“Music is so naturally united with us that we cannot be free from it, even if we so desired.” Boethius.
All creative souls do not express themselves in the written word; some paint, some sculpt, some build, and some challenge the depths of human understanding through the sounds of music.
As a psychological tool, Don Campbell characterized music:
1. as a carrier: using the melody or beat to help encode the content.
2. for arousal: using music to manage states, to calm down or to energize.
3. as a primer: using music (e.g. Mozart) to prime/prepare (excite and arouse) specific neural pathways for learning content or processing.(Campbell, 2000b, p. 1)
Among different forms of art expressions, music is the most powerful of all arts since it is not restricted by the limitation of language, as in poetry, or by visual imagery, as in painting. Music helps to express the forms of feelings which the individual is not able to express otherwise, which are non lingual and non-discursive including experiences anchored in the early childhood of the individual as well as the unconscious traumatic experiences. Music helps to bring those memories spontaneously without pain and anxiety. Music is thought to link all of the emotional, spiritual and physical elements of the universe. Music also has the ability to strengthen or weaken emotions. Music training enhances cognitive functioning and thus improves grades in academics, accelerate physical development, improves listening skills. Effect of music on other living organisms (besides humans) are far more surprising. It is found that music help cows to yield more milk, aid hens in laying more eggs and also has positive impact on plant growth.
Instrumental music has enormous positive impact on cognitive development in children as stated by researchers at Boston College. Besides the pleasure in mastering a new skill and the entertainment value, learning to play a musical instrument engages both the right and left side of the brain at the same time. The information studied in the learning process(theoretical training and decoding of musical notes) engages the left side of the brain while the music itself activates the right side of the brain. This enhances learning, improves primary mental skills such as verbal, perceptual, numeric, and spatial skills, and memory(retention and recall).
Children who play musical instruments have better abstract reasoning skills than children who don't have musical training. Musically inclined children learn to concentrate, memorize, and be patient. Learning to play instruments builds self-esteem, makes children more confident and helps them communicate better. People perform logical tasks better in the presence of instrumental music as COMPARED to vocal music, according to a study at the Department of Psychology at the University College London. Listening to instrumental music also helps people perform better in problem-solving tasks. Apart from cognitive aspects, training in instrumental music results in greater growth in manual dexterity, improves eye-hand coordination and helps in the development of small motor skills .
MUSIC AS A TOOL FOR THERAPY .....
Music can be used therapeutically for people who have physical, emotional, social, or cognitive deficits. Even those who are healthy can use music to relax, reduce stress, improve mood, or to accompany exercise. They may also assist with behavioral therapy for many conditions and pain management. Research with dementia and Alzheimer patients have shown that music can produce remarkable results with memory, mood, anxiety, cognitive function, and motor coordination.
The term "Mozart effect" was coined after a study showed that college students performed better on math problems when listening to classical music. Music therapy is conducted by a professional music therapist for many conditions. Songs are used as well as specific tones, frequencies, patterns and rhythms, harmonies and melodies. A therapist will work with an individual to determine the individual’s specific responses. Evidence suggests that long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards--in language skills, reasoning and creativity--and boosts social adjustment.
Music exercises the brain. Playing an instrument, for instance, involves vision, hearing, touch, motor planning, emotion, symbol interpretation--all of which activate different brain systems. Playing the piano stimulates many areas of the brain. Coordination is learned by reading notes from a page while simultaneously moving your fingers along the keyboard. Each hand can also independently play different pieces of music and your brain is telling them what to do. Being able to play that music on piano enables an individual to pour his/her emotions into playing, giving stress an outlet and relaxing the mind and body. Each Raga or Ragini is associated with a definite mood or sentiment that nature arouses in human beings. The ancient musicologists were particularly interested in the effects of musical notes, how it effected and enhanced human behavior.
Music had the power to cure, to make you feel happy, excited,keep you calm, balance your mind and so on. Extensive research to find out these effects has led us to form the basis of time theory.Emotions, feelings and thoughts have been reported to be greatly influenced by music listening or participation. Emotional experience derived from music has a powerful effect on the formation of one’s moral and intellectual outlook. Music activities and enhances imagination & creative thinking. In the modern era of stress, there is an emerging need of establishing an alternative way of healing, complimentary to medicine. Music is the key that stimulates the body’s natural resources to fight against threats (inside or outside the body) and helps to restore maintain ‘health’ in totality. Instrumental music are free from the barrier of language and thus touches the inner most layers of human psyche . It is obvious that people, in general, are loosing patience, developing very poor frustration tolerance and poor acceptance of others. Lack of empathy and mutual respect for each other leads to increase in aggressive and violent activity in our society. Music , specifically the instrumental music, can help the human race to get back the integrity and harmony and make the Universe a more peaceful place to live in.