Orff-based music training induces plasticity in the developing brain

Which music education method is best? This is a question we receive often at BBB and the answer is, we are not sure yet.

The reason why we aren’t sure just yet is that there has not been an exhaustive amount of research on any one method of music teaching. There has also not been any research, to our knowledge, in the neuromusical field that has compared one method of teaching music with another method.

The reason that this research may not have been undertaken (yet) is because neuromusical researchers are using music as a tool to understand human brain development. They are not undertaking this research to determine which method is better.

However we like to share method-specific research when it does come out, and this paper was released just this year.

This study followed a six month Orff based music program with 33 female participants around the age of 8 years. Unfortunately, the full paper is not available so we could not see the finer details of the music learning that was delivered.

The study found that a six month Orff based music program

  • improved music and motor abilities (these are near transfer effects)
  • improved visuo-spatial short-term memory, pseudoword reading and simple arithmetics (these are far transfer effects)
  • drove plasticity on gray-matter volume of the left cerebellum that related to rhythm discrimination as well as gains in motor performance

Overall the researchers found that

  • the role of music training in strengthening audio-motor integration
  • a short and affordable music training was sufficient to induce specific behavioural benefits partially reflected in plastic changes in the children’s brain.

Just six months could make all the difference!

Read more here

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