Music ignites bigger, better brains

Music a no-brainer for Year 4s

A new, free band program for children in Year 4 at Tatachilla Lutheran College is not only equipping students with skills in music, cooperation and concentration, but also enhancing their brain function.

Led by Director of Music, Peter Jewitt, the band program is now timetabled into the Year 4 curriculum and providing students with the opportunity to experiment with their own instrument and have access to musical training as part of their daily learning.

The aim is to immerse children in the dynamic world of music with a view to building their musicianship and passion for music while also enhancing their ability to plan, focus attention, remember, and juggle multiple tasks. These mental processes are known collectively as ‘executive function’, which is proven to be far more advanced in children who receive musical training.

“Scientific research tells us that children who play an instrument experience improved academic performance and an enhanced ability to persevere with tasks, regulate emotions, connect with others and bring themselves back from a distracted state,” says Mr Jewitt.

“Music ignites ‘fireworks’ in the brain, igniting all three cortices, and forging faster and more effective neural pathways. This results in improved cognition, alertness, memory, fine motor skills and reasoning ability.

“We are at a point in time where music needs to be considered essential in human development, as important as taking your vitamins, eating your vegetables and breathing fresh air,” Mr Jewitt says.

As part of learning music in an ensemble setting, our Year 4s are currently learning to share ‘a common pulse’, listen to each other’s parts, identify when something is going wrong and take personal responsibility for fixing that problem. As they grow as musicians, they will be encouraged to do this with greater sensitivity and remain verbally and non-verbally supportive of the group.

“The skills our children gain during the band program will transferable to all parts of their life, not just their schoolwork,” says Mr Jewitt.

“Importantly, they will learn to care for their instruments over a long period of time and accept the responsibility and commitment that comes with this. Caring for something over a long period of time, and growing as a musician, engages the brain’s reward network.

“Our children will experience the same feelings they get when they are recognised for having done something well. The rush of dopamine and adrenaline that this response triggers is also deeply motivating.

“Learning to play music is perfect for activating the reward network and experiencing feelings of pride and happiness on a daily basis.”

While it generally takes years for children to learn how to read music fluently and to play the right notes at the right time, Mr Jewitt says that children in Year 4 are at the ideal age to begin a band immersion program of this type.

“The music team is very excited about this new initiative and can’t wait to support our Years 4s on the next stage of their musical journey.”

For more information on the impact of music on the brain, and the philosophy adopted by the Tatachilla music team, please visit Bigger Better Brains

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