Brain-based learning represents a thorough approach to education using techniques that incorporate methods from neuroscience, focusing on how the brain learns at different developmental stages. Music can be highly effective at aiding learning and retention by using rhythm and melody to convey educational content, by energizing or calming the brain, and by constructing pathways ideal for the learning process to occur.
Greater Likelihood of Retention
When text or content is set to catchy music, otherwise dry or academic subjects can come alive. Learning and singing a song that incorporates the multiplication tables, for instance, is far more effective than having students study them on a piece of paper. Historical facts and dates can be rendered engaging and memorable when set to a simple tune such as: “In fourteen-hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” In that one brief phrase, students learn and remember a key date, name and historical circumstance. In whatever style–whether hymns in church music, lyrics in rap music or choral sections in symphonic music, to name just a few examples–the memorable nature of music makes it an ideal learning tool.
Playing highly energetic music during otherwise sleepy times of the day, be it a Mozart allegro or the latest uptempo pop song, has proven quite effective in helping to increase focus and concentration over extended periods. Conversely, listening to soothing music during stressful times can directly lower blood pressure, reduce tension and provide an atmosphere of calm that is ideal for concentrated learning to occur. As the English novelist George Eliot observed, “Music seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.”
Heightened Brain Activity
When learning, the brain connections used consistently become stronger. Children growing up listening to music generally make lasting music-related pathways that can directly affect thought processes. Classical music, for example, tends to heighten spatial ability and reasoning, such as putting together a jigsaw puzzle or addressing the layout of a house. While this effect can be seen somewhat in other types of music, the more complex structure of classical music challenges the brain, which, in turn, forces heightened brain and neurological activity.