Lullabies put babies to sleep. Rhymes help to teach kids. You also rhythmically rock babies to sleep. We all know that kids love listening to music and dancing. Music soothes and changes their moods.
But there is much more to music and kids! Scientific studies have shown that music changes a human brain in many fundamental ways, especially that of a child. How can you use this fact to benefit your child’s development?
In this digital age, stimuli of the electronic form are all too common. There are too many devices and smart phones around. Television is also a constant distraction. This affects your child’s attention span and learning. This in turn can affect school work and grades. In the long term too, as adults, this could affect their performance. Therefore in this day and age, your child needs special efforts to help focus their minds and senses. Music lessons are definitely one of the proven ways to bring about this mental focus as well as boost mental performance.
The Mozart effect
The commonly observed effect of music on the human mind has been studied formally by neuroscientists all over the world. They have found that music affects the brain in multiple ways. The theory is even nicknamed as “the Mozart Effect.” It is described as “a popularized version of the hypothesis, which suggest that “listening to Mozart makes you smarter,” or that “early childhood exposure to classical music has a beneficial effect on mental development” (from Wikipedia).
This term was coined by a Frenchman called Alfred A. Tomatis, in a book called “Why Mozart?” where he hypothesizes that listening to music healed the brain, due to the fact that he ear had to process different frequencies. If you want to know more, you can read the book by Don Campbell, “The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit,” which says that listening to Mozart can increase IQ and create better mental function. Music can holistically help the keeping the brain healthy, reduce stress, depression and anxiety. There are even commercially patented CDs that contain music that claims to transform brains.
Let us look at ways in which music, especially classical can enhance the brain and lead to better mental and emotional health.
Effects music has
Music, especially classical, acts by helping to focus. Music changes the brain in ways that improve cognition. In fact, the field of music neuroscience which combines cognitive science, music and neuroscience has helped scientists understand how the brain achieves complex intellectual tasks by studying how music changes the brain.
Going further, the effect of music is not limited to IQ, but also impact emotional development and social skills. It is also improves motor skills.
It may be of note here that learning to play an instrument is much more beneficial than just listening to classical music.
Key ideas about music and brain function to keep in mind:
- Playing music improves scores on standard school tests as well as reading proficiency.
- Music students in general receive more academic honors than others.
- Students playing music have higher scores on the math and verbal sections of the SAT.
Piano training of a few weeks leads to higher IQs. This leads to understanding complex mathematical and scientific concepts easily. Pattern recognition tests showed that those with piano training do better.
What explains this?
There are many ways in which this can be explained. Learning music is multi-faceted with practice, memorizing, emotion, and learning a structure.
At the physical level, children who learn music show better growth and function of certain parts of the brain. MRI scans of brains show enhanced activity when playing music.
Functionally, when a child’s brain learns music, it gains composite skills in learning a new language, listening intently, memory, and motor skills.
The mathematical structure of musical notes helps children grasp mathematical concepts like ratios and proportion. This can create a foundation for higher learning.
Music helps the brain develop spatial-temporal reasoning that is putting parts mentally together. It improves visualization and abstraction skills as music has symbols that are to be interpreted. Learning melodies can help the brain see how things transform in time. The executive functions are built, because the brain learns to manage time, attention and behavior.
Apart from these the very basic act of practice develops discipline which can migrate over to school work. The basic lesson of “practice makes perfect” will help the child all through life as an adult too.
If your child’s school does not include a comprehensive music curriculum, your child could be missing out on a valuable tool of self-development. You can supplement after school by letting your child try music lessons with different instruments or camps related to musical themes. Please share your comments below about how music has helped your child or any thoughts about the power of music.
If you would like music to benefit your child from a young age, check out the various music related activities listed on http://www.iQuriouskids.com. We are sure you will find something that fits your needs to a T.
The Houston Piano Company
Cinco Ranch Music
Girls Rock Houston
Cy Fair Music and Arts