They say music is medicine for the soul. We use it for inspiration, traditions and celebrations. We sing in the shower and dance in the kitchen. Certain songs can bring us back to moments in time and remind us of our greatest memories. Whether you love rock, classical, Latin or jazz, people of all ages around the world experience a universal response to music.
Here are some ways that music can enhance your child’s happiness and learning potential:
Feeds the brain
Music boosts brain chemicals such as dopamine, the brain’s motivation molecule and oxytocin, the trust or moral molecule, which helps us bond with and trust others. Playing and listening to music also works several areas of the brain such as the corpus callosum, which grows rapidly during the first six years of life and connects both sides of the brain.
Nursery rhymes and children’s songs have existed for centuries because they naturally address the brain’s developmental needs. By encouraging singing you’ll be encouraging your child’s brain hemispheres to work together to strengthen vital connections.
Improves your mood
Stadiums blast music to get fans energized for sporting events, parents play music to help children fall sleep, and restaurants pipe music to create ambience. Listening to and playing music reduces stress by lowering cortisol, the stress hormone. Music can help young people feel more hopeful, powerful and in control of their lives.
Many students listen to music to help with the emotional effects of studying for a test or completing a homework assignment. It has been proven to lower blood pressure while slowing pulse and heart rates. To incorporate music into a busy life, try playing it during your drive to school, a bath or shower or family dinner instead of the television.
Music, whether taught in or outside of school, can help students improve in the following areas: language development, test scores, brain connectivity and spatial intelligence, which helps young people understand how things work together. These skills are critical in careers such as architecture, engineering, math and computer science.
Children with musical training do better in subjects such as language, reading and math, and have better fine motor skills than their non-musical classmates. Just a half-hour music lesson can increase blood flow in the left hemisphere of the brain. When exposure to music training begins before age 7, brain enhancement can last a lifetime.
Palm Beach County is rich in affordable, quality music programs. For more information on music programs for your family, visit:
Trish Halverson is former manager of arts and cultural education for the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
Art makes you smart: Art has a profound effect on the lives of young people and their educational experience. Students with an education rich in the arts have lower dropout rates and higher GPAs and standardized test scores. They also are four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, three times more likely to win an award for school attendance and three times more likely to be elected to class office.
• Americans for the Arts (“10 Reasons to Support The Arts”)
• Institute of Education Sciences (“Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning”)
• National Endowment for the Arts (“The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth”)