04 Sep Left Brain, Right Brain
The human brain is composed of two hemispheres that are capable of working in concert or independently of each other to achieve simple and complicated tasks. Our amazing processing centers begin developing as early as the third gestational week and continue to strengthen and develop until late childhood, with specific changes continuing throughout our lives. While the left side of the brain controls the muscles on the right side of the body, the right side of the brain controls the muscles on the left side of the body, displaying an inverse relationship. It is also understood and observed that the left side of the brain is dominant in logic and math skills, while the right side of the brain is creative and musical. These aspects of the brain alone are enough to leave us in wonder as to the extreme complexity of our brains despite the many other ways it functions, stores information, and connects information.
I was always under the impression as a young girl that I was a “left-brained” student. I had an ongoing battle with reading and spelling that labeled me “behind” by most elementary teachers and often left me in tears. It just didn’t make sense to me. Why were there so many exceptions to the rules of the English language? On the other hand, I never truly struggled in math because it was concrete and did not change. I would often joke that there was a real comfort in the fact that 2 + 2 would always equal 4.
I had grown accustomed to believing I was not “right-brained”; I would not ever have a desire to read or write and I just had to accept the fact that I am not creative in my essence. Ask me to solve algebra or trigonometry problems and I would not think twice, but ask me to write a creative essay and I would immediately start to stress.
This false idea was shattered the day I touched my first harp string.
Having been homeschooled with an emphasis in classical education, my three siblings and I had always taken some form of music lessons. I had several years of piano lessons that felt like a battle against the boring black and white keys; I simply did not care. After all, I was a left-brained student. This all changed the day I observed my first harp lesson. I watched as the harpist’s delicate fingers danced across 47 different strings, her feet also bouncing between 7 different pedals at the harp’s base, all the while keeping perfect tempo and volume. It made sense to me. The mathematical side of music was a personally defining moment in my life and I embraced it with open arms. In the years to come, I would preform two seasons with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, appear as a guest harpist in several performances with the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra, and go on to complete my certification as a Music Practitioner providing therapeutic music at the bedside. This breakthrough in my life shattered the idea that I could only embrace the left side of my brain; that I would only ever be a logical person forced to forsake my creative side. This was simply not true and it is not true for other students.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am a strong believer in the fact that it is important to embrace our strengths and it is true that most students are dominantly left brained or right brained. However, I strongly discourage teachers and mentors from ONLY encouraging the dominant side of a student. If you are always told you will never be something, you will eventually fall to the lie. I was fortunate enough to be in a home and educational environment where my mom (primary teacher) and fellow teachers encouraged both sides of my brain.
We are a direct reflection of our creator God. In the very first chapter of the very first book of the bible it is stated that we were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and it is no mistake that this idea is presented to us so early into opening the Word; because it is so important to understand. Yes, we have strengths and we have weaknesses, but we were created to reflect both the logical and creative side to our Creator. I choose to live out my life embracing both sides to who I am. I am a scientist, graduating with the highest GPA in my department with a B.S. in Biology demonstrating excellence in logic, math, and problem-solving. I am a musician, pursuing over ten years of musical performance as a solo artist, orchestral member, and certified music practitioner, demonstrating excellence in creativity, dedication to the arts, and personal reflection through song.
Encourage your little ones when they feel inadequate that they are both left brained and right brained. Do not put restrictions on them that they have to pick one side. They were not made to be simply one or the other, they were created to reflect our Creator’s own mind which is all things logical and creative.