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Music and health

Music and Wellbeing

Research by the Australian Music Therapy Association provides some fascinating insight into the impact of music on the human body, as it looks at the links between music-making and physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, from womb to tomb.

Did you know?

  • A baby's brain is wired for music while in the womb. The musicality of the mother's voice creates an immediate and powerful bond and is pivotal to the infant's survival.
  • Learning a musical instrument impacts positively across most aspects of a child's development
  • It can also be particularly helpful in remedial learning for dyslexic children and, in the case of wind instruments, in breath control for children with asthma.
  • Music-making - and listening choices! - are powerful forms of positive expression for adolescents.
  • Music-making can help in alleviating depression and reducing anxiety and can help to encourage a positive attitude.
  • People in even the most advanced stage of dementia can benefit from music, as familiar songs retain a place in our memory right to the end of life.

Read music therapy case studies from the pages of arts+medicine and arts+health magazines:

  1. Helen Shoemark's work researches the effect of the human voice on premature babies 
  2. Annette Baron draws late-stage dementia patients out of isolation with music from their past 
  3. Katrina McFerran reaches teens with eating disorders through lyrical explorations 
  4. Jeanette Tamplin uses music therapy to help brain-injured patients reclaim their powers of speech 
  5. Anja Tait's Darwin health service project unites black& white, staff and clients in an unforgettable choir 
  6. Anne Horne-Thompson is helping to relieve acute anxiety in the terminally ill

Visit AMTA for more info

Early childhood

Tips for musical parenting for the Under 5s

Dr Peter de Vries is an early childhood music education expert and former MCA Councillor. Here are his tips for engaging your young child in music and making music part of your family life together.

  • Sing sing sing! From birth onwards (or even before) sing to your child. Look your child in the eye and move with them as you sing.
  • Get into musical "play" with your child. Respond to what your child initiates musically. This could be musical babbling from a newborn, part of a song for a toddler, or a whole song from an older child. Praise your child's music-making, smile and join in. If a young child picks up a wooden spoon and starts striking it on the table, don't tell them to stop, encourage them! Join in! Sing with them as they bang! This is music.
  • Encourage your child to move to music, either as you sing, or to recorded music (warning: don't have background music on all the time - young children will end up blocking this out). Again, join in and encourage them to make up their own movement sequences.
  • Expose children to musical instruments. Even infants can grab a rattle or bells and make sounds from them. Listen to what older children do when they play instruments - that way they interweave their instrument play with singing, speaking and dramatic play.