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Los Angeles County, CA November 6, 2007 Election
Smart Voter

Music programs increase brainpower

By Aleta Pottenger

Candidate for Governing Board Member; El Segundo Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate
I support music and dance in our schools. Study after study confirms the importance of having music programs in our schools. All seem to suggest that music and increased brain power go hand in hand.
Much has been written about the importance of keeping arts in the curriculum and yet it is one of the first cuts removed from schools when money runs short. According to the Children's Music Workshop, there are 12 benefits to music education. #1. Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. .....brain development continues for many years after birth. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain's circuits in specific ways.

An education involving the arts strengthens problem-solving and critical thinking skills and refines cognitive and creative skills which contribute to the overall academic achievement and success in our schools. Why states, "Scientific studies indicate that music participation helps train the brain for higher forms of thinking. Children perform better in other subjects by improving reading, spelling, and math skills. Experts note that a year's musical training can increase a child's IQ by as much as ten points! SAT scores show that students with experience in music scored fifteen to thirty points above the mean. Schools that were showing low academic accomplishments improved dramatically when music was added to the curriculum."

According to Neurologtical Research (1997), "young kids who play music have improved spatial-temporal reasoning which is the foundation of later success in math and science." Furthermore, a profile of SAT takers compiled by Music Educators National Conference (2001) shows that "SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 57 points high on the verbal portion of the test and 41 points higher on the math portion than students with no experience in the arts." This goes right along with Music Workshops benefit #4, "Music Students also achieve higher grades in high school."

Another positive effect is on memory. According to the New England Journal of Medicine report on the effects of recreational activities on mental acuity. The memory-enhancing effect of dance is due to the integration of several brain functions at once and simultaneous involvement on kinesthetic, rational musical and emotional processes. Dance is very good practice in working one's memory at maximum efficiency. The Franklin Institute, Resources for Science Learning, "this body-mind interaction is what stimulates brain cells to grow and connect with each other in complex ways."

Results of extensive research done at the University of California - Irvine reported that piano or singing lessons affected the spatial reasoning skills of nineteen preschoolers tested over an eight-month period. The researchers found that the preschoolers' ability to work mazes, draw geometric figures and copy patterns of two-color blocks dramatically improved. Their theory is that similar patters of neuron firing characterize all higher order thinking. When children exercise cortical neurons by listening to classical music, they are also strengthening brain circuits used for math, thus enhancing their use in complex reasoning tasks.

Study after study confirms the importance of having music programs in our schools. All seem to suggest that music and increased brain power go hand in hand. In closing I agree with a quote from Paul Harvey. He said that without music in education, America risks graduating young people who are "right-brain-damaged".

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