Sunday, November 08, 2009

Building Musicians, Building Neural Pathways

When we play a musical instrument or sing, we are developing the capability of our brains. When we teach those skills to others, we are enabling those neural pathways in our students' brains. Brainstorm is a week-long series in the Toronto Star by Alanna Mitchell, who traveled to several countries investigating the confluence of education and neuroscience.

What I find interesting is looking at Alanna's list of which teaching processes have been found to actually stimulate and strengthen the synapses of students' brains:
What BUILDS connections
• Learning by doing
• Physical movement
• Using more than one sense to learn
• Having fun learning
• Being emotionally calm and open to learning
• Building on information already there
• Discerning patterns
• Taking some risk, but not too much
• Having a positive connection with the teacher
• Knowing why you’re learning
Another diagram details Education and the learning brain, with five implications for learning that are extremely relevant to music education:
1. A prerequisite for learning is to be calm.
2. Emotion is not separate from logic.
3. Learning must involve some risk-taking
4. Using more than one sense makes blood flow to more than one part of the brain.
5. Moving and learning at the same time is better.
Here are links to the complete series of Alanna Mitchell's articles in the Toronto Star. This is fascinating reading. I'll update with more info on the field as I investigate.

(Thanks, Melodie!)

1 comment:

  1. This is a GREAT roundup of information! Thanks so much for this Chris!