Music at Heart - Suzuki Recorder in York

Posted in Thought-provoking category on 14th June 2013

Music makes Human Life feel Worthwhile

Check out this excellent series of thought-provoking discussion about the power of music in our lives: Music is not optional; it is bundled in with the hardware of being human.

The series supports much of what is at the heart of the Suzuki philosophy, beginning with the importance of an early start: Music comes before speech. Brain scans tell us that the neural regions involved in music appear to be more ancient than the neural circuits involved in language. Music is deep within the brain, deeper than language and logic.

We learn how, from the moment of birth, very young babies are much more responsive to the musicality of their mother speech than the words, and that this early communicative musicality then diverges into two pathways, language and music. For some children, it can be the music path, which is a slightly easier path for the brain to work on, that develops when the language one just can’t get off the starting blocks.

In addressing the question, 'Is there a genetic basis to musicality?' the Suzuki belief that every child can learn, not just a favoured few, is strongly endorsed: In the early years, the brain is so plastic, if you are prepared to devote a lot of your waking thinking time to something, you’ll get very good at it.... the brain will grow whatever attracts it, it will re-wire itself.

The Suzuki emphasis on the importance of developing ability through repetition is also strongly underlined: The need for a high level of practice is something we don’t always keep in mind when considering musical talent... Musicians are an excellent example of how the brain can change according to its environment... It’s difficult to think of another activity where there’s so much opportunity to really hone the brain’s circuitry.

A summary of the series of four programmes, available online for at least a year:

  • The Origins of Music: are we descended from singing cavemen?
  • The Physics of Music: how sounds work together, and the influence of pattern
  • Music and the Mind: what happens in our heads when we listen to music?
  • Music Performance: what's happening when we make music, and does it change our brains?

You can listen to the programmes here