Harmony Project Essay

1207 Words 5 Pages
Living in Nashville, the music city, everybody’s life abounds with melodies. Although many people think music is an abstract art form that is devoid of clear-cut ideas, it never fails to touch us deeply, stimulating some universal nerves. When the prelude of our favorite song rings out, our whole bodies get prepared for that specific note. None of us would deny that music is biologically powerful. However, music’s precise influence on our brains and how we take advantage of its power deserve closer exploration. Led by Dr. Nina Kraus, a group of neuroscientists in the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory (that call themselves “brainvolts”) at Northwestern University have dived into this field. They showed that musicians have stronger auditory cognitive …show more content…
Kraus in 2011 with 80 primary school students in gang reduction zones in Los Angeles, who shared similar disadvantaged backgrounds yet were all motivated to participate in music training with the Harmony Project. Mostly a privately funded program, the Harmony Project provides free music instructions for disadvantaged children (more than 2000), whose schools had stopped offering music classes. The project fosters the healthy development of children’s auditory processing and learning skills in general. As Vianey Calixto, one of the participants, said in an interview, “Music is like a dialogue because we can play a certain thing—let’s say the violins can play something back—it could be the same melody but different notes and it’s like a conversation talking back and forth.” Dr. Kraus further pointed out that better engagement in the program (attendance and classroom participation) predicts better brain encoding of speech, better hearing in noise, and higher reading scores among the students. The neural responses they measured come mostly from the auditory midbrain. Midbrain’ plasticity is precisely mediated by the two above-mentioned pathways (top-down and bottom-up) and the activity of prefrontal cortex (Kraus et al., 2014), which is the executive center of our brains. Given the behavioral and neurophysiological outcome of the Harmony Project, it is tempting for us to reevaluate the role of co-curricular music programs for children at critical years of auditory development. Possible options include supporting and expanding community based music enrichment programs, and emphasizing music instruction in schooling as a complement to hard science and humanities classes. It is also enticing to ponder the effect music could have on children with auditory/learning disorders. Whether or not music training would have direct remedying effect on auditory deficits remains unproven; yet it is almost certain that frequent engagement in music

Related Documents