Music is a universal language which all human beings possess and understand without needing to study it. We use it to express ourselves and communicate, and it can cause us to feel a range of emotions and feelings. At NACE Schools (Agora International Schools, St George’s and Areteia in Spain, EIB Paris in France, and Stonar in the United Kingdom), we see music education as a fundamental pillar in our pupils’ education, and an integral part of the academic curriculum.
Receiving a music education at school introduces pupils to the world of rhythm, melody, singing, and the use of instruments, which encourages their emotional, social, cognitive, and body equilibrium. Furthermore, the pupils take a more active role in class, develop their spatio-temporal ability, are able to solve complex mathematical operations more easily, and tend to be children who are more civic minded, and maintain a higher average.
Music education also helps them to improve their reading comprehension and verbal skills, particularly in cases which concern bilingual children, like the pupils at NACE Schools. Music alters the organisation of the brain, and prepares it for the development of cognitive skills, a fundamental process for the children to begin to speak and learn words both in their maternal language and in a second one, therefore reinforcing their ability to speak more than one language. Similarly, learning to play an instrument has an impact on other skills such as the understanding of discourse and emotions in the voice, and the ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
In terms of physiological factors, several studies demonstrate that playing an instrument causes an acceleration in the organisation of the cerebral cortex in skills such as attention, managing anxiety and controlling emotions. It has also been shown that it increases the thickness of the parts of the brain responsible for executive function, which controls the cognitive skills which are focused on achieving a goal and oriented to the future. Similarly, the process of rehearsing an instrument, which produces emotional factors of repetition and attention, encourages cerebral plasticity, the change in the structure of the brain from experience.
In the same vein, some researchers maintain that music education and training can work as treatment for cognitive disorders, such as ADHD. In these cases, music reduces levels of anxiety, improves the relationship between the body and the environment, modifies and assimilates behaviour, and activates selective attention.
For all these reasons, music education is a priority at NACE Schools, culminating at the end of each academic year in International Music Week, one of the most important events in which pupils from NACE schools in Spain, France, and the United Kingdom come together to take part in a range of activities, which end with a big concert.