The Many Benefits of Music through Life
Music is a universally loved aspect of life. Whether it’s death metal, gangster rap or classical orchestra, we all love some kind of music. It seems like some people can’t do anything without at least some music in the background, and they will always say that they focus more, run faster, lift more and think clearer with music on. These statements might just seem like excuses to listen to music all of the time, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but actually, these people are, sort of, right. There have been numerous studies conducted on the subject, and music actually has numerous benefits over the course of life, from infancy, to adolescence, and finally adulthood.
Early in life, when the brain is basically a sponge, music can be an important influence in brain development. The effects of music on babies has now become clear, as Dr. Diane Bales explains in her article, “Building Baby’s Brains: the Role of Music,” human life starts with billions of brain cells, and during the early years, connections between these cells are made. Obviously, the more frequently used pathways become stronger, and the strong, music-related connections can actually affect human thought processes; for instance, classical music helps improve spatial reasoning (Bales). This might seem incredible to you, but the benefits for infants do not stop there. Researchers at McMaster University, in Ontario, have found that “one-year-old babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better, and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music” (sciencedaily.com). The study was done with two groups; one in which parents and their babies interacted with music by playing instruments, and another in which parents and their children played with toys while listening to music. The babies, who interacted with music as opposed to merely listening to it, developed communication skills, such as pointing at out-of-reach objects and waving goodbye, earlier. Also, “socially, these babies were smiling more, were easier to soothe, and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way” (sciencedaily.com). The difference between interaction and mere exposure, in terms of brain development, is astounding. These babies were maturing early, and in both intelligence and social skills. So, not only are the music oriented babies less lame, they are also smarter. Clearly, music can improve the mind of an infant, but it can also help heal the body. Julie Walker reported on a study conducted by Brigham Young University, in which 33 premature babies were exposed to two 20-minute music sessions a day for four days, and, when compared to a control group, the results were incredible. Not only did the babies show less signs of distress, but they also increased both their oxygen and caloric intakes (Walker). This is fascinating because not only did the music help relax the premature babies, but it also helped improve their health, demonstrating music’s benefits to both the mind and the body. Simply by listening to music for forty minutes a day, the condition of “fragile newborns” was vastly improved (Walker). Overall, music can have significant benefits, to the brain development, social skills, and health of babies. Early exposure to music can help prepare babies for school, but it can also help when school comes around.
Didn’t it always seem like all of the smart kids were in band or orchestra? Well this may not be because smart kids play instruments, but actually because kids who play instruments are smart. Other than maybe the burnouts who play the cymbols, music education provides many benefits for those who play instruments. The first benefit is success in school. Childrensmusicworkshop.com lists many studies, one in which 237 second-graders used a math program, and some were also...