As the little girl jumps in time to a silent rhythm, a naturally harmonic tune emerges from beneath her feet. She is stepping from one stone plate to the next, releasing notes in thirds and fifths to create a beautiful impromptu symphony of sound at the Thetford Forest Park in Norfolk, UK.
Even though this girl isn’t even aware of it, she is one of the thousands of children who have been cognitively impacted by the Dance Chimes, designed by Alfons van Leggelo, feature found in parks around the globe. From Herriman, Utah to New York’s Battery Park, this musical grid gives children (and adults) the opportunity to connect music and movement in a way that fosters creativity and enhanced brain activity.
Debunking The Myth of the “Mozart Effect”
There has been a lot of buzz over the past few years about the impact that musical play can have on children’s mental and emotional development. According to the Harvard Gazette, over 80% of adults believe that music increases students mental abilities or grades. But, is it true?
Although reputable sources like Time Magazine have touted the “Mozart Effect,” recent research has showed that mere listening to music is not enough to tap into the cognitive benefits of musical play. Neuroscientist Sylvain Moreno, one of the lead researchers in cognitive musical therapy at the University of Toronto, explains: “Listening will do nothing for the brain. You have to be in a kind of interaction with music.”
Moreno’s research, recently published in Psychological Science, gave interactive computer music training to one of two groups of preschool children. After only 20 days, the childrens’ verbal intelligence was tested, showing a 90% increase in ability in the group where interactive music was applied. These verbal leaps also showed a correlation with brain plasticity, meaning that the musical play group learned better and faster than the control group.
So, Can Dance Chimes Make Your Kid Smarter?
The quick answer is: Yes, if you use them in the right way.
What Moreno and his colleagues found was that interactive musical elements like Dance Chimes can really affect a child’s development, as long as they are truly interacting with the musical element. Instead of randomly landing on notes, the best benefit comes from a focused exploration of the musical element which incorporates both sensory and motor skills.
And, the positive benefits aren’t limited to computer programs or traditional music lessons. Moreno says true interaction can be found in simple play areas. “As soon as you sing with a song or dance, that’s interacting.” Moreno says. “As long as we have this loop between sensory and motor, we have a modification of the brain.”
The perfect example is the kind of sensory and motor connection found in the Goric Dance Chimes play feature. As children connect their bodies with the act of making sounds, they are developing greater brain elasticity and potentially increase their ability to learn.
Dance Chimes: Playing, Creating, and Learning
Although passive musical experiences don’t really affect the development of your child, an interactive musical element like Dance Chimes can. By connecting the body and brain in a musical task, your child may be able to see an improved ability to learn and a desire to create that will open him or her up to a world of new possibilities.