Moscow melodies aid concentration

31st August 2001 at 01:00
RESEARCHERS know that, far from hindering pupils' concentration, classical or rock music can improve it . . . but now it seems synthesised Russian tunes may be even more effective.

A prominent American academic claims his students' grades have rocketed since he began playing a specially-devised composition, entitled Muscle Memory, as background music in the classroom. He also maintains his students' attention spans have extended from around 45 minutes to more than two hours.

Dr Ken West, a lecturer in human movement at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa, invited 25 students to take a visual memory test with the music playing and another 25 to take the test in silence.

Those subjected to the synthesised Russian-style music, composed by Texan musician Jerry Stoddard, scored 15 per cent higher and Dr West now brings the music along to all of his lessons. In a separate experiment, employees at a data-entry company made 10 per cent fewer mistakes when Muscle Memory was played.

Dr West said: "There is always this argument between youngsters and their parents over whether they should study with music playing.

"Our initial research suggests that if it is the right sort of music, it can aid concentration and help pupils to focus for longer periods of time.

"Previous experiments have normally involved classical music but seeing as most young people stick their noses up at it, we want to prove that more modern, lively music can have the same effect.

"It has been suspected for years that music set at around 60 beats per minute can aid concentration, but more evidence is needed."

Dr West is now inviting schools, colleges and universities in the UK to volunteer for further research into the effects of music on students' memory and concentration.

Anyone interested in taking part should contact Ian Pont on 0870 7874926

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