Music Power – Strengths and Limits

A newborn child crying.

Image via Wikipedia

One of the things that really influenced the way I look at music was my grandmother’s constant reading and study about the effects of music and the brain.  Some things they knew about how music affected us were proved correct and others were not.

I remember my first experience trying to “manipulate” the “power” of music.  I was a music major, thoroughly immersed in my studies and expecting my first baby.  I asked some advice about what type of music to listen to that would be good for the baby.  My grandmother lovingly gathered me a large collection of Beethoven that she believed would be particularly helpful for a fetus to listen to.   What she did not understand was the effect that the music would have on my volatile emotions.  I tried to listen and relax and soak it all in.  Instead I just cried and cried and cried.  The music was so depressing.  I decided all the kid could probably hear was my sobbing and I abandoned the project in favor of my personal favorites.

My conclusion was that there was no “right” music to listen to that would magically help us become smarter.  There is, however, ample research that we react to music both physically and emotionally.

As I have been studying learning methods to improve my teaching I read a collection of interesting articles that I just now associated with my interest in the effect of music.  They talked about the benefits of doing your schoolwork in different settings, such as outside, or in the kitchen.  It seems that studying in varied places can be helpful because our brains have a tendency to associate our learning with the external stimuli they receive.  I suspect that one of the strengths music DOES have is that it easily gives the brain an ordered stimuli to associate with the learning.  That association is then the part that appears to help with recall.

I look forward to posting more articles about how to use this incredible resource.  For anyone new to the study of music and the brain, a well written, straightforward article by Laurence O’Donnell can be found here.

I especially enjoyed his trivia about Albert Einstein and his violin.


About Ms. Cyndi

Passionate about my family, my faith, and teaching music. “To teach a child to love music is to give a gift of character and beauty that will last forever.”
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