In Difficult Times, Music is the Bridge to Human Connections

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Roxana Han, 4th and 5th Grade General Music Teacher and Choir Director
In a year where we have had to sacrifice the typical exhilarating experiences of watching our talented students perform in the Seligman Family Performing Arts Center (PAC), the importance of the connections through music in creating the product has not diminished. Its significance has become even greater. The process of studying, practicing, and collaborating through music that leads up to these performances forges a human connection. In a time where human interactions are lacking, these moments have helped fill a void. Thankfully, music has remained an essential pillar for students at Detroit Country Day School.
 
Music affects the intellectual, physical, emotional, and cognitive development of babies. From birth, babies respond to claps, coos, and inflections in the human voice. Lullabies are calming and naturally expose young children to rhythm, meter, melody, and cadence. These melodic tunes also become associated with feelings of safety and foster a connection to loved ones.
 
Music’s deep-rooted linkage to human development makes its incorporation into other academic disciplines imperative to developing stronger cognitive, physical, social, and emotional connections. Music integrates activity in both hemispheres of the brain, including emotional and calming effects when faced with stress and anxiety (Music, Rhythm, and the Brain, BrainWorld, January 29, 2021).
 
The myriad of music in various languages, styles, cultures, rhythms, and personalities can ground a child’s learning while augmenting interest and excitement. Music sounds, clips, chants, and songs can set a tone for a class or activity. Elementary teachers often use these to create a mood to sustain an activity such as cleaning up or as a catalyst for learning a significant and possibly tricky concept.
 
Specifically, music can facilitate in the following areas:
  • Literacy - Students track, decode, and can learn patterns of language structure by studying music lyrics and music scores.
  • Math - Musical notes can teach fractions in relation to rhythm, note values, and time signatures. Songs and chants can also help teach complex math concepts.
  • Science - The study of sound - sound waves, frequency, pitch, vibrations – exemplifies critical scientific concepts.
  • Social Studies – Music can help connect a child with other cultures, countries and with history.
 
Music can also help children understand current events from a historical perspective. My six-year-old daughter didn’t understand the reason for all the protests over the last year. To help her understand things from a historical perspective, I started introducing her to the history of Blacks in America through Civil Rights songs like “Oh Freedom!” and protest songs from the 60s, such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.” Other pieces I introduced her to were “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” illustrating the story of the Underground Railroad and important Black people in history like Harriet Tubman through the lyrics of “Wade in the Water.” The music built an intellectual understanding and a sense of emotions and deeper meaning through the lyrics.
 
Anyone can help children integrate music into their lives. It can be as simple as playing classical music to create a stimulating study environment while allowing for focus and a pace to complete the assignments. Also, helping a child develop playlists in different moods/tempos aligned with the scenario’s goals can help them achieve various tasks. For example, upbeat music for energetic exercise or calming sounds for meditation or quiet time.
 
In a time of challenges, music helps us to carry on, persevere, and sustain a feeling of hope. Take this opportunity to use the power of music to help in your daily life and maintain your human connections.
 
Detroit Country Day School is a private, independent, co-educational, non-denominational, preschool through grade 12 college preparatory school in Michigan focused on a well-rounded liberal arts education. Emphasis on academics, arts, athletics, and character development is prevalent across the curriculum. The school admits students of any race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students in the school. To learn more visit www.dcds.edu.
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