In a recent, and beautifully illustrated, article on the impact of the arts on our brains, the Washington Post eloquently and evocatively explained the effect that movement and music have on our cerebral cortex.
Using the ballet Swan Lake as their course of study, the Post explored the impact on performer and audience members alike when music and movement are combined to create a symbiotic and unified message.
The article explains, “When you go to the ballet — or any other show — you’re entering into a highly controlled experience. If everything works as planned, all the elements contribute to a kind of shared consciousness. In effect, your billions of brain cells are interacting with billions of other brain cells, busily making the microscopic connections that join together the brains of those present with an almost inescapable force.”
The combination of pairing emotion filled movement with emotion filled music changed the body responses of not just the performer, but the audience member as well. In short, the two actions in combination were more powerful than when separate.
“As an audience, we’re watching a story unfold that connects us with the performers, vicariously feeling and making meaning out of their actions on stage, responding to the magnetism of specific visual cues, experiencing heightened emotions as music and movement entwine and even bonding with those around us. It’s just as the artists — choreographers, directors, playwrights, composers, performers — intended. And this magical transformation starts within the architecture of one brain.”
It turns out that the audience is not just connecting with the performers, but with other audience members as well.
For the brain, and the heart, music and movement are the perfect partners, Which makes me wonder if there is something more to this thing called marching band.
Perhaps the draw to this activity for performers and audience members alike is not just the music and the pageantry or the precision and the pride. Perhaps its appeal is something far more neural and biological. Perhaps we do this for the sense of connection we feel with one another when we share in the experience. Perhaps it makes us feel less alone.
Perhaps we are drawn to marching band as much for the HEART form as we are to the ART form.
Have a great week!