Why Just Use Your Ears?

Rapid changes in technology are always exciting. Now kids can watch their music on You tube or DVD. Exhausted parents welcome this great way to keep kids quiet and entertained. But what are the implications?

With a screen involved, visuals dominate the music - a great soundtrack is one you barely notice. We enter a mild trance, losing contact with what's going on around us. In contrast, when just listening to music, we remain alert, can do other things, and our auditory skills develop. We learn to hear what's happening in our environment and are better able to listen to what people are saying.

Most agree it’s unhealthy for growing children to spend too much time at a screen. Yet we’re sitting them down to watch TV, DVDs or You Tube. Is it somehow healthier to be a music-video couch-potato than an ordinary couch-potato? Our children need healthy activity.

Research points to music as a key stimulator of children’s development, learning, and creativity. With music, it is the audio that they best respond to. Moving, dancing, singing, and playing along, kids learn through sensory stimulation and involvement. When it comes to developing creativity, children also need to use their own imagination, making their own pictures, movements and sounds rather than passively digesting someone else’s.

Studies at McMaster University in Ontario suggest that children receiving greater exposure to music at home show enhanced brain auditory activity; around three years in advance of unexposed children.

To quote Norman M. Weinburger, from his article Music & the Brain’ in Scientific American, “Findings to date indicate that music has a biological basis and that the brain has a functional organisation for music… supporting perception, or evoking emotional reactions. Musicians appear to have additional specializations, particularly hyperdevelopment of some brain structures.”

He also has a titbit for parents and teachers as we relax listening to an album after work. “Music activates some of the same reward systems that are stimulated by food and love-making ...”

Neuroscientists have discovered that, using music, ‘super-learning’ is possible, with retention rates up 85 percent. Children not only deserve to "just listen", but it just may set them on the road to becoming little geniuses. For thousands of years children have thrived on the sound of music. We are multi-sensory beings, and it is time to come to our senses; all of them, not just a current mono-diet of image-based media.

Learn to listen, listen to learn!