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Music Can Grow and Heal the Brain

Patty has advanced degrees in preventive medicine and health psychology, with 35 years of work in allergy and other autoimmune treatment.

Can music benefit non-hearing individuals?

Can music benefit non-hearing individuals?

Music Is Mandatory for Life

My educational research experience agrees with the reports of major universities and the Kennedy Center for the Arts. Music is mandatory in society, and nearly all societies use music.

These studies show that speaking grammatically correct language to an infant or young child, from infancy through kindergarten, along with providing exposure to music and the arts, creates the necessary gray-matter and white-matter brain cell connections via active cell axon (signal transmitter) proliferation and growing synapses or signal "jump points" in the infant and childhood brain.

The same is true for the adult brain and even for injured child and adult brains.

A quote in stone at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

A quote in stone at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Language, music, and arts all have mathematical components. These "Non-mathematical" disciplines set the stage for mathematical and logical learning and understanding.

Music in the Hearing and Non-Hearing

Hearing and mimicking language, hearing music, and exposure to arts also create additional synapses in the brain.

These synapses are "jump points" across which data signals from axons travel between two cells or among many cells in a network (Please see images below).

The more synapses that exist together with increasing numbers of transmitter axons, the greater the ability of the brain to learn and apply information. IQ even rises in this phenomenon. Listening to music does this for most humans.

As with any trend, there are exceptions. However, even the deaf can benefit, proven by the fact that the world's number one percussionist, including on the very musical xylophone, has been profoundly deaf since age 12: Dame Evelyn Glennie (watch Touch the Sound) of the UK. She feels the frequencies of musical notes and listens with her whole body.

How to Implement These Strategies

American Sign Language and sign languages of other nations access both language and motor (movement) processing; therefore, deafness does not eliminate language as important. Language is irrevocably linked with personality and culture in an individual. Music and arts make up culture, along with other elements.

Language, music, and arts all have mathematical components. They set the stage for mathematics learning and understanding, particularly.

In the late 1960s, The Ohio State University ensured that a tape of Baroque Music was packed with every math textbook for students because that style of music increased mathematics learning when it was played while the student studied mathematics.

In middle school and high school enrichment programs at the Private Industry Council Learning and Opportunities Center in Central Ohio from 1995 through 2003, this type of music was shown to increase learning in all core subjects. Among two dozen summer learning program participants in 7-8th grade during the same years, reading level scores increased from 3rd and 4th grade to 6th and 8th grade scores through drawing pictures in the presence of music under the instruction of a certified art therapist. Music was also played.

The more they drew, the better the students were able to process spoken and written language. The better they could process language, the more they could write in a cohesive way. The more they could do this, the more they were able to relax and smile.

In Pre-K classes in our school systems, the agenda is to talk to the children, do art with them, play music and have them march and dance to it, and exercise in other ways for 3 hours a day. These children enter Grade One having already learned ABCs, numbers from 1 - 100, and other skills without drills and memorization.

The Program for Music, Mind, and Society at Vanderbilt harnesses the teaching and research resources of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Peabody College, College of Arts and Science, School of Engineering and the Blair School of Music...including Psychology, Neuroscience, Medicine, Education and Music Performance.

— Matt Batcheldor at Vanderbilt; September 3, 2015

Brain Development From Kindergarten Through Grade 12

If you sit a baby in a corner in a crib unattended or sit a young child in a chair or alone in an empty room most of the time until age 6, then they will most often turn out not very bright and too much toward sedentary living as adults.

Certain computer games, educational PC programs, and even music and action on TV can counter some of these effects, and some of these children benefit. Others of these isolated children become aggressive and unable to develop social skills.

The importance of music, then, is the rationale for our nation's school systems to not eliminate music and the arts, as some systems have done in order to save money.

Music, the arts, and exercise create the necessary connections in the brain that are required to ready the human child to be able to learn, understand, and perform in STEM subjects and reading. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin is an active advocate for this, still working in his late 80s.

We cannot skip the preparation of language, music and arts for the brain and go directly to memorization drills and hope for long-term success in academics.

The Importance of Music for All Individuals

We cannot skip the preparation of language, music and arts for the brain and go directly to memorization drills. It is not working. However, these have always been the items cut from school budgets with the excuse that they are "frivolous."

Hands-on learning through actually doing projects that combine several subjects together helps children and youth that have not been exposed to the simulation of early language, music, and arts. Most of these individuals are better able to learn this way than through memorization. How much better they could learn if they had had the stimulation of music, the arts, and language processing via listening early on.

Music and participation in music are very important elements of human brain development. Human cultural development includes music, arts, and language. It must all be preserved and encouraged.

Ms. Gabrielle Giffords speaking at a campaign rally at Arizona State University in 2016.

Ms. Gabrielle Giffords speaking at a campaign rally at Arizona State University in 2016.

Music Therapy and the Brain

Music therapy is a successful adjunct to other rehabilitation modalities for former US Representative Gabby Giffords, following her 2011 politically-motivated gunshot wound to the head. She continues to heal via speech, music, occupational and physical therapies, and her service dog Nelson. In 2013, she received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

Oliver Sacks - Music and Parkinson's Disease

Brain Music Therapy


  • Exploring the Musical Brain: How humpback whales and humans write music using the same methods and how whales rhyme. Retrieved March 17, 2009.
  • Inglish, P., MS. Linden Opportunities Center Case Records. 1995 - 2003.
  • Kennedy Center for the Arts. Critical Evidence for Music. Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement. PDF booklet, 24 pages.
  • Kennedy-Inspired National Arts and Disability Center. Mission: to promote the full inclusion of audiences and artists with disabilities into all facets of the arts community. All aspects of the arts, including careers and film festivals.
  • Stanford University Medical Center. (2007, August 5). Music Moves Brain To Pay Attention, Study Finds. Science Daily. Music is processed in many parts of the brain and can therefore make more parts of the brain usable, even after trauma. In this study, the "research team showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. Peak brain activity occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements - when seemingly nothing was happening." Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  • Research News at Vanderbilt. New Program Set to Explore Effects of Music on the Mind. September 3, 2015.
  • The Institute for Music and Brain Science: Information regarding the neurobiological foundations of music. How to fight diseases that impair musical ability. Treating children and adults with neurological and other diseases via music.
  • Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.110 Magnolia Cir, Nashville TN 37203.
    Extensive site concerning human development, including music and its impact on health, healing, and learning - including music camps for learning disabled youth.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on November 20, 2019:

We are finding that the use of noise cancelling headphone for music listening effectively blocks out many of the destructive noises that lead to problems in concentration and cognition. Some of these destructive noises can also raise blood pressure readings.

In the classic sci-fi story/film "Harrison Bergeron", headpieces that transmitted continual destructive noise interfered with the thinking of citizens and made them controllable by the government!

JayMores on March 02, 2017:

Music - It Can Save the Brain and Make It Grow...

I like that!

Patty Thank you for this wonderful hub and it's many resources...

smartmusic on July 10, 2012:

Music can be therapeutic to the mind and body and improves quality of life to those who have it in their life. Great lens, thank you.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 10, 2012:

Thanks for your views on poetry and music. I agree!

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on June 10, 2012:

We all need more music and poetry in our lives and the younger the better if it's given with honesty and heart. The science behind it all has a place in our understanding of how these things work and you've done a great job explaining that.

Thanks for the positive stance.

KC Pickens on January 13, 2012:

Fantastic article. It has always seemed like common sense that a well-balanced education proves to be a better education. I am glad to see the science behind it. If only our political representatives and policy makers were well-informed and truly had the interests of our nation's children at heart.

Brain music therapy on December 20, 2011:

Institute for Advanced Psychiatry is a leading depression center in central Texasproviding NeuroStar Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation TMS Therapy

Champ40 from Melbourne Australia on September 20, 2011:

These days unfortunately young people are distorting the effects of music with drugs, it's rather sad.

I started playing the organ at the age of 7, my mum always says it was the ONLY thing I didn't break! After that I moved on to the piano.

Being able to play a musical instrument is something I highly recommend.

I wish schools in my local area would see the connection between music and learning, my kids regularly come home from school saying this and that was boring.

jtyler on May 09, 2011:

This is an interesting article. I didn't read all of it yet; I'll finish it later. I think listening to more complex music such as jazz and classical would help even more.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 28, 2011:

Thanks for that link!

acuad12 on March 28, 2011:

This song is great! I hope you guys enjoy!

vinylvenue from Hampshire, UK on February 15, 2011:

I think it's such a shame that Art/Music is always the first thing to be cut from school budgets. They should read your article!!

Triena on January 07, 2011:

Interesting and informative article.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 27, 2010:

The interaction greatly affects language input and output processing, more so than music. Quite a difference you saw!

Marie Landry from Ontario, Canada on December 27, 2010:

Excellent hub! I did a lot of research when I was in college about the affect of music on baby's brains and found it fascinating. Then I discovered the affects of music and language first-hand through my nephews: my first nephew was born when his parents were young and not exactly the most responsible people. He had speech and learning delays that were overcome once he joined a child care program and interacted with other children and adults. Then when my baby nephew was born, his parents, being older and more responsible, talked to him, played with him, and at the age of 10 months, he's an absolute genius.

stratocarter on December 16, 2010:

music=mathematics !!!


Wayne Brown from Texas on July 04, 2010:

Thank you for an interesting and well-developed read. I love music and the environment it creates and can change for that matter. I think schools should have music playing softly in the background during the entire classroom experience. It would not be a distraction, quite the contrary, I think, chosen correctly, it could enhance the learning environment as you have pointed out here Thanks for sharing this info! WB

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 01, 2010:

Daily Decibel - If you have a nearby University with a music college, that is your best chance for free materials. The research should be archived. Best success to you!

The Daily Decibel on July 01, 2010:

Patty, is it possible for us to obtain full texts without any budget, with the understanding that we are an entity primarily engaged in research? We approached Taylor & Francis Corporation, for example, but they only offer a 30-day trial. We just don't have the budget to spend on journals.

Thanks for your nice comments on our blog.

Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on June 29, 2010:

Lovely Hub. I don't think I could live without music.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 29, 2010:

Many additional controlled studies exist inorder to form the body of literature, dating to the mid-1980s that I am aware... Search MEDLINE, ERIC, and neurological databases and journal archives; as well as Harvard and Kennedy Center.

I am enjoying your blog and also advocate for more quiet and quieter music more often.


The Daily Decibel on June 29, 2010:

Thank you Patty for the Rutgers link - that is useful info. We're really fascinated by this neuromusicology, if that's the proper term. One important facet, we think, of the Rutgers study, is that it contained a control group, enhancing its validity. "The faculty members studied two groups of classes at Essex County College. In the first group, the instructor played baroque-style music in the background during the first month of the semester. The second group, taught by the same instructors, was not exposed to music during class time." Thank you very much! And thank you once again for your posts!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 29, 2010:

Daily Decibel - Thanks for mentioning this work on your blog. Of the extensive body of materials that you and other are reading and reporting, notice this short 2006 piece from Rutgers University

Harvard and the Kennedy Center for the Arts Foundation have collected much more.

Evidence also exists that rap interferes with human heartbeat, but then, so does syncopated beat, in these studies.

The Daily Decibel on June 29, 2010:

Dear Patty,

Thank you for your article. While we recognize that music can be wonderfully therapeutic, we are interested in a critical analysis of which music is recommended and why one type rather than another. You cite Baroque, but what about "rock" or "rap". For instance, why Bach -- and not the Beastie Boys. Or, why Vivaldi -- instead of Van Halen. We believe such a distinction is important in studies of the therapeutic benefits of music.

sean on March 11, 2009:

Thank you for your interesting post.i've already bookmarked it .

Haydee Anderson from Hermosa Beach on December 02, 2008:

love your hub, thanks for sharing those important information.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 18, 2008:

Thanks for the tip jboland; I'll certainly check it out.

jboland from Chico, CA on March 18, 2008:

Patti, great hub. You are so right about the power of music develop brain power. I need to listen to a lot more music lol. Have you ever seen the opensource gnaural software? Works in much the same way, I use it a lot while I'm working at the computer you can find it at -- gnaural dot sourceforge dot net -- It's pretty cool. Thanks for the great hub.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 10, 2008:

I have not read the latest summary of all studies, but the studies I have read are kind of split - many think it does some good, others do not. It does seem, though that after 23 weeks after conception, generally, the brain is developed enough in the baby to possibly benefit from music in that the brain cells can begin to make the conenctions discussed above. I'll have to read the latest summaries. I don't think music can hurt, though.

Solorya from Oklahoma on March 07, 2008:

Great hub, I couldn't agree more. Fascinating that even people who are deaf can benefit. I wonder if they've done studies on parents who have played music to their children who were still in the womb--we have a picture of my mom with headphones on her belly!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 06, 2008:

Thank you Angela! I am glad you stopped by. Music is fasincating by itself and so is briain research, but together the combination it is inspiring.

Angela Harris from Around the USA on March 06, 2008:

I've read about listening to Baroque music enhancing learning ability. It's a fascinating subject, as is this Hub.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 06, 2008:

Thanks Bonnie!

Our inner city schools teach math and science to younger elementary school students with poetry and music, and their standardized test scores are rising without dull, opressive memorization! It works! Yippeeeee! I am SO glad you shared your experience here with us.

Bonnie Ramsey from United States on March 06, 2008:

Awsome hub! I gre up in a very musical family (and still, today). When I was in school, I had a problem with memorizing things. My 2 greatest loves have always been writing poetry and music. So I would take what I was trying to learn and make either a song or poem out of it to help me remember it. It also makes learning more fun and interesting. I never did, however, make my Mama understand that I COULD concentrate on my homework with music going lol. Wish I would have had this hub then! Great job!


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 06, 2008:

Mr. Marlade - a delightful comment from you! My father played violin, but never after high school. An ancestor played accordion as well. Myself, brass wind instruments (comment open for joking, I'm afraid).

Peter - thank you for your nice comment!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 06, 2008:

Sharon, if you have links to associated websites, I would be glad for you to post them here!

Garry - yes, art and music work hand in hand, veru much related.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 06, 2008:

Abhinaya - - I have seen senior citizems in their 70s learn piano, so I would let your child do keyboards. Keyborads exercise both sides of the brain very well!

Music stores that sell musical instruments often have teachers on staff that would let him try several instruements, just to see what he would like best, You would not even have to buy anything, if they are like the instructors in our city's shops.

Peter M. Lopez from Sweetwater, TX on March 06, 2008:

This is truly a fascinating topic. I was going to write a hub on it. I'm glad somebody did, and I'm glad it was you, Patty.

Garry Nelson from Hawaii on March 06, 2008:

Great hub. When I was a boy I used to draw all the time. I was told by an old man once who had seen my drawings to draw several pictures every day for as much of my life as possible as it would increase my IQ.

I hope that is sort of relative, the hub just brought it to mind.

Abhinaya on March 05, 2008:

I know nothing about music Patty but my son wants to learn keyboard.I just read music increases memory so I thought I'll put him in music class.Do you think it can be learnt easily at any age?I would like you to answer this because I want to know what would be the best instrument for him to learn.He is almost 10.

MrMarmalade from Sydney on March 05, 2008:

You would think the seven people in our family would be great musicians.

Val's Uncle was a prodigy in the land of Violins. I am tone deaf and Val knows and understands.

Five children all love musice none of them anygood.

Val and I both love Classical music.

A friend of ours has had three major Operations in three weeks. Three weeks later she is leading an orchestra.

Great Hub

Sharon Rosen Lopez on March 05, 2008:

Great post Patty! As a speech/language pathologist, I've seen some phenomenal results of therapeutic listening systems with children who have various behavioral, fine/gross motor and /or speech/language needs. There's an occupational therapist, Sheila Frick, who travels nationally (internatonally?) training people in use of her therapeutic listening cds. Intriguing stuff for sure! I myself trained with Sheila sevreral years ago to learn about her system.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 05, 2008:

Zsuzsy - I'm glad you came by to read this, Evelyn Glennie is supernatureal almost, but I've read where the deaf brain can rewire itself to understand music.

Hovalis - Thanks for coming to read my Hub -- Music does really work and it's fun! I always used music to help memorize poetry in high school :) If I srudied it right before I went to bed, by music in the background, I would awake and know the whole poem in the morning!

Hovalis on March 05, 2008:

Great hub! I've actually read in more than one place that listening to classical music before trying to memorise something can increase your chances of retention. I hadn't realised why it worked until reading this hub.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on March 05, 2008:

Patty! Life would really be awfull without music. I often thought what a shame that the deaf can not hear any of this beauty. Having read your hub I feel better...

great HUB regards Zsuzsy

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 05, 2008:

Yes, indeed. Evelyn Glennie often performs barefoot so she can feel the vibrations more clearly form the stage she stand upon. She's made a Film entitled Touch the Sound.

Jana Murray on March 05, 2008:

I find it fascinating that even deaf people can benefit from music, fantastic.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 05, 2008:

You're right, cgull8m. I need to listen to more music, come to think of it.

cgull8m from North Carolina on March 05, 2008:

Great Hub, it will help the elderly and also to us to exercise our minds.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 05, 2008:

Lucky You!

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on March 05, 2008:

Lots of music instruction growing up. :-)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 05, 2008:

O wow, you commented fast! Your brain is very smart!

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on March 05, 2008:

Super Hub! I can't agree with you more!