Albert Einstein’s fifth grade teacher told his parents that he was ‘stupid’ and incapable of learning. Albert had demonstrated an inability to take tests and to get passing grades.
His teacher recommended they place Albert in a workhouse. Sometime later, he began to study the violin. Years later Albert credited his genius to the violin. Whenever he would get stumped while working on a formula, the answer would come to him while playing his violin.
When asked to write the Constitution of the United States, Thomas Jefferson struggled to find the right words to express his heart. After many restless days, he wrote his wife requesting that she send his violin to him. The landlord under his small office in Philadelphia states that she would hear Thomas pacing. Then she would hear music from his violin followed by silence. After playing music, Thomas was able to sit at the desk and write the foundational doctrine for our government, so eloquently worded and complete.
What happened to these two men as they played the violin? If we all study the violin will we become geniuses or great statesmen? Does the violin have some magical power over situations or the mind? No, it’s even better than that!
It has to do with brain function. The left hemisphere of the brain is the reasoning side. It is the part of our brain that enables us to walk and talk. The right hemisphere of the brain is the creative side. Research studies show that when a person sings or plays a musical instrument, both hemispheres of the brain are called to work together. No other activity we can participate in achieves this same result.
What we now know is that Albert Einstein was probably mostly right brain functioning. He was seen as a child as stupid and unable to keep up with ‘normal’ students. However, when music was brought into his life, both brain hemispheres flowed together. The genius locked up in his right brain was able to cross over to his left brain and he was able to function as probably the most brilliant man of our century.
The Bible tells us to sing and make music before the Lord. I have noticed recently how often the Bible says to sing praises to God. Why not chant praises or say praises. Do you think that perhaps, He who made us knows that our entire being flows together and is enhanced when we sing or play music? God wants us to use that ability to praise Him! How awesome.
Playing music formats the brain for orderly storage and recovery of data. Studies show that if a student practices music for one hour in the morning, the brain is formatted for better storage and recovery of information for most of the day.
Hungary is one of the poorest countries in our world. Yet they rank highest in academic excellence. Why? Could it be because they have a mandatory music requirement for grades one through nine? The first four hours of each day are set aside for music, orchestra and choir. That’s not all, the top three ranking nations in the world all have mandatory music requirements for their students in the lower grade levels. The results speak for themselves.
America spends 29 times more dollars than any other nation on education, yet ranks 14th out of 17 countries in academic excellence. Why? Could it be because music programs have been pulled out of our schools as unnecessary spending of tax dollars? How sad for our children. How sad for our nation!
Let’s look at some facts:
- In a recent study, 66% of music majors who apply to medical school are accepted, the highest percentage of any group. Only 44% of biochemistry majors are admitted.
- Musicians achieve higher grade point averages (GPA) than non-musicians in the same school do.
- Music students achieve higher ACT scores and other college entrance exam scores.
- Children who received piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher on tests measuring spatial-temporal ability than others. These findings indicate that music uniquely enhances higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering.
- There is a window of opportunity in young children. "Because neural connections are responsible for all types of intelligence, a child’s brain develops to its full potential only with exposure to the necessary enriching experiences in early childhood."
- "The piano is the instrument of choice because its keyboard gives children both a linear and audible representation of the relationship between sounds. What this means for parents is that they should consider giving children piano lessons as early as age three or four."
Here are some ideas to enhance your children’s brain function:
- Begin Early. Begin music lessons when your children are babies or toddlers. If your children are already older, begin lessons as soon as possible.
- Seek a Quality Music Program that incorporates voice and piano. The keyboard has been shown to be the instrument of greatest results for spacial reasoning and brain enhancement. The voice is our first and foremost instrument. Good ear training is very important in an early childhood program.
- Be actively involved. Seek a program that allows the parents to attend lessons with the young child. You are your child’s partner. Learn together!
- Keep Music A Priority. It is sad to see a child pulled out of music lessons to play ball or do cheer leading. While sports are great and can enrich a child’s development, will it give them needed benefits when they are seeking college entrance scores or choosing a life’s vocation?
- Practice Sessions. Establish a routine of daily practice sessions. Scheduling it at the same time of the day, everyday will allow practice to become as routine as brushing your teeth or eating a meal. The practice time duration must be geared to the age of the child. For example, a three-year old doesn’t need an hour of practice a day. Check with your child’s teacher.
- Try Morning Practice. For school-age children, practicing in the morning is most beneficial because the brain enhancement lasts for several hours immediately following the practice time. If you are a normal family and morning time constraints are present, staying organized will help! If your mornings are just too rushed, you may try allowing your child to spend one-half of their practice time in the morning and the remainder in the evening. The more time they practice in the morning, however, the better.
- Keep it Fun! We were created to make music. Singing and playing music can be a part of everything we do. Share it and enjoy it! Have fun!