Embracing Music To Help Children Flourish Within The Sikh Community

Studies have shown that not only can music help to reduce anxiety and stress, but it can also enhance children's co...

As recent reports from the UN warn that children could face a mental health crisis, many parents, educators and youth leaders will be looking for ways to help the community’s children to remain positive, to embrace resilience and patience, and to grow in faith and love.  Given the centrality of hymns to the Sikh faith, perhaps it’s no wonder that music can play a vital role in helping children to flourish, inspiring them, instilling hope and compassion, and helping them to practice and develop their spirituality. Whether you’re singing with your child or playing a Jagjit Singh album in the car, introducing your child to music is a true gift for life.

How music helps children physically

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Studies have shown that not only can music help to reduce anxiety and stress, but it can also enhance children's cognitive abilities, improving reasoning and short term memory function, and ultimately helping with academic performance. Furthermore, there is evidence that learning to sing can improve breathing and posture, as well as helping some children to conquer speech impediments. The singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran credits music with helping him to manage his stutter. While it may be difficult to have in-person lessons at the moment, children can safely and easily enjoy online singing workshops to learn and improve their vocal technique, build their confidence, and experiment with recording and mixing their own efforts. They may even find song writing or other musical composition a really useful outlet for expressing their emotions.

Creating a sense of belonging

Music is also a powerful way of helping children to feel a sense of belonging and connection with their ancestors, immediate family, and community. Historically, many stories were told verbally instead of being written down, and songs can still be useful today for helping to remember the experiences of previous generations. Learning and enjoying songs together between the generations can create a shared currency: a powerful connection that can last a lifetime and bring great comfort. At a time when children may feel anxious, lonely or misunderstood, these connections are absolutely vital. Indeed, it has also been shown that for those at the older end of life, especially those with dementia, those connections to music still exist and can bring great joy. Learning to play an instrument to join in with worship can also help children to feel part of the community and involved in their own act of service.

Developing spirituality

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From their first experiences of hearing the Kirtan sung in the Gurdwara, children will begin to recognize the sacred and spiritual music of Sikhism. From learning the Guru’s revealed word to entering a state of contemplation and meditation as they grow older, music is a powerful part of growing in spirituality. As the next generation of Sikhs grow up and celebrate their faith widely, using the power of digital music and social media, more young people will come to know the teachings and values of Sikhism. This will help to ensure that the faith remains relevant, shared and embraced.

Family and children are a blessing, and during this time when so many are finding life difficult, it’s crucial to give them as many tools as possible to cope. How wonderful, then, to know that music, a fundamental part of Sikh practice, can do so much for children. To improve their physical and emotional wellbeing and encourage their spiritual development, bring music into their lives and watch the whole family flourish.

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