Updated: Jul 7
Music is Meant to Be Shared - The Family is a Great Place to Begin
In a teacher meeting years ago, we were sharing successes. One experienced teacher said, “I have my students play for their parents and other family.” As I pondered this idea, the power of it slowly became apparent. She added, “this not only builds confidence with a friendly audience, but the parents can see if there is progress being made…and it sends the message to the young student that the parents care about their learning.” To me this is genius. As well, I have seen how family and friends showing enthusiasm to hear music learned from the student, builds the student with so much more loving power than we can truly appreciate. The principle here is a wonderful one… Music is meant to be shared - sharing it makes it complete and family is the best place to start.
Making music within your family or social group is a time-tested way of connecting and many have passed this tradition down for generations. In an article from the University of California, Berkeley, the author cites important studies about the benefits of making music in the family.
Think of the tradition of the family gathered around the piano and singing, or some other “music night” tradition. “In a study with humans, singing for 30 minutes was shown to significantly raise oxytocin levels in both amateur and professional singers, regardless of how happy or unhappy the experience made them. Perhaps this explains why new mothers often sing lullabies to their newborn babies: it may help encourage bonding through oxytocin release.”
As well, music can bring a family more cooperation, according to the article, “performing music involves coordinating of our efforts, too…at least if we want to produce a pleasing sound. According to researchers, when we try to synch with others musically—keeping the beat or harmonizing, for example—we tend to feel positive social feelings towards those with whom we’re synchronizing.”
In another study, researchers found that listening to music, performed live or otherwise contributes to connected feelings. They state, “Based on cross-sectional data from 760 young people in Kenya, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Germany, our study revealed that across cultures music listening in families and in peer groups contributes to family and peer cohesion, respectively. Furthermore, the direct contribution of music in peer groups on well-being appears across cultural contexts, whereas musical family rituals affect emotional well-being in more traditional/collectivistic contexts.”
"There’s little question that humans are wired for music. Researchers recently discovered that we have a dedicated part of our brain for processing music, supporting the theory that it has a special, important function in our lives."
"Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection."
In an age of electronics and other distractions, families of all sorts and varieties need more time together...and music, for thousands of years, has been the means by which great family bonding has occurred. If you do not take time to make music in your family and or do not take time to listen to music students in your family, or even making music listening in general part of your home life…start now. You may be surprised by the bonds that can be created.
Music Fosters Cooperation Outside the Home as Well
From attending local music concerts to gathering around the campfire with a guitar and singing with friends - music is also a part of our social network beyond only immediate family. The Berkeley article shares that “in a 2013 review of the research on music, Stefan Koelsch, music psychologist at the Freie University Berlin, described several mechanisms through which music impacts our ability to connect with one another—by impacting brain circuits involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation—perhaps explaining how it has survived in every culture of the world."
"Although music can certainly be played and listened to alone, in the shower or on your iPod, it is also a powerful social magnet. After all, a music concert is one of the few times when we will gather together with thousands of other people to engage in a shared activity. There is something about listening to music, or playing it with other people, that brings its own social buzz, making you feel connected to those around you.”
The benefits of social music making have been known for years in our education system. The best school programs always have a strong music program. The benefits of music keep on coming - especially the social benefits. As well from the 2014 research article, we read how empathy towards others can be increased by music.
“In a more recent study, a group of primary-school-aged children were exposed to musical games with other children for one hour a week over the course of an academic year, while two control groups of same-aged children received either no games or games with the same purpose, but involving drama or storytelling instead of music. All of the children were given various empathy measures at the beginning and end of the year; but only the music group significantly increased their empathy scores, suggesting that music may have played a pivotal role in their empathy development.”
At the South Florida Conservatory, we firmly believe in the principle that music fosters great relationships. We value those relationships with our students, the connections we make are very important and create strong bonds. We also know that music helps build stronger families and friendships. Music is meant to be shared…the success, the struggles, the overcoming of challenges, all the beautiful effort and beautiful outcomes of that effort.
One important part of the Life Skills we engrain in our program is community. Studies confirm that which we know in our heart, music brings people together - it fosters community in many ways. From playing your latest piece for parents, at a retirement home or attending a concert with friends, music helps us grow closer. We hope that your study of music will help you share your successes with your family and friends and continue to help us build a strong community.