Play time: the benefit of music in schools
Posted on 28th February 2023 at 12:22
This month, we hear from PPL PRS, the organisation behind TheMusicLicence – a key factor in allowing schools to play recorded music.
They explore the impact music can have for children’s development, and tell us why TheMusicLicence is so important for schools and musicians alike.
Music is a universal language, and one which is inherently human – which could be why for years amateurs and professionals alike have often wondered what effect it can have on us.
Can it make us run faster, for example? Does it help us to sleep? Can it improve our happiness?
Some experts have delved even deeper to explore the health and wellbeing benefits of music and how this might impact the treatment of illnesses and disease.
However, one area that has sparked particular interest and continues to do so, is the effect that music can have on us neurologically.
Multiple studies suggest that there is a clear link between listening to music and our ability to conduct tasks and other skills that we rely on every day.
For example, research by Towergate Liability Insurance found that 95% of people who listen to music say it helps them to focus and work faster, while 43% believe that listening to music helps to reduce boredom.1
Music can also be beneficial to creating a healthier mindset and improving wellbeing, but crucially, it can also help with the development of our cognitive skills and enhance our learning – something that was noticeably evidenced as part of the ‘Mozart effect’.
The Mozart effect
The ‘Mozart effect’ was first coined in 1993 when a study conducted by Rauscher et al, at the University of California, found that listening to classical music, particularly that of Mozart, can increase IQ and have a positive effect on the short-term skillset of people, including young children.
Initially, the research was carried out on adults, and found those who listened to Mozart showed significantly increased spatial reasoning skills. The research was later repeated with three to four-year-old children.
Rather than just listening to Mozart though, the children received keyboard lessons for six months. After the training, their spatial-temporal reasoning test, like that of the adult participants, was also much improved.
In fact, it was up to 30% better than that of children of a similar age and meant that they could carry out problem solving tasks, such as paper-cutting and pencil-and-paper maze tasks more easily.2
As a result of the experiment, it was thought that classical music can help to make children smarter, or at least assist in some areas of their development, so much so that crèches in the United States began playing classical music to children shortly after the research was published.
Music and child development
Unsurprisingly, the evidence to support the effect that music, particularly classical, has on children doesn’t end there, and there have in fact since been theories to suggest that music benefits children in a wide range of ways including their memory, language and even wellbeing.
According to Dr. Ibrahim Baltagi, Professor of Music at the University of Kaslik and spokesperson for UNICEF, “it is proven that music has a role in brain development” even before birth, and its positive influence continues as children grow into toddlers, and later reach school age.3
For example, because music is repetitive, it encourages children to not only use, but to also memorise words. It also allows them to develop social skills, by encouraging them to “express themselves and share feelings.”
Understandably though, it’s not just listening to music that can aid child development but playing it can be highly beneficial too.
As Dr. Ibrahim Baltagi continues, “music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. Learning to play a musical instrument can improve mathematical learning, and even increases school scores.”
This is especially true for toddlers and early years children who can learn and develop a great deal through music, particularly songs and sounds that involve vocal cords and percussion.
Older children and adolescents, on the other hand, who already have developed language skills, can often benefit from softer, slower and more instrumental based music while learning – particularly when it comes to aiding productivity and improving focus.
Music for older children
According to research, listening to slower songs while studying was found to be the most popular music choice amongst students.
In their data research, marketing agency Digitaloft analysed more than 100,000 music choices and found that the most favoured were softer, more melodic songs, averaging 112 beats per minute.4
This is equivalent to one beat every half a second and can be found within a range of genres, from classical to indie and even pop.
But slower music isn’t just the most popular, it is also a type of music that seems to have the most benefit.
According to research, 69% of people said that ambient music was the best for studying, with 67% saying that the key ingredient to enable them to focus was the slower beats.
Similarly, 71% of professionals believe they're more productive when music is playing – and this is of course, something that can benefit teachers and other school support staff as well.5
Music in the workplace
Listening to music in the workplace can help to boost morale, increase productivity and help to create an upbeat and more welcoming atmosphere.
It can help to make an environment feel more familiar, improve focus and help to improve our moods overall – but just before the radio is tuned in, or a performance is booked, there are a few things schools and organisations in the education sector might need to know.
Protect the future of music
When music is played or performed in public, royalties are collected to ensure that the music creators are fairly rewarded for their talent and work. But there are millions of songs and music creators worldwide, so it would be difficult to identify and pay royalties to each one.
Instead, businesses and organisations can simply obtain a single licence, known as TheMusicLicence that covers the use of virtually all commercially available music.
How it works
TheMusicLicence is issued by PPL PRS, who collect royalties on behalf of their parent companies PPL and PRS for Music - the two music industry membership bodies that music creators can join to collect the royalties in their music.
PPL represents record companies and performers, while PRS for Music represents songwriters, composers and music publishers.
Together, they support a range of artists – including grassroots and independent artists, meaning they can protect future music creators – and inspire the next generation. To find out more visit themusiclicence.co.uk or contact the CEFM, who specialise in managing copyright licences for the school and education sector and helping organisations with the requirements they need.
Accountemps survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments: https://www.roberthalf.com/sites/default/files/styles/full_width_content_image_1x_extra_large_1036/public/2018-09/Pressing-Play-IG-AT-09-17-2018.jpg?itok=sXbFq3Pf
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