Why at Agora Portals International School does learning music form part of an all-round education?

Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la and sí. At first glance, these are just the seven notes which make up the musical scale but, in depth, learning these notes has many more benefits for children’s development than simply knowing how to play an instrument. Learning music brings so many improvements in so many fields of knowledge that, at Agora Portals International School, we don’t understand education without this important ‘leg’.

Within our educational model, the arts play a fundamental role, as we are committed to developing, among other things, children’s creativity through them. And, among all the arts, we opt, among others, for musical learning, from the first levels of education. Learning that not only helps our students to know how to play an instrument for their adolescence and adulthood, but also has many other psychological, intellectual and psychomotor benefits integrated into it from an early age. “In addition to the fact that when playing an instrument we use both hemispheres of the brain, music helps us in the development of psychomotor skills, memory, analysis, logical-mathematical thinking and languages”, says Marta González, assistant music coordinator at our school.

As the musicologist Bukofzer specified back in 1977, there are two objectives in music education: education for music and education with music, and it is this second concept which we also work on at Agora Portals International School.

More music, better school performance

One of the benefits mentioned by our assistant music coordinator is the development of logical-mathematical thinking. Why does she say this? Well, because musical learning is related to high academic performance, as it favours neuronal activity and activates the part of the brain responsible for strengthening mathematical concepts or reading, among others.

We are not saying that. Indeed, this is the conclusion drawn by Dr Nina Kraus of Northwestern University in the US, with a study confirming the benefits of music on our brain capacity: “There is good evidence that playing a musical instrument from infancy has a profound effect on the nervous system and that music lessons at an early age can have lasting benefits on the brain,” Kraus said. The study was published in 2015 in the journal PNAS.

It is not the only research that has reached this conclusion: the Mc Master Institute for Music and Mind in Canada has also done so. They carried out an analysis with children aged between four and six: for one year, one group was taught music and the other was not. The results showed that the children who had been taught had better memorisation skills, which allowed them to do better than the second group in maths grades, among other subjects.

This is possible because, according to the researchers, musical activity emits changes in the cerebral cortex.

In agreement with them is another research led by the University of Florida which claims that music affects more parts of the mind than any other stimulus by learning the key, rhythm and lyrics of songs. The results of this study were the same as those of the Canadian Mc Master.

Musical learning as an engine of discipline and emotions

In addition to positively affecting school performance, learning music from an early age is a great incentive for different social and emotional skills in children. Skills that will be of great help in adulthood.

“Children who combine musical education with general education need much more discipline, as music requires a lot of study time and dedication. Getting positive results after a period of study helps them to have good self-esteem and be more optimistic,” says Marta González.

Going one step further, musical learning is an interesting incentive for learning emotions at all stages of childhood. At least this is demonstrated by different scientific investigations, such as the one carried out by Chantal Udasco, from California State University for her Master’s Thesis, published on Scribd. The author stated as early as 2005 that music facilitates emotional settling. She further concluded that music allows children between the ages of five and seven to externalise and become aware of many emotion-related words that can be expressed through musical language. In this way, it can help to regulate and recognise these feelings.

In line with this, our assistant music coordinator, Marta González, explains that “to go on stage you need great mental control over your nerves and other emotions that can invade you at any given moment”. She even comments that students who study music need to know non-verbal communication to be able to establish a dialogue with their classmates, with the director and even with the audience (if there is one).

As we have seen, it is no coincidence that, in 1983, Howard Gardner included musical intelligence as one of the seven multiple intelligences developed by human beings. “Sensitivity to good intonation, song recognition, perception and musical production”, the psychologist said at the time.

In conclusion, as the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “without music, life would be a mistake”.

10 / 05 / 21