The March 3 edition of Arts Watch pointed me to the recent discovery by the LA Times that making music has more profound effects than listening to it. Given that we know that babies aren’t made by watching blue movies, it is perhaps surprising that this revelation is deemed newsworthy.
I guess the not inconsiderable investment in making us believe that ‘the arts’ is all about the epiphanies we can experience through witnessing the performance of the Artist is paying off. Our own paltry efforts are implicitly trivialised in comparison to the excellence of the expert.
Anyway, the LA Times has discovered that ‘if you want music to sharpen your senses, boost your ability to focus and perhaps even improve your memory, you need to be a participant, not just a listener.’
This, in contrast to the now discredited ‘Mozart Effect’: The belief that exposing babies to the recordings of Wolfgang Amadeus turned them into bright(er) beings.
There is now considerable research to show that making music produces physical change in our brains. And there is lots of speculation as to how these changes may (better) equip us for life’s journey. I’m on side with those that think that an increased skill in, and enjoyment of, co-ordinating one’s actions with others is the foundation of becoming active social beings – and that music-making offers precisely that opportunity.