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Lesson plan: Playing Musical Instruments

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How playing an instrument benefits your brain (4:45 min.)

In the video “How playing an instrument benefits your brain” Anita Collins explains the fireworks that go off in musicians’ brains when they play, and examines some of the long-term positive effects of this mental workout.

Before you listen
Study the following glossary before you watch the video (click on the word GLOSSARY):

GLOSSARY
Do you play a musical instrument? What instrument do you play? Do you think it has influenced your brain in any way?

Watch the video
Now watch the video and answer the following questions:
1. What happens in our brain when we listen to music? Why did neuroscientists get excited about watching the brain functions of musicians?
2. What different areas of the brain does learning a musical instrument engage at the same time and why?
3. What brain functions are strengthened by disciplined, structured practice in playing music?
4. In what areas do musicians excel and why? Why is their memory compared to an Internet search engine?
5. What has been found out in several randomaized studies?

Over to you
Discuss in pairs:
Has the video inspired you to play a musical instrument or to learn to play one? Why? What other benefits can music and playing a musical instrument bring?

Language Exercise A
Fill in the gaps with suitable prepositions and adverbs and translate them from English into Russian:
1. Did you know that every time musicians pick ______ their instruments there are fireworks going ______ all ______ their brain?
2. ______ the outside they make look calm and focussed reading the music and making the precise and practised movements required, but inside their brains, there’s a party going ______.
3. ______ the last few decades neuroscientists have made enormous breakthroughs ______understanding how our brains work ______ monitoring them ______ real time ______ instruments like FMRI and PET scanners.
4. When people are hooked ______ ______these machines, tasks such as reading or doing math problems, each have corresponding areas ______the brain where activity can be observed.
5. Multiple areas ______their brains were lighting ______ ______once as they processed the sound, took it ______to understand elements like melody and rhythm and then put it all ______ together ______ unified musical experience.
6. And our brains do all this work ______ a split second ______ when we first hear the music and when our foot starts to tap ______.
7. It turns ______ that while listening ______ music engages the brain ______ some pretty interesting activities, playing music is the brain’s equivalent ______ a full body workout.
8. It also combines the linguistic and mathematical precision ______ which the left hemisphere is more involved ______ the novel and creative content that the right excels ______.
9. ______ these reasons playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity ______ the brain’s corpus callosum – the bridge ______ the two hemispheres– allowing messages to get ______ the brain faster and ______ more diverse routes.
10. So how do we know all those benefits are unique ______ music as opposed ______ say, sports or painting? Or could it be that the people who go ______music are already smarter to begin ______?

Language Exercise B
Give the English equivalents for the following phrasal verbs found in the sentences above. Make up your own sentences with them:
разбирать на части, анализировать / отбивать ритм, слушая музыку / проходить, иметь место / загораться, зажигаться, активизироваться / быть подключенным к чему-то / взять, поднять / доходить до понимания / взрываться, выстреливать / заняться чем-то / соединять, собирать

Language Exercise C
Complex Subject:

Study the following example of Complex Subject used in the video and translate the sentence from English into Russian:

  • But when researchers got the participants to listen to music, they saw fireworks.

Open the brackets and complete the sentences with the Infinitive, the Gerund or Participle (I, II). Translate the sentences from English into Russian:
1. On his third step, he spied something that made him (to stop) short.
2. I found him (to lean) on his right hand, (to talk) intently to an older man, probably in his late forties, who was wearing a three-piece suit.
3. The day I found her (to cry) alone in the cafeteria was the day her grandmother had forced her (to chop off) her dirty dreadlocks and (to wear) a dress, and Lily was not happy about it.
4. Every time a concert hall was bombed he had it (to rebuild) immediately as a matter of top priority.
5. I watched her mouth (to drop) open when she saw him (to stand) there.
6. He half expected her (to wander) into one of his parties, some night but she never did.
7. The days of sleep had left him (to disorient) and yet his mind felt oddly lucid.
8. They strolled across and found Bree (to lie) with his face towards the wall, and though he must have heard them (to come), he never turned his head or spoke a word.
9. The empty museum frightened her, although she was not about to let her grandfather (to know) that.
10. Miss Ellen never talked so short to nobody, not even when she caught them (to steal) watermelons.

 

Click on the word KEYS to see the answers:

KEYS

 

Click on the word TRANSCRIPT to see the text of the video:

TRANSCRIPT
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