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The beneficial effects of listening to classical music has been studied in school aged children for several years. One such study conducted by the University of London's Institute of Education last year showed scholastic improvements, better social skills, and a higher level of attentiveness and concentration in young pupils who regularly listened to classical music. The conclusion of the experiment was that being exposed to classical music enhanced children's listening skills, and those improvements led to better listening and understanding during other classroom activities.
The power of music to engage and inspire is now being used by the University of Technology, Sydney’s International Research Centre for Youth Futures. The first of a series of UTS Kids’ Proms was held by the Research Centre in December, featuring UTS resident ensemble the Australia Piano Quartet, who were joined by acclaimed composer Lyle Chan. Aimed at children in schools across Sydney, who are from mainly non-English speaking backgrounds or who experience learning challenges, it is hoped the workshop style performances will not only offer a nurturing, hands-on environment for children to hear, play and discover classical music, but will also stimulate minds and offer an inspiring glimpse into further education.
The Australia Piano Quartet
Professor Rosemary Johnston, Director of the International Research Centre for Youth Futures is excited about classical music’s ability to engage both emotionally and intellectually. “Our first Kids’ Prom was designed to help children enjoy new experiences, new kinds of learning, new sensations and new possibilities,” Professor Johnston shares. “Learning should be interesting, foster curiosity and creativity, and nurture personal responses. Music transcends language difficulties and creates a lovely sense of shared community.”
The success of the first UTS Kids’ Prom, at which some children attending were listening to classical music for the first time, is extremely encouraging to cellist, and founder member of the Australia Piano Quartet, Thomas Rann. “Music is one of the greatest forces that helps us feel, think and create,” says Rann. “Music cuts across cultural differences, and to share the richness of music with anyone, but particularly children, is a privilege indeed.”