Ball!

The following blog is paraphrased and quoted from an article by Philip Ball - author of The Music Instinct.

Remember the Mozart Effect?  The claim had such an incredible impact because it plays to a long-standing suspicion that music makes you smarter.  In fact, the curious but marginal effect on intelligence is fleeting and stems from the cognitive benefits of any enjoyable auditory stimulus.  So it's not Mozart in particular, pop music works just as well, and as it turns out, the stimulus does not even need to be musical at all.

"For the past several years the  much ballyhooed benefits of music education have done little to alter a common perception that music is an optional extra offered only to children who have the time and inclination. As ethno-musicologist John Blacking stated "we insist that musicality is a rare gift, so that music is to be created by a tiny minority for the passive consumption of the majority." Having spent years among African cultures that recognized no such distinctions, Blacking was appalled at the way this elitism labelled most people 'unmusical'."

And perhaps Philip Ball's best paragraph....

But it will be a sad day when the only way to persuade educationalists to embrace music is via its side effects on cognition and intelligence. Music should indeed be celebrated (and studied) as a gymnasium for the mind; but ultimately its value lies with the way it enriches, socializes and humanizes us.

We could not have said it better. We might only add the following lines that we share with all of our students; the greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it.