What is Music Cognition?

Music cognition might be a new phrase for you. It was for me. I was working toward my PhD in educational psychology while working for an online radio station. I knew I liked psychology, research, and education, but I was also becoming passionate about music. I wanted to find a way to combine the four, but I just didn’t know how. Enter music cognition, or perhaps a better term, music cognition neuroscience.

I know that some people look at this term differently. There are those who look at music as a means to help neurological disorders. There are others who look at music as simply another way to view brain activity. And, then there are those like myself who look at the bigger picture, but who aren’t so much interested in neurological disorders. For me, music cognition neuroscience is looking at how music affects the brain, particularly the brains of children from age birth through age five, and how music can affect or influence learning. I’ll talk more about early education in another blog.

This field is still fairly new. Of course, most people in the education field look for new and better ways to help students learn. For example, Howard Gardner’s learning styles or multiple intelligences was quite the fad for a long time. I embraced the idea wholeheartedly and after taking the learning styles inventory, I found I was a kinesthetic learner. That defined me perfectly! I knew I had to do a project to learn the project. I later embraced another type of learning theory that incorporated Gardner’s primary learning styles with learning preferences (TIPP). I thought, wow, this is even better: not only does it define one’s learning style, but it also helps students with strategies for learning based on that learning style. I intended to explore the validity and reliability of TIPP for my dissertation, but before I could, research came in droves disproving learning styles. While it might accurately define some, it really didn’t define most. Further, it is nearly impossible for a teacher to craft her instruction based on one student’s learning style, let alone a majority learning style.

That’s the thing about learning theory. It is innovative and interesting. Some teachers immediately embrace it to help their greatest strugglers. But learning theory is a work in progress. Researchers are always learning new things through further studies and technology.

Right now, though, I feel music cognition has a steady stronghold in the field of education. I’m excited to see what they discover next, and I hope my name will be one of the bylines of that research project!
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home