Music Makes You Smarter!

by on May 10, 2011 » Add the first comment.
January 1, 2011
Ultimate Music Theory                            Ph. 877 868-6644
This is Your Brain on Music

As we welcome 2011 it’s time to reflect on this years teaching experiences…..

As I look back at my amazing year with my students, one special story comes to mind.  You may remember in my August newsletter when I introduced you to my student Connor, a 15 year old award winning musical sensation!  Three days after Connor’s 15th birthday,(May 9th), he went into the hospital for routine day surgery. Something went wrong which resulted in 2 brain hemorrhages; a stroke.  Connor had to learn to walk, learn to play the piano and learn to use his right hand again.

Because of his family Jeff and Lori (Connor’s amazing parents), teachers and friends….Connor is on his way back.  I wanted to share with you an email I received from Jeff (Connor’s dad).  Eight months later, here’s what’s happening with Connor…….


“Hi Glory, I have been reading ‘This is Your Brain on Music’, I was curious to see what it was all about and truth be known, I couldn’t put it down. It’s penned by Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, a former session musician and record producer who became interested in the inner workings of the human brain as it relates to music, so he switched careers to become a neuroscientist. As Levitin states, the common belief used to be that the right side of the brain (Connor’s unaffected side) was the mind’s music centre, but now the thought is that the entire brain is involved in playing, creating, and even appreciating music. Listening to music coordinates more disparate parts of the brain than almost anything else – and playing music uses even more!


According to the author not only does listening to music ‘cause a cascade of brain regions to become activated but when people listen to music dopamine is released in the brain, and dopamine as you may know means pleasure. ‘Music is clearly a means for improving people’s moods.’ Perhaps that explains the change we see in Connor when he plays music.  On Wednesday night the staff and students of the University of Manitoba Jazz Program get together to jam. The faculty that head honcho Steve Kirby has assembled is world class, Jimmy Greene, George Colligan and Quincy Davis amongst others. Steve asked Connor if he’d like to sit in.


Connor lumbered up to the keyboard, his jaw thrust high, his right hand held awkwardly at his side and sat down. Once his hands touched the keys however, Connor was all business, right into the music, moving his body to the Stevie Wonder classic ‘Living For the City’ in a euphoric state of bliss, communicating to the other musicians jazz cat style with knowing nods and gestures. Connor took the piano solo and as per his adapted style, pulled it off with his right hand dangling by his side as his left hand rocked its way up and down the keyboard.


When his solo wrapped and the band returned to the melody, Connor received a great round of applause. His day had been turned around. It was a privilege and a breakthrough for Connor, not to mention a huge boost to his self-confidence.

Connor’s entire being comes to life when he’s in the music zone – especially if he’s playing for an audience. He’s clearly in his happy place.”


I was so moved by Jeff’s email that I picked up the book to read for myself.  Music does not only improve the quality of our lives, but “Music Makes You Smarter“.


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