How Music Changes Your Brain and Life
Music has the power to change one’s life! Are you skeptical of that? Let’s look at some research and some of our own experiences to test the truth of that statement.
Music Changes the Brain
Current brain research suggests that when we actively participate in music it helps develop brain systems that aid in language development and literacy. It also has a positive impact on general intellectual development. One gains various health and well being benefits as well (Hallam, 2010).
Our experiences affect the physical state of our brain. Think of it this way, the knowledge we acquire through experiences is written in sand rather than carved in stone. Our brains are changeable and dynamic. Just like we develop stronger muscles through physical exercise, we can also develop our brains through mental exercise. Dr. Carol Dweck calls this a “growth mindset” rather than a “fixed mindset” (2006).
We Recall Music Easier
Now let’s explore our own experiences to see the power of music. Think back to the early years of your life. How many quotes from parents or teachers can you pull back up from memory? As I write this, I’m having trouble even coming up with one direct quote from the 10 and under years. Maybe that’s just me. What about you? How many are you bringing back up?
Think about the songs we sang as kids. What comes to mind? Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; Silent Night; Jesus Loves Me; The Hokey Pokey; and the list goes on and on. And even though it’s been 40+ years since I’ve sung most of them, I still remember ALL the words!
Music and Values
Since we remember song lyrics so well, why not use that as a teaching tool? Educators do this everyday. What about us? Can we teach the children in our lives values by the songs we expose them to? We’ve heard the adage from a few decades back, “You are what you eat.” Well, emotionally and intellectually we become what we consume through listening, reading, etc. Our thinking is shaped by the voices we choose to listen to.
There’s no shortage of those competing for the minds and hearts of our children. Advertisers seek to sell more toys. Restaurants lure them in with the promise of a fun place to play. Schoolmates exert social pressures to “fit in.” Cable channels promote varied social agendas.
As caregivers, we must take responsibility for the thinking and perspective we pass on to our children. Songs represent a great teaching tool. For instance, the song I’m So Glad We’re Friends talks about the importance of not just having a good friend but being a good friend, too.
How about helping instill a healthy self-image with the song God Made You or God Made Me Special. You can teach the concept of respect for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality, etc. with the song We’re a Family.
What Do You Want to Teach?
What values or topics do you want to teach those young ones in your life? Use music as a life-long discipler and instiller of values. So, music has the power to change one’s life.
Hallam, S. (2010). The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. International Journal of Music Education, 28(3), 269-289.
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.