Making an Instrumental Difference

15 Aug 2019

Learning music isn’t just about mastering an instrument or developing the skills to play or sing a wonderful piece of music.

NGS Director of Music Mr Kevin Young says there’s a wealth of research about the wide-ranging benefits of learning music – but it’s the sense of connection with others that is perhaps the most important benefit he witnesses among students playing instruments in the School’s ensembles or singing in the choirs. 

“Connectedness is a big part of what we are doing through our Music programme,” he says. “We bring together students from different years who play all types of music together and feel a real sense of belonging.”

The Instrumental programme for Years 3–6 introduces NGS students to different instruments, encouraging them to try woodwind, brass and strings. 

Singing is also an integral part of the Music programme, with choirs from K–4 that teach children to sing as a group, to take instructions from their director and to sing in both unison and parts. 

Mr Young says that when students move to Hill Campus in Year 5, they have had an “an amazing journey and experience in singing”.

“This is a very important part of our success from a music perspective and goes hand-in-hand with the Instrumental programme.”

Many students go on to join Co-Curricular choirs – Grammarphones and Chamber Choir – and instrumental groups including Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, Stringendo, Brass Razoo and Bamboozle. 

Research shows that musical training can change brain structure and function for the better, that learning an instrument can boost language and reading skills, and that musicians are more mentally alert.

Mr Young says that playing music is a brain training exercise, teaching logical thinking and complex cognitive skills. 

It also helps students to develop persistence and the skills of deliberate practice as they work to master complex musical pieces.

“There so many benefits to learning music,” he says. “I also see how it reduces students’ stress levels as they just slow down for a bit and focus on playing music.”