Senior student signature series

Lily Kauffman next author in 2016-2017 MLHS senior student editorial series

* The 2016-2017 senior student signature series features area senior class students – and their own “signature” outlooks on a topic of their choice. A new outlook will be posted on Cross-Counties Connect each Friday. The series opens with point of view comments by seniors from Mountain Lake Public High School (MLHS). The opinions can be found by clicking on the Family & Faith link on the website’s header, and scrolling down to, and clicking on, Outlook.  Their teachers are Brenda Feil, Kim Syverson and Debby Jass.

Music Learning is Key

What is the school subject that increases a student’s skills in academics, sports, and social interactions? Though math, science, and reading contribute, I believe that music education is the best supporter of students’ growth even after high school. Mountain Lake is doing students a great favor by strongly supporting its music programs.       

Music programs help students academically by developing language and reasoning skills, memorization, and spatial intelligence. As musical training increases, the part of the brain (grey matter) that processes information also increases, as stated in a comparison article at At, author Larry Vandervert explains working memory, which is the part of short-term memory that immediately processes linguistics and perception. He quotes a researcher stating that intense musical training from early childhood expands the larger anterior corpus callosum area (connects the two cerebral hemispheres) no matter what the person’s aptitude was before training. Additionally, rhythm “leads to enhanced working memory in musicians in retrieving and monitoring information, including the anticipation of sequences.” Working memory processes verbal information, as explained by Daniel J. Acheson and Maryellen C. MacDonald’s article discussing verbal working memory and language production at, concluding that “serial ordering is governed at a phonological (pronunciation) level and at a lexical–semantic (vocabulary and words – meaning) level.”

Music training enhances reasoning skills and spatial intelligence, as explained in “Music Matters” at, which includes the benefit that musical training helps people solve multistep problems such as in math by strengthening the same areas of the brain needed for calculations.  This multistep problem solving is called spatial intelligence, which is the ability to comprehend three-dimensional images and shapes.

In addition to helping students academically, music improves athletic skills. Both music and sports require teamwork, self-discipline, and coordination. The article “Why Music? Why Band?” from by Tim Lautzenheiser explains that a band member becomes responsible for the group’s condition and that requires their self-discipline to practice and accomplish the group’s goals, showing that a band works as a team. “The parts of the brain associated with sensory and motor function are developed through music instruction,” affecting coordination and motor skills, as stated by “Music Matters.” Benefits, numbering 20, provided at, asserts that “musical instruments can improve [students] hand-eye coordination.”  Under the heading “Four Remarkable Ways Music Can Enhance Athletic Performance,” The Health Science Academy website points out that “music can reduce [one’s physical work] . . .  and [increase] endurance . . .”  For example, “one of the greatest distance runners in history, Haile Gebrselassie, synchronized his stride to the song “Scatman” when breaking the 10,000-meter world record.”

Finally, social development, including listening skills, improved work quality, empathy, and healthy emotions, improves with music education. An overview of current neuroscience research found at informs that empathy means more than understanding and sharing the feelings of others.  It is also being able to detect emotions through vocal inflections, which is improved by playing music. Detecting emotions improves with auditory skills, explained by Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran at “Changes throughout the auditory system [brought by music training] prime musicians for listening challenges beyond music processing,” and “data supports the view that the [sensitive] auditory skills of musicians . . . [filter] to . . . speech, language, emotion, and auditory processing.” Erika Skoe and Nina Kraus at suggest that “adults who received formal music instruction as children have more robust brainstem responses to sound than peers who never participated in music lessons,” and “neural changes . . . are retained in adulthood” Among the list of 12 benefits found at, music education teaches students to respect diverse cultures because music instills empathy and compassion; promotes high quality work as students discern between excellent and unexceptional work; provides a way of self-expression, which increases self-esteem and improves cooperation and communication by teaching flexibility and judgment.

Cognitive development in reasoning and memory contribute to a greater ability to process information and expand the brain’s structure. Athletic skills are enhanced by the development of motor function and strengthening of teamwork. Both coordination and teamwork need self-discipline, which is aided by music’s ability to increase endurance. Finally, social interactions improve as people learn to cooperate as well as show empathy and quality listening skills. By promoting students’ music education, Mountain Lake enables students to learn well academically, athletically, and socially as well as teaching students to respect diverse cultures, detect changes in vocal inflections, and determine what is excellent work.

Music is one way of communicating belonging, which may increase one’s sense of safety and obligation toward the group.   

I may be a good example of these research facts. My early life in a Chinese orphanage did not provide me with a formal education, but I did learn to sing. On my first day with my adoptive parents, I sat on my mother’s lap and sang song after song after song. I believe that music helped me learn English quickly and successfully. quote grey matter adult   auditory skills

? verbal working memory

 X linguistics  

XLong-term memory



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