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What are the implications of neuroscience for musical education?

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  • Lauren Stewart, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • ,
  • Aaron Williamon, Royal Coll Mus, Royal College of Music - UK, Ctr Performance Sci, Denmark

Background: In this paper, we consider music education in a broad sense - not merely pertaining to the development of exceptional levels of artistry in talented performers, but also to notions of musical listening and appreciation enjoyed by the casual listener.

Purpose: This review cannot be exhaustive, but aims to illustrate what we already know about the neuroscience of how music is perceived, appreciated, learned and performed, and the implications that this knowledge has for music education in this broadly defined sense.

Design and methods: Extant Studies from across the fields of neuroscience, psychology, education and music were surveyed using mainstream Internet databases (e.g., PubMed), as well as specific Internet cites promoting interdisciplinary exchange among musicians and scientists (e.g., Music and Science Online: http://www.science.rcm.ac.uk). The result is a review of some 50 studies from across this relatively young field.

Conclusions: To date, examples of tangible, practical advice from neuroscience that can be applied directly to Musical learning and performance are relatively scant. However, the field is growing rapidly, and collaborations between musicians and scientists are becoming more common. We argue that the scope for neuroscience research to inform and shape musical education is ripe for development, particularly when musicians and scientists work together to address questions of musical relevance with scientific rigour.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Research
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008

    Research areas

  • neuroscience, music education, music perception, music cognition, music performance, TONE-DEAFNESS, CONGENITAL AMUSIA, BRAIN, MUSICIANS, PERFORMANCE, PERCEPTION, DISORDERS, CORTEX, MEMORY, ADULTS

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