It soothes our souls, changes our heartbeat, triggers emotions, ignites memories and that’s just the beginning of the magic of music.
Music reduces stress, increases joy and has been proved to accelerate brain development in children exposed to it regularly.
Promoting music and musical activates can help children with their speech, memory, attention span, reading and communication skills and has a host of social and emotional benefits as well.
With a mother who was classically trained as an opera singer and a father who was at one time regarded one of the top 10 organists in the U.S.A, it is an understatement to say music has had a huge impact on my life.
My parents formed a duo that entertained thousands of people for decades. When not listening to them practice, I was treated to the strains of classical music which filled our home.
From the vibrant vibes of Vivaldi (my favourite) to the beautiful brilliance of Beethoven, music was a constant companion.
Many were shocked and dismayed when I chose not to pursue piano lessons. I was repeatedly told I would regret it later. I have never regretted it and am happy to sit back and listen, or jump up and dance to the beats.
THE MAGIC OF MUSIC FOR STRESS RELIEF
I was quick to offer music lessons to my sons, though. Two of them excelled at playing the guitar while one showed an early love and talent for piano and was classically trained.
They all managed to put their lessons to good use too. One son played bass guitar in a successful indie band for several years and the other two used their knowledge to produce their own music and work as DJs.
The thing that really impresses me though, is that music is their go-to place when life gets challenging. This was particularly useful when they were teenagers. Even now, when feeling stressed or sad, they will pick up an instrument or put on some music to help regain their equilibrium.
I use music this way too. I’ve been known to listen to a sad tune repeatedly while processing some issue. When the process is finished I play a happy tune and my mood is instantly lifted.
The magic of music goes beyond changing our moods though, it can actually alter our perception, according to research from the University of Groningen.
THE MAGIC OF MUSIC TO UNITE PEOPLE
As if that isn’t enough, the magic of music has enormous social benefits too.
Music has the power to unite people – consider the influence of Woodstock and its message of peace in the 60s. Or the Live Aid concerts which raised 150 million to help famine victims in Ethiopia.
The piano player son, Brendan, who shared his process for how to run a marathon, was recently asked to write a toast about anything he chose for a public speaking challenge. It’s no surprise he chose music as his topic.
Music is the universal language. Unlike other languages, everyone can understand it, without ever having to learn it.
There are very few activities in life which utilise the entire brain. Not only does music do this, but, it also has the ability to alter your heartbeat.
Music enables us to speak to people without the use of words. A single melody can tell a story in a thousand different ways.
Music is a timestamp in all of our lives. How many of you are filled with nostalgia when you hear a song that was playing during a special moment in your life?
So how long has music been around? Well…. archaeologists have found primitive flutes made of bone and ivory dating back as far as 43,000 years. And prior to this, it is believed that music was created with the use of sticks, rocks and vocals.
Music continues to evolve and we now have technology that has taken it to a whole new level. With innovations like 3D sound, which is changing the way we hear music, to content streaming services which gives us access to a multitude of songs on the go, it is really exciting to think about what could be next.
MORE MAGIC OF MUSIC
Research has shown that babies listening to a song will remain calm twice as long as those listening to speech.
Another study has shown how music can help severely brain-injured people recall personal memories.
The magic of music even helps plants grow faster.
THE MAGIC OF MUSIC FOR BRAIN GROWTH
It’s not much of a leap then, to realise music can help children’s brains develop faster.
A significant difference in learning levels between children who had exposure to music and music instruction and those who did not was revealed in one five-year study. This was particularly evident in the areas of sound perception, language development and reading skills.
Music, like other forms of art, is a way to show emotion without the use of words. This makes it an excellent tool to enhance art therapy.
THE MAGIC OF MUSIC FOR THERAPY
One of my favourite art therapy exercises is to have the students do scribble drawing while listening to music.
I get them to close their eyes and scribble on a piece of paper, using the music to guide their strokes. I usually play a few different styles of music and have the students either change pencil colours or sheets of paper for each new genre.
Afterwards, we discuss the drawings and the students can see the different emotions the music evoked by the pressure they used while drawing, plus the direction, length and shape of the lines drawn.
Understanding triggers and how emotions affect us is the first step towards gaining some control over them.
The recommended age to start formal music training is six. However, you can promote a love and appreciation for music from birth, or even in the womb.
Not all children will be interested in formal musical training. They can still reap many of the benefits if they are continually exposed to a variety of music.
During our international crafts sessions at Wacky Workshops Arts and Craft for Kids, I usually play music from the country we are ‘visiting’. This is a great way to introduce children to music from other cultures.
I regularly hold ‘Musical Mayhem’ workshops to show the students how to make a variety of their own musical instruments. Find out how to make four musical instruments from stuff you have lying around at home.
Wishing you a musical and gleeful week, Tamuria.