Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Music: The Ultimate Learning Tool - Part 3

Thanks for visiting topics and conversations. Here I want to address music therapy issues and concepts as they relate to preschool, autism and special needs children's needs. Also, I want to let everyone know that my new site: is in it's infancy. Right now there is only one music album available. Very soon I will have my second offering, Lyrical Imagery. This album's history, purpose, etc. is explained on my home page section "free song download."And yes, grab the free download of "The Ocean,"one of the songs on this upcoming album.

Music: The Ultimate Learning Tool  - Part 3

I will start part 3 by briefly summarizing last weeks post, i.e., that is in my experience the purposeful use of music provides music therapists, parents and teachers a means to divert a child's attention towards learning and positive engagement. As mentioned, with music being a "primary cognitive experience," once attentive and positively affected, the child can learn and experience success from goal oriented music experiences, i.e., familiar music chosen purposefully.

Now, more specifically about how and why music is the "ultimate learning tool." Part 3 will address a very common benefit of music that is common in the literature but not often talked about with children, the benefit being how music can decrease depression. I am considering doing a research project on how music decreases depression in autistic children and possibly look at the effects on their families.  On my site, in the resource center at the bottom left of the hm pg, find the MT Research Sheet and look at #s 1,4,6,13. Also my Stress Management paper talks about the positive effects of music regarding mood, for example...

"How music affects us is not mystical as once believed. Critchley and Henson (1977) as cited in Tsao et al., 1991 conclude there are at least three intrapersonal communication 
processes implied in the music health relationship.
First, because of it’s nonverbal characteristic, music can filter through the 
auditory cortex to the center of the limbic system which is the center of emotional processing. Second, music can reinforce the corpus callosum to stimulate memory response. 
Third, music can be used to stimulate endorphins that create a positive kind of 
emotional arousal- a feeling of being in love."

Last week I described a youngster who had spent the whole morning needing to be calmed and redirected as he was very upset. We had said that with music being a primary cognitive experience we have no control over the feeling and emotions it (music) gives us. So from looking at the above research, the fact that music positively affects emotions, stimulates memory and causes endorphin release, we can see why music acts as a primary cognitive experience thus decreasing depression. Two very important keys to this are 1) that the music is preferred music, and 2) that the individual then does attend to the preferred music. 

The literature has focused on this issue for many years. Some general examples include: Effects of Group Music on Depression...

and  Effects of Music on Major Depression...
Of course there are many more studies but few have been done with children. That is why I would like to do a depression study with autistic children in the future.

I will end part 3 by summarizing very simply that when a child's mood can be positively affected by music the "path to learning is greatly widened." When children are not depressed they can spend more time learning while being enthusiastic. Remember that music's effect on depression is not just cognitive and emotional, it is also physiological - considering endorphin release. Again, I see this very often, i.e., when a child who is upset or negatively focused ends up engaging pleasantly in music.

Part 4, coming next, will address more specific reasons why music is an ultimate learning tool.

What do I suggest??? Same as last week, i.e., identify specific songs or music experiences that you know your children have positive responses to. If you can't, start to use songs or music experiences repetitively and observe.

***What do I mean by music experiences??? Music experiences (apart from songs) can be: playing instruments, dance, humming, games with music, etc.

My next prescription???   Think of your favorite song, band or style of music and, with headphones, listen with no distractions for at least 30 minutes. Enjoy!!!

Thank you, David

AND!!!! Please share with others, like us on Facebook  and follow us on Twitter ... Thanks, David P.