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Music and

Literacy

Making Music Matter

“All deep things are song. It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls!

” ~Thomas Carlyle

What is Literacy?

Most people think of literacy as the ability to read the written word

Literacy doesn’t pertain only to reading but also “writing, thinking, talking, listening and creating”

So where do we as music educators fit in?

This presentation will show the role that music can take in academic development

The Disappearing Act

Budget cuts have eroded music programs across the country for the past 30 years.

Organizations such as Vh1’s Save the Music Foundation have donated over $34 million to 1,400 public schools in the US helping to keep the music alive

Unfortunately, music and arts programs are still rapidly disappearing.

The Disappearing Act

Music is deemed “frivolous, unimportant and void of any academic importance” by school administrators looking to

“streamline” their schools by cutting the arts.

How can we as music educators turn around these misconceptions of unimportance?

How does music actually influence the development of children?

Music and Cognitive

Development

Thanks to modern “brain research,” using music to understand the human brain and how it develops, music educators have a strengthened position on the promotion of music as an academic tool.

One example is Howard Gardner’s Theory of

Multiple Intelligences which gives music a

“significant place in the development of educational programs.

A study in 1995 showed that musicians who learned to play a string or keyboard instrument before adolescence had “a larger part of the brain devoted to touch perception.”

Music and Cognitive

Development

A study in 1997 showed how music can accelerate learning, promote memory development and hand/eye coordination.

It also showed how cognitive processes are aided by learning music.

The music of Mozart was used in this study as

“a vehicle for remediating audiological and neurological dysfunctions and facilitating higher levels of brain function.”

Music companies such as Baby Einstein are promoting music as a learning tool in infants and some even go as far as to say that

“Mozart makes you smarter!”

Music and Cognitive

Development

Howard Gardner supports that everyone has music as part of their multiple intelligences and that every single child has the ability to develop musically.

In an article published in 1997,

Gardner concludes that “school districts that "lop off" music in a child's education are simply "arrogant" and unmindful of how humans have evolved with music brains and intelligences.”

Are we making progress in the promotion of music as a tool for literacy?

Schools in Oakland, CA participate in a music and academic fusion program called MILE

(Music Integrated Literacy Enhancement).

MILE is currently being implemented in public schools throughout the Oakland Unified

School District.

Academic teachers work together with music teachers to create a curriculum that integrates math, language literacy and music.

Students learn academic material through songs, games and instrumental collaborations.

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