Music on the Brain

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Kidz Newz no. 150 – 23rd March 2016

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Music on the Brain

A couple of weeks ago Helen Evans ( mentioned to me the ABC TV Catalyst program called Music on the Brain. I hadn’t seen it so I watched it on iview. Since then I’m sure it has gone viral. Everyone’s talking about it (well, in my circles anyway). For me, the best part was seeing the dancing. It showed severely brain injured elderly people – those with Parkinsons, Dementia or Stroke patients for example – who could barely walk or even stand without a lot of help, spontaneously dancing when the music was turned on. It was magical to watch. Those with speech difficulty would suddenly start singing effortlessly when they heard music that was special to them. How could they have accessed this music if they hadn’t had it hard-wired into their brain as children and young adults? Brain expert, Dr Jenny Brockis, ( has just this week written an article about music and the brain and she also made reference to this program. Here’s part of what she says:

“While noise is a stressor to the brain, music that we like will boost our mood, keeping the brain in a more relaxed state that is open to learning, new ideas and greater insight.
Music connects us at a deeper level with each other, which is why we love going to concerts, dance parties and singing together. We collectively synchronise our beating hearts and brain waves. That’s great for enhancing collaboration and relatedness.

When we listen to music, multiple areas of the brain are activated including those associated with movement, planning, attention and memory. It changes our brain chemistry as well. Listening to music we enjoy stimulates the release of dopamine that makes us feel rewarded.

Chilling out to calm, soothing quieter music can help to alleviate anxiety, which for stressed out students or high intensity operatives could prove advantageous to reduce stress levels and emotion to improve concentration and focus.
Which music is recommended?

Classical Music: If you are doing work with numbers or which requires a lot of attention to detail.

Pop music: For data entry or working to deadlines. It speeds up the rate of work and helps to reduce mistakes.

Ambient music: What I call boring restaurant or airport music. It’s in the background and no one’s really listening to it. It has been shown to be THE best for accuracy if you’re into solving equations. (That counts me out then.)

Dance music: Problem solving or proofreading. This genre was linked to the highest overall accuracy and fastest performance
For students if the music is in the background only, not being actively listened to and is without lyrics, it may help focus by eliminating other potential distractors in the environment.”

So there you have it. I remember as a primary school student we all had to line up in the playground when the bell went to go into class in the morning. Then the music would start and we would troop into our respective classes. The music was always a march of some kind from John Phillip Souza. It was wonderful stuff, leaving you in an uplifted state to start the day’s activities. Once a week we also had folk dancing and even square dancing. I was among the few who loved it. Sadly, these activities have gone out the window but what has replaced them? I fully understand that schools have to choose which speciality they are going to have – art, music, dance or phys. Ed. I think it’s a disgrace that they have to choose. All schools should have all of these, but if they have to choose, music is by far the most important. Over and above the music lessons though, music should be part and parcel of everyday life in school, however you choose to use it. Minor changes can have significant impact.

When you get a chance for a 30 minute break and want some pure inspiration, watch the Catalyst program. You won’t regret it. 

If you would like some specific background music for while the children (or you) are working, I recommend the following which are available from the kidz-fiz-biz website ( Any of the Sound Health series such as –

Music for Concentration

Price: $30.00

Sound Health – Nourish the Mind to Maximize Potential

Accelerated Learning CD Set

Price: $45.95 (2 CD set)

Move to Learn Workshop – 9th April 2016

Following the success of the recent workshop on 5th March, Winsome Richards is running a full-day training in Perth on 9th April at the SKAMP centre in Kalamunda. Click here for details. Again, I will be doing a couple of little samples of kidz-fiz-biz. I seldom do community workshops these days and often get requests, so do come along if you can.

Quotes of the Week

Music is what feelings sound like.
– (source unknown)

Where words fail, music speaks.
– Hans Christian Andersen

I would teach the children music, physics and philosophy, but the most important is music, for in the patterns of the arts are the keys to all learning.
– Plato


I liked the many different ways of using scarves. The session was informative, relaxing and colourful! Thank you for sharing your beautiful scarves with us!
– Jayne Duffy, The Hutchins School, Tasmania, ELC and Junior.

As a reception teacher (5 yr olds) I loved so many of the ideas covered today. I wish we had more time. I loved it! Thank you. I can’t wait to use it [Scarf Magic Pack] with my new students this year.
– Kimberly Slattery, Rosary School, Prospect, Adelaide, South Australia.

I would have liked more time. It is a good extension to scarf resource activities!
– Sarah Stagg, East Launceston Primary School, Tasmania.


Cutest 3 Year Old Chinese Baby Boy Dancing That Blows Away Judges

Do yourselves a favour over the Easter break, since you’re watching Catalyst anyway, and watch this 3-year-old dancing. He is utterly amazing and highly entertaining. Never under-estimate what children can do.

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9355 4890 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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