Sound Essentials

Words: Team THINKWELLNESS360

Music has been a chronological hit extravaganza for aeons — from Vedic times, early history, the era of Plato, Pythagoras, the mediaeval times, and the age of Thyagaraja, to our present point in time, the epoch of hi-tech glitz.

New research suggests that some of the networks in the human brain seem to be exclusively ‘devoted’ to music. This, in more ways than one, has stirred neuroscientists to have second thoughts with their ideas on the nature of intelligence. To highlight an illustration: listening to your favourite melody can help you work better with words, maths, and perform, with gusto, in sport too.

What’s most exciting is the discovery of music’s neural impact, today. Music, as studies propose, may provide for improved cognitive power, thanks to its exceptional capability for accessing the left and the right hemispheres of our brain. To pick one example: you’d think of yourself as left-brain, if you’re analytical, or word-driven type. You may, likewise, think that you’re right-brained, if you’re creative, or visual.  Put simply, the left brain handles symbolic activities, like language and logic — the right brain is accountable for direct perception, including spatial tasks and abstract intuitive jumps. Listening to music, as Dr Elizabeth Miles, PhD, a renowned US ethnomusicologist, suggests, ‘taps’ both sides at once, while potentially uniting creative and analytical functions.

Music is a powerful learning tool too than is, by and large, appreciated. As researchers Colin Rose and Malcolm J Nichol highlight: “Think how many songs you know, and yet have never consciously learned.” Take for instance, radio and TV commercials — all those popular jingles you just can’t get out of your head. Musical excursions, along with their melodic and rhythmic patterns relieve the task of remembering, “Music stimulates the emotional centre of our brains, and [our] long-term memory. So, playing some background music — especially soft classical music, at the workplace, or, while studying, or before a sport event — is a useful effective strategy for many people.”

Research also emphasises that you don’t have to be musically gifted to benefit from musical explorations. The important thing is that you’re doing it yourself. So, it is pertinent to you. Besides, studies also recommend certain ways to learn via music.

  • Choose a memorable song, or jingle, and try to fit some key information you have read, to the tune
  • Listen to some pop/rap songs. Invent some verses of your own to fit to the rhythm of music
  • Make up some simple verses
  • Take a well-known composition, and write your own words to the familiar melody. Now, witness, the magic — and, how your own/child’s scores ascend
  • Music aficionados suggest that parents would do well playing some evocative music [e.g., Beethoven, or Carnatic violinist A Kanyakumari’s Vadya Lahari] — and, asking children to relax and let images form in their minds. Likewise, you’d use certain prompts, as outlined below, to persuade your child to interpret music, not just listen to it, viz., —
  • What feelings did you experience as you listened?
  • What images did you see in your mind’s eye? These could be images, scenes, nature, people, shapes, or colours
  • Could you dance, or move, to this music?
  • What instruments were playing?
  • Can you repeat/hum/sing any tune, or melody, or pattern that you heard?
  • What was the composer trying to say?
  • When would you especially like to play this sort of music? Is it more fitting for certain situations than others?
  • Can you draw a shape, pattern, or picture that represents the music for you?

To quote Jules Combarie, “Music is the art of thinking with sounds.” It’s also the only language in which you cannot say a mean, or acerbic, thing — unless you want to woefully do something disgusting.

Learning with music is, therefore, the right education. It’s also something that’s worth thinking about — creatively.

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