In today’s New York Times, Daniel Levitin writes on a topic we have already discussed in these posts, because it is fundamental to our workshops. His take on it is worth reading. He calls it “Dancing in the Seats.” (Click on his title to read the original article.)
Levitin, who is a professor of psychology and music at McGill University in Montreal, studies the many aspects of music’s effects on our brains. He points out that “The ancient connections between music and movement show up in the laboratory. Brainscans…make it clear that both the motor cortex and cerebellum–the parts of the brain responsible for initiating and coordinating movements–are active during music listening, even when people lie perfectly still. Singing and dancing have been shown to modulate brain chemistry, specifically levels of dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter.”
The bottom line is his strong belief that we would all have more fun in the concert hall if we could get up and move to the music. He recommends–tongue in cheek perhaps–that when Lincoln Center is renovated, some of the seats should be ripped out to give listeners room and permission to move to the beat of Ravel or Mahler or even Bach.
Try this in your own livingroom: put on a piece of classical music that you love and move to the music in any way that feels “right.” If you can’t actually move around safely, conduct the music or at least sway your body and tap your foot to it from a chair. As`Levitin says, “Music can be a more satisfying cerebral experience if we let it move us physically.” The more open you are to this, the more you’ll get from it.