Music is a form of creativity. And building creativity gives your kids fantastic problem-solving skills. It encourages self-expression and higher emotional intelligence. And it also boosts self-confidence and self-awareness. Creative kids are our future innovators, leaders, authors, and architects. These are a few of the reasons why your kids NEED music.
But there’s so much more. (Keep reading for a full list of the scientific benefits of music on the body and mind.)
Fostering the creative side of your child’s brain is empowering to everyone involved. Many of us believe that creativity is something we’re either born with or not. But this belief is a myth. It’s a skill like any other, that can be built, learned, and cultivated. In fact, what you can learn from your child about music and creativity (if you are receptive to it) can be just as great as what they can learn from you.
Using Music to Unlock Creativity
There are many ways to spark creativity, but one of the easiest ways (no matter how creative you feel you are as a parent) is through music. You don’t have to play an instrument, and you don’t have to know music theory. Really? Really.
We’re rhythmical, musical beings by nature. Our hearts beat in rhythm. We speak with melodic phrasing and use dynamics, pitch, and tone to convey meaning. We also walk and talk in different tempos, and we breathe in and out rhythmically, without even being consciously aware of it.
You can remain in denial if you want, but YOU ARE MUSICAL. Whether or not you have spent years of your life studying music theory, you are capable of using music in your daily life, with enormous benefits. We’re not talking about Grammy-winning performances or groundbreaking compositions. However, we are talking about unleashing your creative kids’ imagination and engaging them in a new and refreshing way.
I think of music as a language that we all speak but which communicates emotions that words simply cannot.
Music is all around us
Music is already woven into our lives in fundamental ways. It plays in the background in grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and elevators. It’s even played as we wait on hold during a phone call. Our vehicles come with radios and inputs for music playing devices. We also go to concerts, festivals, and symphonies for entertainment. And our movies and TV shows would be dull without the supporting music leading us to be happy, sad, scared, mellow, excited, etc. You get the point, right?
When we engage with our children through music, we have the power to build our relationships, strengthen our connection, and open our minds to possibility. Oh, and it’s FUN. Remember fun?
What are the benefits of music?
Did you know that music affects every area of the brain? (Here’s a pretty cool short video about it from Wired.)
Music is also being used as therapy for stroke recovery, dementia, and even for babies in the NICU. New scientific discoveries are being made all the time, and therefore, the future for music is full of potential. But let’s stick to the present right now.
It’s undeniable that music affects mood, and it doesn’t take a scientific study to acknowledge that fact. Think about how you light up when you hear your favorite song come on. Or about how you instantly feel a sense of calm when you hear the calming music at a spa. And then there are those songs that were on the mixtape that your first boyfriend/girlfriend made for you. When you hear them you are instantly transported back to those days.
Here’s a list of the specific effects of music on the body and mind:
• It can reduce blood pressure. (Sutoo D, Akiyama K, 2004).
• It can reduce anxiety and stress, aid in pain management, improve mood, and can also encourage socialization, self-expression, communication and motor development, according to studies done by the American Music Therapy Association.
• It can reduce heart rate. (Bradt J, Dileo C, Potvin V, 2013).
• It can improve depression, quality of life, functional recovery and neuromotor performances in neurological patients non-invasively and inexpensively. (Raglio A, Attardo L, Gontero G, Rollino S, Groppo E, Granieri E, 2015).
• It has positive effects on children’s brain development. Learning an instrument leads to long‐term enhancement of visual‐spatial, verbal, and mathematical performance in kids, according to this study. (Schlaug G, Norton A, Overy K, Winner E, 2006).
• There are studies being done that suggest favorable outcomes for kids with ADHD.
• Playing music has positive effects on neurological and developmental disorders as well as on normal aging. (Wan C Y, Schlaug G, 2010).
• NPR shared this article about how music is not only entertaining for kids, but reduces stress, boosts the helpfulness trait, and increases happiness.
If you want even more on the benefits of raising creative kids through music, here’s an incredibly thorough list of the benefits of music from NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants).
The bottom line:
The bottom line is there are countless reasons why your kids need music. And much of it is backed by science! The good news is that it’s fun and easy to incorporate more of it into your daily life. Read the next post in this series, 10 Ways to Introduce Music to Your Kids and Encourage Creativity, for a list of super simple strategies to getting your kids exposed to more music (and more creativity) and check out The Ultimate Guide to Creativity for Moms for even more ways to boost creativity and engage your kids.
Jolij J, Meurs M (2011) Music Alters Visual Perception. PLoS ONE 6(4): e18861. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0018861
Sutoo D, Akiyama K (2004) Music Improves Dopaminergic Neurotransmission: Demonstration Based on the Effect of Music on Blood Pressure Regulation. Institute of Medical Science, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8575, Japan. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2004.05.018
Bradt J, Dileo C, Potvin N (2013) Music for stress and anxiety reduction in coronary heart disease patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Dec 28;(12):CD006577. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006577.pub3.
Raglio A, Attardo L, Gontero G, Rollino S, Groppo E, Granieri E. Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients. World J Psychiatry. 2015;5(1):68–78. doi:10.5498/wjp.v5.i1.68
Schlaug, G, Norton A, Overy K, Winner E (2006) Effects of music training on the child’s brain and cognitive development. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1360.015
Wan, C. Y., & Schlaug, G. (2010). Music Making as a Tool for Promoting Brain Plasticity across the Life Span. The Neuroscientist, 16(5), 566–577. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073858410377805
Steffen, P. R., Austin, T., DeBarros, A., & Brown, T. (2017). The Impact of Resonance Frequency Breathing on Measures of Heart Rate Variability, Blood Pressure, and Mood. Frontiers in public health, 5, 222. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2017.00222