Written by: Liza Marie S. Nery, Division Music Coordinator/Teacher I
November 2019. The world had no idea on what was about to happen. Who would have thought that a pathogen invisible to the naked eye can grind the whole world to a halt? Even now, we feel the effects of the pandemic bearing down on all of us with no respite. How then do we cope?
As the pandemic went in full swing across the world, governments in different countries began to employ drastic measures in order to keep the contagion at bay. Curfews were imposed across countries with some even resorting to martial law. Citizens across the world were confined in their houses. An incredible thing, however, happened. In Italy, one of the countries most ravaged by the pandemic, people banded together and sang songs from their balconies. Various choral groups began recording themselves singing their individual parts, put them together and uploaded these video performances to social media as a part of the virtual choir trend. These talented individuals, although far apart, found a way to come together and bring music to a wider audience. There heartwarming moments are a testament to the power of music in bringing people together even during the darkest of times.
The Oxford dictionary defines music as “sounds that are arranged in a way that is pleasant or exciting to listen to”. How then can seemingly randomly arranged sounds not only be exciting or pleasing to listen to, but also have the power to evoke powerful emotions in people? Music has the power to make people feel bliss, anger, sadness, and grief. A lullaby sung by a mother to her child can calm even the most chaotic of thoughts and put the child to sleep. Even a simple song sung by a lover via phone call can convey love to the person at the other end of the line, no matter how far that person is.
Music’s role in enriching the process of learning can never be underestimated. In 1993, Frances Rauscher and her colleagues conducted a study where participants were made to listen to Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos (K.448). They found out that participants gained a temporary enhancement of spatial reasoning as measured in a sub task in the Stanford – Binet IQ test. The effects, although temporary, gave way to what we now know as the Mozart Effect. Since then, many other studies were conducted that showed that there is little evidence that listening to Mozart does not have any particular effect on spatial reasoning, nor does it have any effect on intelligence in general. All of this, however, does not discount the fact that music, for all intents and purposes, can help with concentration and focus.
One of the biggest challenges during this pandemic on the part of learners is being able to find the motivation to focus on the study material, memorize crucial pieces of information, and perform their tasks at a satisfactory level. It is equally challenging for educators to motivate themselves in making quality teaching materials for the learners. In these instances, incorporating music to our daily routines can help.
Several studies across the years have shown that music helps in concentration. A study from 2019 also suggests that music has the ability to activate the same reward centers in the brain as the same other things that a person enjoys. Music has also been shown to help the brain absorb and interpret new information more easily. All this shows that the right kind of music can help learners and educators alike to achieve a more efficient learning and teaching experience.
It is therefore safe to say in conclusion that music, in all its power to evoke all sorts of emotion in people and its ability to bring together people across cultures, can also be employed to inspire motivation in people. I now make a call to my fellow educators: Let us all harness this incredible power of music in weathering this pandemic to ensure a brighter future for all our learners!