What if we were to learn music based on our feelings? Where could this lead us? Would music be reserved for a handful of human beings with singular gifts? Perhaps. Are these creative faculties accessible to all of us? That is our belief.
The music is already within you
Music speaks to everyone. Its essence is purely emotional; it’s as if music were inscribed in our genes.
In all cultures, music is used as a way to share emotions with other members of the community. The music touches everyone’s emotional chord – it is experienced as rewarding. In neuroscience, we say that music activates the “reward system”. Yet music does not seem to fulfill vital needs like other activities which naturally stimulate the reward system: food, reproduction, etc. It is because of this that the subject fascinates researchers worldwide
A universal reaction of the brain to music
Even though tastes vary from one individual to another, a study by researchers Vinod Menon and Daniel Levitin demonstrated a universal response of the brain to music.
They played a piece of classical music for a group of people who had never heard it before and observed similar patterns in their brains’ reactions. But that’s not the curious part. They then had this same group listen to two “pseudo-musical” selections: in this case, the same piece but with one or more attributes of music removed. In the first example, the song was out of sync and the rhythmic information was missing. In the second, the rhythmic structure was retained and a mathematical algorithm replaced the notes, distorting the melody and harmony.
The brain’s response was again similar between participants in the experiment. However, it was also drastically different from what was observed when they were listening to the “real” piece of music. This difference is seen primarily in our brain’s centers of motor-planning. The brain naturally responds to musical stimulation by prefiguring the movements that often accompany listening: clapping, dancing, singing, and so on. This response didn’t occur when the subjects were listening to pseudo-music.
Obstacles of a traditional learning environment
No one would be surprised to hear that 90% of children all over the world want to learn a musical instrument. Parents are typically encouraging and seem to understand, even intuitively, the importance of music for their children: 95% want their child to have a musical education.
Despite this widespread desire for music, a study by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) reported that 85% of children who started learning music at age 7 stopped before the age of 15. To us, such a paradox is surprising and incomprehensible!
So yes … Learning music requires dedication, time, and a lot of effort. But despite its demanding nature, this doesn’t necessarily mean sacrifice is required. Studying music must not alter the primary objective of our relationship with music, which is to express and share emotions. If learning music is perceived as a chore, then it will inexorably lead to rejection and disengagement. And that would be a pity. For whatever our expressive limits are, music will continue to vibrate and resonate deep within ourselves.
Developing your ear to understand music inwardly and emotionally
The learning platform Meludia seeks to restore access to music for all through a progressive approach to the development of the musical ear, through play, and through emotional understanding of the fundamentals of music. Meludia is meant to facilitate the entry into this emotional world, at your own pace, step by step. And as the composer Claude Debussy said, a bit provocatively:
There is no theory. You have only to listen. Pleasure is the law.
Study of Meludia users
Datas courtesy of NAMM
New study shows different brains have similar responses to music