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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Psychology of Music

Music can be a positive force for mental health, calming, relaxing, intellectually stimulating. This is true for adults, teens and children. Music can and does affect our emotions, it can create "channels" in our mind, patterns of thinking. It can impart ideas and ideologies, powerfully and emotionally conveying a way of life.

Our choices in music, the intensity and frequency of the music we listen to, can have a bearing on our mental health. Some of the greatest composers were borderline geniuses, but also, many had personalities that could be described as deeply emotional or even volatile. Mood disorders can be affected by both the type, intensity and amount of music we listen to.

When we listen to music, we can internalize, so that the emotions of the composer, the band or singer, become a part of us. For the time we listen to and identify with the music, we have a spiritual connection, a bonding, with the one or ones who are singing, playing, and/or who composed the music.

Music can be interpreted in different ways. Even the same music performed by the same composer, can convey a message of sadness and loyalty, or anger and betrayal, depending on the manner in which he chooses to convey the message.

Music can be used in a positive way to bridge gaps, to create a bond between people who might otherwise have little in common. It can convey a message of peace and brotherhood, relax, soothe.

At the same time, music has been used historically to glorify war, such as in the Star Spangled Banner which recalled the victory of the Americans over the British in the War of 1812, or when classical pieces by German composer and theatre director Richard Wagner (pronounced Vagner), were used by Hitler to stir patriotic fever in the masses.

Children, teens, and even babies potentially benefit from listenening to music, as music can be a stimulant to intellectual and cognitive development. At the same time, parents should choose carefully the type of music they play for the baby and child, as well as what music the mother listens to while she carrying the baby in the womb.


Music Psychology - Music Education and Benefits for Children and Young People


Music Psychology, the Classroom and Children
In the classroom, typically in preschool and kindergarten, soft and calming music is often, almost ubiquitously used to help children to relax at nap time and other times of the day. Some high schools use classical music in the hallway speaker in the morning periods and other times of the day. This adds to a peaceful and calm atmosphere in some large city schools.

Music and Psychology - Higher Test Scores, Cognitive Development
* In an analysis of U.S. Department of Education data on more than 25,000 secondary school students, researchers found that students who report consistent high levels of involvement in instrumental music over the middle and high school years show "significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12." This observation holds regardless of students' socio-economic status, and differences in those who are involved with instrumental music vs. those who are not is more significant over time. (Catterall, J, Iwanga, J., 1999.)

*"Education in the arts makes better math and science students, enhances spatial intelligence in newborns." It also can be part of a "solution" to "teen violence" [if directed in the right way]. Michael Greene, for Music Education Online.

Higher SAT Scores
* Students with coursework/experience in music performance and music appreciation scored higher on the SAT: students in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math, and students in music appreciation scored 63 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation. College-Bound Seniors National Report: Profile of SAT Program Test Takers. Princeton, NJ: The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001. (Music Education Online).

Music and Language Skills Development
* Both music and language are processed in the same area of the brain. Children and youth who develop skills of playing an instrument often times develop greater language capacity as well as the greater adeptness in the ability to learn a new language.

Music Teachers as Positive Role Models * Music teachers provide good role models for inner city children. The percentage of high school students, in one study, who viewed music teachers as a role model was higher than for any other discipline, 36% for music teachers, 28% for English teachers, 11% for elementary teachers and 7% for phys-ed/sports teachers. (Hamann, 1993)

Music and Teens - Developing Self Esteem
* "I love my piano lessons," said a 14 year old girl who recently (2010) began studying piano. Active participation in playing music and music appreciation has been demonstrated to increase self-esteem. One teenager who was diagnosed with ADHD said that she had difficulty connecting with other teenagers in school. Learning to play piano during her teenage years, filled many vacant hours, staved off boredom, but also contributed to her development of self-esteem, which sometimes can be damaged when a teenager is diagnosed with a mental health disorder.


The Psychology of Music - Teenagers and Children Benefit from being Exposed and Learning to Enjoy a Wide Variety of Music


There are many positive benefits for children and teenagers to be actively involved in learning about a wide variety of music, as well as in learning to play a musical instrument. By learning about and being exposed to a wide variety of music, "widening out" in their musical taste, a teenager can get a better perspective on cultural history, and where the music of today fits into the broader picture of music throughout history.

There have been centuries of rich cultural heritage in many diverse cultures which have produced a wide variety of fascinating styles of music, much broader and scope and emotion than what might be popular at this point in time with commercial and pop, hop-hop and rock music, along with their various offshoots or progeny, in different, current, styles of popular music.


1 comment:

  1. I love your blog

    Mary, Bethesda, MD