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WHY DO WE NEED TO LEARN MUSIC?

- Written by : Onkita Adhikary

Floating in the unknown with a rhythmic constant sound for company is how every human first experiences the world while in the mother’s womb. Medically speaking, a foetus first hears sounds at the age of 18 weeks in the womb and the sounds that it hears are sounds that we do not even notice as adults. Their soundscapes are the air whooshing inside the mother’s lungs 16-18 times per minute, the beating of the mother’s heart 60-80 times a minute and the sound of blood gushing into the umbilical cord. Sonics indeed are how we are programmed to decipher the world and that when stretched becomes music!

We start recognizing and reacting to voices at around 3 months of age and crying is our first attempt at communication. Language is the first imitation that we learn to do and the most soothing sound is the lullaby thus making music one of the most innate and intrinsic elements that we are born with. The pattern is seen in almost all animals and even in plants. This is our rich acoustic world, a world full of sounds waiting to be explored.

But when does this sound become music? The answer to that lies in mathematics. Surprised? Don't be! The distinction between sound and music lies in its mathematical form. Music is nothing but ordered sound and that is what people across cultures, time zones, races and topographies have endeavoured to do for centuries after centuries. It is this quest to set sounds into a structure and make it music that drives musicians, music lovers, critics and connoisseurs in their seemingly unquenched pursuit of musical excellence.

But when does a person start to actually understand music? Though it's not an exact magical figure, children in the ages of 1-2 years demonstrate rudimentary response to music with grooving to music, babbling lyrics or even trying to change their pitch while attempting to sing along. Gradually  they grow they show abilities to distinguish sounds, recognize voices, dance and sway in rhythmic motion and at this time if formal music training is introduced, it will harness their fresh understanding of music and groom them to produce musical magic.

So, how does music affect brain development and does it aid in academics is what many parents might have in mind. Studies have shown how music lights up the brain on MRIs when it is exposed to music as it has to compute hundreds of simultaneous equations to make sense of the vibrations that we call music. When a new composition is taught, it is exceedingly difficult as its newness forces the brain to struggle to decipher the sound and assimilate it. It is this struggle that ignites the brain and boosts its ability to increase focus, improve concentration, enhance memory and problem-solving abilities and helps in mood alleviation. Music is what keeps the brain ticking, young, agile and productive. In a nutshell, music is the brain’s most well equipped gymnasium and if parents truly wish their children to excel in academics, music is something that certainly will inculcate the foundations needed to do so. When Albert Einstein was asked about his path breaking work in his Theory of Relativity, he said, “The theory occurred to me by intuition and music was the driving force behind the intuition. My parents had me study violin from the time when I was six and this discovery was a result of musical perception.” Music, simply put, is life because the day your heart stops producing the “taal” or the beat, you cease to exist and if that is so the case, then why not live musically?

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