My wife says that my handwriting is like chicken scratch, and while I agree, I contend that it's making me smarter, and I have proof. A recent study found that the slower process of taking notes longhand engaged the brain in a more beneficial way as the students were forced to be more selective about what they wrote.
The study further states that the greatest brain development occurs when students are both mentally AND physically engaged in the learning process. And while that may seem somewhat obvious, music has not always embraced this notion.
I am sure you have heard of the now debunked "Mozart Effect." This famous, but fallacious study states that merely listening to certain types of music improves intelligence. It turns out that it's simply not true.
(Editors note: Scott is now going to make a valiant but highly unscientific attempt to correlate two unrelated studies. Prepare to be entertained)
In a more recent and unrelated study published by Northwestern University stated that our brain experiences a similar effect when we are handwriting notes as happens when we are making music. The study, published in TIME Magazine, states that the act of creating music versus just hearing it causes greater activity and growth in brain function.
It turns out that playing notes is just as important and has a similar benefit to handwriting them. The article further states,"In the same way that watching sports won't make you fitter, merely listening to music is unlikely to make you smarter." This will almost assuredly disappoint my television watching, iPad loving ten year old son more than you know.
What does all of this mean?
It means that being in an ensemble matters. It means that it's not just the product, but the process of making music that changes us. It means that the humanity of music, creating, collaborating, and communicating, isn't just important, it is integral to our brain development.
It means that in good days and bad, right notes and wrong, you are helping young people to grow musically, intellectually, and emotionally. It means that you have an important place in your students' lives, in the school community, and in the world of education. It means that you and your class can't be replaced by a Spotify station or an iTunes play list and that what you do matters!
But more important than that, it means that Mozart has far less of an "effect" on young people compared to YOU.
Yes, I prefer right notes to wrong ones, but there is no data that suggests the right ones develop students' brains any better than the wrong ones. What matters is that they aren't just taking notes, they are making them as well.
Let's keep this one a secret from my son!
Have a great week everyone!
p.s. Last week the 2016 Pulitzer Prize committee announced their 2016 winners and I was snuffed AGAIN! Clearly the selection committee was made up of keyboard typing, non-musicians as not choosing my blog shows a serious lack of brain development.