Saturday, February 14, 2015

Music is Important to the Health and Well Being of Children

Many children today are suffering from anger, depression and other physical ailments as a result of the stresses in their lives.  Music can be a way of alleviating those stresses.  

When I first started teaching piano, I was working with a group of very troubled children at an after school program.  I used to bring my digital piano to the community center and give piano lessons.  There must have been about one hundred children there.  I would give the children lessons, two students at a time, one on the high end notes and the other on the low end notes.  The children were very comfortable about this and never complained.  They learned how to play simple songs. 

Some of the children who attended were very troubled.  They argued with the other children, were very disruptive, and some bullied the other children.  One girl in particular took an interest in playing the piano.  She happened to be one of the students who bullied the younger children.  After learning to play a few songs, she no longer hung out with the other children who made trouble for the younger ones.  She became very involved in learningmore songs and began to experience joy whenever she came into the community center.

She became very adept at playing and learning the songs, stayed the longest, and no longer associated with the her friends who were bullying other children.   Her expressions turned from scowls to smiles.

I have numerous stories of other children whose attitudes changed when they started playing piano.  By the same token, I had a few children who did not enjoy the experience at all and asked to be taken out of the class.  They were not interested in playing the piano.

However, there is evidence that music relieves stress and has been shown to have a positive effect on the school performance and behavior of inner city youth.  All that is needed is one hour to exposure to music, either listening to it or non-stressful playing of an instrument, such as a guitar or piano.  This activity van also create changes within the cells which can last for a long period of time.  Many doctors have compared music therapy to having the same effect as medication.

The good news is that adults have the same response to music, which can help all of us manage the level of stress within our lives.  The tempo of the music will affect our moods in different ways.  For example, we will be more alert when we hear faster paced music, while a slower pace, such as classical music, will make us feel more relaxed.  For confidence, listening to upbeat music is very helpful. 

Because we are individuals with varying needs, not all music will affect us in the same way.  We will have to find music which can help change our moods for the better and make a conscious attempt to use it when we need it.   

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