Tuesday, October 25, 2022

What Researchers and Experts Have to Say: The Benefits of Music and Music Making for Young People

Source: The NAMM Foundation

By Sam Piha

We know through our own personal experience that music and music making is very important to youth. However, it is useful to identify research that speaks to this issue. We continue our spotlight on the power of music in afterschool. You can view our previous blogs here.

Research expands understanding about the impact of music making and music education, the importance of music at every stage of life, and relationships between music and physical and emotional wellness… There is an increasingly robust literature of recent research findings that support the developmental importance of music in adolescence.” – The NAMM Foundation

There is an abundance of research on the importance of music for adolescent development. Below we offer a few findings from research on the benefits of music and music making for youth development.  

Music creates a much-needed sense of belonging in the lives of teenagers. Teenagers are known for feeling isolated from society and friends. Music, as an art form, can serve as an outlet to express the feelings of frustration that come with feeling isolated. Listening to music can also give teens the chance to feel connected to musicians and other fans of specific musicians. 

Music is also something that can be enjoyed fairly privately and away from judgement, allowing teens to tailor their experiences to what they actually would like to listen to or play. Learning how to play music also gives teens real, impressive, marketable skills, making them feel useful and capable. Writing and making music is also a way for teens to express themselves as privately or as publicly as they wish.” – Author and music therapist, Cara Jerniga 

Bridging Societal Gaps
Our society tends to be very racialized, and experiences tend to be very different depending on race or ethnicity. Music provides the opportunity for teens of all races and ethnicities to share a common bond and learn about each other's cultures and backgrounds. For instance, much of the Rap and R&B genres are rooted in Black culture, and many of the prominent performers and names in those genres are Black. Music is also usually very personal to the experience of the artist, so through those things, music can be used as an educational tool for teenagers to learn about backgrounds differing from theirs.” – Author and music therapist, Cara Jerniga 

Executive Functions
Music may expose the child to challenges and multi-sensory experiences which enhance learning abilities and encourage cognitive development. In particular, music can also engage cognitive functions, such as planning, working memory, inhibition, and flexibility. These functions are known as executive functions.” – Researcher, Dave Miranda

Source: Heart of LA

Developmental Resource 
Music influences important aspects of adolescent development; music can represent a protective and a risk factor; and music can serve as an adjunct component in prevention and intervention. Therefore, it is proposed how music is a developmental resource in adolescence. It is argued that research on the developmental role of music can create a window to the everyday psychological, social, and cultural needs of contemporary adolescents.” – Researcher, Dave Miranda

Music provides opportunities in school for teens’ engagement as performers, composers and intelligent listeners, and these activities and qualities appear to be deeply meaningful to them. For teens who are desperately seeking relevance, musical study may give them the balanced experience they require.” – NAMM 

Stress Relief and Coping 
Music is a well known outlet for stress relief. Many people actively turn to music as a coping strategy when processing stress or sadness, because it helps shut out the noise of the world and the noise inside our heads. Furthermore, music is increasingly being used as a form of therapy, and music therapy in some capacity has existed for centuries. Teenagers, especially those going through puberty, conflicts with friends, or the college process, are under a high amount of stress. Listening to music has been seen to help teens process or release difficult sensations or emotions in a healthy way.” – Author and music therapist, Cara Jerniga

Music helps adolescents release or control emotions and helps coping with difficult situations such as peer pressure, substance abuse, pressures of study and family, the dynamics of friendships and social life, and the pain of loss or abuse.” – The NAMM Foundation

What music and music making means to teens? It helps define them as they grow up, it gives them purpose and meaning, and contributes to their success in school and in life.” – Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM

Source: DJ Mackswell

Music can also provide teenagers with a skill or hobby that is special to them, which can help further build identity and give teens something to be proud of during a period of life that is often characterized by low self-confidence. Music is an incredibly powerful tool that can be accessed and appreciated by people of all ages and backgrounds, and for that reason alone, it should be appreciated and utilized by anyone and everyone.” – Author and music therapist, Cara Jerniga

The Brain
Research shows that making music changes the brain, and that these brain changes have tangible impacts on listening skills, learning and cognition.” – Nina Kraus, Ph.D., Director, Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, Northwestern University

Music training leads to greater gains in auditory and motor function when begun in young childhood; by adolescence, the plasticity that characterizes childhood has begun to decline. Nevertheless, our results establish that music training impacts the auditory system even when it is begun in adolescence, suggesting that a modest amount of training begun later in life can affect neural function.” – Tierney, Adam T., Jennifer Krizman, and Nina Kraus

Below we cite 4 videos that explain the benefits of music and music making in the lives of young people. 

How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain- Anita Collins

On November 7, 2022, from 10am- 12pm PST, Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation will be sponsoring a webinar on this topic entitled, The Sound of Learning: The Importance of Music in Afterschool. Speakers will include researcher Patricia Shehan Campbell (UW), Les Peters (LBYMCA), Jon Bernson (BACR/SNBC), Kevin Peraza (Youth Institute Alumni) and Ren Daraio (Temescal Associates). To learn more and register for this informative webinar, click here.

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