PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Maryann "Mar" Harman grooves all over the globe.
"Music is such a wonderful way to pass on love," she said.
Harman started out simply singing at playgroups.
"They wanted to buy the songs, which I was making up off the top of my head," she explained.
That was 20 years ago, and now she's taken the show on the road.
"People would google and they'd call me, or email me, and say ‘would you come to Mumbai? Will you come to Beijing? Will you come to the Cayman Islands?' And I'm like ‘okay,'" Harman said.
Her passion points to brain research that shows music really does help children and adults succeed. A Brown University study showed students with music education scored 37 percent higher than other students on IQ tests.
"If you dance once a week, you reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by 79 percent," she said.
Some more findings: infants who were actively trained in music were less frustrated, showed less anxiety about new experiences, smiled and laughed more, and were easier to soothe.
"They're finding more and more that the brain, instead of being left [or] right brain, that we are more holistic of the brain and that music is what ties the pieces together," Harman explained.
That's music to mother Maricela Duart's ears.
"The music helps them learn more language," Duart said..
"All parents care about is if [their] child is getting the tools he or she needs to be successful," Harman said.
She thinks it's a smart move to get the little ones in tune with their inner rhythm.
The Music with Mar program is being used in China. Harman told us it's being incorporated into the baby spectrum program. The Chinese are creating indoor facilities where parents can come with preschoolers to paint, sing, and dance. She also recently trained Chinese teachers.
Using music as a healing tool dates back to ancient times. It is obvious in historical writings of ancient civilizations such as China, India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It is also evident in biblical scriptures. In the United States, the profession of music therapy began during World War I and World War II. Music was used to help relieve pain perception in veterans with traumatic war injuries. Music had a positive effect on veterans' psychological, physiological, cognitive, and emotional state. (Source: http://www.musicasmedicine.com/about/history.cfm).
Colleges and universities then started to develop programs that trained musicians on how to use music for therapeutic purposes. Today music is used to also help the mentally challenged, hearing/visually impaired, and people with other mental disorders. Music therapy can also help children with behavioral problems. It is also known to have helped children with motivation, attention, and communication. (Source: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/history/).
• One out of 150 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. That means there is one new diagnosis every 20 minutes, and that number continues to increase.
• In a study of 41 children, administered by Universiti Sains Malaysia, hour-long music sessions were used to monitor behaviors of two groups: children two to ten and children eleven to twenty two. For behaviors including noisiness, aggression, restlessness, and tantrums, more than 50 percent of each group showed improvement by one or two points.
• Although some children showed no changes, the overall research indicated that music therapy had positive effects on children's behaviors, especially those with inattentive behavior.
(Source: See, C. M. The Use of Music and Movement Therapy to Modify Behaviour of Children with Autism. Pertanika J. Soc. Sci. & Hum., 20 (4): 1103 – 1116).
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