Music is a universal language. It can transport us; help us relive special moments; and make us healthier, happier and more connected as family, friends, and as part of a larger community.
Music is known to improve mental health and quality of life. Music gives young children a way to communicate through activity and sound, and people of all ages an outlet for creative, positive self-expression.
From birth, an infant’s caregivers can interact musically with their child to build the baby’s attention span and social awareness. Toddlers and preschoolers benefit socially from musical interactions as well, but the sphere of influence then includes other children and teachers.
As children mature into adolescents and adults, music connects them to others in a community of listeners and players. Music helps us understand what people are thinking and feeling. Students who participate in school band or orchestra have the lowest levels of current and lifelong use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs among any group in our society. (U.S. House of Representatives, Concurrent Res. 266, June 13, 2000). Older Americans who are actively involved in music show improvements with anxiety, loneliness, and depression issues that are critical in coping with stress, stimulating the immune system and improving health (American Music Conference 2007).
Music gets people of any age up and moving. Playing instruments can aid in development of spatial reasoning, hand-eye coordination and fine motor control. These benefits continue to accrue well into adulthood.
Singing and musical stories can help children with vocabulary and reading skills, understanding lyrics and word play. Exposure to a wide vocabulary through music can help children learn to communicate verbally and make learning to read more fun.
A Harvard-based study found that children who study a musical instrument for at least three years outperform children with no instrumental training—both in tests of auditory discrimination and finger dexterity (skills honed by the study of a musical instrument), and in tests measuring verbal ability and visual pattern completion (skills not normally associated with music). Read the study. Middle school and high school students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency by grade 12, regardless of students’ socio-economic status. (U.S. Department of Education)
Music also has a demonstrable effect on those with memory impairment. Among others, a 2019 study suggests that “a focal musical activity can be a useful intervention in older adults to promote an enhancement in memory.” Read the study.
Music can change the world because it can change people.