The Two Sides of Music

Music is something that just about anyone can enjoy and relate to. Even people who don’t know how to play an instrument or read music can be music enthusiasts, and enjoy listening to music, going to concerts or learning about composers or other musicians.

But how a musician and a non-musician interpret music isn’t always the same. In fact, research has shown that musicians and non-musicians sometimes hear or interpret music differently. That’s important for musicians to know so that when they compose or play music, they can do it in such a way that either the musician or the non-musician can enjoy.

Reaction to Music

Studies have shown that musicians and non-musicians have two completely different reactions when listening to the same music.

In a 1994 paper published by Jack H. David, Jr. it was noted that musicians and non-musicians have different reactions to music according to brain hemisphere.

“Non-musicians perceive music in the right hemisphere because they are not analyzing what they are hearing; they simply experience it. Musicians, on the other hand, have analytical knowledge about what makes music work and they approach music more intellectually; therefore, they use their left brain to a greater extent.” David added that scientists tend to be left-brain dominant while musicians such as Mozart tend to be right brain dominant.

The implications of such research could prove helpful to educators. If many children are only using half of their brains (according to their experiences and interests) than what could happen if they are educated in such a manner that they would exercise both sides of their brains?

It’s possible that music could be the answer to encouraging children to develop both sides of the brain, as different aspects of music apply to either the right or left hemisphere. For example, the right hemisphere of the brain applies to music applications such as timbre, emotion, loudness and creativity. The left hemisphere applies to properties such as temp, rhythm, analysis, and sequence.

In the end, it’s important for musicians to know how music can help them develop both sides of their brain, and it’s important for music teachers to teach in a manner in which students can tap into their strengths through music, while also encouraging them to reach areas in which there is room for improvement.

In the end, we may never know all the things that music can accomplish, but we do know that it’s worth understanding and teaching for its own value and for the enjoyment it brings into our lives.