Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Music Room, God's Room?

At our daughter Jocelyn's wedding to Jeff  last October our older grandson Nicholas was the life of the party. When I say "older" I should clarify that he didn't turn three-years-old until early in this new year. He delighted us all though by dancing and dancing...and dancing. Just when we thought he was tuckered right out the music would start again and so did he. We asked the DJ to play one of his favourite songs and when he heard it his face lit up. Soon he was surrounded by women dancing with him. Good gig.

What is it that music does to us, stimulating our brains, touching our deepest emotions? It shouldn't surprise us at all that most religions are integrally woven with musical expression, both praise and lament. The music of our faith fires our imaginations, and stirs our hearts. Quakers might not agree with us, but surely worship wouldn't be nearly as meaningful without music. Music can alter the spirit of a church service in a heartbeat.

A recent article in the New York Times describes fascinating new research out of MIT which has discovered, through new forms of imaging, that portions of our brains respond to music in ways that are unique and discreet. 

 The music areas are essentially their own room, distinct even from speech areas. This may be why music has a profound effect at the beginning of life, and at the end. I have seen residents of nursing homes come to life and sing hymns during worship services where the spoken word appears to have little effect. And remember Henry from the documentary Alive Inside?

What do you think? Is the music room of a brain also God's room? Why does music touch you? How does it touch you?

1 comment:

roger said...

Music is important to me - nothing like listening to some of my favourite songs from the 70's(!) to bring back memories.

I really enjoy going to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and not only do I really enjoy the music, but I have such admiration for the members who are so skilled at playing.

I find that music can help me feel better if I'm feeling a little down, and I have to wonder why so many nursing homes or assisted living facilities do not do something so simple as having music in their dining halls.