Driving Music

Andy Grammer

Andy Grammer

You may have heard of Andy Grammer. I mainly know him as the son of Red Grammer. (I did meet Andy in 2007 when he had just put out The World is Yours and was building up interest and playing the venues who would recognize his name and support him.)

Red has several albums of children’s songs released when my brother was young. They were staples of taking him to daycare and family trips and designed to for singing along. We listened to the Can You Sound Just Like Me? and Teaching Peace cassette tapes over and over. And knowing he was going to play somewhere nearby meant we had to go.

The last time the kiddo was in daycare, a handful of times I stayed home with her and drove her to mom’s office to nurse. She was hungry on those occasions so I sang to her to calm her down. Now that I am taking her to daycare every day, I am sensing her getting bored. And she doesn’t appreciate NPR. My wife plays music when they are together, so I am sure that is what was the normal.

So, I am going to compile a playlist of my favorite Red Grammer songs for her to listen to when I am driving.

Human brains more responsive to musical tones than macaque monkey ones

monkey eating bananas

Photo by Rajesh Balouria on Pexels.com

I’ve written before about singing to Fleur to get her attention and how music is good for the brain. If this fMRI data on human brains compared to macaque monkey ones holds up, then there might be a developmental difference in brains that allows us to be more attuned to musical tones.

“When the researchers looked more closely at the data, they found evidence suggesting the human brain was highly sensitive to tones. The human auditory cortex was much more responsive than the monkey cortex when they looked at the relative activity between tones and equivalent noisy sounds.”

The researchers wondered what kind of auditory experience our ancestors had that caused this difference. The same structure also responds to speech, which might explain some of our qualities of speech. Music and talking are intertwined. So, child development being responsive to music makes sense in that they are wired to learn and we adults are doing so with both music and speech.

Being a Musician Is Good for the Brain

Highlights from an Inc article on the benefits of music on the brain caught my attention:

  1. Musical training reorganizes neuron structures in the brain, specifically the corpus callosum which integrates the two sides plus areas involving verbal memory, spatial reasoning, and literacy.
  2. It improves long-term memory, in part because it teaches the hippocampus how to store memories and recall them on demand.
  3. It improves executive function, things like processing and retaining information, controlling behavior, making decisions, and problem solving
  4. Musicians tend to be more mentally alert with faster reaction times.
  5. They tend to have better statistical use of multisensory information, so they are better able to integrate inputs from the various senses.
  6. The earlier a musician starts, the more drastic the changes.
  7. Music reduces stress and improves happiness.*
  8. Increases blood flow in the brain.

* Wonder if all this singing we do with Fleur plus Galahad’s piano practice is part of why she is a happy child? After all, we’ve been leveraging singing as a way to distract Miss Wriggly.