Musical expectation: the reality

This cartoon has recently gone viral in the music teaching community.


As musicians and music teachers we are fully aware that we are not necessarily generating the next performing “wunderkind”. Rather we want to focus on developing a mentorship programme that betters and develops the child as a whole.

The comic however points to a disconnect within the music system and the expectations involved in becoming a musician, and how this may affect a child’s academic, social and physical performance for the better.

Music has long since been associated with a higher IQ, and better language and mathematical skills. An interesting study has been initiated by a group of researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute (BCI) who are interested in discerning whether this is true.

“We are broadly interested in the impact of music training on cognitive, socio-emotional and brain development of children,” says Assal Habibi. Habibi is the lead author and a senior research associate at the BCI in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “These results reflect that children with music training, compared with the two other comparison groups, were more accurate in processing sound.”

But what does this actually mean for your child’s primary education at WPPS?

Ear.pngThe auditory pathway from ear to brain is sent via forms of vibration. This is then converted into neural signal. The neural signal is sent to the brainstem, up to the thalamus in the center of the brain and finally to the primary auditory cortex located on either side of the brain. When participating in the practice of music, the auditory system is able to more efficiently assess and recognise melody, as this pathway is utilised and trained

This results in the ability to process sound more effectively, which in turn betters “language development, speech perception and reading skills.” (Gersema, Emily. “Children’s brains develop faster with music training” 20 June 2016) All these skills are vital aspects used in our schooling system, as well as our day to day interaction with friends, teachers and fellow persons.

These tests were used on a study group in Los Angeles using MRI brain scans and EEG to track electrical activity. The assessment of the children started prior to their musical training, and continued throughout their music training. They were then compared to students that had followed the same academic programme without music. Although, this study is fairly new the results favour the musical programme of learning written music. The BCI plan to continue their study to assess the effect on a full academic life in music. You can find out more by contacting them on their website

I hope that this short overview helps better the understanding of what we are striving to do in our music programme at WPPS.

Our doors are always open if you want to know more!

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