Enhancing Education2019-09-07T08:40:36-07:00

Enhancing Education with Classical Music

Overall, classical music helps students to realize their full potential. Numerous research has indicated that studying classical music results in a significant increase in the following areas:

  • Speech and reading skills
  • Focus, memory and commitment
  • Working with others, teamwork, collaboration
  • Conceptualization and improved cognitive abilities
  • Motor co-ordination due to stronger neural connections
  • Creativity, communications, and critical thinking skills

In his article Music Beyond Ethics, Riethmuller states that “music can actually elevate people into a higher realm, transforming them to further cognitive greatness.”

Music, Language & the Brain

Music areas of the brain are closely associated with auditory and speech areas of the brain. These are predominantly the hypocampus, cerebellum, and the parietal lobe for music which are linked to our left frontal lobe where the broca area is located which deals with speech production and articulation. Also connected by neural pathways is the posterior superior temporal lobe where the Wernicke area is located and has to do with sequencing information which affects both language and music.

How classical music enhances studying

Many studies have been done concerning the effects of music on the brain and we at PCMA are helping to pursue further efforts in this area. One such study showed that listening to classical music in the background while studying helps the students to retain up to 40% more in their deeper memory than if they listened to nothing. In contrast, the same study showed that if the students listened to heavy metal music while studying, they retained up to 40% less than if they listened to nothing. It also increased their ability to recall that information.

Graduates from music programs also report that music has helped their creativity, teamwork, communications, and critical thinking skills. And according to a 2014 Harris Poll, four out of five polled believe their music education has contributed to their level of personal fulfillment. Two-thirds polled said music education provides people with a disciplined approach to solving problems, and the same amount say it helps manage the tasks of their jobs more successfully.

Alpha brainwaves

Among other things, classical music increases the calming alpha waves. The Alpha brainwave state is actually considered the brain’s most normal functioning state. However, living in a fast pace society, we seem to spend less and less time functioning in alpha. One consequence of this is the brain actually forgets how to produce alpha waves.

Generating more alpha waves makes you feel less anxious and more relaxed as the harmony between your mind and body is restored. Scientists have shown that highly creativity people like artists, actors and even entrepreneurs tend to spend more of their time in alpha brainwave states. This is because creativity requires a surge of alpha brainwave activity.

Alpha states happen whenever you get that “aha” or “eureka” moment of a compelling new idea, which gives you the inspiration necessary to literally create something out of nothing. The brains of creative people tend to get a burst of alpha activity when faced with a problem to solve. However, this does not happen for most people who are not creative. So, to become a more effective problem solver and creative thinker, you need to increase your alpha waves.

Suggestions for further reading

  • Mitzi Baker, Music Moves Brain to Pay Attention, Stanford School of Medicine, 2007.
  • Lisa Trei, Musical Training Helps Language Processing, Stanford Report, Stanford University, 2015.
  • Karen Johanne Pallesen, Cognitive Control in auditory Working Memory Is Enhanced in Musicians, PLOS ONE, 2010.
  • Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus, How the Adult Brain Is Shaped by Musical Training in Childhood, Journal of Neuroscience, 2012.
  • Melissa Locker, This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain, Music and the Brain, 2014.
  • Albrecht Riethmuller, Music Beyond Ethics, Archiv für Musikwiessenschaft, p. 170, vol. 65, Issue 3, 200