Executive Summary and Future Steps
THE BIG PICTURE: The current study examined the effect of participation in a social music and movement program, OrKidstra, on children’s ability to pay attention and self-regulate.
FINDINGS: Preliminary findings indicate that participating in the OrKidstra program:
- Decreases children’s reaction times to Go stimuli at 2000Hz
- Increases the early brain’s response to this tone within individuals (2000Hz vs. 1100Hz in the same children) and between groups (OrKidstra children vs. comparison children).
- These findings support the theory that music practice modulates early attention by automatizing executive control to perceptual processing.
- It is speculated that children shift from top-to-bottom (that is, sensory to high level cognitive) processing as they acquire sensory practice with auditory discrimination during OrKidstra training.
- We believe that involvement with the OrKidstra program trains children’s brains to pay attention to auditory stimuli at an automatic level which frees up cognitive space and allows them to take in more information. For example, in a classroom setting the act of listening to the teacher would become automatic allowing children to focus on class content.
Given the encouraging findings based on a very small sample size, the next most important step is to increase our sample size. An additional step is to use a variety of alternative analytical approaches to confirm the validity of the patterns presently discovered.
Our aim is to raise enough money to purchase a mobile unit in order to effectively recruit families to participate in our study. One of the greatest impediments to increasing our sample size was the expectation that families would travel to Carleton University and dedicate approximately three hours of participation time. A van equipped with EEG equipment would facilitate family participation as we could park at the Bronson Centre where children engage in OrKidstra classes. Furthermore, this would allow us to travel to other Sistema-inspired programs across Canada.
The collective, multilayered effects on the brains of so many children, families and communities still await scientific study and an understanding of how all this can be translated into sustainable socially responsible programs which will move humanity towards a healthier, more productive future.