University of Missouri-Kansas City
American music education is at a turning point in its history, and poised for a modern renaissance. After decades of budgetary neglect as an "elective," music is reasserting itself thanks to a growing body of scientific data that shows how vital it is to a student's success in all academic areas. Research is showing that music isn't only a social trend; it also has a biological and neurological basis. It is said that music is hard-wired into human brains and that it has existed from the early days of humankind, possibly even predating language. Current research, together with expanding knowledge about music's role and influence on cognitive development, learning, and wellness provides will lead to expanded opportunities for all people to be engaged in music and experience is vast, and proven benefits.
Human music, like human language, is complex, governed by rules, and acquired in developmental stages, with all individuals acquiring a basic musical appreciation, and others going on to develop remarkably high skills. "Such evidence suggests that music is a consequence of biological evolution and is therefore associated with specific brain architecture. Music can evidently trigger physical changes in the brain's wiring. By measuring faint magnetic fields emitted by the brains of professional musicians, has shown that intensive practice of an instrument leads to discernible enlargement of parts of the cerebral cortex, the layer of gray matter most closely associated with higher brain function" (Lemonick 2003). In 2001 scientists from North America and the United Kingdom gathered to discuss the "Musical Brain" (i.e.: the relationship between music and brain function). At the conference, researchers presented the increasing evidence that music is not merely a cultural trend but a biological fact of human life. "As demonstrated by infants who are too young for even informal...