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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top ten tips for positive parenting in 2012

Number 8:

Make music a part of your child's life!

A large body of literature has confirmed that music education for children confers benefits on cognitive development across multiple domains.  A recent comparative study performed at Long Island University found:

"...positive associations between music education and increased abilities in non-musical (eg, linguistic, mathematical, and spatial) domains in children...Because neural response to music is a widely distributed system within the brain…. it would not be unreasonable to expect that some processing networks for music and language behaviors, namely reading, located in both hemispheres of the brain would overlap.”

There is more to music than its influence on neural networks, however.  As children grow, the making of music in groups involves them in an increasingly complex and subtle give and take, building advanced listening skills, interaction at many levels and the ability to collaborate.  Achieving something beautiful as the result of hard long work enhances confidence and self-esteem.

But even these salutary effects are not why I, personally, feel so strongly about music and childhood.  Does anyone remember Robin Williams' role in The Dead Poets' Society? There was a scene in his classroom when, in a passionate attempt to shake his pupils into spiritual wakefulness he said something like, "We have doctors to help people live long lives, but it's the artist who gives those lives meaning."  Music is a means to many ends, but the gift of music to our children needs no point, and no justification, other than itself.  

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