Neuroscientist Nina Kraus believes musical experience not only sharpens your hearing for music but also alerts you to emotions expressed in speech, such as anger or sadness. The more time (both daily and across the years) a musician has practiced the more obvious the effect.
I already notice this effect with my 11 yr. old who’s been taking music lessons, on and off, since her fifth birthday. She hears music in nature when she walks beneath grand oaks and heads for the piano when she’s angry with her brother.
I don’t usually wait around during lessons like I did when she was smaller. Her piano lesson is now a full hour and the public library is close so I zip over there and look for picture books worth reading out-loud over and over. But although the library is close and lovely, the real reason I don’t sit around is that there is no good reason to stay.
The couch at piano lessons is comfortable enough and the teacher caring and experienced but music played on the Steinway by my daughter sounds more beginner-esque than when played on our home piano.
Also, the place is lonely. One teacher. One student. No bustling appasionato budding musicians any where.
Some day, this set up won’t do. My daughter will either stop progressing and lose interest or I’ll have to take her someplace where music is thick like life itself. Yet, our current situation works for my child at this time in her life. I judge the value of the lessons by the results. My 11 yr. old loves her teacher and seeks solace at our home piano to let bad moods pass or when she’s feeling dreamy more in mind than in body. She practices, most days, without being asked or reminded. She loves her music like a favored teddy bear, a thing that waits to serve when needed.
Music education has received a lot of positive press in the last ten years. But claims that music leads to higher SAT scores and ensures future success are over-simplified. Music does not make you smart automatically, just as the oh-so-juicy apple just picked off your tree doesn’t increase your English grammar skills. But that perfect Granny Smith slaps your taste-buds with sweet juice and cool crispness.
That twinkling second when your mouth sings can make you a poet and so perfect sound opens your soul to truth and beauty. And this fosters Creation.