Healthful Mondays: Music and math

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Over the weekend the husband decided he is a musical genius and purchased a guitar and amp to play around with. He also picked up a small set of bongos for the babe to pound on. I wasn’t really sure what she was going to do with them – or if she would really understand that they were noise making things – but was totally surprised when she started tapping away on those bongos. AND, she was kind of good, too.

On Friday we visited my good friend and her son, along with making some yummy whole-wheat blueberry muffins. My friend’s husband is a a REAL musician and has an organ at their place. This big-piece-of-music-making thing quickly became the main focus of our time together on Friday. All my daughter wanted to do was play that organ.

She totally threw a fit when it was time to go.

I’ve known she likes music for a while. She totally loves to dance and has really gotten into singing – or pretend singing – songs from preschool (you know, because she’s not talking yet), and has just started this tap-tap-tapping thing. Kids have an internal motivation from birth to move and experiment with their bodies. Dancing and bouncing to tunes are just simple ways they have to express themselves and experiment with gross-motor movement. Eventually that dancing and bouncing turns to clapping and dancing and bouncing. That clapping is a chid’s exploration of controlled noise making – or music!

I think it’s pretty cool because music is not just a wonderful way to express yourself, it also aides in learning!

YES – learning music helps young minds understand and math concepts such as patterns. Music also encourages the right and left brain to work together in harmony to accomplish something – playing an instrument! It doesn’t matter how good you are, playing any sort of instrument, or even singing, boosts the brain’s math capabilities! And, it’s not just playing an instrument that encourages a happy math-ready brain, but listening to music has brain-boosting benefits, too.

No matter how young or old you are, sitting down to that piano, even if it’s been 20-years since you’ve played, is a great way to fine-tune the brain’s math abilities. Your brain is always ready to learn, and playing and listening to music is a fantastic and fun way to keep the brain motivated. So when the hubs was all the sudden super excited about turning his horrid guitar strumming into something more serious, I was completely behind it (especially because with an electric guitar, he can plug EARPHONES into the amp)! The acoustic has been placed in a comfy spot where our daughter can practice her strumming, right next to her wee set of bongos.

Yeah, sometimes I’m not in the mood to listen while the babe is slamming away on the bongos (or to the husband attempting his latest guitar masterpiece), but I remind myself that while they are making all that noise, they are both encouraging their math skills!

How can you NOT like Neil Diamond?

The other night while watching the opening day of baseball season, I uttered words that had never passed my lips. Words, I will admit, I never ever thought I would say.

How can you NOT like Neil Diamond?

I was in the kitchen when it happened. While cooking our dinner, the song just wafted into the kitchen. It tickled my ears and tempted my mouth. Before I knew what I was doing, the words to “Sweet Caroline,” had been sung. The whole song. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I did it. I had sung along with Neil Diamond as he belted out “Sweet Caroline.”

In high school, I was too busy singing along with the Violent Femmes, The Cure, and Depeche Mode to get caught up with Neil Diamond. Anyway, he was WAY before my time – really! In college, underground radio was the thing with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Radiohead ruling my world. Neil Diamond didn’t have a chance.

So, as a semi-adult, my music tastes have adjusted, and with a baby along for the ride, I have had to cut back on some of my listening choices (and only blare them while alone in the car). But, I never thought I’d see the day when I would admit, Neil Diamond doesn’t suck.

It’s not like throngs of admiring fans are filled with the giddy desire to loudly sing along with Massive Attack during a sell-out concert.

You’ve got to hand it to Neil Diamond.