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"Scientists, researchers and musicians will study the physical and emotional reactions to music and how it affectes language, cognitive and social abilities. The two-storey-high theatre is the first of its kind in the world. Engineering it has presented unusual challenges."
“People focus so much on cognitive benefits. I think there are some, but I don't think they are as large as people would like them to be," says Laurel Trainor, a scientist at McMaster University in Hamilton who studies music and the developing brain. "I think the social and emotional benefits are just enormous and we are just starting to comprehend that."
“[Young] brains are getting wired to integrate the senses,” says Laurel Trainor, professor and director of the auditory development lab at McMaster University. She has found that even young babies can distinguish the difference between songs sung as lullabies and those used in play.
“Music educators will tell you, 'don't give [young children] complex rhythms, because it's very very difficult for them to learn. Wait until they're even older before you give them anything that's complicated'. But what we're finding is that young babies can do the complex rhythms, they can hear them perfectly well.... We're showing that what infants are listening to and the particular experiences they're having even before one year of age, is already wiring up their brain in a particular way. And in fact the brain is probably most plastic at these early ages, and so maybe we should be thinking about what kinds of music programs we want to have for very young children."
McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind Director Laurel Trainor discusses musical rhythm, human movement, and the origins of rhythmic musical behaviour.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Your child is probably not the next Mozart or even the next Justin Bieber. But don’t turn off the karaoke machine just yet. A musical environment plays an important rolein nurturing brain development, if not a future career.
"Learning music isn't going to take your child from average to a genius, but it can help her be a better learner," says Laurel Trainor, a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and behavior at McMaster University and director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind in Ontario, Canada. Learning how to play music actually has an effect on how the brain gets wired when it comes to memory and attention, says Trainor.
Experts discuss the realities of whether music makes your child smarter, how it helps them emotionally, and get into how well we teach music both in school and out - which leads to the fundamental question: why does music have to be justified? Featured on "TVO Parents: Helping parents help their kids succeed in school and life".
A segment on Hamilton Life about Michael Schutz's music cognition research. This clip features a demonstration of the illusion, along with a discussion of the psychological principles behind it, touching on its musical applications.
"For most people music is an enjoyable, although momentary, form of entertainment. But for those who seriously practiced a musical instrument when they young, perhaps when they played in a school orchestra or even a rock band, the musical experience can be something more. Recent research shows that a strong correlation exists between musical training for children and certain other mental abilities."
Music employs a number of mechanisms for conveying emotion. Some of them are shared with other modes of expression (speech, gesture) while others are specific to music. The most unique way that music communicates emotion is through the use of contrastive scale types. While Westerners are familiar with the major/minor distinction, the use of contrastive scale types in world musics is universal.
"I've never felt so paralyzed standing before my CD collection as the day I brought my newborn son home from the hospital and decided to play him his very first music. So much was at stake. Should it be modern or Baroque? Orchestral or opera? Would Mozart make him smarter? Would Schoenberg instill in him revolutionary tendencies? Would Wagner make him loathe his Jewish roots?"
"People think of music as being based in the auditory system, and certainlyit is," said Prof. Trainor, who is also principal flute in Symphony Hamilton."But in fact the way we experience the world is as an integration of senses... To really understand what's going on in music, we need to look at thesemulti-sensory processes."
"We instinctively know our favourite song or the perfect piece to fit or change a mood. We pump up volume and tempo to get our adrenaline flowing. We look for slow melodies and easy harmonies to unwind after a stressful day. Could it be that this is the ultimate in psychological self-medication?"
"It's been more than a decade since the 'Mozart effect' grabbed the public's interest. But still the debate rages over whether music can actually boost brain-power, as suggested by the researchers who prompted the term."
Children who take music lessons for a year see a marked improvement in their memory, according to a new Canadian study.
"It's another example of the university aggressively expanding into new areas of research and finding new roles for itself."
"What makes the Institute for Mind and Music particularly interesting is how it would enrich the lives of both the McMaster community and wider Hamilton community."
"The McMaster Institute for Mind and Music would be 'unique in the world' for putting musicians and diverse researchers under one roof."
"The plan builds on research already being done at Mac, but expands this with new equipment, faculty, a cross-disciplinary approach and an in-house performance space."
"Among the topics the institute will explore are: How is music processed in the brain? How do your ears and hands co-ordinate to create music? How does musical experience alter the brain? How do performers co-ordinate collective jam sessions?"
"Interest in the science of music has exploded in the past 10 years, partly as a result of new technology for brain imaging."