Friday, August 26, 2011

Music Engages More Regions Of The Brain Than Anything

Many people who have been come to know her over her more than twenty-year career in community/destination marketing (DMO) have been surprised to learn that my successor in Durham has undergraduate and graduate degrees in music, degrees often cited as excellent preparation for admission to professional schools.

Music is obviously also a perfect preparation for running a DMO!

In her new book Now You See It, Cathy N. Davidson, notes that neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin has discovered that “music makes complex circuits throughout the brain, requires all the different kinds of brain function for listening, processing, and producing in various forms and makes us think differently.”

Levitin, who wrote the book This Is Your Brain On Music,directs the McGill University Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise in Montreal. He has noted that “music engages more regions of the brain than anything else.”

Additionally, in remarks at the University of Miami, he noted that “brain studies also indicate that components of expertise that contribute to superior performance include memory, attention, will power, belief in self, physical configuration and an ability to view multiple failures as necessary steps to succeed…”

One of Professor Davidson’s popular classes at Duke University substitutes the word “Internet” for the word “music.” The preparation materials for This Is Your Brain On The Internet, note that “the kind of research one does every day on the Internet helps one to think in a creative, collaborative, nonlinear fashion.”

Her new book makes the case that along with gaming, the Internet is giving us a model for how to reform public education. This month, we’re seeing the eighth class of first year students entering college who have grown up with the Internet as a given, a central part of the household, play and work.

Davidson’s new book makes a compelling case for a fresh look at the core benefits that subjects such as art and music bring to a holistic education. In the book, she also notes that the people who originated both the IQ test and the objective, multiple-choice exam, both warned against their use during their lifetimes and why.

Yet today, we find a major part of every class year devoted to taking standardized tests that measure only memorization and are largely irrelevant to the workplace. Davidson argues that the literacy skill to learn, unlearn and relearn must be added to the old three Rs of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Education according to Davidson must now include “three new Rs “rigor, relevance, and relationships.” Maybe innovation is right under our nose.

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