Music Hath Charms…

“There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

It’s possible that this quote jumped out at me because I got two new kittens over the weekend but it was true for me before! And it also struck me because I am always fascinated by the bond between music and mental health and science. For example:

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” ― Albert Einstein

The ability of music to affect our bodies, our mind, our moods is well-documented. This article lists 10 ways, some of which were surprising to me. There is even a whole bunch of conspiracy theorists who discuss the way in which music was written to brainwash people back in the early part of the 20th century based on harmonic frequency. I’m not going there…

But I did want to talk about how much music can help with mindfulness and calm for both you, your child and your relationship. From my own experience. 

When we knew we were going to adopt August, before we went to Russia, I enlisted the help of my friend Susan to make a mix tape. Yes I’m that old and yes it was that long ago. There were plenty of lullaby CDs out at that time but I didn’t want sappy baby songs or traditional lullabies. For one, he was already three. And for another, I was going to have to be able to endure them as well! So I collected beautiful music from my favorite artists. You’d be amazed at how many contemporary artists have written lullabies! She got to work putting together a full cassette of all my choices which was ready when we got home. I thought for sure it would send him drifting into La-la-land by song two. 

You know what kids with RAD and ADHD don’t do? That’s right. Sleep. They don’t sleep. That cassette would play one side, then the other, then the first side again and he’d still be awake. I’d have fallen asleep and woken up one or two times lying next to him. But at least I liked the music! 

We did bond over the songs though. He loved the tape and we sang the songs and others every night and he would pick ones that he liked for me to sing. Before he got more English proficient, the singing was a nice bridge between Russian and English. As he got older, we’d talk about music and his tastes and mine diverged greatly. But I tried to keep an interest and let him tell me about the artists he liked because it was a connection we could maintain because I loved  music too, even if it wasn’t the same style. Music is music, even if the style is different.

I use music now in lots of ways, as probably many of you do:

  • Stress relief
  • Background noise when cooking or cleaning
  • Ambiance for entertaining
  • Motivation for yard work or working out
  • Keep me alert while driving

And each of these occasions requires a different kind of music sometimes. For me actually not completely. My go-to music since I was six years old has been Simon & Garfunkel. My parents had the “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album and one of those stereos that looked like a piece of furniture and I played it constantly till I had it memorized. They have been my favorite every since and actually work for me in all those categories. But I will switch it up on occasion. 

I have friends who love heavy metal. I am not a fan but that’s their jam for working out or house cleaning but I can’t get around it. They love it and I suppose it would keep me awake while driving! 

But here’s the thing, the science behind this says that it doesn’t have to be Barry Manilow to be calming. Check out this article to see how music can be beneficial no matter what kind it is! 

I will be posting some of my favorite music videos (expect it to weigh heavily on the Simon & Garfunkel) in the Resources section. Please share some of your stories of how music has worked for you personally or in your relationship with your RAD kiddo. 

Until next time,

Shannon

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