“Music And The Brain”–Chapter 6 of “The Well Balanced Child”

Music is processed at ALL levels of the brain – from heart rate, breathing and arousal to feelings and emotions to visual images and associations- it is all there.

Infants respond to music and imitate rhythm before they even develop speech.  “Nursery rhymes, songs and movement to music can all be used in the first five years to develop other skills in preparation for literacy.  Musical training also helps to develop left-hemispheric abilities such as sound discrimination, timing, numeric skills, and expressive language.  These abilities are essential for the understanding of phonics, and for developing short-term memory in the absence of visual cues.”  Music involves sequencing, and successful tonal memory actually bears a close relationship to reading age.

This could be promising for children with dyslexia.  Several interesting studies were mentioned on pages 79 to 80 of this chapter, including one Danish study that involved 1000 children who used a specific series of frequency-specific music tapes to improve the hearing discrimination and speed of processing.  At the end of one year, there was a 70 percent reduction in the signs of dyslexia in the group. 

From page 81:  “Singing is often done from memory and practised by repetition.  Short-term memory is enhanced as a result of repetition.  A chorister may spend 20 hours a week singing.  While he is singing, he is also listening, vocalizing, scanning, and memorizing reading material, much of which is far in advance of his actual reading level.  He may also sing in other languages such as Latin and modern languages he has not come across at school.”

Singing and chanting also have the advantage of slowing down the sounds of speech, which is helpful to dyslexic children who are slower at decoding speech and often miss some of the sounds.  Also, with singing or chanting as a group, many important things happen, including a synchronicity of such central nervous system activity as heartbeat, breath rate.  But the converse is also true:   the individual is often strengthened with singing.  “Paul Madule from the Listening Centre in Toronto says that “work on the voice can be a route to  self-sufficiency.  The sense of self (the answer to the question, who am I?) is strengthened by the use of the voice.”

This chapter also goes on to discuss the impact of music on motor planning and development, music and number.  The Fathers of the Church perceived the universe as essentially musical with music being number in time, language being regulated by number as song, and number structuring space as geometry.    There are also many effects of music on arousal,  attention, and creativity.

This chapter was one of my favorites so far.  What have you all thought about this book?

Many blessings,


5 thoughts on ““Music And The Brain”–Chapter 6 of “The Well Balanced Child”

  1. Enjoying your review of this book, Carrie. I just want to share this video of an amazing kids choir. I love this song and just love watching them sing it! I was mesmerized by it just before I read your post 🙂 They are so uninhibited and so present to what they’re doing, as if they were each alone… amazing to me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_6GPPlSFZ0

  2. Very interesting. So far, the author is taking a large and complex topic and simplifying it down. I love her personal stories, especially about her sons. I am interested in learning more about the exercises for each reflex later in the book.

    Good pick, Carrie!!

  3. Hi Carrie,
    Thank you for your persistence in keeping on with this book. I find it has so much more than I can begin to digest that I get overwhelmed with all the little tangents I want to go in my efforts to grasp more. Somehow it feels clunky to me. So I’m glad its you reading and highlighting the important bits for us. Thanks.

    Warm regards,

    • Lisa,
      I agree with you, this book is hard to follow at times I think. Not a great flow to it all, and somehow the dry research without a few more real-life examples doesn’t help to enliven it all! But, I am persisting in it because the information is really important I think…You know what a 12 senses geek I am :), it really would be my dream to do training for remedial support I think..

      Many blessings,

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