Music and Unity

piano-1655558

My vocal cords used to get a work out at least twice a week with a praise and worship session on Sunday morning and another on Wednesday night, but between jobs and traveling the last several years, getting to church hasn’t always been possible. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been blessed to be able to attend church, but boy, o boy has my voice deteriorated! I could really feel the strain!

While I like music, I’m not terribly musically oriented and to be truthful, I find it terribly distracting. If I am talking or writing or even cleaning house and have music on, I’m likely to just stop what I am doing and start dancing! So, I tend to put a low priority on incorporating music into my everyday life. The strain on my vocal cords this last couple of weeks has me thinking I need to change this because music is important!

Several months ago, I was singing in church and I got to wondering why we sing in church. Years before that, I had a vision during praise and worship in which the music being played made up the walls of the temple and we were moving inside these walls. I know the power of music, but why exactly do we incorporate it into a worship service? Until recently, music was something you only experienced if you made it yourself or participated in a group such as church. Is the music portion of the service something left over from the long centuries of no radio or audio equipment? Do we really need it now that we have worship music available 24/7? Yeah, my worship leader friends are probably thinking I’m nuts or some kind of a traitor right now.

This intrigued me, so I started dogging God about it. Soon, I was seeing all kinds of stuff about how music affects the brain. Researchers have found that music has profound effects on the human brain. Memory, speech, creativity, motor control and math skills are enhanced in people who are exposed to music and music training on a regular basis. Unlike most brain functions, music uses multiple areas of both sides of the brain. In other words, it strengthens  the brain through an exercise of unity! That’s the key!

Unity! Not only does music unify the brain, but, in order for people to participate in a group musical experience, they must all get into unity! The musicians, the singers, the dancers, even those who are just observing have to line up their bodies, their minds and their rhythms with each other in order to make the music flow. Music creates an atmosphere of unity that helps people connect to each other and to God in a way that nothing else does. Although I haven’t seen research to prove this, I imagine music acts like a giant magnet on our minds and bodies, aligning them all in one direction. The Bible talks a lot about the power of unity. Someone who is aligned with God can do tremendous things, but when we are in one accord with others, that power is magnified! No wonder we sing in church!

So this weekend or whenever  you gather with other believers to worship, make sure you get there before the music starts. It’s not an optional part of the service. It’s essential to unity! Get there and participate!

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue

Jello Brain | How Kids’ Brains Work

jello-238230

We’ve all been there. You know, that day when you and your child have worked so hard learning something new, like their ABCs or how to do long division. They’ve got it and you are so proud of them. Then … all of a sudden, out of the blue … they can’t remember how to do it! No matter how you hint, cajole, or even threaten, they keep insisting they don’t remember. You know they know this stuff! What’s up? Makes you want to tear your hair out!

But, before you engage in a battle of wills, assuming your child is rebelling and lying to get out of work, I want you to consider another possible explanation. I call it “Jello Brain”.

drawing-732830

You see, the brain is made up of about a billion neurons. These little neurons communicate with each other by sending electronic impulses from one neuron to another. When we learn something new, these neurons fire electronic impulses along a new path through the brain cells. When this path is well established, the thing that has been learned is very easy to recall, sometimes to the point of being automatic, not requiring much thought at all. Remember when you were learning to drive? You had to put a lot of thought into every action, but once you learned, driving became almost automatic – to the point where if you are in the passenger seat and you see a threat of crashing, you automatically step on a brake that isn’t even there!

path-167508

A path on the earth takes repetition, effort, and maintenance for it to become permanent. If I walk across my lawn one time, there will be very little, if any evidence that I’ve been there. But if I walk that same direction every day or many times a day, pretty soon a path will form. The neurons in our brains work in the same way. After a while, these paths become well established and if we really work at them they can become 8 or 10 lane highways!

Adults usually have lots of well-established highways from neuron to neuron, but children are just building them. And they face another challenge – their developing brains are rather “soft”. They have “set”, but are more the consistency of jello when it comes to holding information than the hard earth of an adult brain. Information hasn’t yet been crammed into them and packed down, so a pathway can be destroyed pretty easily. An oncoming illness, not enough sleep, a fight with a brother, or even watching a train race by, can jumble things up enough that part or all of that path is lost, rendering your child unable to retrieve the information.

Yes, your child might just be unwilling to work, but most likely they are experiencing “Jello Brain”. If you pressure, argue or try to shame your child into remembering, you will most likely just end up with a screaming, resentful mess on your hands. It’s better just to chalk it up to Jello Brain and start over. Most of the time it is better to wait an hour or a day or two before starting to rebuild so that whatever is interfering with the learning process has a chance to pass. Do something else and come back to it later.

Hope that helps!

God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue