Music is all around us. Every time we turn on the TV, see a movie, or go to a store, there’s a good chance there’s background music playing. And of course, that’s not even including the times when we actively seek out music to listen to! Research has found that music affects our brains and behaviour in powerful ways. For example, did you know that music can have an influence on how much money we spend at a store? So for today’s post, we’ll examine how we can use this art to help out kids. We’ll take a look at how music heals students.
The benefits: how does music heal students?
Probably one of the most tangible benefits that music has on kids, is that it can be great for their mental health. For example, some studies have shown that listening to tunes can reduce stress and anxiety. That can be a big help, because stress and anxiety are easily one of the biggest hurdles that kids have to conquer at school. Need proof? Psychology Today reports that the average high school student has about the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s. The same article says that about 49 per cent of today’s general population has some sort of history with an anxiety-related condition.
So how does music help treat anxiety? It’s hard to tell. One study found the act of listening or performing music can affect our bodies. For instance, it can lower blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels, which are all associated with anxiety and stress. So what, you may ask? It means that music can be used as a powerful alternative to anti-anxiety drugs. The study we linked to above showed that listening to calming tunes was more effective at treating anxiety among people about to go through surgery than prescription medication!
What kind of music heals students?
It should be understood that not all music is equal. Much of the studies that found positive benefits in music were examining songs that were described as ‘relaxing.’ For example, the first study we referenced used slow flute instrumentals to help patients calm down. Many of the studies we referenced seemed to find downtempo instrumentals beneficial, so introducing your children to that music first might be a good starting point. Observe how they react, and if you see the clinical benefits described above, try continuing. If not, try a different genre of music and try to figure out if your child is getting any therapeutic benefits from those songs.
However, you should keep an open mind. There can be health benefits in even the most unexpected places. One study found that heavy metal music can not only help process anger but also lead to feelings of calmness. So the next time you hear your long-haired, leather-jacket-and-spikes-wearing teen rocking out, maybe you should ask him or her to turn it up, rather than down!
Can performing music give students health benefits?
In a word, yes. For instance, singing has been found to be a confidence-booster which provides many boosts to the body that are often associated with exercise. Some examples include endorphin boosts and decreased levels of depression and anxiety. Percussion and drumming have also been been used to help Alzheimer’s patients and sharpen focus among those with autism. Rapping has been found to be very helpful in combatting depression and, as we mentioned earlier, rock and metal can help process negative emotions like anger.
And, while not directly related to ‘healing,’ This TED-Ed video explains that musicians ‘exercise’ their brain to the degree that they get better at memory, and “mental function.”
Where should you start?
At School is Easy Tutoring, we believe no two children are ever the same. It’s the approach we take to teaching, and we think that the same can be said when using music to heal students. Watch your kids. Try to figure out what music best matches their personality, and introduce them to positive songs from that genre. Are your kids fascinated with complex guitar work? Maybe rock and roll can work for them. Do they like inventive wordplay? Perhaps rap can help. Are they interested in movie soundtracks? Maybe orchestral music is best. Keep an open mind, but also try to steer your students towards positive songs. It should go without saying that you should educate your children about the difference between positive and negative influences in music, first.