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You may have heard that music can make you smarter, more focused and relaxed.  We’ve seen research about the “Mozart Effect” with infants, heard about band and choir students scoring higher on tests, and even music as a tool to delay dementia in the elderly- but how does this all work?  Let’s explore the effects of music on the brain and see how music can move us cognitively and improve everything from language to literacy!

When you were just a baby, your main form of communication was to cry - when you were hungry, needed a diaper change, a nap.  Our parents and caregivers probably rocked us, held us and maybe even sang to us.  Singing not only alters a baby’s mood, but it promotes paternal-infant bonding, helps with baby’s sense of awareness and attention and increases neuroplasticity in their brains.  Like we discussed in our last blog post, a child’s brain develops new pathways with each musical experience.  This also helps children as they learn to speak and read.  Making music also develops and strengthens the inner ear, which is where we process and establish a foundation for literacy skills.  

As we get older and are exposed to more musical experiences such a band, choir and orchestra, we become active participants in our own musical development.  When adolescents and adults participate in a choir, for example, endorphins are released, enhancing mental health and reducing stress and anxiety.  These “feel good” hormones occur as a result of singing and working together toward the same goal.  Students who make music on a regular basis generally have increased coordination and memorization skills, stay engaged and involved in school, can be more aware of their emotions and tend to show empathy toward others.  Emotional awareness and self-expression can help reduce stress and anxiety.  Playing instruments and singing can also develop spatial intelligence, which is also helpful for advanced mathematics.  Music is a magical tool for nurturing and developing the whole brain.

Recent research suggests that music can be used to help reduce and/or prolong dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms. Kim Innes, an epidemiology professor at West Virginia University, conducted a study on the effects of music and meditation on patients prone to cognitive decline.  Participants showed significant improvement long after the study was conducted.  Actively listening to classical improved brain function and memory skills.  “In addition, of the 25 participants who indicated elevated risk for dementia at the start of the study, only seven remained in the at-risk range six months later” (Becker).  

Burke’s PlayEnsemble® line promotes mental health and well-being, healthy brain function and development, and provides a unique way for communities of all ages and abilities to come together through music and play. This is your brain on music - are you ready to try it? 



Becker, Kimberly.   “Meditation and music may improve memory of those at-risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.” WVU Today. September 26, 2018.

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