Music and the Brain

Music does not exist outside the brain. It is simply the movement of air molecules until our brain responds and works with it to create the music we hear, understand and enjoy.

Recent developments in Neuroscience using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have shown just how our brain is able to convert sound waves to music and the results are astonishing.

So whilst The Mozart Effect (1993) and its claim that listening to classical music will make your child smarter appears to have been disproven, there is proof that music is a brain changing past time.

The process that the brain engages in to hear music is a multi-faceted and organic one. It requires the different regions of the brain to be constantly working together to update information. The integration of low-level and high-level processing helps identify the sounds and then the neurons in the brain fire up to link those sounds with historical information and memory in order to identify what is known as music. Ever wonder why there is so much repetition in a music class? This is why. Building memory and firing up the neurons is a critical part of cognitive development.

Aniruddh Patel of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego regards music as a transformative technology because “not only is it a product of the brain’s mental capacities, it also has the power to change our brain.’

Essentially the goal of all education is to change our brains. We want for our children to learn new things, achieve new milestones and develop as capable and competent people. To do that they need to be engaged in the activity of changing their brains.

Did you know that it is believed that 30-60% of the child’s brain wiring depends on genetics whilst 40-70% develops based on interactions with the environment, including parents?

Sean Brotherson, a Family Science Specialist from the NDSU Extension Service states that, “Children benefit from a variety of different activities…the three critical activities that contribute considerably to overall brain development are music, art and physical activity.” He continues to say that, “Music engages all aspects of the brain and stimulates multiple aspects of brain functioning. Children should be exposed often to many different kinds of music, but especially rhythm, rhyme, and repetition in music and songs.”

Music education and classes such as Einsteinz Music are brain changing events in a child’s day. Each song instantly launches a network of frantic activity in the brain that is firing the neurons and engaging the brain in making new connections.

Providing an enriched learning environment is the best thing you can do as a parent to support your child as a learner. You can do this with four simple steps:

  1. Provide an interesting variety of brain-building activities and think of one new experience you can introduce every few days. Remember, brain-building activities are things like: stroking a pet, rolling a ball, climbing a ladder, playing with a large cardboard box, singing a song…
  2. Encourage repetition of songs, rhymes, stories and experiences every day. A young child’s brain is wired such that they feel safe when repetition is provided and they learn better this way too. Just think of the bedtime routine as a perfect example.
  3. Talk, laugh, sing, play… your child’s language will only develop by hearing language and lots of it! One of the best ways is through story telling, songs and rhymes.
  4. Challenge your child. Encourage them to stretch their ability and work slightly above their current level with your support. Eg. As they master rolling the ball to you slowly shuffle back and encourage them to roll a little further.

 As parents you are your child’s first teachers and you are charged with the almighty task of wiring their brain and establishing their learning pathways. Music classes for babies and toddlers are a great brain-building activity. They are great fun and provide parents and carers the opportunity to engage in a positive and enriching learning experience with their child.