To many, music appears as a distraction, especially to worried parents of students who continuously procrastinate or distract themselves from important goals such as homework with music, yet a new US study has shown that music perhaps offers a higher level of concentration to kids than previously assumed.
In a recent study led by William E. Pelham Jr, Director of the Florida International University Centre for Children and Families, it has been found that despite popular belief, not all musical distractions are necessarily bad, and as CBS Local reports Pelham’s research has some interesting points to share in his study into distractions such as music and television affect children with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
For the experiment, Pelham and his team played both rap and rock music to three separate groups of adolescent males, the groups including students medically diagnosed with ADHD, non medicated individuals, and those without ADHD.
In his findings, Pelham concluded “If a kid says he can watch TV and focus, it’s just not true. With television, we found out what we needed to know,” Pelham explained. “But with music we actually discovered, in most cases, it didn’t really affect the children.” A comparison between the effects of the students medication and listening to music found that music was, in some cases, as effective as the medication.
Diagnosed in boys four times more often than females, ADHD is a neurobehavioural disorder that results most commonly in hyperactivity and inattention, yet with the ‘distraction’ of music it is foreseeable that the disorder for some may be able to be eased without medication.“With music we actually discovered, in most cases, it didn’t really affect the children’s concentration.”
With modern medicine not always fixing the problems of the complicated psychiatric disorder, Pelham’s studies into music could quite possibly offer an alternative pathway to treatment. Hoping that his research will help specifically with concentration and music education, “rather than just assuming it’s better for a child with ADHD to do their homework in complete silence, it may help their concentration to let them listen to music,” Pelham says.
“If parents want to know if listening to music will help their child’s performance in school, they should try it,” adds the researcher.
A school soundtrack to homework? Sounds exactly like the kind of thing the Australian school system could benefit from, especially given the dire sate of the lack of music education in the school curriculum across Australia.
As previously reported, more than 600,000 Australian school students banded together with educators and musicians in a rally to gain attention in getting music back into school programmes.
Along with the NSW Liberal Government’s recent announcement of cuts to schools, TAFE and training programs, it’s no surprise Australia’s well respected musician turn politician Peter Garrett has a problem with it – this week announcing in a press release a day of action to fight against the proposed funding cuts.
The Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth has spoken before about the importance of music in the school curriculum, including a 2011 speech to a NSW high school on the subject, as well as showing his support alongside countless other Australian musicians in launching a campaign to restore Sydney’s live music scene.