Saturday, March 17, 2007

My daughter Lucy is a finalist in the McDermott Scholars Program at UT Dallas, so we are in Dallas for the finalist weekend at which she was interviewed today for possible selection for this special program. Tonight all the finalists and their parents went to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I need to tell about this because I'm usually talking about woodworking, and the wisdom of the hands is actually much more.

We listened to performances of Poulenc's Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani, then to a special performance of Edgar Meyer's Concerto No. 2 for Double Bass and Orchestra, with Edgar Meyer performing. These were followed after intermission by Rossini's Overture to Semiramide, and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90 ("Italian")

Was it hearing the music that made the difference, or the use of the hands in playing the music? It would take more extensive research to prove one way or the other, but there is research that indicates that the playing of instrumental music has significant impact on the learning of math. I strongly suspect that both have effect, the music and the hands that play it. The book describing the research can be found for download at The Arts Education Partnership Website. "Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Social and Academic Development," was sponsored by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Department of Education and was written by James Catterall, Karen Bradley, Larry Scripp, Terry Baker and Rob Horowitz. It is truly astounding how rarely the United States Government is able to take its own advice. It is a clear case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

Support for the arts, including symphony orchestras, has significant impact on the lifting of basic intelligence in America. Listening is wonderful, as I can assure you after a wonderful night at an incredible performance. Greatest and most wonderful, however is for young people to have the opportunity to play. It is wisdom of the hands.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    Boy, miss a few days of the blog and all sorts of interesting stuff gets past me.

    I wish playing music had led to me being better at math, but after just passing calculus (did better at grad school statistics), that connection doesn't seem to have worked for me.