With over 30 years of observing children and adults in the Kindermusik classroom, we know from experience that music has a huge effect on the emotions. Science and research continue to affirm what we also suspect, and that is that music can significantly impact cognition as well – in the early years and later in life as we age.
And so we find articles like Music & the Brain: The Fascinating Ways Music Affects Your Mood and Mind to be very intriguing and incredibly confirming of the wonderful benefits of being enrolled in a music program like Kindermusik. The author of the article, Barry Goldstein, points out four ways that consistent participation in a “…musical program can target and enhance certain brain functions.” Here’s a quick summary of those four benefits that Goldstein identifies.
Music actually affects the brain emotionally because of the way specific brain circuits are wired to respond to music. The closeness and bonding times that come through singing and dancing together actually release the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.” And when listening to music touches us emotionally, it’s because there’s a neurotransmitter produced in the brain, called dopamine, that helps feel the pleasure and connection of music.
Even when the mind is debilitated by the effects of Alzheimer’s, it can still be awakened when the patient hears music from his younger years to which he had an emotional connection. One of the most beautiful illustrations of this is an elderly man named Henry who was featured in the movie Alive Inside. Watch this and see if it doesn’t move you to tears! The music we love creates memories that stay with us for all of our lives.
Check out this charming older couple making music together.
Learning and Neuroplasticity
Did you know that the brain can literally reorganize itself by forming new neural connections? And that the formation of new neural connections can be significantly affected by music? We see this documented in extreme cases of brain damage when music is one of the stimuli used to cause the brain to rewire itself. For example, music therapy and singing were instrumental in helping former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords learn how to speak again. If music has this kind of powerful effect on a brain that’s suffered trauma, just think of what effects music can have on a healthy brain!
Unlike any other medium, music has the unique capability o capture our full attention, and as a result, can “activate, sustain, and improve our attention.” In a culture that’s full of distractions, the ability to focus our busy minds and allow our brains and our hearts to connect, we can find true balance and deep-seated joy. This wonderful phenomenon can occur for both adults and children alike.
All of this research and brain “stuff” can be a little dry; we admit it. But it also underscores the amazing and powerful effects of music, no matter what age or what stage of development the mind and emotions are in. Understanding a little of the science behind the powerful effects of music on our minds and emotions makes it all the more meaningful when experience music together in our Kindermusik classes. It reinforces again the immeasurable and lifelong value of early childhood music classes – something the children adore and memories that we as adults can hold in our hearts long after those precious years of childhood are left behind.
Shared by Theresa Case whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, has given her a heart full of songs and musical memories that she knows she’ll enjoy for the rest of her life.