Ep. 59: How does MUSIC learning impact OTHER learning? With Dr. Anita Collins

September 8, 2020

Dr. Anita Collins’ new book,“The Music Advantage: How learning music helps your child’s brain and wellbeing,” was released September 1, 2020. Learn what research shows about the cognitive nutrient of sound, and about music learning’s foundational relationship to other learning, including reading.

Dr. Anita Collins


Dr. Anita Collins is an award-winning educator, researcher and writer in the field of brain development and music learning. She is internationally recognized for her unique work in translating the scientific research of neuroscientists and psychologists for parents, teachers and students. (Thank you, on behalf of us lay-people everywhere!)

Anita regularly presents her research on television, radio and through her scholarly and popular writings. She is an education advisor and research expert for numerous orchestras, schools and universities, companies and non-profits. Anita is the founder of the Bigger Better Brains education program and a founding director of the Rewire Foundation. She joins us today from Australia.


  • Dr. Collins tells us about her new book and how it came to be.
  • We discuss information in the book, including sensitivity periods for brain development (when the brain is more sensitive to learning); why you are your baby’s favorite rock star; music learning’s relationship to executive function and impulse control; and why keeping a beat is vital for reading.

Connect/Other Resources

  • I first became acquainted with Dr. Collins’ work through the 2014 short film she wrote that has become one of the most watched TED Education films ever made, called “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain.” It’s phenomenal and it’s less than 5 minutes long; if you haven’t already seen it, do yourself a favor and watch:


Dr. Collins tells a story of her involvement in the Sydney Olympic Marching Band in 2000, leading a 2,000-musician international band in playing the Olympic Fanfare. She describes the moving experience of her physical body literally vibrating with the sound from the audience.

Closing Words

Thank you so much to Dr. Collins for joining us today, and for putting this incredible book out into the world. I really appreciate Dr. Collins’ skill in distilling and translating the scientific research in ways that are understood by the layperson who is not in the field. AND I also appreciate the fact that she also lists resources at the end of each chapter for those who do want to dig deeper. Anita’s book will be published in the US by Penguin Random House; in the meantime, it is available for global purchase and delivery through Book Depository. As we kick off a new school year here in the US, I just want to repeat something that Anita writes in this book. She says that: “[Teachers in a challenging socio-economic area] are the teachers I enjoy working with the most. Due to their challenging professional environ­ments and clientele (both students and parents), they are open to whatever works in education. They are highly attuned to different needs on any given day for each of their students. This is not to say that teachers in less challenging areas are not like that, but it has been my observation that when faced with higher levels of fluctuation and variety in your students, you become an intuitive, highly observational, innovative educator pretty quickly. When I have the great privilege of watching them teach, I feel like I am observing a true artist at work.” I just want to end this episode with a shoutout to teachers everywhere, and in particular those working in challenging socio-economic areas. My cousin Shannon is one of these, and I see these teachers as heroes who are doing so much unsung work in making the world a better place – for individual students AND for our greater communities. So THANK YOU. You and your work are invaluable and you are appreciated. Thank you so much for joining me today. I encourage you to enhance someone else’s life with music by sharing this episode with someone who may find it helpful, whether a teacher, a parent, or a grandparent; and whether you share by text, social media, or your own acoustic voice! Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.  Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of this site’s product links are affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, for purchases made through these links. 

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