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The Learning Success Blog

How Music Can Boost Children’s Mental Health In Tough Times

Posted by Jane Shearer on December 23, 2020 at 1:58 PM

Australians are struggling to cope with recent world events, with around 13% reporting high or very high levels of psychological stress. In New Zealand, the situation is also somewhat worrisome, with around 31% reporting some level of stress. It isn’t only adults who are affected. Even prior to this year, teen stress rivalled that of adults, with issues such as academic and sporting pressure weighing on their minds.

Parents wishing to help their children improve their mental health often look to natural yet effective ways to lower stress levels. Some of the most powerful methods studied to date include mindfulness based activities like meditation, time spent in nature, a healthy diet, exercise and music - both as a hobby and in the form of therapy.

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Topics: Autism, Confidence & Resilience, Music

Musical brains and where they can take your children in the future

Posted by Tilly Stevens on April 18, 2017 at 10:29 AM

Tilly Stevens

It turns out that musical training can change our brains. Learning a musical instrument can improve cognitive functions such as motor function, auditory processing, emotion and social skills. 

Researchers at Mexico City’s Hospital Infantil de México Federico Gómez found 23 children showed dramatic changes in brain function after 9 months training with percussion instruments. 

The musical training made physical changes in the students’ brains. The two hemispheres of the brain communicated better. And the overall functioning of the children’s brains improved. Not only the brain regions related to music.

The results of this study suggest scientists may be able to develop music-based programs to help children with ADHD or autism.

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Topics: Brain Science, Music

How Learning Music Helps Develop Reading Skills: Dr Nina Kraus

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 15, 2017 at 7:16 AM

Peter Barnes

Playing a musical instrument (not just listening to music) improves reading, according to Dr Nina Kraus, in a presentation at Scientific Learning Corporation’s 2017 Visionary Conference.

Dr Kraus is the Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA.

We are indebted to Dr Kraus for the following notes about the connections between music, rhythm and reading. 

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Topics: Reading, Music

Latin Dancing & Brain Training: Keys to Brain Fitness?

Posted by Tilly Stevens on October 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

Tilly Stevens

These days, we’ve come to understand that we can train our brains.

Obviously, the physical benefits of exercise have been preached and promoted for years now. Funny thing is, it seems that exercise also helps our brains.

The combination of these two forms of training, mind and body, benefit our brains more than if one or the other is undertaken.

Turns out, physical exercise actually serves to improve memory, says a study conducted by the University of Texas Dallas. 

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Topics: Brain Science, Memory, Fast ForWord, Music

Music Educators Brad Fuller & Peter Orenstein: Collaborative Teaching

Posted by Colin Klupiec on April 28, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Colin Klupiec

Brad Fuller and Peter Orenstein are music educators at Northern Beaches Christian School on the North Shore of Sydney. 

They run a unique music program that seeks to provide a rich environment for music students. Their program is built on a collaborative model of teaching and leadership. 

Brad & Peter use their experiences as musicians to experiment with new ideas for teaching. Whilst there is a curriculum to deliver, the spirit of improvisation is strong in the way they teach it.

They emphasise what they describe as a bi-directional model of leadership. This allows for the free flow of ideas between them and their students.

I spoke to them on the Learning Capacity podcast on site, where all the magic happens. In this episode, Brad and Peter give us an insight into their creative and collaborative space. 

Listen to the podcast:

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Topics: Podcasts, Music, Teaching

Innovative Music Teaching - Reactions from Australia and New Zealand

Posted by Peter Barnes on September 16, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Peter Barnes

innovative music teachingMusic teacher Brad Fuller toured Australia and New Zealand to share the story of the innovative music learning space he developed at Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney.

He expected the reactions of the teachers he spoke to would range right across a spectrum from "oh no" to " I love it", and that's what happened. But something unexpected also happened. He saw distinct regional/state differences in what others thought. 

Fuller disclosed what he saw in a conversation on The Learning Capacity Podcast


He also described how two traditional music classrooms in the school were transformed into a single music learning space where he used "catchphrases"  to inspire a positive classroom culture and innovative music teaching.

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Topics: Podcasts, Music

No Teachers in Rock & Roll: Music Classroom Culture via Catchphrases

Posted by Peter Barnes on September 16, 2015 at 12:01 PM

Peter Barnes

"Welcome to show business".

That's how Brad Fuller, music teacher at Northern Beaches Christian school in Sydney, starts his classes. As he tells it on The Learning Capacity Podcast," Welcome to show business" changes everything. It's not, "Good morning class 7J, please stand behind your chairs".


Why does he use this catchphrase: Welcome to show business? "Because it changes everything. It's just amazing to put magical names to mundane tasks. It gives a magic to learning and creates a positive classroom culture", says Brad.

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Topics: School, Podcasts, Music

Can Playing Music Help Develop Working Memory and Improve Attention?

Posted by Peter Barnes on January 9, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Peter Barnes

Interesting new research from the University of Vermont, USA suggests that children who learn a musical instrument may be improving their brains in ways that help them well beyond their music lesson or practice.

Learning music might help children to:

  • Improve their attention
  • Enhance their working memory
  • Develop better organisation and planning skills
  • Control their emotions
  • Reduce anxiety
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Topics: Attention, Memory, Music

Is Playing Music a form of Brain Training?

Posted by Peter Barnes on November 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Peter Barnes

brain trainingCould it be that musicians get regular brain fitness workouts when they practice or perform?

Research shows playing music engages practically every area of the brain, especially the visual, auditory and motor areas. Learning to play a musical instrument seems to be great for your brain. Compared to people who do not play music, musicians have:

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Topics: Brain Science, Music

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