21. August 2007 · Comments Off on Music and Brains · Categories: Ramble

In 2005, students taking the SAT with prior coursework in music appreciation scored 60 points higher on the verbal and 39 points higher on the math portion of the test.


Hmmm. There are a number of questions one could ask about this, though, don’t you think? Where are music appreciation classes offered, and to whom? Which students are drawn toward a course like that? Are those high scoring students the same ones who take the SAT improvement classes? And, most importantly, don’t you think the SAT is just a pain in the neck?

Well, okay, you can leave off that last question if you’d like, but I sure hate those tests, and I hate the competition and stress they sometimes cause.

I do think going out to schools is a great idea if one has a creative plan that works. San Jose Symphony (RIP) had a program that most of the orchestra participated in. We chose our project (the program was called, if I remember correctly, Project Music) which was usually affiliated with a school or schools. For a couple of years I gave oboe lessons to students at a local arts magnet high school. Later I chose just to coach a woodwind quintet. That didn’t go over terribly well; the oboist was happy to be there, but the other students, as it became clearer by the week, really didn’t want to play. It was not a pleasant time. But some of my colleagues connected with teachers and worked around their curriculum. I thought what they did was excellent, and I was not only impressed, but humbled by their thoughtfulness and creativity.

Anyway, does music appreciation really make a person smarter?

If so, why do I feel as if I’m somehow faking my way through so much? Hmmm.

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