Gifts that Keep on Giving: An Inspirational Story
When a child is born, we always wonder what he or she might become. Perhaps a gifted singer or actress? A famous scientist, businessman, or engineer?
It might soon occur to us that what a child will be is partly up to him. Indeed, some part of us is programmed by genetics. That’s the old nature/nurture battle. It is now being recognized that early exposure to language, music, art, kinetics, and so on, has a profound influence on the young, developing child. It is also becoming clear that the younger, the better for this exposure.
I remember being in the Houston Piano Company one day when a gentleman came in wanting to purchase a piano for his grandson. He wanted to expose him to music and teach him to play the piano early, as he had been taught, leading to a professional music career for many years.
Intuitively, he knew he wanted to pass his love of music, his gift, to his grandson. He may not have read up on how clear the connection is between early musical training and cognitive development, but he probably knew that passing on his love of music would profoundly affect his grandson’s future potential in many different ways.
Oliver Sacks says, “I think there are certain aspects of music which do not have any equivalent in speech, in particular the pulse of music, the steady rhythm, and its synchronization with movement. I think there is good reason for supposing for that is built in, and there are anatomical connections, which are strongly and almost exclusively developed in human beings.” See the video and article here.
There are clear, empirical studies that show exposing the young mind to music has profound enhancing effects on a child’s overall learning/cognitive skills. Not just listening to music (though beneficial as well), but actually learning to play an instrument. In fact, one study shows that the brain of a young musician is actually anatomically changed, resulting in more connections made regarding left/right brain communication. And yet, music and the arts have been stripped from most public schools, leaving a virtual wasteland behind. Only now are educators realizing their mistake and endowing funds to restore music and art to public school education.
Oliver Sacks explains that there are changes in the brain when a child learns to play a musical instrument. The brain’s response to music is physiological. After some time of exposure to learning to read music and playing an instrument, the brain is better ready to read, remember, focus, and concentrate.
Maybe the grandfather shopping at the piano company knew exactly what good would come from spending his money on a piano for his grandchild’s opportunity to grow and prosper through a love for music and self-expression. He bought a piano that very day.
Did he know that his gift of music was a gift that would keep on giving? I think he did.
For more information on ways musical training enhances cognitive abilities, visit these links:
Article by Deb Adams, M. Ed.