Thursday, February 29 2024

Music has a great communicative power. Those who sing lyrics of songs, not
only “say something”, but also evoke emotions, memories and, reaching the
subconscious, lead the mind of the listener to worlds near or far away,
shed light on wounds and hidden dreams…

A song can change the perception of reality, inspire decisions and
stimulate a person’s inner growth. On the contrary, an aggressive and
invasive music can lead to a closure, to a “hardening of the heart”. It can
emanate negative feelings and arouse feelings of contempt.

Therefore, we could say that through music – as through any other form of
communication – one can do good or harm. In short, music can elevate or
sink us.

Since music is capable of stimulating and transmitting messages with
extraordinary power, its educational function is relevant. But how use this
tool in the relationship with children or students? Here are some simple
suggestions to invite you to make the most of the potential of music in
education.

Why sing to children?

Have you ever wondered why, even without knowing how to sing, we often sing nursery rhymes or lullabies in order to calm
down, sleep or simply relate to very young children, even new born babies?
Why do almost all mothers, aunts, grandmothers (and even unexpectedly
grandparents!) suddenly find themselves memorizing texts or melodies and
then repeating them to their little ones as if they were rituals? And why
do children actually calm down when adults sing to them?

The answer is that all of us, somehow, are born “capable of music”: in the
musical rhythm, in fact, we find security, because it unconsciously reminds
us of our mother’s heartbeat, heard continuously in the
womb during the gestation period.

There is something ancestral and visceral about the bond each of us has
with music. It transmits to us unconsciously: “Life!”. It reminds us that we are not alone, that there are many other hearts beating
next to ours.

But in addition to awakening a sense of protection and instinctive
security, does music bring benefits in the development of children’s
skills?

The benefits of music in growing up

We have already seen that talking to children or telling stories has many advantages from the point of view of the relationship between child and adult as well as cognitive and linguistic development. Music can also play
a key role in children’s growth. Indeed, music:

1. Favours concentration and the development of a good memory.

2. Strengthens creative and imaginative capacities.

3. It helps to have control of one’s emotivism.

4. Increases self-esteem.

5. Through the musicality of the mother’s voice, the child can develop
listening and communication skills.

6. The movement of the body to the rhythm of music – dance – is a valid
tool in the process of growing up, because it helps the child to discover
himself and his abilities.

The many positive effects of music, already recognized by
psychologists, paediatricians and researchers on the subject, have helped
in the creation of several cultural projects around the world (an example
in Italy is shown in this article:

Singing to children is good: it develops intelligence

).

So, if you had some reserve about showing up in performances that weren’t
very exciting from an artistic point of view, it’s a good thing to know
that science is on your side.

Even if you are among those who really cannot sing all the notes correctly, take your time to sing with your children. Select some
songs, naturally and spontaneously, so that this becomes a kind of
ritual… in addition to the benefits mentioned above, having “your songs”
will strengthen the bond with your children.

The role of music in adolescence

Music changes, in every sense, when the child or student with whom we
relate is no longer a child, but a teenager. In the difficult period of
adolescence, when young people feel the need to “belonging” in order to
understand who they are,

music becomes an element of cohesion within a group or a way of
expressing their own lifestyle

.

Music also allows young people to express their ownemotions, feelings or thoughts. Through the choice of songs or melodies, they
express desires and frustrations, related
to a phase of life in which the personality is still in formation and in
which rebellion, the need for affirmation and the desire
for change prevail.

Music

helps them to concentrate, understand and express everything that
happens to them

; it becomes an escape valve, an instrument of self-appropriation and a way
of communicating with their peers.

But what about adults? How can they fit into this process of transformation
through music? Music offers them opportunities to meet and to face one another:
it can help the adult to relate to the adolescent, who often deviates from
any dialogue. Here is an example:

Music as a tool for dialogue with adolescents

First, the adults need to know

that with the kind of music teenagers listen to, they are telling us
something indirectly

, even though they often don’t talk to us. They’re telling us what they’re
going through at that time of their lives.

Our advice is as follows: become interested in their playlist, listen carefully to
the texts they hear and, why not, start a dialogue with them by asking with
interest and respect why they like that particular text and what they find
interesting or beautiful in a particular melody.

The writer Alessandro D’Avenia, high school teacher and author of
bestsellers of international fame such as White as Silence, Red as Song,
Things that Nobody Knows, Every story is a love story (which intervened
recently, in a seminar dedicated to the education of young people through
the classics) in an article for the column “Letti da rifare” (“Beds to be
made”), which he wrote for the newspaper Corriere della Sera – one of the
main Italian newspapers – invites parents and teachers to use music to
penetrate the young people’s armour: “The “bed to be made today” could be
in this case to dedicate one night a week to listen to the music of others:
the songs could be chosen by the father, the mother, the children and the
grandmother. Each one tells and explains, the others listen without
judging, asking, so that they know the words of the desire of the other,
and perhaps also something about their wounds, weaknesses, memories, dreams
or darkness. Continue this session as long as you wish: imagine this
high-voltage jam session with Simon & Garfunkel together with Eminem,
Battisti, Salmo, Chopin or Sfera…. Make a family list and listen to it. I
do it with every new class at school: I ask everyone for their favourite
song, complete the playlist (titled according to class: “First A Greatest
Hits”) and listen carefully in order to explore the hearts of those who are
in front of me: a musical “roll call”. In this way, music becomes joy,
discovery, an encounter between generations, a relationship: in other
words, a life. I wish there was more at home and at school…”

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