Music has an almost magical capacity to touch our souls and elicit strong feelings. For adults, an old tune or two can trigger a walk down memory lane. It can be used for clients needing to grieve the loss of a loved one. For teens in therapy, asking them about their favorite songs and artists can help them feel connected to the therapist, and also elicit a whole host of discussions about their inner lives, hopes and dreams.
Here’s a special treat. If you can tolerate the 30 second commercial, click here to hear CNN’s Sanjay Gupta talk about the magic of music. He describes how music lights up many areas of our brain, including language, hearing and motor control centers,– involving areas of the brain that relate to auditory functioning, planning, memory, movement and attention. Cutting across a number of the “seven intelligences,” music helps to ground concepts in a unique and special way. It can increase the production of endorphins, help us feel energized, lift our moods, and connect us with others. It has been shown to boost creativity, self-expression, and even immune function.
Research has also shown that music can strengthen learning processes, particularly with vocabulary and spatial-temporal reasoning. It has long-lasting effects for retaining information. Many of us still remember the words and meanings of songs we haven’t heard for years, and it’s how we recall our ABCs.
When penicillin was discovered, it was widely publicized and used to treat infection. A different kind of “infection” exists today. Parents and teachers nationwide are overwhelmed with the challenge of young children being rude, irresponsible, teased, bullied, shy or unable to tolerate frustration!
In the home, parents know the importance of teaching these skills, but complain that they don’t have the tools. In the classroom, the latest research provides solid evidence for the importance of teaching children these skills, yet most schools only support an emphasis on academics. Let’s bring music back into the classroom, light kids up and give them tools for health and happiness!