The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Musical Journey

There have been numerous studies on the effects of classical music on the brain. We have probably all heard of the "Mozart Effect" -- how listening to Mozart is supposed to make our children better at math. I am not a scientist, and I haven't performed any formal study on the effects of music on the brain, but I can tell you what I see in my own home.

If I play loud, silly or pounding music, in short order I will have loud, silly, pounding children. This pretty much applies to all my children. However, I have many children whose lives began in chaos and trauma. More chaos from any area of their lives is just not necessary.

Music in our car is usually hymns or some form of Christian music. We do not indiscriminately listen to the radio. I don't simply desire calm brains, I desire my children to have a heart for the Lord and so we attempt to honor the Lord in all areas of our life.

Many years ago, I started incorporating classical music in our home. It began as a homeschooling venture. We didn't formally study it, I just figured that exposure would be part of the overall arts program. At the time we were able to attend a few programs at colleges for opera and plays and once even an organ concert. We now live further away and there's the multiplication factor --the cost of events times 2 children versus the cost of events times 7 or 8 children.

I started with a CD called "Mozart for Morning Coffee." I chose it for no other reason than Mozart seemed like a good classical choice and I love morning coffee. Braydon was a baby then and started crawling by listening to the first track. Every time the Violin Sonata in G, K. 301 Allegro came on he would get close to the speaker, raise on all fours and rock.

We went on to listen to "Peter and the Wolf" and other CD's I would pick up occasionally. At one time we had a set with a little booklet explaining the time periods and brief histories. We made this more of a study and read and listened. I have to tell you this scheduled time seemed far less productive to me. The kids were inattentive and thought the pieces were too long. I think the only reason they thought they were long is I wanted them to sit and listen since it was now "school" and we were "learning".

However, I learned and stopped making them listen. I started playing classical music in their rooms at bedtimes. I figured that it might help calm the kids who had experienced trauma. I don't honestly know what "scientific" effect this might have on their brain, but it has had a great effect on our family. Bedtimes, now have sweet music flowing from rooms. My youngest, Isaiah, has been the most interested in music. He LOVES Vivaldi. He can't wait for his music. When Grandma asked what she should get him for Christmas, I suggested classical music for his room. We went to a local music store and found used CD's for $4.00. I told the clerk that I was looking for music for my son. He asked his age. When I said he was 5 he tried to direct me to a children's area. I simply said, "No, you don't know my son." He received Shostakovitch and Tchaikovsky instead.

Wokelle shares the room with Isaiah and he is not interested in the music at all. He would rather listen to story CD's like "Adventures in Odyssey." Those are fine, but not at bedtime. He stays awake much longer waiting to hear the end of the story, or the next story. However, since Christmas there has been a funny development. Instead of his usual, "Mom, they're boring."  He said, "Not Shostakovitch, how about Tchaikovsky."

God worked out the final piece of my classical journey just this winter. A friend gave us a new player. He told us that they were given it as a gift and had never found a use for it. It was still in the box. This was some player. It has a record, CD and cassette tape available. The goal is that you can dub from one to another. I suppose with the idea that your old tapes and albums could be put on CD.  It was much more decorative than what we had and fit nicely in our living room. On that trip to the music store with my mom, I discovered that they sell used albums for $1.00. $1.00 -- you cannot go wrong. The first trip I picked up one classical record;  A Boston Pops. I wanted my kids to see a real record and how it plays. They had no idea. It was so fun that on a second trip I bought four more classical records.

I didn't think much of it, until I realized that it was the last piece of my puzzle. Heaven and Adela share a room right off the main living room. Heaven came to us from quite a traumatic background and has always suffered nightmares and difficulty sleeping. I really desired to play classical music for her and see if it helped calm her down. At first it was great and she had a CD she seemed to like. Not long, however, before the player and CD in her room became a power issue and I had to remove it. I have always been a bit sad about it, but I have never felt like she was ready to have it re-introduced. However, God orchestrated the final answer with the record player. I put on a record in the evening, in the living room, and it is heard perfectly in the girls' room. No power struggle here, the record is in the living room, under my control.

I can't quote statistics or studies about effects of classical music on the brains of traumatized children. I can tell you that listening to grating, children's silly songs is a thing of the past for us, as we begin to informally change the diet of music in our home. Just last night, while cleaning up the kitchen, one of my teenagers told me how much he likes Vivaldi's "Spring" and was surprised by an Aaron Copeland piece. Heaven came out in the morning and said she slept so well ... together we decided waltzes might be fun to turn on tonight. It is enough evidence for me.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace ...


rizzo6 said...

Hi, Debbie -- I wanted you to know that we have a dear friend who was on staff here a few summers ago who is now in Taiwan. She was in China for a year and a half, and is now in Taiwan. I gave her Riane's email address to see if they can be in touch. Her name is Lindey Nelson and she is AMAZING! So wonderful -- what a Godly woman. I think she's about 22? Not sure. Anyway, I wanted you to know in case Riane isn't sure who this person is if Lindey contacts her.
Sue Rizzo

rizzo6 said...

Hi, again!
(What is that comment above this -- spam?)
Anyway, I wanted to let you know that Riane DID meet up with our dear Lindey; here's what she sent me on FB (I can't seem to find your email...)


Riane and i met today! She came out with a group i joined too to pass out the Word at Sun Moon Lake. Then we just hung out tourist style. She is a sweet young friend who really impressed me meeting us like she did, an independent traveler, and jumping in like she did with the task, and then just being a good sister and friend to spend some time with . haha. Thank you for being the connector. hallelujah!


So glad they linked up! Send me an email again if you can...I'll try not to lose track of it this time!

Debbie Googeg said...

Hey Sue -- she just skyped in today and told us all about it. I want to email you, but I can not find your email either! Here's mine

Shoot me and we will connect.

(Yes, spam got through grrrr)