Hudziak’s hypothesis states playing the violin could help child battle psychological disorders better than medication.
"We treat things that result from negative things, but we never try to use positive things as treatment," he says.
The American Psychological Association has embraced music therapy, but do not imply it replaces medication in a 2013 article called “Music as Medicine.” Music therapy lowered the parents' stress, says Joanne Loewy, the study's lead author, director of the Armstrong center and co-editor of the journal Music and Medicine.
"There's just something about music — particularly live music — that excites and activates the body," says Loewy, whose work is part of a growing movement of music therapists and psychologists who are investigating the use of music in medicine to help patients dealing with pain, depression and possibly even Alzheimer's disease. "Music very much has a way of enhancing quality of life and can, in addition, promote recovery."
If Hudziak is going to rely on music programs in public education, there are encumbrances because music programs have all but disappeared. According to the study's authors, research from the U.S. Department of Education indicates that three-quarters of U.S. high school students "rarely or never" take extracurricular lessons in music or the arts.
Music lessons disappearing from public education
The Dept. of Education statistic is disturbing, but not surprising, as funding sources for music; sports; and the arts have slowly diminished as revenue streams for so-called “extracurricular” school programs have been eliminated beginning in the late 1980s into the 1990s and exacerbated by The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which impacted low-income children disproportionately whose parents could not afford private music lessons.
Historically elementary schools offered free music lessons to students, so they could explore playing musical instruments and discover what they liked. This writer’s son was able to take drum music lessons in elementary school in the 1980s, which he continued throughout junior high and high school and enriched his adult life. Those music programs together with the school library have been gone for many years.
Today the NCLB is uniformly blamed for stripping curriculum opportunities, including art, music, physical education and more, and imposing a brutal testing regime that has forced educators to focus their time and energy on preparing for tests in a narrow range of subjects: namely, English/language arts and math. For students in low-income communities, the impact has been devastating as families struggle just to get through the Great Recession. Once those programs have been eliminated, it is even more difficult to financially reinstate them.
Music lessons in schools and low-income families are considered an added benefit if funding sources and expenses allow it. Studies like Dr. Hudziak’s contribute to a body of evidence that early childhood music lessons have benefits far beyond childhood and should be considered when public schools evaluate budgets.
"Such statistics, when taken in the context of our present neuroimaging results," the Vermont College researchers write, "underscore the vital importance of finding new and innovative ways to make music training more widely available to youths, beginning in childhood.”
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
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