A World of Pure Imagination
I remember a music lesson from 4th or 5th grade, where my teacher put on some music, and she asked us to draw what the music made us feel. What sort of pictures came up in our heads? I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, but I remember that lesson, and I remember that she played "Boys of Summer" by Don Henley (don't laugh - it was like 1989), and I remember it made me think of riding in a car with the windows down on a beautiful day with the windows down. Looking back, this seems like a rather strange image for a 9 year old to conjure, but that's what my brain did. The imagination is an amazing thing.
But that's what music does for our brains; it brings up all kinds of feelings and pictures. It can calm, motivate, soothe, lull, inspire, focus, drive - it can do any number of things. It can brighten our day or make us cry. You probably have a playlist for almost every mood. And, admit it, you can tell me who made you the best mix tape you ever received, and exactly what songs were on it.
So today I want to talk about how music boosts imagination and creativity, and why that imagination and creativity is so important for your child's development.
As I was researching for this post, I came across a book by Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It starts with a violinist, saying this:
"I see a song. I paint music. I hear color. I touch the rainbow, and the deep spring in the ground. My music talks. My colors dance. Come, listen, and let your imagination see your own song."
It appears the book is out of print, but the internet did not let me down. Here is a beautiful animation of the book from YouTube.
Gorgeous, right? I have always loved Eric Carle's style - it's lovely to see it animated.
The power of music and imagination is also illustrated beautifully in Disney's Fantasia - this is my favorite piece from the film:
So why is this important? Contrary to some cynics' belief, imagination and creativity are not just for artists! Everyone needs it, just for day-to-day problem solving. So it's important to nurture and cultivate it.
Imagination is the door to possibilities.
Imagination is where creativity, ingenuity, and "thinking outside the box" begin. Children learn about the world through imaginative play - they manipulate materials, express themselves verbally and non-verbally, plan (intentionally or unintentionally), act, interact, react, and try different roles. When children play with dolls, cars, blocks, rocks, or even toilet paper rolls, they are working on their imagination and creative skills. Every time they cook you a pot of Lego soup, they are working those little brains.
Imagination fosters cognitive and social development.
Imagining, trying new ways of doing things, and experimenting help develop critical thinking in children and foster creative problem solving. Imagination builds social-emotional development by allowing children to find different resolutions - this will boost children's confidence, especially when interacting with others. And, perhaps most importantly, children will need these oh-so-important imagination skills when they enter the workforce in the future (I know, I don't want my baby to grow up, either!).
"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein
Ok, now you know what music does for the imagination, and why the imagination is so important. So I will leave you with a playlist of my favorite imagination songs. You'll notice I'm adding quite a few folk songs on here, for a few reasons. First, they are pleasant to listen to, and second, because folk singers are often amazing storytellers - lots of chances to use your imaginations. Notice I'm not giving you the YouTube versions - I want you to create your own images in your head!
Miss Nancy's Imagination Playlist - Spotify - click on the link to listen and follow!
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities. - Dr. Seuss
To find out more about imagination, here are a few links that I found extremely helpful:
Nurturing Creativity & Imagination for Child Development - Bright Horizons
The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development - Psychology Today
Why Imaginative Play for Children is so Important - My Kids Time