If music be the food of engagement – play on!

If music be the food of engagement – play on!

The power of music cannot be denied. 

It is evident the moment you play a tune and witness a baby swaying rhythmically. It is evident when you pump house music through your earphones and your feet pound the pavement in perfect unison with the beat. And it is evident when your eyes well with tears as soon as the opening bars of your heartbreak anthem plays through the car stereo.

Music is a healer, it is an energiser and it is a muse. 

What if it were also a teacher?

In this blog post, we look at the recognition that music should be getting as a resource for naming and regulating our emotions.

For time immemorial, we have looked to books as an escape from our every day. A chance to indulge in the life of another, or to simply get lost in the words, settings and experiences of something so far removed from our own reality. What if I told you that music offers this escape, too, but with value-added?

You see, with music, specifically instrumental, we are not told what to think. When the lyrics are absent, we are left to our own devices to decode the messages. Our own devices being: our current emotional state, our previous experiences with the composer or piece and the feelings we associate with the instruments being played.

Ludovico Einaudi is one of the world’s most celebrated composers. Also a world-renowned pianist, his scores have stirred emotions in audiences for decades. 

At the end of 2021, when the world was led to believe that perhaps we were emerging out of this long state of despair, Einaudi was asked about the link between mental health and music. 

He said, simply:

I’ve visited beautiful places within my soul because of music, and I think that it can take you to greater places of spirituality, of joy, of sadness, anger, greatness… You can dive into such a vast array of different emotions, and I think that everyone can benefit from listening to music.

He goes on to share his strongly-held belief that listening to music together should be a priority in schools. His stance stems from his understanding that music is pure emotion and therefore, the exposure to an array of emotions will create a flow-on effect whereby children can recognise these emotions in themselves and others.

Einaudi is not alone in his thinking. Musical therapy has long lauded the benefits that music has on children’s mental health in assisting them to express themselves, feel understood and name and manage their emotions.  

It was for this reason and more that we decided Grow Your Mind needed its own soundtrack! We are committed to making our social and emotional wellbeing content innovative, engaging and meaningful. We have deep respect for the fact that children and adults learn in vastly diverse ways. Hence a podcast, video lessons, animal imagery + stories, units of work that invite students to display their knowledge in multiple ways, micro moments of wellbeing activities that incorporate movement, breath work, gratitude practices and more. And… now… songs!! Music moves us and we want to give children and adults the best chance to understand and be inspired to look after their wellbeing.

Over the next 6 weeks you will be gifted with a new song that focuses on a particular theme. Prepare your ears and hearts to start singing to words that touch on setting boundaries, dealing with conflict and disappointments, following your values, making generous assumptions and moving through jealousy! The tunes are distinct, catchy and combined with the lyrics make for a powerful and playful offering. Each song complements a podcast episode in season 3 of our award winning podcast. It makes our heart sing (pardon the pun) knowing that the podcast is FREE and has been listened to in over 90 countries. Watch out world because the music only amplifies the offering!

Our Grow Your Mind schools have access to podcast journals and the lyrics to each song as well as rich resource list to support each episode. We want to see children adults learning, discussing and singing along to the lyrics! Everyone else can easily access our free themed colouring in sheets for each episode and grab a student podcast journal here.

So, how alongside listening to the Grow Your Mind songs, how can we nurture our children’s mental health through music?

  • Have ‘dance parties’ for a few minutes each day. Ask children to help select the songs that will get them moving and shake away the day’s worries (or celebrate the day’s wins!)
  • Encourage them to learn a musical instrument so they can be masters of their own musical creations. Introduce them to famous musicians and listen to their music together
  • Play your own favourite musical artists to your children. Have discussions about how the music makes you feel. What kinds of things do you want to do when you hear a particular song? Does it make you want to cry, dance, jump, sleep?
  • Ask children to share their favourite music or songs with you. Ask them why it is their favourite. Is it the feeling the music invokes? Is it the lyrics? 

When we feel a range of emotions on a regular basis, it can empower us to name them and regulate them. Music does this for us.

Why not try incorporating the listening and appreciating of music into your everyday routine and see the effect it has on your children?

Click here to listen to the first of our songs, Jealousy, from the Season 3 podcast.

Feel free to share with us in the comments, any other ways that you use music in your home and classroom.