It wasn’t long ago that we believed that people were born with a certain capacity for intelligence and creativity. We thought these were fixed traits and called it “Left Brained and Right Brained.” Artists and musicians (our “creatives”) were right-brain dominant and had a much lower capacity for science and numbers. However, on the other side, scientists and mathematicians (our “nerds” as I endearingly call them) were left-brain dominant and had a much lower capacity for creative endeavors.
As with most things in our world, with new information comes new mindsets. We now know differently! The capacity to learn, solve problems, and be creative is hardwired into our brains. It is not the brain itself that determines our cognitive abilities, but rather the way it is trained and used. Our brain is like a muscle. It can grow weaker or stronger. It can change and can develop strengths in some areas more than others depending on which areas are “exercised.” Technology has now allowed neuroscientists to glimpse inside and understand brain activity and how that impacts cognitive function and development. Our brain changes with repeated experiences, just like exercising a muscle. It also responds favorably when we engage multiple regions of the brain simultaneously. It’s through these exercises that we improve memory, develop cognitive functions, and enhance processing.
One way we can exercise our brain is through making music. Music allows us to use multiple neurological functions simultaneously. It requires us to hear, process, and play sound. It also uses our muscles, muscle memory, as well as multiple neuro-circuits to adjust elements such as: tone, rhythm, and melody to create music that is pleasing to us.
Neuroscientists have discovered the impact of making music on the developing brains of children have significantly improved student learning throughout their lifetime. Playing and listening to music has shown to improve physical, emotional and cognitive functioning. Students who have engaged with music show enhanced academic growth, which correlates to better test scores. It also has been shown to improve reading and language skills; as well as, enhance motor skills.
All in all, music is positively impacting our children and we want to provide multiple opportunities for them to engage actively in musical activities that not only are good for them, but that they enjoy.