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Music and reading, a successful pairing
St. George's British International School

St. George's British International School provides a comprehensive educational programme, with welcoming facilities designed to promote a positive and stimulating learning environment. One such programme is the upcoming International Music Festival 2022.

Music is a universal phenomenon. Almost everyone finds it to be a truly pleasurable thing to do and, according to Spotify data, we spend on average more than an hour a day with our headphones on.

Scientific research reveals the areas that music occupies in our brain and is related to other skills such as mathematics, speciality, body language, etc. The brain develops in neuronal networks a bihemispheric, synchronous activity, at the moment of its realization and according to the complexity of the musical challenge, which, in the assertion of Howard Gardner, "qualifies it as an autonomous intellectual capacity".

How important is music in intellectual development?

"The basis of reading is expression, and to learn to speak, children need to be able to distinguish expression from other sounds. Music helps them do that," they explain in The Conversation.

A psychological study in the United States by Hallam (2010) found that children's reading performance improves when they receive music training, improving their overall reading ability, increasing vocabulary and verbal sequencing, and improving rhythmic performance, as well as verbal memory. He justifies the benefits by highlighting the increase in phonemic awareness and rhythmic training, as it has been seen that there is a relationship between these elements and reading maturation.

Music as a gymnasium for the mind

After all, reading is about discovering the meaning of each word. A number of skills combine to help us discover those meanings, including the ability to distinguish between the sounds of words and reading fluency.

Fluency includes the ability to adjust the patterns of stress and intonation in a sentence, such as when showing anger or joy, and the ability to choose the correct intonation, such as when asking a question or making an exclamation. These highly developed auditory learning techniques are optimised by musical training.

As we said, children trained in music also have better reading comprehension skills, but not only that. Research has found that three and four-year-olds who can keep a steady musical beat are better able to read at the age of five than those who do not keep the beat.

Teaching music, not just listening to music

Taking children each week to high quality, well-structured music lessons, such as those offered at our school, will help them develop the musical skills that have been found to be so effective in learning to read. It is vital to look for classes that include movement activities, singing and those that respond to both sound and silence.

Music programmes develop techniques in a sequential manner, encouraging children to work on singing in tune, playing instruments and moving improvisationally to the beat of the music. Another important component of music that benefits other areas of the brain is teaching them to read notes and musical signs. This reinforces the connection of symbols to sound, which is also crucial when learning to read words.

In short, the brain imprint of music is very broad. When comparing the brains of experienced musicians with people who have never played an instrument, many regions of the musicians' brains have a greater volume and thickness. Musicians also show better connected brains.

That is why from our school, with British values where we encourage music, early language learning and sport seem absolutely essential. Arts education seems to have had little place over the years in that complementary education that many parents want to provide for their children. For this reason, at St. George's British International School we have a wide range of creative and musical activities for pupils of all ages: Drama in English, Vocal and Auditory Training, Musical Language, Instruments, Orchestra, Instrumental Ensemble and Dance-Dance. A world of possibilities to encourage the expression of artistic sensitivity and foster creative ability.

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