Good Music, Brighter Children – A Book Review

“When music in all its forms (singing, playing a musical instrument, listening to classical music, and so on) is part of the home environment, it creates a positive atmosphere, one which is conducive to learning and aids in the acquisition of early language. When music is taught comprehensively and sequentially in the schools, it increases math, science, reading, history, and SAT scores. It also reaches at-risk students by increasing their confidence and those with learning disabilities by making the learning process easier. Additionally, studying a musical instrument helps develop imagination, invention, creative thinking, communication, and teamwork skills – precisely those attributes needed for a twenty-first century global work force.”  

~ Sharlene Habermeyer, “Good Music, Brighter Children”, pg. 9.

good music, brighter children

And so starts a new book for me.  I initially got Good Music, Brighter Children because I had read a blurb somewhere about how the author had used music to help her child who has learning differences and was struggling with public school format. I got so much more than I hoped for, which was great.

The first section of Good Music, Brighter Children starts with the argument for critical need for all of The Arts in schools: music, art, drama, etc. It full of information about how classical music affects a person’s brain. Classical music actually uses all parts of the brain: left, right, front, and back and really enhances learning – of all types – in amazing ways. The results of numerous studies are quoted and referenced that prove that people involved in the arts in one way or another are more successful in their academic, emotional, social, and behavioral lives. It is astounding that there are so many hundreds of studies showing this need, and yet our leaders – local, state, and federal – do not see these when making and setting laws and policies. How heartbreaking it is to hear that libraries, musical, art, and drama programs are being dropped in favor of spending money on sports and math/science programs that are struggling when the opposite should be done. Dr. Jean Houston of the Foundation for Mind Research believes that “the brains of children not exposed to music arts education are actually being damaged because these non-verbal modalities help them with skills such as reading, writing, and math.” (Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 22)

“Music students are developing those areas of the brain that expand human creativity. They broaden their thoughts of originality, independence, curiosity, and flexibility, as they interpret, analyze, and break apart the music in new and interesting ways.”  

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 115

In the second section, the author lays out ways to involve music in your children’s lives before birth and on. She recommends specific music, etc. The section that talks about the importance of learning to play an instrument even teaches you how to select an instrument and teacher, plus giving you the ways to involve your children further in music. She covers the numerous benefits from learning to play and sing music. Of particular interest to me are the charts found on pages 140-143 of the Eight Types of Intelligence with their definitions and how that intelligence relates to music and the arts. Teaching my kids effectively is made easier when I understand how they relate to the world and how they learn best. 

“We cannot appreciate the arts unless we become involved with them on some level, and one cannot become involved with music without becoming immersed in all of the arts. Music, drama, the visual arts, and dance all have the power to uplift, inspire, and edify the human spirit.”  

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 123

The third section explains how studying the arts actually increases our abilities to understand and comprehend math and science. Many executive directors of large companies understand this, which is why they donate so generously to The Arts through such places as PBS’s Mobile Masterpiece Theater and Texaco’s Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts and The National Endowment for the Arts which allocates grants to local libraries and organizations that provide local programs for children to experience the arts. This results in library programs, free musical experiences, art camps, and other ways throughout communities. 

“The arts give beauty and meaning to our lives, and they are the means by which the character and achievement of a civilization are measured. Monuments fall, civilizations perish, but artistic creations survive. One cannot study a nation without studying the music, art, and literature of that nation. It is through the arts that we understand and appreciate both the individual and the culture.”

~ Good Music, Brighter Children, pg. 121

The fourth section of Good Music, Brighter Children covers how music preserves our cultural heritage. She urges us – begs us – to become advocates of the Arts in our homes, schools, and communities. To help us actually accomplish this desire, she gives practical suggestions on ways to do it. Many are easy and free, involving simply our determination to JUST DO IT.

And last and best section of all – the resources!! Starting on page 259 and ending on page 304, there are suggestion after suggestion (in the form of lists, publishers, and places to contact/purchase) such as:

  • Classical Music for Kids to Enjoy (by composer)
  • Favorite Classical Lullabies to Play for Your Unborn and Newborn 
  • Musical Stories about Composers
  • Excellent Classical Titles for Children
  • Classical Music in Movies, Cartoons, and Commercials
  • Music to Study By (by composer)
  • Reinforcing Your Child’s School Experience
  • Additional Material for Home and Classroom
  • Fiction about Music, Books about Composers
  • Books about Ballet
  • Books About the Orchestra and General Music
  • Books about Opera, Musicals, and Choral Music
  • Folk Tune Stories
  • Classic Music Videos
  • Internet Resources for Music Information, National Organizations, Curricula, and More
  • Arts Resources for Parents and Educators
  • Music Catalog

This book has been helpful for me in deciding what direction to take for our Charlotte Mason Music Studies. We have been listening to and enjoying classical music as part of our CM learning atmosphere for almost 4 years. My girls have learned a lot and it is a joy to have them recognize and appreciate certain composers. One of my daughters told me a couple of years ago that she needs/wants the music on during school because she could feel it helping her brain. 🙂 Now I better understand why.

Now I am off to Amazon to track down a couple of interesting looking resources… 😉 

Click here to obtain a copy of Good Music, Brighter Children. My copy was the original 1999 version, but the cover and link I chose to share is the updated 2014 version, which has updated and expanded resource lists.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own and I receive nothing in return for my opinion. 

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