Sylvie Desouches
  • Sylvie Desouches

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Music Training May Reduce Anxiety & Focus Attention

A new study conducted by psychiatrists at the University of Vermont College of Medicine has found that playing a musical instrument may help children overcome anxiety, focus attention and control emotions. Follow link below, or copy and paste into a new browser tab:


Music practice influenced cortical thickness related to ‘executive functioning, including working memory, attention control, as well as organisation and planning for the future’. In children with musical backgrounds the brain was affected ‘in areas that play a critical role in inhibitory control, as well as aspects of emotion processing’.

4th Grade Music (from Curriculum Evening Packet)

What is done in 4th Grade Music Class this year to meet my child’s development?
Fourth graders are now ready to look out and begin to discover the world and the people around them. Emotionally, they move from the black and white of 3rd grade to shades of grey, more differentiation, ups and downs of social life, likes and dislikes expressed more strongly, a stronger individuality. They begin to discover a multitude of personalities, differences from one another, consequences imposed by fellow human beings in community.

In music:

  • Steps to Harmony – Learn to hold one’s own part against others singing or playing other parts. Begins as a musical conversation with one child, then between two groups, to alternating songs for two groups, to echo songs, to ostinato to rounds and part songs.
  • More formal instruction in music literacy – How to read music as a map with directions and clues; rhythmic values in conjunction with fractions; rhythmic patterns; musical signs and symbols; tempo markings; sight-singing and sight-reading.
  • New notes on the recorder and hence new scales (G and F).
  • Careful listening and differentiation: introduction of the minor scale.

What will my child achieve in music class by the end of the school year?

  • Improved skill on the recorder (now know F# to create G scale and Bb for F scale).
  • Improved skill in being a sensitive, active listener.
  • Capable of holding a part in a round and 2-part music.
  • Can begin to discern difference between major and minor harmony.
  • Improved skills in music literacy and sight reading.

What are things that we can do at home to help support this work?
Overall, make music a part of your home/family life by:

  • Singing with your child.
  • Taking your child to classical music concerts (and not always the ones geared for children). Mozart in particular; chamber vocal ensembles and/or period instruments doing Renaissance, Baroque through late 18th century music (pre-Beethoven).
  • (Note: Recorded music does not have the same beneficial effect as listening to live music. Brain research now shows sympathetic response when watching and hearing live music.)
  • Taking an active interest in the private lesson and help your child find a regular rhythm of practicing every day. Note down the week’s frustrations so you can remember to ask the lesson teacher for help, perhaps alleviating some of the stress or frustration your child will sometimes experience when practicing at home.
  • Being a model by finding something to work on regularly every day to improve your skill.
  • Learning a string instrument alongside your child (Suzuki recommended).

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Why do we teach music?

We teach music to:

  • Develop fine human beings who are active listeners, flexible and patient, and who understand that working in the world takes effort, perseverance and a refinement of skills. Learning to play a musical instrument, learning to read music, listening carefully to tune…all of these require practice, focus and commitment – acts of will.
  • Bring an experience of truth, beauty and goodness through music-making.
  • Experience the dynamics of working within a group of peers with differing abilities in order to produce something meaningful that is larger than oneself, that requires the efforts of the entire group to achieve.
  • Help build intellectual and emotional skills, facilitate children’s learning and strengthen other academic areas, such as reading and math.