Why Music? Answers from The Center on Central

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BY LYNNE HOCKENBURY, Music Group Leader at The Center on Central


Parents sometimes ask me “Why music?”

Music is found everywhere from your family car, to the grocery store, to the movie you watched last night.  Without it, life would be pretty quiet!

While we can all appreciate listening to music, there seems to be some difference of opinion on whether we can all create music.  There are some who believe that everyone is born to create music, but only a select few choose to develop the skills to further that innate ability.  In some particularly disheartening situations, people are told, “You can’t sing!” and so they stop singing where anyone can hear them, believing themselves to be unmusical.  But you don’t have to have talent to create music!  Think of those old classical composers – they couldn’t have known how to play every instrument in the orchestra, yet they still wrote music for them!

Music, whether you have “talent” or not, can do so much more for you.  It can help you learn other subjects, it can help you be more creative, it can help you express your feelings — and it’s fun!

Think back to when you were a preschooler.  Probably one of the first songs you learned was “The Alphabet Song” or the “ABC Song.”  It helped you to learn the letters of the alphabet, in order.  There are some people who, as adults, still sing this song in their head (or quietly out loud) when alphabetizing things!  Many generation-Xers will remember the School House Rock series on Saturday mornings.  Many important things such as what is an adverb, adjective, noun or verb, how a bill becomes a law, and the names of the planets in the solar system were learned because there was a song to sing about them.

Not only can music can help you to recall facts in a fun way – even more is happening in your brain when you study a musical instrument.  There is much research that has been done and is still being done, on how learning a musical instrument can affect the development of the brain. 

While the jury is still out on just how much the brain is affected, it stands to reason that children who study music do better on spatial-reasoning tests, score higher on their SATs, and get better grades in math, science, and language arts.

Humans have a need to create.  And, when we create something, it makes us feel good about ourselves.  Creating music, from the simplicity of starting and stopping together, to the complexity of changing chords together, to the feeling of “Wow!  I made that!” help to boost self-esteem.  And having that seed of positive self-esteem can help a child get through those tough teenage years, and make your bad day at work a little better.

Music can give you a place to express feelings that is safe and socially acceptable.  From a happy preschooler quietly singing to herself as she plays, to a teenager turning up the volume on his guitar amp, to the dad who had a bad day at work enjoying his favorite cd in the car and the many who have an ipod going while doing mundane tasks, music can help express your mood, or even change it.

Let’s not forget that music is fun, too!  In addition to the joy of creating something enjoyable, there are many places to share music with others and create lasting friendships, such as when singing in a choir or playing in a band or orchestra.

So, why music and not art or movement?  Well, the fact is that all of these creative outlets – music, art, movement – can help your child to learn other subjects, give her a creative outlet, help him express his feelings, and give her a skill to last a lifetime!  Come try them all at The Center on Central!

Meghan Kelly

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