Effect of holiday music runs deeper than just singing along
John Varineau Photo: grsymphony.org
David Moore December 3, 2012 | WGVU When it comes to making it feel like Christmas, nothing sets the stage more aptly than music. But as WGVU’s David Moore reports, the effect of those familiar melodies goes a lot deeper than most of us realize.
From ‘Sleigh Bells’ to ‘Jingle Bells’ to ‘Hallelujah,’ the music of the season has us all singing along, sooner or later.
John Varineau knows a few things about the subject. He’s the long-time associate conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony.
He observes that be it carol, oratorio or ‘Jingle Bells,’ not only do those oh-so-familiar melodies help put us in the spirit, but the individual notes themselves ‘C,’ or ‘A’ or ‘E’ have a profound effect on us in a way we don’t even realize.
Varineau says music impacts the brain in a way input from the other four senses does not. He says “there is a spot in your brain that lights up for a ‘C’ and there is a spot in your brain that lights up for a ‘D.’ There’s something about the human brain, and probably the animal brain that have a specific trigger that fires for each pitch. We are hard wired for music.”
Varineau says the seasonal holiday music waxes strong on nostalgia and can carry us back to childhood. It also helps create hope, based on the stability and endurance of those sacred and secular tunes down through the centuries.
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