Churchill Music has made a film about how music helps us learn! You can find it on its own website along with information and resources to help put music at the heart of primary schools.
Over the course of our work in primary schools, we noticed that music was a very low priority in many schools, and they often couldn’t see the value in doing it. They didn’t feel it was important. They couldn’t justify the money or time required to make music flourish in a school amidst the forensic focus on Maths and English and the next visit from Ofsted.
But we think music is important. In fact, we don’t just think it’s important, we know it’s important. It’s not just important for the sheer joy of making music (though that’s very valuable too) but – and here’s what I think our disengaged teachers and school heads are missing – it’s important because it actually helps us learn all the other stuff, and science can prove it. Music helps us learn.
There are now two decades worth of rigorous scientific research showing that formal, ongoing music training from a young age grows, hones and permanently improves neural networks in the brain like no other activity we know of. As Dr Anita Collins says, get these neural networks established as well as we possibly can from the beginning, and a child has a better chance of success, cognitively, physically, emotionally and at the pointy end of the argument, economically. Children who undertake formal, ongoing musical education have significantly higher levels of cognitive capacity, specifically in their language acquisition and numerical problem solving skills. They also continue in education for longer, reverse the cognitive issues related to disadvantage and earn and contribute more on average across their lifetime.
So we made a film – a 12-minute long resource for all of us to use to persuade people – from Heads and senior leadership teams to generalist teachers, governors, parents, music hubs leaders, policy makers, and even your great aunt Ethel who might leave some money in her will to support music making for future generations – that music helps us learn and that as such it deserves a place at the very heart of our Primary Schools. This film is free to access for anyone and everyone, and has a website of information accompanying it.
We’ve had input and support from some of the leading educators and researchers of our day including Dr Anita Collins at the University of Canberra in Australia whose research focuses on music education and neuroscience, Professor Sue Hallham MBE, who is the Emerita Professor of Education and Music Psychology at the UCL Institute of Education in London, and Professor Helen Odell Miller OBE who is Head of the world-leading Music Therapy centre at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Our advisors include neuroscientists, psychologists, primary school teachers, primary school heads, schools inspectors, music teachers, music service heads, and advocacy bodies. We’ve even – for your delight and delectation – got actor John Hannah to narrate the film.
Go on, go and get yourself a cuppa (or a glass of wine – we’re not judging), watch the 12-minute film and see for yourself how music helps us learn. Help us put music at the heart of our primary schools for future generations.