When Joy Sikorski (Class of ’01, M.A., humanities) raised and home-schooled her three children in the Alaskan wilderness, she realized that one of the many stimuli that they responded well to was the sound of her voice. Their emotions and ability to learn were greatly influenced by this. When her voice was uptight and strident, they reacted with tension and an inability to focus. When her voice was gentle and reassuring, they felt safe and relaxed, which enabled them to ask questions, communicate and absorb information easily.
This inspired Sikorski to create SingBabySing, a line of educational products designed to help parents and children relax, meditate and learn. The accomplished musician and composer developed a program with original music, games, and exercises that encourage voice and speech development in infants as young as 3 to 4 months. She named the Puccini Effect. Similar to the Mozart Effect, which is a theory about the ears and brain receiving musical sounds and sending messages to the rest of the body about them, the Puccini Effect has to do with music coming from inside the body and going out, sending messages through the vocal cords and mouth. According to Sikorski, both the Mozart Effect and the Puccini Effect have a profound impact on language development.
Sikorski experienced her own home-schooling, earning her master’s degree through the CSU Dominguez Hills College of Extended Education while in Alaska. Her thesis, titled “Dream Songs - an Isopomorphism between the Tangible and the Ineffable,” examined the historical and contemporary theories surrounding the concept of “music of the spheres,” a philosophical concept that imbues music with supernatural or harmonic powers.
In her research of ancient Celtic, Hebrew and Native American cultures for her thesis, Sikorski discovered the common thread of a power belonging to music that goes beyond normal understanding, and drew a few possible conclusions about music as a healing force.
“I learned that the earth vibrates at what is called the Schumann frequency — not associated with the composer — as do other planets and celestial objects,” says Sikorski. “Sound frequencies pulsing at exact brainwave speeds cause a sympathetic response in the brain by which the brainwaves alter themselves to match the sound frequencies. The DNA in our bodies also vibrates and emits sound frequencies. Beethoven is said to have claimed that there were certain musical compositions he could not complete unless he heard them in a dream, and the Celts believed that certain types of music could stop armies in their tracks.”
Sikorski says that what drew her to the Humanities (HUX) program offered by Extended Education, along with the convenience of doing the program from a remote location, was “the freedom to create a topic of particular interest to me, and then, with the help of the Dominguez Hills faculty and staff, explore it in such an unencumbered fashion that I could communicate my findings for the benefit of others.”