Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020
Known to ABC television audiences for her role in the Don’t Stop the Music series and to thousands for her TED music education talk, Anita Collins is a passionate and knowledgeable music educator.
In this book, intended for both parents and educators, she takes us through the basics of significant and approachable current research into the benefits of an education which includes music learning (not just appreciation).
This is indeed a very readable book and full of fascinating information about the way we learn and its significance.
Alluding to our ‘incredible and elegant brain’, Dr Collins points to improvements in attention span, the capacity to wait and take turns, the growth of innovative and creative thinking, key indicators to reading readiness, patterns of learning including synaptic pruning and the importance of confidence – the confidence to make mistakes above all.
She implicitly puts a cogent, articulate and persuasive argument for the wider adoption of solid music programs in schools but also in the community – not just for the obvious joy that music brings to most of us, but for the intellectual and social gains it will induce.
The Music Advantage is structured in sections of age groups from 0 to 14 years of age. This provides a quick dip for parents or teachers interested in a specific age group or developmental stage. However, it is worth the reader’s time to read it from cover to cover in order to consider the many ideas raised.
At the very basic level, the parent can feel encouraged that singing to your child is not just a lovely thing to do (for both of you) but that it will pay dividends throughout life. It’s so encouraging to know that what parents and grandparents know instinctively about music and why it matters is affirmed by a vast and growing body of academic research.
I found many gems in this work and will no doubt be tempted to seek out the scholars and researchers mentioned. Amongst my favourites, though, is the seemingly obvious statement by Kraus that we learn what we care about. It seems to me that education managers and funders, teachers, parents and indeed everyone of us should bear this in mind when determining what curricula are implemented in our institutions and what life choices we make as adults.
You can find Dr Collins’ TED-Ed talk How playing an instrument benefits you brain at: https://www.ted.com/talks/anita_collins_how_playing_an_instrument_benefits_your_brain
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me a review copy of The Music Advantage.