we are aware of it or not, music is in everything.
From the moment we’re conceived until the time we leave this world, the average person is exposed daily to a variety of musical sounds. Step outside and listen to the birds. Turn on your radio or TV. Music is used as background noise, to promote products, in entertainment, and for educational purposes. Music is used at parties, weddings, funerals, celebrations of all types, church gatherings, in most stores—the list goes on and on.
There is evidence that early man was well aware of music and produced musical instruments like bone flutes, drums, etc. In fact, these musical instruments are some of the oldest known archaeological finds. In Bible stories we find that music was frequently used as a method of expressing joy and praise. Isra
elite armies would go to battle, lifting their voices in praise to God for the victory He promised. We are told there is music in heaven, “such music and song as, save in the visions of God, no mortal ear has heard or mind conceived” (Education, page 307).
Through the ages, every culture has developed its own unique style of music, from the very primitive people groups to the sophisticated, educated centers of the world. It would appear that music is an important part of the total human life experience. In 1991, Mario Lanza may have expressed the feelings of many when he wrote the music and words to “Without a Song.” This is how the first verse goes:
Without a song,
the day would never end.
Without a song,
the road would never bend.
Rae Lee Cooper
Rae Lee Cooper is a registered nurse. She and her husband, Lowell, have two adult married children and three adorable grandchildren. She spent most of her childhood in the Far East and then worked as a missionary with her husband in India for 16 years. She enjoys music, creative arts, cooking, and reading.
When things go wrong, a man ain’t got a friend Without a song.
Is music merely a pleasing expression, an entertainment luxury? Or was it the divine plan that there can be health, psychological, and even educational benefits too?
Let’s look at some interesting facts.
Music Can Help Heal
Music has been proven to aid in digestion, sleep, blood pressure, breathing, and the release of endorphins that help the body to heal. Medical science is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of Music Therapy. Music interventions by qualified professionals can promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication, relieve depression, improve the immune response,
and even have beneficial effect on reasoning ability.
Music Can Promote Growth
Exposing an unborn child to music will help the fetus as it develops. Fetuses in the womb begin responding to music at 17-19 weeks gestation becoming agitated at excitable, rhythmic styles, and calm with classical, gentler compositions. After birth, music still helps the growing child as it learns and forms connections in the brain. Music has the “power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action...” (Education, page 167).
Even very young children can find help in dealing with life’s experiences in the simple, uplifting songs of Sabbath School, school, and home. On one occasion some years ago, while beginning my teaching duties, a young student approached my desk. His request was direct: “My parrot died last night. Could we sing ‘God Sees the Little Sparrow Fall’ for worship this morning?” This young child, from a non-Christian home, was already finding comfort and healing in the sweet words of this little song.
Music Can Soothe and Calm
How many of us have sung a lullaby to calm a restless baby? Even animals are not immune to the power of music, as evidenced by the harp work of Alianna Boone, Sue Raimond, and Diane Schneider, who have proven that gentle harp music can soothe agitated animals like cats, cows, dogs, and even gorillas. Not all animals will react to music like this, as not all babies are soothed by lullabies.
On the other hand, loud music or music with a strong beat can have the opposite effect on the human body, encouraging excitement, agitation, raising blood pressure and heart rate. William Congreve once stated that “music has the charms to soothe the savage beast.” Music can soothe human stress by decreasing the amount of the hormone cortisone released in the body.
Music Can Help Memory and Development
Music has been found to be a helpful aid in storing and recalling information. Memorizing musical passages and words has a cognitive side effect overlapping to related skills. According to studies, children who had music training had significantly better verbal memory than those with no training. Music facilitates brain development, enhances spatial reasoning and motor skill development, and contributes to the emotional, social, and cognitive growth of children. But not only to children. Results of studies show significant increase in human growth hormones following keyboard lessons and music-related activities among a group of senior citizens. Further findings showed improved ability to cope with stress and overall improved emotional and physical health.
Music Can Comfort
Music can help relieve grief. It has an amazing power to influence man’s emotions and behavior. Through the use of music there can be found encouragement for the struggles and burdens of life. Jesus was our example: “With a song, Jesus in His earthly life met temptation. Often when sharp, stinging words were spoken, often when the atmosphere about Him was heavy with gloom, with dissatisfaction, distrust, or oppressive fear, was heard His song of faith and holy cheer” (Education, page 166).
Music is a gift from heaven designed to help us along life’s journey. It affects us on emotional, physical, and spiritual levels—sometimes all at once. It can help work and chores go by faster. It can bring people together. It can define one’s self. It can be a means of creativity. It can link our past with our future. It can help us learn. It can help us recognize beauty. It can be uplifting. It’s an avenue of praise and thanksgiving. It encourages love, compassion, gentleness, and goodness—a more abundant life.
Sources: “Why We Need Music,”
6/1/2009; “The Music Instinct: Science and Song,” Elena Gillespie, www. livescience.com/animals/080103 harptherapy.html; “What is Music Therapy,” Arturo Carrejo, www.wpace. com/scienceastromony/blackhole_
note_30909.html; 2009 American
Psychological Association, www.apa.org/ journals/releases/neu173439.pdf; “Why Children Need Music at a Very Young Age,” Pam Mathews, www.mathewsmusic. com/kinder/whymusic.html; “Music and Children,” The National Association for Music Education, [email protected].