Music Therapy: Music as Medicine


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music Therapy – it’s been around for some time…let’s say as long as we’ve had music. As a credentialed profession, it’s still relatively new. The first program to award a degree in music therapy began at Michigan State University in 1944. The American Music Therapy Association came into being in 1998. To many, the profession is still a mystery. It isn’t simply singing someone to sleep or teaching a person how to play a few chords on an ukulele. From the AMTA’s website:

Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.

In a recent article over at Science Times, writer Jezreel Smith detailed the use of music therapy’s use in reducing pain.


A Natural Analgesic

“Music therapy should be added to postoperative pain treatment as it been found to decrease pain in patients recovering from spine surgery.”

– Jezreel Smith

The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine conducted a study which explored the effects of music therapy on pain levels in 30 post-operative spine surgery patients. In addition to standard post-operative care, 30 minute music therapy sessions were included.

You’ve probably seen a version of the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) for pain in your doctor’s office or at a hospital. The subjects of the study were asked to rate their pain using the VAS before and after music therapy was introduced. Members of the group which received music therapy had a reduction of more than a point on the pain scale, while the control group, 30 subjects who only received regular post-operative care without music therapy, saw a rise of just over a half point.

Pain Scale
The Visual Analog Scale used in many medical settings.


The Power of Music

What does this study tell us? It confirms the power of music, its impact on the brain and how it processes pain, and and music therapy’s value in helping patients comfortably recover from surgery. This is only one area in which music therapy has been successful applied. You’ll find music therapists in a wide range of settings: in schools working with differently abled students, such as kids on the autism spectrum; in nursing homes, helping residents maintain or even increase mental, physical and emotional functioning; in mental health facilities, aiding patients as they process emotions and work to resolve conflict.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

For More Information on Music Therapy…

Interested in learning more about what music therapy is or what music therapists do? Check out the American Music Therapy Association’s website. It is full of wonderful information regarding the profession. There’s a great FAQ page than answers many questions and an entire section on research.

We have been using music as medicine as long as music has been around, and like many ancient practices, it continues to be refined as we learn more. Music Therapists are becoming more common in a host of settings. We are a musical people, and the greater connection we have to the art form, the larger the positive impact it can have on our lives.

I’ve said it before friends, music is magic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Science Center Stage: Kids’ Brains Grow Faster with Music


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We don’t just think music instruction has a cognitive impact; we know it does.  The science to prove it continues to pile up.  And it’s pretty exciting stuff when you’re talking about things like MRI’s, EEG’s, and behavioral testing being part of the proof.

A recent study, begun by the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC back in 2012 has just revealed some impressive findings.  The study actually showed that “…music instruction speeds up the maturation of the auditory pathway in the brain and increases its efficiency.”  In other words, your brain works better if you’ve had musical instruction!

“Within two years of the study, the neuroscientists found the auditory systems of children in the music program were maturing faster in them than in the other children. The fine-tuning of their auditory pathway could accelerate their development of language and reading, as well as other abilities – a potential effect which the scientists are continuing to study.”

Kindermusik International has long recognized the connection between music instruction and brain development.  You can’t teach a baby to play the piano or violin, but you can still give them rich and powerful early experiences with music that activate and actually change the brain through music and movement activities.


That smile betrays musical fun…impacting brain development!


It is through a curriculum that combines the power of early music experiences for newborns to big kids in a developmentally appropriate setting that Kindermusik is able to deliver a unique music learning experience that puts a song in each child’s heart, helps parents and children bond, and gives kids a chance to play and be kids – all while giving them an early cognitive advantage through singing, dancing, playing instruments, and moving.

But don’t just take our word for it… check out the science for yourself.  Kids’ brains really do grow faster, stronger, and happier with music and music classes like Kindermusik!  And you’ll both have a lot of happy memories of songs, giggles, and together time to treasure forever too.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case who loves that kids’ eyes, hearts, and brains have been lighting up for over 20 years now in their Kindermusik classes at Piano Central Studios, where she is the Director.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Science Center Stage: Music Improves Brain Development in Children


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We talk often about how music impacts our lives in countless ways. With our little ones, we focus on the positive effects of music as children grow – specifically development in the language, social, emotional, fine and gross motor, and cognitive domains. All of these domains are controlled by that mysterious organ – the human brain. Science tells us that the brain LOVES music and responds in wonderful ways. Dr. Boyle shares recent research on the topic in today’s post. 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is like an intangible vitamin for the brain. It’s not just listening to music that’s key; participation in musical activity unlocks accelerated brain development. When adding movement to the equation, benefits increase.

Movement + Music

As we move and increase our heart rate, the brain receives more oxygen. Research indicates that improved oxygenation of the brain improves cognition. Adding music into the equation lights up important areas of the brain, which have already been primed with physical activity. While listening to music, parts of the brain responsible for motor skills, emotions, and creativity glow when viewed with magnetic resonance imaging.


What’s Going on in There?

Think of it this way – taking part in musical activities is like a “work out” for the brain. Here’s what’s going on:

  • The visual, motor, and auditory cortices are activated.
    • When these areas are activated regularly through music, they are strengthened. That strength can be applied to other tasks.
  • Increased activity in the corpus callosum – the pathway between the brains two hemispheres.
    • This allows for information to travel throughout the brain more efficiently.

All of this can lead to greater executive function and problem solving skills. While recent research in neuroplasticity tells us it’s never too late to change established brain function and learn new things, it certainly is highly beneficial to start musical activities early. Birth to age seven is such an important period in brain development; music’s benefits on the brain are particularly impactful during this time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Oliver Sacks, author and neurologist, wrote extensively about the impact of music on the brain. In this video, Dr. Sack’s became the subject of his own research. He had himself scanned while listening to different music – specifically to see if his love of Bach’s music would show up on MRI scans. His emotional response to Bach was actually observed on the screen![/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So…don’t wait! The brain knows what it wants…music music music! Get your young ones started early. Listening is wonderful. Partaking in musical activities is better. Involving the body and having a parent join in on the fun is the best! Find a Kindermusik class near you and start building those neural connections today![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Gift of Health: Music Boosts the Immune System

Immune System

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s science! While those of us “in the know” – musicians of all types – have always understood that music has positive health benefits for us, it’s not common knowledge. Dr. Boyle shares research with us that explains how the magical art of music has a scientific effect on our minds and bodies – just in time for one of the busiest months of the year!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][blockquote cite=”Jonathan Weiss, Medical Daily”]”A large scale review covering over 400 scientific papers on the topic of the neurochemistry of music has found that music may be better than prescription medications for some issues and has broad benefits for the body and mind.”[/blockquote][vc_column_text]First, let’s remember that there is an entire field that uses music to impact well being – Music Therapy. Though it’s been around for over 70 years in the United States, many people are surprised to learn that it exists. Music Therapists use a variety of musical methods with clients to benefit physical and mental health. Beyond this formal therapeutic use of music (which, no surprise to Kindermusik Educators, often pairs music with movement), music can significantly influence health in our everyday lives – particularly boosting our immune system!

Holiday…or Cold and Flu Season?

For many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter months mean colder temperatures and a greater increase in the occurrence of everyday colds. The stronger the immune system, the better we are at fending off the sniffles and sneezes of the season. Couple weather shifts with an increase in stress levels (for a variety of reasons), many of us will be susceptible to annoying coughs and stuffy noses. So, what can music do for us?

According to Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist (and in interest of full disclosure – a musician), science is able to explain how music shapes actual neurochemical events in the body that may lead to a stronger immune system. It’s fairly common knowledge that stress impacts our ability to fight off germs. Music reduces negative stress in the body, thereby increasing our own body’s natural defenses. This magical art actually lowers the presence of stress hormones.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Photographed by Thomas | © 2016 TK Photography
© 2016 TK Photography


Cortisal Down…Immunoglobin A Up

Music is intangible – you can’t touch it. It floats through the air and arrives at our ears…and simply changes us. As far as the immune system is concerned, and according to the work of neurocognition expert, Dr. Ronny Enk, music specifically lowers levels of cortisal, the stress hormone, and increases levels of immunoglobin A, an antibody that supports positive immune function. Dr. Enk and his team played joyful, dance music for one group, and random tones for his control group. The folks that listened to music experienced the benefit described above. This is a real, physical response to music. This is measurable…quantifiable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

More Music = More Health

So…what does this mean for us? During this holiday season, there are so many opportunities to experience music. Church, concerts, even listening to music around the house – think of these contacts with music as “aural vitamins” for your immune system. Reducing our levels of stress by taking part in music making is even more beneficial. Singing can regulate your heart rate and breathing. Making music with others increases social bonding, which is one of the things we need as human beings.

These benefits are for all of us – young and old alike. In fact, the benefits are incredibly important for those at the extreme ends of life’s journey – infants and our seniors. Sing to your kids! Invite the grandparents to a concert – or visit them and make music together. It will have an impact on the quality of their well being.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Want to experience the health benefits of music first hand for both you and your little one? Find a Kindermusik class near you and try a class on us![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Science Center Stage: Gratitude


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s that time of year…families in the United States will gather around tables across the country, eat turkey and stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce, and perhaps watch a parade or football game. The Thanksgiving holiday finds its roots in communal meals to celebrate the year’s harvest. Now, we often take time to give thanks for a host of positive things in our lives. But…did you know that practicing gratitude on a regular basis has a positive impact on your health? Take a break from meal planning as Dr. Boyle explores the benefits of gratitude. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Practicing Gratitude Changes the Brain

I think we have all experienced that good feeling when we express genuine thanks for something – that warm sensation in the chest. As it turns out, when you take time to practice gratitude, it physically changes the brain in wonderful ways.

In a recent study by scientists at Indiana University, brains scans of research subjects who regularly practiced gratitude, in this case writing letters to important people in their lives, showed increased activity in the brain when asked to consider donating money to a charity group. The control group showed similar brain activity, but not as much as the group that had regularly been practicing gratitude. So what does all this mean? Well, good things for us…and good things for those around us. Dr. Christian Jarrett, a psychology writer for NYMag explains:

This result suggests that the more practice you give your brain at feeling and expressing gratitude, the more it adapts to this mind-set — you could even think of your brain as having a sort of gratitude “muscle” that can be exercised and strengthened (not so different from various other qualities that can be cultivated through practice, of course). If this is right, the more of an effort you make to feel gratitude one day, the more the feeling will come to you spontaneously in the future. It also potentially helps explain another established finding, that gratitude can spiral: The more thankful we feel, the more likely we are to act pro-socially toward others, causing them to feel grateful and setting up a beautiful virtuous cascade.

Just think, you can go to the gym, work out, and see a physical result. This study shows us that we can exercise the part of our brain that responds to gratitude, we can see a mental result, and that mental result impacts us in real ways.

Positive Effects of Practicing Gratitude

  • Feeling more refreshed after sleep
  • Lower stress levels – up to a 25% reduction of stress hormones according to a 1985 study!
  • Increased happiness


A hug is gratitude in physical form!
A hug is gratitude in physical form!


What Does Practicing Gratitude Look Like?

It can take many forms. You can keep a journal and each day, take time to write down something for which you are thankful – and why you are thankful. You can tell those around you why you are grateful for them. You could even, like the subjects in the Indiana University study,  write a letter every week to someone important to you, letting them know how thankful you are that they have been part of your life.

I started a Facebook project earlier this year – each day, I went to a friend’s wall and let them know why I was lucky to know them, sharing how they have positively impacted my life. I tried my best to do this first thing in the morning. I found that when I was able to do this, it set a much more positive tone for the day.

You can also start right at home. Take time to tell your spouse or partner, you children and even your furry family members how thankful you are for their positive impact on your life’s journey.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Tend the Garden of Gratitude

This takes time, but the benefits are worth it. As you increase your gratitude practices, both outward and inward, you’ll find that happiness is a more present companion in your life. If you start the day with gratitude, why not end the day this way as well? Before hitting the pillow, take a brief moment and think about one or two things that happened during the day for which you are grateful. They don’t have to be huge things – small things work just as well. Did someone hold a door for you? Did a fellow driver let you go first? The power of positive thought is pretty amazing. Psychologists are not suggesting that you ignore the challenges in your life, rather that we do our best to not forget the joys. Did your daughter put her PJs in the hamper without being asked? Hooray! Did your son say thank you to the delivery guy? Huzzah!

Take a moment and watch this TED Talk by Br. David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk who works to encourage interfaith dialogue and author of Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Don’t hold it in. Tell those around you how much they mean to you. When you do this, you change two lives – that person’s life…and your own. The more you practice gratitude, the greater the impact on you and your circle. An act of gratitude causes inward and outward ripples of positivity. Start with a gratitude journal or writing a letter or two and grow from there. Practicing gratitude is a powerful mechanism to increase the quality of our interpersonal relationships.

In case you didn’t know, friends, Kindermusik is grateful for you![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Science Center Stage: The Imaginary Friend


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’ll admit it: I had an imaginary friend when I was a little kid. His name is lost to time now, but I certainly remember playing with him when no one was around. These types of “friends” can take many shapes, from fantastical representations of a beloved stuffed animal (Calvin and Hobbes, anyone?) to simple human forms. And guess what? It would appear that by age seven, nearly two thirds of children have imaginary friends, so you aren’t alone. Having an imaginary friend can be good for your child. Let’s find out how…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Hmm..where’d that pink elephant go? I wanted to play!


Imaginary Friend, Real Benefits

So what are the benefits? Recent research indicates that imaginary friends allow kids to do work out whether a decision is acceptable to a parent. They transfer the behavior to the friend and have a conversation that goes something like this:

“Mommy? Fuzzy Francis wanted to go for a walk in the woods.”

“Well…the woods certainly is a fun place, but you can’t go there by yourself…even if Fuzzy Francis wants to. You need Mommy or Daddy with you, okay?”

This allows a young child to distance themselves from a choice and try it out without feeling anxious about being corrected. The answer is hopefully filed away under “appropriate activity” and learning takes place.


Many parents worry that imaginary friends might curtail making actual friends. Research indicates that this is not the case at all. There is no numerical correlation between imaginary friends and real friends, however, children with imaginary friends, according to pediatrician, Dr. Claire McCarthy, tend “to be very sociable and have better “social understanding,” or the ability to see the world through someone else’s eyes.” In other words, having an imaginary friend can aid in developing empathy.

And what about understanding what’s real and imaginary? Well, it seems kids get it. From Dr. McCarthy’s article:[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Dr. Claire McCarthy”]”Parents also worry that having an imaginary friend means that children are confused about what is real and what is not. This isn’t true either. Children know the difference between real and imaginary friends. In fact, children in the study often stopped researchers in the midst of their questions to make sure that the researchers understood that the friends weren’t real!”[/blockquote][vc_video link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Processing Emotion

What about processing difficult life events, such as moving to a new home or school, or the loss of a loved one? Often times, children will have discussions with their imaginary friends about difficult issues, then relay these discussions to Mom and Dad. Again, a child might transfer complex emotional reaction onto the imaginary friends, as in the example above, which frees them to discuss an issue when, otherwise, they might not.

“Daddy, Fuzzy Francis really doesn’t want to move. He’s really sad about leaving this neighborhood.”

“I know, kiddo. It’s tough to leave a place you love for something new. But it’s exciting, too! And guess what? Just like you have us to help you when you are feeling down, Fuzzy Francis is sure lucky to have you to cheer him up!”

In this little scene, the parent acknowledges the emotion (thereby indicating it’s okay to have those feelings), the imaginary friend, and lifts the child up, praising her and her role as supportive friend, all while reminding the child that Mom and Dad are their for her – all if this because the child shared some information about her imaginary friend.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Problem Solving Skills

Another recent study tells us that children with imaginary playmates develop better problem solving abilities. How, you ask? Well, as it turns out, they are doing what most of us do – talking things through. How many of us talk to ourselves when working out the details of a task or fleshing out the solution to a challenging problem? I bet that percentage is pretty high! Kids who engage in imaginary play of this type are developing the ability to think through cognitive tasks when talking with those invisible play partners. And that’s a good thing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]These benefits can have a tremendously positive impact on the development of young children. Engage with your kids. Ask them about their imaginary friends. In the process you will help them learn about the world and you will learn more about them.

For more reading on imaginary friends, check out Dr. Marjorie Taylor’s book, Imaginary Companions and the Children who Create Them, published by Oxford University Press.

Taylor Imaginary Companions[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Science Center Stage: Music May Boost Language Learning in Babies

Language Learning

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In our regular science feature, Science Center Stage, Dr. Boyle explores music’s role in boosting language acquisition in infants. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]That first word! Parents wait for it and when it comes the world knows. We rush to Facebook and every other social media platform to share the news. I remember really reaching with our first. I stretched every sound out of that kid’s mouth into crazy multisyllabic words.

“I think he just said onomatopoeia!”

My wife was always the voice of reason.

“That was a burp, dear.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Now, here’s the reality: our kids aren’t going to spout of titles of Dickens’s novels at nine months, but regular exposure to music early in life may have a positive impact on language acquisition. A recent study conducted at the University of Washington found that routine play sessions involving music had a positive impact on both music processing and recognizing new speech sounds.

“Our study is the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech,” said lead author Christina Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher at I-LABS.

“This means that early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills,” Zhao said.

UW Today/Molly McAElroy

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Other academics have chimed in on the study. Dr. Deanna Hanson-Abromeit, Assistant Professor of Music Education and Music Therapy at the University of Kansas School of Music feels music classes are key to development.


“Music classes can be beneficial for parents and infants…These classes can build community and provide resources to parents to teach songs and music-based experiences to build comfort in using music within the home and everyday life.”

HealthDay/Randy Dotinga

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It doesn’t stop in infancy. A five year study at the Brain and Creativity Institute of the University of Southern California produced results that mirrored the UW study.

“The researchers began following 45 children, all from economically disadvantaged, bilingual households (most are Latino, one is Korean) in Southern California, starting when the children were 6 and 7. The initial group was split into three: One set of 13 students is receiving music instruction through the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles, one group is playing soccer, and another is involved in no particular after-school activity…

Two years in, the students in the music group were more able to identify differences in musical pitch on a piano than other students. The brain scans also showed that these students had more-developed auditory pathways than their peers.

The authors write that this development in auditory processing also affects students’ ability to process speech and language—which means it could have an impact on students’ academic progress as well as their musical abilities.”

Education Week/Jackie Zubrzycki

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It’s very difficult to ignore this science, friends. Two separate studies indicate that exposing children of all ages to music has a positive impact on language acquisition and development. The key in both of these studies is regular participation in structured musical activities. So get them out there! And get them out there early. Remember, we have classes for kids starting from birth! When you’re ready, we’re here for you. [/vc_column_text][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1469449348470{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Apathy vs. Empathy: Creating Compassionate Kids


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I remember when our first child was born; I lectured my in-laws about screen time for our son. “We don’t want him in front of the TV at all.” It was a lofty goal, but one we quickly failed to achieve. We purchased just about every Baby Einstein video known to humankind. Our son loved them. I can actually remember his face light up, big smiles and bouncing in his little activity center seat. He’d always cry when the “static ball” scene appeared. [/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][vc_column_text]Jane Tavyev Asher, MD Child Neurologist, shares advice for parents on what the appropriate amount of screen time is for children depending on their developmental stage.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How many of us have tried to limit screen time, only to cave and allow a bit more than we originally intended? And when it comes to screen time, things have become even more complicated with the rise of personal screens.

Small screens like smartphones and tablets can be incredible tools, but they can also have an impact on how our kids learn to interact with the world. A recent study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, took two groups of 6th graders – the first attended a nature and science camp that did not allow electronic devices (I’m not sure I could survive!). The second group stayed home.

At the beginning and end of the study, both groups of students were evaluated for their ability to recognize other people’s emotions in photos and videos. The students were shown 48 pictures of faces that were happy, sad, angry or scared, and asked to identify their feelings.

They also watched videos of actors interacting with one another and were instructed to describe the characters’ emotions. In one scene, students take a test and submit it to their teacher; one of the students is confident and excited, the other is anxious. In another scene, one student is saddened after being excluded from a conversation.

The children who had been at the camp improved significantly over the five days in their ability to read facial emotions and other nonverbal cues to emotion, compared with the students who continued to use their media devices.

Stuart Wolpert/UCLA Newsroom

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The researchers concluded what we already know: kids can’t develop empathy staring at an electronic screen. They require human interaction for this important point of growth. When empathy is absent, apathy can fill that void.

Purposeful Interaction

Okay – so we limit screen time. But how can we build compassionate kids? How can we help create a framework for empathy? The answer: purposeful interaction. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

  • Take time to identify emotions in others.

Ask your child questions when you see a good emotional example. “How do you think she feels?” “Is that man sad or happy?” Come up with stories to explain why a person might be smiling. Helping a child pick up on visual cues will establish a foundation.

  • Set the example.

You will be your child’s first and best teacher. The sun will rise and set in your eyes. We all know that what we model, our children will copy. If your child sees you demonstrating empathy on a regular basis, she will follow suit. Dr. Robyn Silverman, a child development specialist, provides the following suggestions on modeling compassion:

  1. Show compassion for other family members.
  2. Show compassion for animals.
  3. Show compassion for playmates.
  • Let your child know you recognize his emotions.

Acknowledging that you are sensitive to your child’s emotional state and talking about it helps develop his ability to process emotions. In turn, he’ll be able to better understand emotions in others. Vanderbilt University provides a wonderful article on this very topic.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As we have mentioned in the past, one of the best ways to aid the development of emotional awareness and empathy is through regular interaction with other children and caring adults. You know where I’m going, right? You can’t blame me – the Kindermusik curricula, the studio experiences and Kindermusik @School, were built from the ground up with this in mind. Among the host of benefits of regular group musical instruction is increased social and emotional development. And that, friends, is a great way to build compassionate kids…kids that are sensitive to the needs of others and possess the ability to express their own emotions in a healthy manner. And I bet we can all agree – the world is a better place when compassion and empathy are present.

Impact: Music and the Differently Abled


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Over the past month we have touched on music’s role in enhancing the learning experience, its power to transform lives, and how it benefits social and cognitive development. Today, Dr. Boyle touches on music’s impact on children who are differently abled. [/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]I’m not above getting personal. I have mild dyslexia, which made reading difficult as I grew up. Actually, it still does. But the most difficult challenge to my learning was ADD. Despite dealing with it in one way or another while growing up, I wasn’t officially diagnosed until working on my doctorate. The coping mechanisms I had developed when I was young just weren’t cutting it with the higher level of work. Admitting to myself that there was a challenge was…well…a challenge! Once I asked for help, the support system at Rutgers University was tremendous. I can tell you this: music – just listening to music while studying – helped me tremendously. You’d think I would have realized that as it’s my field! But music’s impact on learning challenges goes beyond the benefits gleaned by simply listening.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Learning Challenges
Dr. Oliver Sacks

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Dr. Oliver Sacks, the late author and neurologist, once said, “Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music.” In his book, Musicophillia, he relates the power of music in reducing tics in patients with Tourette Syndrome and reaching those with autism. Last year, we featured this video – the powerful story of music’s impact on students in need of specialized instruction in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=””][vc_column_text]My wife, Jane (an elementary music specialist), sees the impact regularly. Jane had a nonverbal student on the Autism Spectrum in her class. After repeated exposure to the class’s “Hello” song (those ever popular transition rituals), she began to take part, singing along with the tune. In the moment, Jane locked eyes with the student’s learning support aid and mouthed the question, “Is she singing along?!”

Stunned, the aide mouthed back, “Yes!”

It was an emotional moment. I recall Jane coming home that day and sharing the story with me. I wept. So did Jane. Seeing that child make a connection, coming out of her shell, was a career highlight she carries with her still.

This child was seven. Research indicates that early contact with regular music making can tremendously impact the learning and social processes of children with developmental challenges.

Impact. I keep using that word. I’ve resisted reaching for my thesaurus – the word is simply too perfect. Music is a force, and that force is unstoppable in its power to change, improve, connect, and enhance the lives of all it touches. That, friends, is a true impact.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]