by Dr. Yvonne Lewis
Yesterday, as I drove to work, I played some instrumental music. As I listened, I felt as though I was ushered into the heavenly courts and began to worship the Lord in my car.
Music has such a profound impact on the human spirit! It can reach us at a level where mere words sometimes can’t touch. Certain cells in the right hemisphere of our brains respond more to melody than to language.
In a recent article in Psychology Today, Dr. Norman Weinberger, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, states, “Evidence suggests that long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards—in language skills, reasoning and creativity—and boosts social adjustment. Music exercises the brain. Playing an instrument, for instance, involves vision, hearing, touch, motor planning, emotion, symbol interpretation—all of which activate different brain systems. This may be why some Alzheimer’s patients can perform music long after they have forgotten other things.”
The Music We Choose
This quote suggests a few things: First, if long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards, there must be some music that has positive influence and some that has a negative effect on cognition.
All music is not created equally. Some music brings us closer to God, and some drives us away from Him. The music we choose can increase cognitive ability, or diminish it. Could this be one of the reasons why many in our inner cities are experiencing increased crime and diminished academic achievement? Could it be because of the music they’re listening to?
Music affects our unconscious mind, and shapes our value system. Repeated allusions to violence, promiscuity, and materialism can be internalized and become a part of our value system. And this is not just an inner city problem—it is a systemic problem affecting every aspect of our society. What we listen to affects our values—and shapes our dreams.
The second idea I gathered from Dr. Weinberger’s statement is that we need to encourage our children to learn to play an instrument whenever possible. Not only does this promote discipline, but, as previously stated, it affects and activates different brain systems, improving cognition and overall intelligence.
We’re also affected by what we watch. The Bible says that by beholding we become changed (see 2 Corinthians 3:18). Sadly, the average child in the United States will have watched 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By the age of 18 the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV—including 40,000 murders.
We deceive ourselves if we think our children’s behavior is unaffected by television and video games! We need to spend family time with our children, creating memories they can look back on with fondness.
Making Meaningful Time
As well-meaning, but busy parents, we often fail to have quality conversations with our children. Statistically speaking, the number of minutes per week parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is 3.5. Three-and-a-half minutes per week!
Television and video games often take up that meaningful family time. We must consider turning off the TV and spend substantive time with our children. Playing Bible games, sharing stories about the day’s occurrences, and respectfully discussing current events all have a positive effect on our children’s intellectual and emotional development.
While it’s easy to point to admittedly faulty societal issues, we must look at our own responsibility in resolving the dysfunctional conditions in our homes. But first we must seek God for wisdom regarding the “What, How, and When.”
What can I do to help correctly shape my children’s dreams?
How can I implement what God lays on my heart?
When is the best time to begin, and in which order?
We can best help to shape our children’s dreams by teaching them to seek and know the Dream Maker—Jesus Christ.