Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Jumpstart Your Brain Challenge: The Power of Music

 The Power of Music


As a professor in the field of teacher education, I was compelled to research recent trends and studies in the field. I already knew there was power in music education, so I was intrigued when research examining “the Mozart effect” for learning hit my desk. I knew music had been researched initially as a means of lowering blood pressure. 


The easiest way to explain the proposed educational benefit is that researchers were exploring how classical music influenced thinking and memory. Several studies noted that students who listened to Mozart prior to taking a test performed better on exams than their equally prepared counterparts. For a while, schools filtered music through their hallways. A few schools around the country tried this during final exams or standardized testing. They were hoping, of course, to access some elusive phenomena bound to increase the school standing.


Further research demonstrated that the effect lasted for about fifteen minutes.


But it was there. And real. And it sparked continued interest in the overall effect of music on the brain. The research continues. I have read literature reviews on the subject including research from Harvard and Johns Hopkins. There are others and many less scholarly summations of the effect music has on the brain are readily available online. (Google “brain and music”)


I’m keenly interested in how listening to music influences memory and reasoning. 


It may not be what you expect. The studies I reviewed for music and memory do not suggest listening to the familiar, but to the unfamiliar. The same is true for strengthening brain function. It makes sense. The very architecture of music is mathematical. 


Think of it as entering your childhood home where you know every nook and cranny as opposed to being left free to explore a castle or museum. Or to find a route through a maze. Your brain isn’t strengthened by the familiar. Your brain is challenged and strengthened by the unfamiliar. 


If you want to jumpstart your brain, listen to classical music. If you are already a fan of Mozart, try Jazz. Or Bluegrass. Jazz and Bluegrass provide rich, dense layers of music that will indeed challenge you. And if you are already familiar with Jazz or Bluegrass, give classical a try. 


Any music you wish to explore is readily available on your computer or Alexa or other device. A few minutes each day will access a part of your brain you rarely use. Continued listening each day will likely improve your overall brain function. Perhaps improve your memory. And lower your blood pressure. Music is powerful. 


What are your music interests? What new form of music might you try this week?

Me? I’m enjoying Mozart while I type this post. I look forward to hearing from you.


From my Bio:

Rebecca Waters, EdD, completed her undergraduate work at the University of South Florida and her graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. She served as both a public school teacher and as a professor of teacher education. Rebecca taught for a year in a private school in Kosovo where she also served as the elementary principal and the school’s liaison to the American Embassy. Rebecca is the author of two novels, Breathing on Her Ownand Libby’s Cuppa Joe. All of her books, including three books on writing, are available on Amazon.



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