Music has been the most influential aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. It connected me and gave voice to my faith as a very young child. It served as the backdrop to my childhood imaginary games, and it gave meaning, explanation and comfort through the discomfort of adolescence. There has been no force more consistent in my life than the force of music. While I chose to make it my life’s work, this experience of mine has proven to be universal, as it is something that spans our world, blind to the factors that divide us. What is remarkable is that music’s superpower begins to permeate us at birth.
Musical activities create a forum for beloved-sharedexperiences that give a common connection. I remember being at church as a very young child and feeling a sense of safety and belonging as my community sang hymns in unison. Singing and playing instruments together, even listening together facilitates an intimate connection through eye contact and loving, intentional touch. When a child is encouraged and allowed to express him/herself freely with music, there is a certain emotional security and freedom that allows and encourages connection.
Listening, singing, playing or dancing together is the essence of quality time, the kind of focused time that calls forward feelings of safety, love, and well-being.These expereinces result in a deeper emotional connection, which is interactive. Our brains are pre-wired to respond to music, and the more music and musical activity a child experiences, the stronger and richer the cognitive connection will be.
I read a study in 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute that found that musical experiences in childhood actually accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. Additionally, learning to play an instrument can improve mathematical learning and even increase SAT scores. Still, academic achievement isn’t the only benefit of music education and exposure to our children. Music ignites all areas of child development, including intellectual, motor, language, emotional,and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. Exposing children to music during early development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words in a feel good experience, making the memory that much more potent because it is so positve. Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression. Developmental benefits aside, music bring usenormous joy and connection. A good song can cure, explain, and accompany just about any human experience. That’s a superpower. This explains the Tik Toc craze !
I remember my children as young infants swaying, bouncing and laughing in response to music, they couldn’t even crawl yet, and the experience moved them deeply.
There is absolutely no downside in making music a cornerstone of your life. I have, and I can say with certainty that songs have expressed, articulated and accompanied feelings that in moments I could not. To me that is some kind of magic, and who doesn’t want to have some of that.