Confucius, the renowned Chinese philosopher believed that, “music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without,” and truly, it is impossible to imagine a world without music. Be it classical or pop, Indian or Western, music is an essential part of our lives. Music is a very personal experience, and different people enjoy different genres. However, the beneficial effects of music are universal, regardless of genre or person.
Soothing the savage breast: the benefits of music
Music has been shown to be beneficial to children in more ways than one. While the lasting impact of the much-hyped Mozart effect (which says that listening to music can improve a child’s IQ) is under question, various studies have shown that learning music may enhance math, spatial-temporal and verbal abilities along with improving general intelligence. Music is said to be capable of actually rewiring the brain’s circuits in a particular way, such that songs linked to new pieces of information can cause the latter to be imprinted in one’s mind!
Science aside, musicians, experts in the field, parents of children who learn music and the children themselves are all in agreement that learning music has many beneficial effects.
According to US-based Dr. Ajay Divakaran, who has a passion for, and training in, Hindustani music, “Children become more confident when they learn music. Some time ago, I started teaching a child with a speaking disability, and now, thanks to music, not only has he overcome his disability, but is also eager to perform on stage!”
Adds Smitha Krishnan, a proficient violinist (western and Carnatic styles) and vocalist (Carnatic) who lives in the US, “Learning music has been the most important thing in my life. Music taught me discipline. It taught me that dedication is required for anything and everything I do. It has taught me that while giving up may be the easy thing to do, it is not the right thing to do. Music has also helped me through a lot of stressful times.”
Sandra Oberoi, a western classical music educator with a double degree in MusicEducation and Vocal Performance, sums it up – “There are numerous benefits that come with learning music. It engages both parts of the brain, thus making vital connections between them. A study showed that high school children’s mathematics skills became better if they were enrolled in music lessons. Music enhances an individual’s spatial intelligence. It builds self-esteem and confidence. Music helps to improve creative thinking, particularly when you are involved in areas such as composing. It also helps to improve social skills, especially in choir settings. Aural training sharpens the mind, allowing an individual to become more alert and sensitive.”
Evidently, music plays a useful role in our lives and, as parents, you may be interested in exploring if your child can benefit from the experience. That brings up another, possibly more relevant, question. How do you find out if your child has an inclination towards music?
Striking the right notes: is my child musically inclined?
Here are some ways to gauge your child’s inclination towards music at an early age:
• Children who are musically inclined, may, even at an early age, lean towards tunes, get up and dance, and show a visible bodily response to music
• Let children try out music; watch them and see if they gravitate towards any instrument without any external pressure, maybe teach them a little and observe their response
• Observe if the child has an ear for music — can he reproduce tunes, or identify ragas?