Research has proven that playing music can be a major factor in improving executives’ work performance and problem-solving abilities. What can Singaporeans do to to benefit from this?
The Underrated Benefits of Music Education in the Workplace
“Music has multiple positive effects on our brain. It moves us emotionally, reduces our stress, boosts immunity response, promotes deep relaxation, and encourages meditative states of mind,”
says Dr. Joseph Guan, the Clinical Director and Founder of the Brain Enhancement Centre based in Singapore.
Dr. Guan consults patients from all over the world for a vast array of mental issues, including dementia, insomnia, stroke recovery, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He acknowledges the restorative potency which amusic provides, alleging that:
“Largo (slow-tempo) music has been proven to accelerate learning and improve concentration and focus. It is widely used in therapeutic settings. Music has an all pervasive positive influence throughout the whole of humanity.”
Further inspection also reveals that the benefits of learning music seem to be far greater than most of us would assume.
According to Daniel J. Levitin, professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience at McGill University in Canada claims that although listening to music engages our verbal and audial cortices simultaneously, playing an instrument activates all areas of the human brain. The act itself combines communicative and mathematical precision in the left hemisphere with creativity and originality handled by the right, all while processing motor skills and stimulating memory throughout.
Musicians tested in 2014 by the Harvard Graduate School of Education have also been discovered to possess substantially higher levels of executive function, a set of cognitive processes that include reasoning, analytical thinking, attentional control, and strategic planning.
These are tied directly to concepts valued within the corporate workplace, such as decision-making, organization, and diplomacy. In fact, in a set of top ten core skills projected by JobsDB as the most desired skill sets in top global industries by 2020, eight of these skills are directly related to executive function, and include creativity, cognitive problem-solving, and people management.
However, while the benefits of music are apparent, numerous myths surrounding the limitations of the adult brain can cause working individuals to be dubious of their ability to learn new skills in the first place.
These myths include the perception that adult brains cannot form fresh neural connections to process unfamiliar fields of learning, and that brains lose their plasticity, the ability to change and adapt, after puberty.
Debunking Myths On Why Adults Cannot Learn Music
Multiple studies by the American National Center for Biotechnology Information have proven that neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons, continuously occurs in the adult brain, meaning that memory and learning capacity are still intact when one reaches adulthood.
Leading music training centre Believer Music has observed this during its operations, and aims to show the public that when it comes to learning music, age is just a number.
“Many of our executive clients are hesitant to attempt our lessons, since adults often believe that learning music is impossible for older individuals,” recounts Gerald Kang, a Coach at Believer Music. “But the reality is nothing short of the opposite.”
Gerald explains that in the past 18 years, the vast majority of Believer Music’s 20,000 clients were adults over the age of 21, and that all of them graduated from their respective courses and made achievements beyond their expectations.
He further adds that working clients attend lunch-time, after-work or weekend classes to get a stimulating boost of energy and inspiration during their heavy workdays. With these convenient timings, executives are able to balance recreation and enrichment within their busy schedules without missing a beat.
“Singaporeans tend to work hard, and that contributes to a lot of mental strain. Our clients come to us to remedy that issue and further augment their minds.
Since our one-of-a-kind curriculums streamline the music learning process, students able to waste no time in picking up their newfound skills efficiently.”
According to Mr. Lawrence Lim Kok Wee, a student enrolled in Believer Music’s Voice Program:
“On my first day of class, I thought it would be a normal and regular lesson, but it was really reviving and refreshing, especially after a hard day’s work. It was wonderful and marvellous.”
Currently aged 38, Mr. Lim is a Senior Engineer and continues to sing in his free time and at his leisure. He encourages other working adults to give music its place and pursue it while they can, pointing to the mental refreshment and alertness that it brings, as well as it being an avenue to relax in preparation for the next full week of work.
Ms. Jessica Ong, a bank officer who enrolled in Believer Music’s Keyboard Program, agrees with Mr. Lim:
“The (Believer Music’s) programs are designed and catered especially for busy executives. They are led such that with the littlest of efforts, one can achieve a greater measure within an hour of class, such as learning a new song, revising last week’s piece, or learning from the theme of the week. It is a very efficient use of time while being effective for achieving our individual musical goals.”
“The classes are good ‘punctuations’ throughout the work week and I work around them. Although I may have to make some effort to attend class and be punctual, the commitment and discipline keeps my work-life balance in check. Thus in a way I feel energised and recharged for the week.”