A global and pioneering scientific study
The Ferrer-Salat Music Foundation, the Liceu Conservatory and the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu research team, led by Dr. Miquel Casas, are conducting a study to determine the correlation between music learning ability and school performance.
What is the effect of consistent music practice on the brain plasticity of young people? How does this effect translate in terms of school performance? How can it improve the quality of life of young people with neurodevelopmental disorders?
These are just some of the questions that this ambitious and global pioneering research project aims to answer. The Ferrer-Salat Music Foundation, the Liceu Conservatory and the research team led by Dr. Miquel Casas, head of psychiatry at the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, are at the forefront of this initiative.
Why has this project been carried out?
Around 20% of Catalan students suffer from neurodevelopmental disorders (autistic spectrum, ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, communication disorders, etc., with associated behavioural disorders). The number of students suffering disorders is like that of most rich countries, with the difference that we only diagnose and appropriately treat 2 out of 10 cases.
These disorders are one of the main causes of school failure and dropout, which in Catalonia is very high (20%) compared, for example, to Nordic countries (less than 7%).
Without proper diagnosis, these dysfunctions are detected late and lead to poor academic performance, behavioural disturbances (anxiety and depression, among others), and negative consequences that go far beyond the school years (unemployment, substance abuse, traffic accidents, unwanted pregnancies, etc.).
A global and pioneering research
This research aims to study the correlation between music learning ability and school performance and to determine whether the prognosis of young people with academic difficulties and neurodevelopmental dysfunctions would improve through music learning and playing an instrument on a regular basis.
The first stage of the research is screening and diagnosis. A sample of more than 6,000 students from the schools in neighbourhoods at risk of social exclusion currently participating in the Primary Music project (sponsored by the Foundation together with the Liceu Conservatory) is analysed. We should bear in mind that, in schools from underprivileged neighbourhoods, only 1 out of 10 cases are diagnosed. Therefore, the estimate is that around 120,000 young people at risk of school failure are undiagnosed.
From this screening and diagnosis, children with learning difficulties are detected and analysed to see if a psychobiological problem is interfering with their school performance.
After this first stage, the effects of consistent music practice on children with neurodevelopmental disorders in the school environment are observed, and the research focuses on whether music can be used as a tool to improve the quality of life of students with academic difficulties.
The results of this research, which began in September 2021, will be available within the next three years. By the end, we will know whether music and its transformative power have beneficial effects on the brain. The conclusions drawn will be of the utmost importance when trying to reduce school failure in a developed society and to minimise the negative effects beyond the school years.