Research from Canada finds high-performing students do even better if they are enrolled in ongoing music classes.

Does studying music boost students’ overall test scores? Recent research casts doubt on that belief, concluding that the link between music education and good grades appears to reflect the impressive nature of the students who study music, rather than an intrinsic effect of the lessons themselves.


But a new study from Canada suggests music lessons may in fact have wide-ranging intellectual benefits. It finds that, among a group of high-performing high school students, grades were consistently higher for those who continued music classes compared to those who dropped them after two years of compulsory training.

It is possible that the kids who stay with the music lessons were the smartest and most motivated of this smart, motivated group.

MRI Scans

In the journal Behavioural Brain Research, a team led by Leonid Perlovsky of Harvard University describes a study featuring 180 secondary school students in Quebec. Based on their excellence in elementary school, all were selected for an International Baccalaureate program, meaning they were “among the top grade level of their school.” During their first two years of secondary school, music education was compulsory. For the final three years, music courses were optional; the students had their choice of music, drama, or painting/sculpture classes.

The researchers recorded the students’ academic performance in their full range of classes, including science, math, history, and foreign languages. The results for the kids’ final three years of schooling were quite striking. “Each year,” Perlovsky and his colleagues report, “the mean grades of the students that had chosen a music course in their curriculum were higher than those of the students that had not chosen music as an optional course.”

This proved true nearly across the board. Of the 25 courses rated, there were only two exceptions in which non-music students performed better (in each case marginally).


Perlovsky and his colleagues concede these results do not prove or disprove causality. It is possible that the kids who stay with the music lessons were the smartest and most motivated of this smart, motivated group. But given the kids’ uniformly “high initial achievements,” it seems at least as likely that the music courses provided intellectual and/or emotional benefits, which showed up in the form of higher test scores.

As we’ve noted previously, Perlovsky and his colleagues believe that music’s value, from an evolutionary perspective, revolves around its ability to help people cope with cognitive dissonance—that intense feeling of discomfort that arises when we encounter information that contradicts one of our core beliefs.

According to their hypothesis, the ability to live with such feelings allows us to be open to fresh, challenging ideas, leading to intellectual and emotional growth. This process, they argue, is “fundamental to human evolution,” and a likely reason music became so ubiquitous.

This intriguing argument is difficult if not impossible to prove definitively. Another line of thinking suggests music proved beneficial to early humans because of its ability to cement social bonds. But are those ideas opposed? It’s conceivable that kids who feel socially connected (say, as members of a school band) develop the confidence and self-esteem that can lead to intellectual curiosity, and better grades. Another study, perhaps?

Sourced via Tasmin Little article in The Gramophone Magazine

Posted in Culture, Education, Higher Education, Music, Psychology, Students | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Nuisance phone calls, a fatal accident, bull elephants and how to have some fun…………….

I was sat at my desk at home yesterday afternoon when my mobile phone rang. A voice with a strong Indian accent asked me if I was Mr …………… which I replied yes.


He then said he was ringing on behalf of an insurance company as they had a record that I had had an accident in the last two years. Well what follows is a transcript the conversation (I kid you not):-

Caller: I understand you had a car accident within the last two years, is that correct?

Me: yes, roughly two years ago I had a major car accident in Lithuania

Caller: and were you injured in any way?

Me: yes I was severely killed and have been dead for the last two years

Caller: can you describe the circumstances of the accident?

Me: I was driving along a quiet road when a bull elephant ran out and trampled my car and unfortunately I was killed

Caller: so you were seriously injured in the accident

Me: yes, it was fatal

Caller: have you made a claim for compensation?

Me: no, it’s a bit difficult from where I am at the moment

Caller: so you have had a bad accident and you were seriously hurt

Me: yes and the really unfortunate thing is that I am now dead

It was at this point that I was struggling not to burst out laughing but the young man said he would have to talk to his manager about my case as it sounded a bit complex and rang off.

Suffice to say I have not heard back from them…………….

Posted in Call Centres, Customer Service, Humour, Lithuania | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Motivation…………..I think not!











Doesn’t the above “motivational poster” want to make you wretch…………..or is it just me that has an antagonism towards crass and self serving statements?

Posted in Culture, Employability, Language, Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Autumnal Colours at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (and Jó reggelt! to any Hungarian readers)

Today I took my annual “autumnal stroll” around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton. I wanted to try to catch the wonderful colours of the trees and plants in the park before they all disappeared. Unfortunately, earlier in the week we had some strong winds so the trees has already lost some of their coats

The Underground Gallery

The Underground Gallery

As I wandered into the park the sky decided to cloud over so I opted to go to the cafe and grab myself a cappuccino to sustain me through my walk which was to come later.


I sat outside on the veranda and said good morning to a young lady undertaking some cleaning duties. When she replied I noticed an accent so I asked her where she was from. “I am from Hungary………Budapest, the capital city” so we then had a lengthy conversation about how beautiful Budapest was and the merits of the excellent Hungarian wine Egri Bikaver (often known as Bulls Blood in the UK).


She explained she had come to the UK to get work and paid a reasonable wage (I suspect she was on minimum wage working at the YSP). She explained that wages were very poor back in Hungary but gas, electric and goods in the shops cost the same as in the UK. Her English was impeccable (which merely embarrasses me more and more at our lack of linguistic skills in the UK) and she said she had come direct to Yorkshire to live and hod not done the “London” route.


She said she loved the countryside in Yorkshire and in particular the Yorkshire details, something with which I concurred. She also taught me how to say “good morning” in Hungarian – Jó reggelt! So not only do I get the beauty of the countryside but I get language lessons for free!


After coffee I set off around the park and already at 10.30am there were lots of visitors enjoying what had now become a clear blue sky. The leaves left on the trees were lovely shades of brown, green, orange and yellow with the odd shades of red, purple and mauve thrown in for good measure.


I made my way down to the lake only to find it half empty, I think they had drained it to do some restoration work, but it still looks impressive half full. By now the sun was high, the temperature had increased and it became a very pleasant morning to walk at leisure around the park taking in all the wonderful sights and views.


Finally, I made my way to see the first large-scale survey in Europe by highly acclaimed American artist Ursula von Rydingsvard. The exhibition, which is the artist’s most extensive to date, illustrates the full scope of von Rydingsvard’s diverse practice, including more than 40 works of drawing and sculpture made over the last two decades, presented in YSP’s purpose-built Underground Gallery and the open air.


After nearly three hours I ambled out of the park and made my way back to my car for the short journey back to Huddersfield. I feel very lucky to have such a park virtually on my doorstep and one that has both national and international renown.

Spider bids for freedom!

Spider bids for freedom!

If you have not already visited then put it on your bucket list as one of the “10 things I must do”………… will not be disappointed.

Posted in Architecture, Art and Sculpture, Culture, Nature / Flowers, Sculpture Park, UK Regions, Uncategorized, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

No, no I dont want to see the vet, there is nothing wrong with me……….
















I have seen some funny photographs featuring animals over the years but the above is the best I have ever see. Apparently it is a man taking his dog to the vets………..god knows what the dog was afraid of!

Posted in Health and Wellbeing, Humour | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

University Students preparing for the world of work (School of Management, Bradford University)

Yesterday I spent a full day at Bradford University School of Management where, along with many other employers representatives and consultants I conducted a series of “mock interviews” of students in the second year of their undergraduate degree course.

somlogoblack The interviews are part of a comprehensive career module that all students undertake to prepare them for the transition into employment and form a key part of the universities “employability strategy.”

Each interview is scheduled to last approximately 20 minutes and is focused around a key set of question including competency-based questions. After which, the candidate is asked to do a self – assessment of their performance before receiving constructive critical feedback from the interviewer.

The students are briefed by their tutors in advance and told to treat it as a formal interview and dress “appropriately” for a business interview.

The attendance level of the students was down on the previous year and this is made up of some being ill, possible travel problems but more likely panic at the thought of being formally interviewed and realizing that they had not done any real preparation.


Of the six students I interviewed the overall standard was reasonably good with two outstanding performers, both young women, one of who was Rumanian and whose spoken English was faultless. Both of these young women handled all the questions well and I had no doubt they would acquit themselves well when it came to being formally interviewed for jobs.

The most amusing person was a young man who turned up in skinny leg black trousers (I will give him the benefit of the doubt that they were not jeans), open neck shirt and waistcoat. Around his waist was a black belt with the biggest buckle I have even seen………a sort of stained glass window effect.

When I raised the appropriateness of his dress and the buckle in particular he responded by saying “that buckle cost me a lot of money off the internet”………I suggested that for clubbing it was fine but NOT for a formal job interview.

I find these days working with students both challenging and stimulating and the Careers and Academic staff at the School of Management should be congratulated for organising such positive experiences for students, and also involving interviewers from the public, private and consultancy sectors which can only be of benefit to the students.




Posted in Education, Employability, Higher Education, Management, West Yorkshire, women in society, Yorkshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

But mum, you promised not to plug me into the “electricity mains” again if I was a good boy………………


Photograph © Kindadukish2014

Posted in Humour, Psychology, Children | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment