“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato Music has been the heart of the soul of humanity for several centuries, with its first formal evidence being from the 40,000 BP of the Upper Palaeolithic age. In the 21st century, imagining life without music is next to impossible. Music is the go-to friend for travel, the adrenaline for workouts and the warm hug we crave sometimes when sad. But what is music about when it comes to its biological and psychological interpretation?
Music is one of the key activators of the right auditory cortex, which thereby is responsible for identifying and processing the tone, pitch, and volume of the musical notes which thereby triggers emotions in individuals that occur due to the neural pathways present in the: nucleus accumbent, amygdala, and the cerebellum.
Music is emerging as a therapeutic technique under child psychotherapy and art-based therapy. Several researchers and pioneers of music therapy have spoken about the positive effects of music in a child’s life. Several forms of music have shown their impact in children’s lives whether it be Beethoven’s Symphony or the jazz beats from any peppy song of the century. Several studies conducted in the United States of America by others like Delmonte and De Vries have shown that rhythm-based music or didactic drum playing helps in enhancing levels of attention among children but is also said to trigger more happy feelings. These techniques have been heavily used with children who have been diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Oppositional defiant and conduct disorder, however, its usage is not limited to childhood disorders and can also extend to children without mental health concerns. Music, when played during morning times in school, has shown a more positive mood among the children throughout the school day and engaging with various musical instruments has encouraged motor movements, attentivity, curiosity and self-expression. Music has also shown improvement in memory skills among children.
In the Indian context, music is classified as a creative talent which is encouraged in every household. This is something that may act both as a bane and a boon, as the parenting styles that are utilised in nurturing the children plays a key role in the child’s understanding and development of basic skills such as creativity, communication, and critical thinking. For example, if a parent is more authoritarian, or as we call it “Tiger Parent”, their child may be unable to develop creative skills and become extremely anxious as well, thereby preventing the growth and development of these children. On the other hand, if the parent provides their child the free space to explore various objects on their own, in this case, musical instruments or songs that are being played around the room, the child will on their own accord, develop a taste to the music being played which will also thereby help with all biological and psychological skills mentioned above.
Classical music is one of the best sources for remedy from a variety of problems ranging from a common cold to memory issues and blood pressure. India as a country is extremely well known for the ragas, we have been singing for the past so many years. Several musical maestros from all over the world have travelled to India, just to learn the art of Hindustani classical music and have even incorporated the same into their therapeutic practices. For example, Raga Shivaranjani is known to be an effective music type to cure memory issues, Bihag and Bahar to help with sound and sonorous sleep, and raga Malkauns and Asavari to cure issues with low blood pressure. Music such as piano tunes, strums of the guitar, and the beats of percussion instruments have shown positive impacts in their attention skills, memory as well as learning. The percussion beats have also proven to be helpful with enhancing creativity and have also shown a surge in the children's levels of eye contact.
Give them their creative and explorative freedom: Children are always curious and enthusiastic to learn about new things. They are in the age where they want to explore and learn about the world on their own, making it imperative that they are given the freedom and space to explore, without being directed to everything nor by leaving them on their own accord, but to provide them with help and directions when they ask us for help.
Support their explorations as much as possible: Children, at this age, as per Erik Erikson are in the phase of autonomy and initiative versus shame and guilt. This makes supporting our children in their explorations and giving them positive feedback is extremely important to encourage them to continue their exploration and self-learning.
Children of all ages express themselves through music. Even young infants sway, bounce, or move their hands in response to music. Many pre-schoolers make up songs and, with no self-consciousness, sing to themselves as they play. Children in elementary school learn to sing together as a group and possibly learn to play a musical instrument. Older children dance to the music of their favourite bands and use music to form friendships and share feelings. Therefore, it’s not wrong to say that Music plays an important role in development of a child.