Children and Music go hand in hand. Singing, clapping and dancing are part of the natural language of children because young people are responsive to the rhythm of the heart.
Studies in children and music have shown that music is an inherent ability in all children, even infants. A study involving children from 5 months to 2 years reveals that babies are equipped with an internal response to musical rhythm. We are all born to sing and dance, something many of us forget.
Recently, scientists have also discovered that slow music influences a person's heart rhythm. In an experiment published in the British Medical Journal Heart, researchers found that music with a fast tempo increased heart rate and blood pressure; however,slower, more meditative music decreased heart rate; in fact, raga music, belonging to the Indian Classical genre, produces the most significant decline in heart rate.
Music Therapy has been known to enhance physical wellness, athletic performance and communication skills. It has also been shown to boost milk production in cows.
Children and Music: Effects of Music on the Brain
According to Mary Desaulniers, training in music does more than slow the heart rate. It can sharpen mental acuity, especially in the areas of cognition,verbal and emotional intelligence. There is a lot that can be said about music and the brain.
Effects of Music on the Brain:Cognitive development, Verbal Skills and Emotional Intelligence
Music has been known to alleviate stress by increasing the body’s release of endorphins—the feel good chemicals. New research also reveals that music produces powerful effects on the brain, promoting cognitive development, verbal skills and emotional intelligence.
Music and Cognitive Development
A great deal of evidence exists showing a correlation between musical training in childhood and cognitive proficiency.
Canadian researchers measuring changes in brain responses to music in children aged 4 to 6 discovered that children who took Suzuki music lessons had greater improvements in IQ scores and specific skills such as literacy, visiospatial processing, verbal memory and mathematics.
The study suggests that music training has a profound effect on rewiring the brain for cognitive functions.
Another study undertaken at Georgetown University Medical Center shows that music exercises all areas in the brain involved with attention.
Peak activity in the brain occurs when listeners are engaged in the pauses of silence between movements, suggesting that music activates networks in the brain associated with anticipation, attention and neural clairvoyance.
Can music help produce better readers?
Definitely, according to a research done at Northwestern University which suggests that music training is directly linked to enhanced verbal proficiency.
In fact, researchers at the university suggest that musical training may be more effective for developing verbal skills than learning phonics.
The brain’s multi-sensory engagement during music practice and performance enhances the same communication skills needed for speaking and reading.
Musicians sharpen a specialized neural system for processing sight and sound, music and speech, which means that early musical training can help children develop literacy skills and reduce literacy disorders.
Listening to music while exercising has also been shown to help increase verbal fluency scores among cardiac rehabilitation patients.
Music and Emotional Intelligence
Perhaps the most compelling effect of music on the brain is its development of emotional intelligence.
The latest research shows that music training sharpens an individual’s ability to recognize emotion in sound, an ability that goes a long way in terms of developing sensitivity to emotional cues and intuitive understanding of social contexts, two skills critical to emotional intelligence.
Music training fine-tunes an individual’s perception of the emotional landscape around him, allowing him greater flexibility in dealing with human relationships.
There is no doubt that music promotes both cognitive proficiency and emotional probity.
The effects of music on the brain are so pervasive and pronounced that mandatory and subsidized pre-school music education should be espoused for all children.
Children and Music: How Can We Bring Them Together?
There are all kinds of ways we can help children make music part of their lives. Music For Young Children is an organization that has for years understood the synergy between children and music and worked to provide the best quality music education for young children.
Not only do children learn to read music and play their pieces with confidence, they are also encourage to compose their own music. This composition component in Music for Young Children is a gateway to developing creativity and self esteem.
What about Children and Music that is violent?
Many studies of the relationship between violent music and child behavior suggest that music with antisocial themes seems to accentuate negative emotions in children who are already at risk for antisocial behavior.
What is particularly relevant is that negative, violent themes in music reinforce aggressive and hostile thoughts and feelings.While we cannot assume that all children who are fans of extreme music like heavy metal are troubled, there is strong evidence that kids who are troubled are likely fans of extreme music.
Substantial evidence exists indicating that adolescents who are depressed, angry, alienated from family and school, suicidal, abusing drugs or alcohol constitute a group that is significantly drawn to the angry, nihilistic type of music that promote a troubled,antisocial state of mind.
Such evidence is reason enough for parents to be concerned about the type of music available on the market.
As Van Morrison says, "Music is spiritual. The music business is not."
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