How important is the ability to move to a beat? Many might say it’s nice to have, but unless you’re involved with music or sports, it’s no big deal. Besides, what can you do about it anyway?
As someone who grew up in a family that wasn’t involved in sports or music, I easily became a rhythmically challenged adult. Despite this, I successfully completed college and graduate school, as I’m sure many others have. However, my professional work specializing in counseling and learning disabilities; my personal journey in music, voice, and movement; and my own processing challenges, have revealed that the ability to move to the beat reflects critical aspects of developmental and neurological organization.
A study by the High/Scope Foundation examined 565 elementary age children and noted a significant correlation between learning and attention problems, academic performance and motor timing. Since this study, there has been an ever-expanding body of peer-reviewed research demonstrating the link between mental timing and our cognitive processing and motor capabilities.
Unfortunately there are an ever-increasing number of children and adults who lack this type of core organization.
My explorations in therapeutic listening programs, integrative movement, sensory integration, early childhood development, and special education interventions, verify how supportive early music and movement are for speech, language, and reading development, as well as the ability to focus and feel comfortable and competent in one’s body.
It is clear by the limited offerings of music and integrative movement in most schools, that there is still a lack of understanding regarding the rich developmental connections created through music and movement.
As a special education consultant, I frequently see children with such severe issues that an intense intervention is required. In my search for non-drug alternatives, I discovered the -- a powerful computer-based program that improves core timing and focus, resulting in more precise and relaxed movement and decreased impulsivity.
I have been a provider of this program for the past ten years. It has been a real treat to use technology that can not only tell how accurately (in milliseconds) people move their hands or feet to the beat, but also provides instant feedback regarding whether they’re early or late.
Thus with every movement, the brain is given self-corrective feedback; continuous referencing to improve neurological organization.
This technology is frequently used with athletes and musicians for peak performance and precise timing. Although improvements for athletes seems reasonable, such as a published study of forty golfers, what is far more exciting is research involving children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), demonstrating gains in attention, motor control, reading, and language processing, and reductions in aggressive behavior.
Through a gentle progression, the individual discovers what it feels like to maintain an ever-deepening, relaxed sustained focus while being increasing precise on a given task.
It certainly is a user-friendly confidence builder where individuals hear, see, and feel themselves getting better with something basic to all of us: our bodies and movement. I love hearing of spin-off improvements in sports, skateboarding, handwriting, patience etc.
Ideally, all children would be bathed in a richness of music, movement, and language from the moment of inception. I wish all people could feel the joy of sharing their inner music, thoughts and feelings and never need technology to tune in to the rhythm of life.
The Interactive Metronome (IM) is a targeted intervention that can establish an inner reference point for timing and a more organized and functional brain state supportive of many higher-order processes and personal pursuits. IM is a catalyst, providing a concrete experience of feeling “in synch,” and joy at being more in control of one’s body and mind.
IM is a springboard to help individuals not only be more successful in school, but also to feel safe and confident enough to engage in various music, movement, and language activities: activities that can truly help them develop and articulate their capabilities in a joyous and meaningful way.
Although not a silver bullet for all issues, I have seen significant gains in all, regardless of age (4 to adult) or concern (ADHD, autism, learning disabilities and those already proficient in sports and music who seek further improvement).
We live in a technological age. Let’s acknowledge this reality and use these tools in a caring manner that honors and supports the inner spirit while building the foundation for success in school, society, and desired areas of personal interest.