Schools note musical help
A school scheme in WA is pairing disadvantaged student with members of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO).
Schools say the Crescendo program has lifted NAPLAN results and improved social and emotional wellbeing among students.
Crescendo is based on a Venezuelan model called El Sistema (“The System”), which offers a free classical music program to impoverished children, teaching collaborative skills through being part of an orchestra.
North Parmelia and Medina primary schools in Perth have run the course for a number of years.
“Whilst the students are enjoying music lessons, they're actually learning about maths through number games and finger games, literacy through the reading,” WASO's Crescendo program coordinator Cassandra Lake has told the ABC.
“We're trying to encourage students to build social skills.”
WASO teacher Griffin Wright says students are also learning the responsibility of caring for their instruments, which are on loan for the program.
“They're learning to be responsible and respectful, to each other and the instruments … these skills can often be missed in today's culture,” he said.
“The children are learning cultural diversity, reading, writing, numeracy — but not in a way they are used to.”
North Parmelia Primary principal Peter Elsegood said his school’s NAPLAN results had improved during the Crescendo program.
“We've found that our NAPLAN results are tracking very well against like schools, but also we use an ACER — social and emotional wellbeing survey — and our results in relation to that have been extremely positive,” he said.
The school's NAPLAN writing and numeracy results put 7.8 per cent of the school's students in the top band of the ACER social and emotional wellbeing survey, compared with an Australian average of 3.6 per cent.
Neuroscientist and musician Alan Harvey says the program could have some very profound effects.
“Music can alter neural architecture, enhance auditory function, improve visuomotor skills and improve processing of speech, verbal fluency, literacy and communication skills,” he told reporters.
“Learning music is particularly influential at young ages of life as it develops a 'musical mind', which basically means they [the students] are able to understand skills like multitasking and create a neural architecture that creates improvement in many aspects of the child's life — skills for lifelong learning.
“The students may be increasing their memory capabilities as they would for a song
“Pronunciation in music is very important and this level of sounding out could be why.”