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The tools used for improving cognitive performance from early childhood are increasingly being drawn from more diverse areas of human experience and performance. Music has long been considered a tool to enhance a child's education and forming of potential skills and enjoyable hobbies or experiences. This study will set out to probe existing quantitative and qualitative research into whether or not there is any substantial evidence of cognitive development above the standard development a child might experience without the use of music. The purpose for researching whether music is a serious contender as a complimentary learning and developmental tool is significant due to most schools having existing music departments which could be improved or utilised to a larger extent.
Can children benefit from increased musical education in the core curriculum?
This study is being conducted as an evaluative research project of mostly quantitative research documents to investigate the feasibility of increasing music tuition and listening to complement to the current education curriculum. The study begins by looking at various research documents such as papers by Piro and Ortiz (2009), which set out their study to differentiate between music lessons and no music lessons on the cognitive abilities of children and adults, and Glenn Schellenberg, Nakata, Hunter, and Tamoto (2007) discuss their study into arousal and mood to improve cognitive functioning and IQ by testing adults and 5 year old Japanese student after listening to Mozart and Albinoni, In addition to Jackendoff (2008) who draws comparison between language and music in measuring the cognitive ability both skills use and require. Two questions for consideration are; does music have an actual measurable effect on the cognitive abilities and learning attributes of children? Is it feasible to consider funding to implement additional technology and educators for the purpose expanding music listening alongside theory and playing techniques.
Aims and objectives
The aim of this study is to examine both sides of the argument with an unbiased agenda, the purpose being to either support increased funding to a highly beneficial program of music education, or alternatively propose more research be conducted to authenticate the claims of the increased cognitive development. If there is a substantial benefit to children's cognitive abilities such as reading, language, mathematics, concentration, behaviour, in addition memory enhancement, then it would be advantageous for the government to increase funding into further research and longitudinal studies within the field of music education.
The question of music having an effect on cognitive ability was first raised in 1993 as Jones (2003) discusses in his review of the original study conducted by Irvine, Rauscher, Shaw and Ky, where their initial research used 36 college undergraduates who were said to have increased spatial-temporal intelligence after listening to 10 to 15 minutes of Mozart. However it is claimed that the Mozart effect as it came to be known was viewed as faulty research due to its inability to be replicated and have credible verifiable results. In contrast Piro and Ortiz (2009b) set out to examine music's ability to heighten learning by connecting language or literacy to music. They also link the human auditory system to further explain the link of language and music. Their experiment with both female and male groups split via schools within the same demographic, demonstrated some improvement in all areas of cognition. They suggested by use of music lessons twice weekly for two years the experiment group raised by 4.34 points, and the control group raised by 2.48 points, with the target of the research aimed at specific reading and vocabulary skills. Even though they found significant reason to confirm their hypothesis they went on to state that further research be undertaken to cement findings. Jackendoff (2008b) looked into the similarities and differences between music and language, such as rhythm, structure, function, and pitch, to draw the outcome that the similarities and differences can be used to compliment cognitive development, with the warning to draw caution in linking the comparisons too closely, in addition encourage future research. In the research article by Glenn Schellenberg et.al (2007b) they proved with their music experiments that adults arousal and mood were affected as was IQ within the participants tested. Concerning the children similar results were obtained with the addition of increased creativity. However they stated that both results could not be substantially proven as individual differences and environments could and cannot be controlled.
Since the research will be conducted as an evaluative process, the method undertaken will be to review past research regarding the question of whether music instruction and listening can improve or effect cognitive ability. This search was undertaken using for the most part the internet, accessing sites such as Ebsco Host, Infotrac, and Gale group, via the Acap library E-resources, in addition to Proquest, and Informit via NSW State Library online resources.
Over all the number of studies considered numbered well over 20, which were reduced to 3 for the purpose of this initial paper.
The materials or research articles used for this initial paper consist of research papers by Piro and Ortiz (2009c), Jones (2003b), Jackendoff (2008c), and Glenn Schellenberg et al (2007c).
In line with the type of research this study is conducting, that being evaluative research, the main ethical issues would concern plagiarism. As Babbie, (2010) discusses the importance of acknowledging another researchers findings, ideas, and theories by referencing correctly. In addition Babbie (2010b) also suggests that careful reporting and reviewing of both sides of any argument are honestly evaluated and that all researchers be treated with respect when assessing one's peers.
Contributions to the field
Since 1993 all types of studies have been conducted into the effects of music on the human brain, with relation to drawing awareness to cognitive develop. In the search conducted for this paper alone well over 20 different research projects have been submitted to the academic world, even though they differ in their content, they all discuss the benefits and actualities of music to increase and effect cognition. However, each study cannot significantly prove any definite measurable and repeatable findings.
In conclusion even though there is a definite link between music and increased cognitive ability, all of the research papers evaluated agreed that nothing concrete could be claimed and that all researchers suggested social research continue its question of the effects of music on learning ability. Given that when it comes to providing absolute findings in the domain of psychology and social research, when dealing with uniquely individual human beings the possibility of certainty in the repeatability of research is decidedly difficult. Therefore it would be prudent to encourage increased research into the tie between music and cognitive development.