Monday, July 20, 2015

Parent Advice: The Value of Music

Q. I’m very upset because my child’s school may eliminate music education in order to reduce costs. Music has been important in my life and very beneficial to me. I’ve heard that music improves learning ability. Is there any scientific evidence that music enhances health and learning? 

A. Many researchers have studied the effect of music on a range of subjects. The earliest work on this subject studied the impact of the music of Mozart on preschoolers and on college students and showed a significant impact on learning. As a result of this research more studies on “the Mozart effect” have emerged.

University of Wisconsin researchers exposed laboratory rats to Mozart’s music. Those exposed learned to run mazes faster than genetically identical rats exposed to contemporary music or to white noise. Other researchers are studying the effect of music on spatial reasoning and on cognitive abilities in the fields of mathematics, architecture, visual arts and stress management.

A book by Don Campbell titled The Mozart Effect, and subtitled, Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit, details the evidence that music has quite an impact on learning and on health. Most would agree that music does affect us. It can make us feel happy, wistful, excited, comforted or even sad. But the research goes way beyond these effects and shows that music is good for us - physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The research found similar benefits from Gregorian chant and from some jazz, Latin, pop and even rock music. Campbell gives case histories to show the role of music in assisting in the treatment of a variety of problems: substance abuse, obesity, insomnia, heart disease and others. He also tells of the effect of music in the operating room and the impact of lullabies in soothing infants. Research on the benefits of music suggests we should:

1. Provide music education in our schools. Also, when interest is shown, children should have the opportunity to take music lessons.

2. Play music in our homes to give us a calm environment. We also should play music for infants and young children as this apparently enhances learning.

3. Listen to music every day. Choose music that inspires you, lifts your mood, or calms you.
4. Join a choir/musical group and encourage children to do so.

5.  Become active in a musical, singing church. 
Though the researchers haven’t verified this and seem to not value Christian music, I believe listening to or singing worshipful music heals our spirits and connects us with God. This produces joy, comfort and hope in us!

“Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” Colossians 3:16 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

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