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Music and it’s endless benefits!

May 24, 2012

I live, breathe and sleep music – it’s in my blood.  Music is what has the strongest ability to alter my mood, motivate me, change my day, and much more!  I don’t know who I would be without music in my life.  I don’t know if my mom played a specific song for me continuously while in-utero and beyond but either way, I turned into a very naturally talented musician.  Music doesn’t come naturally for either side of my family.  Music is something that I will always keep instilling in D’s life and mine as well!  I hope that one day he will just magically tell me that he wants to join the band or orchestra – that day will (hopefully) forever melt my heart!  🙂  If he doesn’t, I won’t be hurt either, as I never want to push my expectations upon him.  I found that throughout my upbringing, music was my center gravity and my way to express myself.  Especially through the teenage years – I went from pop, to grunge, to death metal, to techno, to classical, to new age and beyond.  My eclectic taste for music has helped me cope with a roller coaster of emotions while growing up.  I had a natural acceptance toward any kind of music but especially written band/orchestra music.  Always being in band and orchestra from fifth grade through graduation really helped ground me to commit to something and helped me feel like I belonged somewhere (which is huge during the high school years).  I wasn’t a cheerleader or sports type of person so it was my perfect “exercise” of the mind for me!  I loved it!

With regards to babies and music, there are numerous studies published supporting the notion that babies should listen to music as much as possible, even while in-utero!  Listening to classical music can greatly improve spatial reasoning, at least for a short time (about an hour) and learning to play an instrument may have an even longer effect on certain thinking skills.  Classical music pathways in our brain are similar to pathways we utilize for spatial reasoning.  When listening to classical music the spatial pathways are “turned on” and ready to be utilized.  Researchers believe that musical training creates new pathways in the brain.  Babies as young as three months of age are able to pick out the complex classical musical structures from such composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, and can recognize the  classical musical selections heard before. 1

Listening to any kind of music in general helps build music-related pathways in the brain and music can have very positive effects on a persons moods which may make learning easier.  For example, when attempting to memorize facts for an upcoming test, lots of people find if they put the facts to a simple tune they are more likely to remember more information than if they just rotely memorized the facts sans a musical tune.  Have you ever noticed when you hear a song you haven’t heard since grade school and once you hear the music you suddenly magically know all (or most) of the words?  This is because our brain learns more quickly and retains information longer when you set words to a tune.  When I was in fifth grade we were given a test about the presidents and had to memorize all the presidents in order and write them down.  So I put the presidents’ names to the jingle, “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer” and it made is SO much easier to remember them all.  I can still recall most of them due to this!

So sing to your baby lots because they love patterns and rhythms of songs.  Also, play a variety of music for your baby which encompasses many different musical selections and styles.  Any kind of music listening will help build music-related pathways in the brain and can also have positive effects on moods that may make learning even easier.

Another great way to incorporate music more into your little ones world as they get older is starting music lessons early on – around four or five, whenever you feel your child seems ready.  The brain of younger kids are equipped to learn music quickly, enjoy making music, and can learn the basics of some instruments which helps build a life long love of music.

Studies have shown that infants are programmed to move to the beat and prefer it over the sound of simple speech.  Babies are born to dance and gravitate towards music. 2  So help your infant “dance” when you’re enjoying music together and eventually they will show you how to dance!

One thing my little guy and I enjoy during the day when we’re home is listening to Pandora radio off of the iPod dock.  It’s the perfect way to hear an eclectic assortment of music from the toddler station to Black Eyed Peas station!   We dance around and sing along to the tunes, it’s a lot of fun!  Pots and pans with wooden spoons a perfect to make some percussion noises.  Making shakers from different small containers.  I have found the best are thin medicine bottles with the child-proof tops.  I will put beans and other size objects in the bottles and then he shakes away.  Each makes a different noise and he LOVES shaking stuff.  The smaller medicine bottles are perfect for their little hands and grip.  I love creating toys and noise makers for him from various containers, it’s always something new to him and he is enthralled forever!  And we will shake to the beat of the music we’re listening to also.  I also have an electric piano that I let him play with because it has a bunch of buttons, which every kids LOVES!  So he will serenade us with his beautiful piano music a lot too.  🙂

Musicology is a kids course offered in many cities across the country.  It’s becoming more popular and is catching on quickly with the parenting community as another great class to sign your kiddos up for.  We personally haven’t partook in their classes yet but we are going to be enrolling D in them for the summer session.  I’m sure he will LOVE it!  A Mommy friend of mine has been taking her son since he was a wee one and she loves going (and so does her son) each week.  She tells me about all the great ideas they share about things you can do at home with your little one regarding music and learning.  So if you’re looking for a fun music and learning thing to do together with your little one(s), you should look into a local musicology class in your town/city.

The library is also another GREAT resource for music, learning and play!  Our local libraries have story time throughout the week and they incorporate music, stories, movement and sometimes even a craft as well – all for free!  We go to the library at least once maybe even twice a week, it’s such a fun place to explore together and learn.  The library is also a great place to check out CD’s!  What a perfect resource to refresh your music library with new, exciting music!  🙂

Music is such an important asset that should be incorporated in each and every persons life from birth, and even before! Science helps people logically explain wonder of the world and universe.  Music helps people express and assimilate knowledge in creative ways and helps organize feelings and much, much more!  Music has endless benefits so after reading this post (and leaving your own ideas, tips, experiences below in the comments) go turn on some awesome music and rock out to it for a few minutes!  Escape the world around you and let the music take you to realms beyond existence!  🙂

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