School concerts, seasonal community events, religious ceremonies, holiday hits playing on the radio—all offer abundant opportunities to take advantage of the physical and emotional benefits of music during the busy holiday season.
Music is a source of comfort and peace as well as connection between family and friends. It promotes development in babies and young children, bonds families across generations, and stimulates areas of the brain involved with motivation, reward, and emotion. Here are five reasons to make music this holiday season.
- Music helps us create and recall powerful memories. Music can spark happy memories and is often an important part of treasured family traditions, especially around holidays. Singing while you decorate the tree, at a holiday party, or at a religious celebration can help form memories and bonds with extended family and friends that will be recalled for many years to come. Create a new musical tradition: Sing a favorite holiday song in the car on the way to your holiday celebrations. Then, do it again next year.
- Music relieves stress. There’s no doubt the holidays can be stressful. Did you know that singing can relieve stress? Studies show that singing has the ability to slow our pulse and heart rate, lower our blood pressure, and decrease the levels of stress hormone in our bodies. Making or listening to music can actually result in increased levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain’s reward system. So, sing along to music in the car while navigating the mall parking lot or getting ready for company. It will help you stay calm and, most importantly, model for your children a healthy way to deal with the stress of everyday life.
- Music connects us. The holidays can be lonely for some people. Singing, especially in groups, can relieve this loneliness by connecting us to others in ways that no other activity can. Research indicates that music-making as a shared experience can activate and synchronize similar neural connections in all those participating. This alignment can result in feelings of empathy and shared intention that promote positive social interaction and bonding. When you sing with others this holiday season, during a religious service, at a community event, or at a family gathering, everyone reaps the benefits!
- Singing is intergenerational. Music is an ageless way to connect with older relatives and create ties between youngest and oldest family members. Plus, music supports the aging process. In later years, participating in music activities helps keep the brain active and engaged and supports us physically, socially, and emotionally. Sharing memories of holiday music-making from their past and teaching those songs to future generations can be happy for both elderly storytellers and the family members listening and forming new memories.
- Music-making is beneficial to children’s development. Music stimulates social, physical, cognitive, and emotional development and promotes language and concentration skills, confidence, and self-esteem. During the early years, active engagement with music promotes brain development and naturally supports growth essential to life and learning: That’s why we say music-learning supports all learning. Support your child’s development this holiday season: Sing your favorite carols in the car, jam to your holiday playlist, or go to a holiday concert or musical. (Check out performances at your local middle and high schools.)
The magic of music shines exceptionally bright during the holiday season. We hope you’ll enjoy it and use the wealth of musical opportunities as a springboard for making music throughout the entire year.
Have a very musical holiday!