Music and the Brain Part 3

Learning Strategies for Musical Success

The brain is divided into two cerebral hemispheres. The left hemisphere controls the ability to speak, read, and write. However, the right hemisphere is responsible for the musical elements of speech, including intonation, prosody, emphasis, and pitch. Musical processing is even more widely distributed throughout the brain than is speech. Pitch, melody, harmony, and structure tend to be right hemispheric, whereas time structures such as meter, rhythm, and tempo are mainly left hemispheric. The brain processes the emotional response to music mainly in the limbic system and the frontal lobes.

British music educator George Odam says, “Real musical experience should focus on sound rather than symbol so that the sound processors in the right hemisphere can be activated”. Reading music, analysis, and intellectualization are all primarily left-hemispheric activities. Unlike formally trained musicians, non-musicians are restricted to emotional response when listening to music and hence activate less of the left hemisphere…

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