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  • Writer's pictureLita Zagala

Music Sharpens the Mind, Uplifts the Spirit

Since the dawn of civilization, scholars took the literal meaning of the expression “Music Sharpens the Mind” literally as true but it was only in the recent past that its truth has been proven scientifically.

In the past two decades, a handful of neuroscientists have conducted numerous studies and extensive research with the aid of advanced technologies. They have determined that persons who play the piano or other musical instruments are able to “solve problems more effectively and creatively in both academic and social settings; have higher levels of executive abilities in planning, strategizing and attention to details; and have enhanced memories owing to their highly connected brains.”

It is also a long established fact that every human task, such as reading, doing math or watching a movie, is controlled by specific parts of the brain. But only recently has it been determined that playing a musical instrument engages practically the entire brain, not just parts, with vast amounts of complex neurological signals – visual, motor, auditory – in the cognitive and creative areas of the brain. Studies show that music playing enhances a child’s ability to visualize abstract elements, the sort of thinking process so essential in understanding and solving mathematical and other problems.

When a child plays the piano, for example, his outward expression of calm and serenity belies the frenetic “fireworks” going on inside his brain. Playing a musical instrument (particularly piano and string instruments) causes far more complex and much heightened brain activity than when doing anything else. Such intensive mental exercise, coupled with the discipline and structured practice developed through music lessons, strengthen brain functionalities, allowing music players to apply their enhanced mental ability in other aspects of their academic, professional and social life.

Well and good. But in my mind, it is the profound psychological and emotional gratification resulting from a pleasant musical experience that is of higher essence. The innermost satisfaction, the uplifting of the spirit, derived from playing beautiful music is sublime. Music enriches the lives of people.

Plato, the illustrious Greek educator and philosopher, advocated for cultivating the mind, body and spirit “so that [children] may learn to be more gentle, harmonious, and rhythmical .....for the life of man in every part has need of harmony and rhythm."

Is there a gift that one can give a child more lasting, more precious and more enriching than the gift of music?

Lita Zagala

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