Music is an inherent ability in children. Even babies under two are able to respond to music. Babies can move rhythmically to music as one YouTube sensation has demonstrated. In fact, babies seem to respond to rhythm and tempo more easily than they do to speech.
Scientists have also shown that music can influence human heartbeat; it can calm the heart down or it can speed it up. Now research shows as well that music can produce positive effects on the child’s brain.
Music Improves the Brain
Studies reveal that music has the power to develop the brain. Children taking Suzuki music lessons have been shown to have high IQ scores, reading and mathematical skills. Music also trains areas in the brain involved with focus and attention.
Listening to music, especially the pauses between movements, activates the brain’s capacity for attention and anticipation. Musical training at an early age helps form minds that are cognitively strong and this strength seems to be sustained throughout the child’s life.
Music Produces Better Readers
Can music improve a child’s reading skills? Definitely. According to research, music training is directly linked to verbal skills. The area in the brain activated by music also sharpens a child’s ability to process neural events in sight, sound and speech. Early musical training can help children develop literacy and verbal skills.
Music Develops a Child’s Emotional Intelligence
Music training sharpens one’s ability to recognize emotion in sound. This helps a child understand more sensitively the emotional cues and social contexts of human behavior. Emotional intelligence develops empathy which is the best antidote to aggression and bullying impulses in children. It also helps children develop greater flexibility in responding to people and situations.
Effects of Violent Music on Children
While music can tame the human heart, it can also inflame the mind to violence. Studies show that violent music reinforces aggressive thoughts and feelings in children. They also show that music with antisocial themes accentuate negative emotions in children at risk for antisocial behavior.
Not all children who are fans of extreme music like heavy metal are troubled, but there is strong evidence that kids who are troubled are likely fans of extreme music.
Much evidence exists indicating that depressed teens, angry and alienated from family and school, make up a group that is significantly drawn to the angry type of music that promotes a troubled, antisocial state of mind. In kids at risk for behavior problems, music can easily be the trigger of aggressive actions.
As parents, we need to remember what Van Morrison says, “Music is spiritual. The music business is not.”
Bianca Tora is a writer interested in the relationship between lifestyle and the brain, specifically the area of emotional regulation and control. She has published a book on anger management for children. Visit her at www.help-your-child-with-anger.com
Photo source lumix2004