An interesting snippet was published in the New Scientist January 19-25, 2013 concerning how early training of musicians changes the wiring of their brains. The point of the article is that the early training (beginning before the age of 7) thickens the corpus callosum, the bridge between the halves of the brain. This early time period is crucial for this effect, and those musicians starting later showed little or no difference in the size of their corpus callosum from that of any non-musician controls.
The obvious conclusion is that the musicians who started earlier had a clear advantage over their later blooming competition for greatness. Of course musical genius comes from more than just a thickened bridge in the brain, but MRI scans showed conclusively that there was a substantial increase in the wiring and connectivity between the two halves of the brain for those who started their musical training early. This I believe is the smoking gun we need to help us understand how to go about radically improving the public schools for our students.
The article went on to say that the corpus callosum is more receptive to alterations in its connective pattern at this crucial early age, and that any coordinated hand activity involving speed and synchronization of both hands should be similarly effective in increasing the brain’s connections between its two halves.
This fits rather nicely within my feeling that the early introduction of string figures in the public school system should radically improve the learning ability of all students who are exposed to their in-depth study. And I believe this training (exposure) should be begun even earlier than the first grade at age 6.
I have begun to produce educational materials as ebooks for the ipad. With their videos and detailed graphics anyone can learn string figures. The following are now available in itunes with more to follow shortly.