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The Child as MusicianA handbook of musical development$
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Gary E. McPherson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744443

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744443.001.0001

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The child musician’s brain

The child musician’s brain

(p.52) Chapter 3 The child musician’s brain
The Child as Musician

Donald A. Hodges

Oxford University Press

The brain undergoes enormous changes from conception to age 18. Explosive growth, directed by genetic instructions and life experiences, is later counterbalanced by deletion of cortical connections through neural pruning. From the last trimester before birth throughout childhood, music plays a significant role in this process of development. Natural maturation leads to some improvements in music processing, while everyday living, including passive listening to music, brings about other changes. Informal music-making and formal musical training lead to further significant changes. Intensive and extensive music practice during childhood leads to specific changes in brain structure and function that persist through adulthood. Some of these changes have effects on learning in nonmusical domains, such as language. Important concepts from neuroscience, including myelination, plasticity, and optimal periods, are reviewed in relation to musical learning.

Keywords:   brain, growth, development, myelination, plasticity, optimal period, learning, neuroscience, passive listening

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