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Resource: Learning, Arts, and the Brain (The Dana Foundation)

Learning, Arts, and the Brain

Authors: Organized by Michael Gazzaniga, Ph.D., as well as Edited by Carolyn Asbury, ScM.P.H., Ph.D., and Barbara Rich, Ed.D. (New York/Washington, D.C.)



Learning, Arts, and the Brain is a compilation of academic research papers formally investigating the relationship between music instruction and cognitive development. Summarizing key conclusions from a variety of studies, the consortium draws unmistakable connections between the habits associated with music instruction translating to measurable cognitive results.
While the authors maintain that more research is needed, fascinating connections appear, for example, between youth who have a high interest in learning music tending to have higher motivation in other cognitive tasks. Connections were also made between dedicated practice (e.g. music rehearsal, learning actor’s dialogue, and choreographed dance) and improved memory skills.
Our organization, MySchoolROCKS, supports and shares these findings as we firmly believe that tapping into a young person’s potential through musical/artistic outlets is a pathway to better mental health. We realize that more comprehensive research is needed; however, the Dana Foundation’s findings support the work of such prominent advocates of Arts in schools as Sir Ken Robinson.
Without a doubt, Canadian schools can do more to infuse creativity and artistic/divergent thinking into broader pedagogy. Sir Ken argued that schools are “killing creativity” and because many mental health issues begin at an early age–MySchoolROCKS contends that Art instruction (harnessing right brain thinking) can be an early intervention strategy that proactively equips young people with the tools needed to develop stronger approaches to personal wellness.
**Since 2008, there have been many other investigations into the cognitive connections between music and the brain. This compendium was a catalyst for our organizational mandate and in light of the global pandemic’s severe impact on the vulnerable–these findings are a powerful reminder to seize this opportunity to rethink how we educate our youth.

Published by: The Dana Foundation

Publication Date: 2008

Country: Canada, United States

Language: English

Type: Reports/Papers