Ever since playwright William Congreve observed 300 years ago that "music hath charms to soothe the savage breast", there have een claims for the beneficial effects of sweet sounds on human emotions. One of the most convincing recent studies, by Susan Hallam and John Price of London University's Institute of Education, found that background music played in maths lessons improved the conduct and attainment of a group of emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children, and also of Year 6 pupils in a mainstream primary school.
The conclusions of this 10-month experiment will be
fascinating to see. But music matters for its own sake too - not just as an aid to ever-higher test results.