Rather than prescribing particular composers or genres of music to improve one’s thinking, perception, or motivation, I recommend learning about the place of making music in developing a more flexibly resilient mind. Dr. Jon Lieff writes quite well about this in his “Music Training and Neuroplasticity” blog entry. I noticed, in particular, his descriptions of the development of music and language in the brain, in which both subjects overlap quite a bit in one’s formative years, but later become more localized or contained to specific parts of the brain. This led me to think about my own issues in music, language, and the brain.
I have been dealing with language issues for several years now while the music part of me has been functioning quite well. That means that playing or singing has not been a problem, but often telling someone where to put their music when done with it (on the table), or writing to describe something can be a challenge. In some ways, I have always struggled with language, but not to the extent that I had after learning the German language when I was overseas. Migraines, frequent heavy bloody nose issues, and stress accompanied these problems and made life more difficult. While the first two issues have been mostly solved with amino acid supplementation, the stress and language problems remain, though they seem to improve little by little.
For quite some time, I have been looking for ways I can help myself improve. Continuing with my musical work is important, and it is critical that I work on learning new things within music to practice thinking about or reframing music performance or teaching methodologies in different ways. I have determined weak aspects of my thinking approach through the application of the Herrmann Whole Brain Model at the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship, and I focus on improving them. Synthesizing material in the way that neurologist Dr. Sandra Chapman recommends has improved my use of facts and details in creating a larger vision statement that is complete and thorough. Rather than multi-tasking and speed-reading constantly, I needed to take a step back and learn how to process the information to create well-supported conclusions. It is just the first of thousands of steps in a journey to get my mind back on track. But I am grateful to have found a path that is helpful.
After reading Dr. Lieff’s essay, a study of music exposure and intelligence done by Frances Raucher, and others like it, I was ready to jump to the conclusion that we need to advocate learning foreign languages, as well as music at an early age, because it would encourage the development of new neural pathways and neuroplasticity. But another article about age and learning a second language altered that slightly, Rather than placing the blame of language learning difficulty on aging and decline in myelination, recognize the importance of motivation, learning environment, teaching methods, and encouragement. And I believe there is much to come in the way of learning about improving or correcting physical and mental health issues with a newly-discovered protein reset that restores myelination.
So start where you are. Whether a young, middle-aged, or elderly person, you can improve your thinking by beginning now with consistent work on music and/or language. By focusing on weak points, mono-tasking, taking the time to ask questions, synthesizing information by reframing one’s perception, and by being willing to make mistakes, we can do better.