Aldous Huxley on the Transcendent Power of Music and Why It Sings to Our Souls

“Without music, life would be a mistake,” Nietzsche proclaimed in 1889. But although a great many beloved writers have extolled the power of music with varying degrees of Nietzsche’s bombast, no one has captured its singular enchantment more beautifully than Aldous Huxley (July 26, 1894–November 22, 1963). In his mid-thirties — just before the publication of Brave New World catapulted him into literary celebrity and a quarter century before his insightful writings about art and artists and his transcendent experience with hallucinogenic drugs — Huxley came to contemplate the mysterious transcendence at the heart of this most spiritually resonant of the arts. His meditations were eventually published as the 1931 treasure Music at Night and Other Essays (public library).

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Music Lessons Improve Children’s Cognitive Skills and Academic Performance

According to a new Frontiers in Neuroscience study, children who participate in structured music lessons showed enhancements in cognitive abilities over their peers who did not receive music lessons. The researchers note the improvements in short-term memory, language-based reasoning and planning seen in children who had music lessons had a positive impact on academic achievement.

Structured music lessons significantly enhance children’s cognitive abilities — including language-based reasoning, short-term memory, planning and inhibition — which lead to improved academic performance. Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, the research is the first large-scale, longitudinal study to be adapted into the regular school curriculum. Visual arts lessons were also found to significantly improve children’s visual and spatial memory.

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