Beethoven and Mozart can boost pupils’ concentration!

This announcement will not come as anything particularly new to many, but provides yet more evidence to the benefits of including music as a very strong core subject in a child’s education. The research, by London University’s ‘Instutute For Education’, and published in The Telegraph is yet more good news. The message is getting out there about the benefits of studying a classical musical instrument and the benefits of studying the great composers and for classroom music education in general. What a disappointment then, that the government’s own ‘Offsted’ reports dismal figures of more than two thirds of our schools as failing their pupils in music education…

Beethoven and Mozart ‘can boost pupils’ concentration’

Research from the Institute of Education finds that seven-year-olds exposed to classical music at primary school develop better concentration levels and social skills

Children who listen to classical music at primary school show improved concentration levels, according to the Institute of Education.

Children who listen to classical music at primary school show improved concentration levels, according to the Institute of Education. Photo: ALAMY
Graeme Paton

By , Education Editor

6:15PM GMT 08 Jan 2014


Exposing children to Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and Mendelssohn at a young age can boost their concentration and self-discipline, according to research.

Allowing pupils as young as seven to listen to classical music in primary school can have significant knock-on educational benefits, it was claimed.

The study – by the University of London’s Institute of Education – found that children are likely to appreciate a wider range of music in later years after being given an early grounding in some of history’s most famous composers.

It develops pupils’ listening skills and teaches them to appreciate the complexities of different genres, researchers found.

But the process of listening to classical performances also enabled children to develop other skills needed for careful listening that could have an impact across the curriculum.

A report from Ofsted in 2012 found that the subject was not good enough in almost two-thirds of state primaries and secondaries in England.

Inspectors warned that lessons were “dominated by the spoken or written word, rather than by musical sounds”, with “too much focus on talking or written exercises”.

In the latest study, Susan Hallam, professor of education and music psychology, evaluated a programme developed by Apollo Music Projects which introduces classical music and its composers to pupils aged seven to 10.

She said the project “leads to enhanced listening skills and the development of other skills necessary for careful listening to take place including concentration and self-discipline.”

“We know that preferences for music are affected by the extent to which individuals are exposed to them, the greater the exposure the greater the liking,” she said.

“Opportunities to listen extensively to classical music in the early years of primary school are therefore likely to lead to children appreciating a wider range of music than might otherwise be the case.”

The scheme involved a whole school assembly followed by six lessons at class level, with children experiencing different instruments and musical concepts. Composers covered included Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Ravel, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn.

Musicians explain what children should listen for and launch question and answer sessions.

The programme has been delivered to 4,500 children in 26 primary schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, East London, as well as to over 22,000 youngsters in assemblies and concerts.

Twenty-six members of staff and 252 children in nine primary schools were questioned about the programme.

Teachers rated developing the ability to listen as the main benefit, followed by musical knowledge and development and the boosting of concentration levels, aspirations, self-discipline and personal and social skills.

Some staff also pointed to improvements to English.

Mary Igoe, a former head teacher from Columbia Primary School, Bethnal Green, East London, who experienced the programme, said: “The skills of careful listening and differentiating musical sounds transfer to other areas of the curriculum and improve their (pupils’) ability to concentrate and attend to details.”

About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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