Music educators often lust after a priority position among school programs. The surest way to achieve such a position will always be to build a successful program. But there are other possibilities on the horizon.
The attention pendulum may swing our direction for reasons that we have always claimed but can now prove. Because music lights up the brain with activity and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging shows that, scientists have made us the poster child of brain research. They have proven that music changes the brain.
Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, scientists have found that music performance activates and changes the brain. Technology has also confirmed that music activities use areas of the brain that are important to success in language, mathematics, and other academic areas. Those newly discovered situations mean
that music activities improve parts of the brain required for academic success.
In fact, there is evidence that improvement in rhythm performance skills transfers directly to improvement in reading skills. Due to the rarity of transfer of learning, it is difficult to overstate the importance of these findings. Testing-conscious educators will soon act upon this research. You could predict the following scenario:
- The advantages of rhythm skill improvement will come to the attention of school administrators.
- School administrators will lead an initiative to use this new research to improve test scores.
- Music teachers will be left out, and this promising program will fade into obscurity like so many others.Somewhere that will occur.
But there is a preferable scenario.
- Music educators will introduce this research and lead the effort.
- Dual purpose curricula will emerge so that rhythm improvement and traditional learning occur simultaneously.
- Music will be front and center at every grade level and music educators will be indispensible academic leaders.
- Music ensembles will be first choice electives for students with earlyrhythm fluency, and music programs will flourish beyond our imaginings.
The latter scenario asks a lot, but it offers us the chance to affect the academic success of every student while we build successful programs.