Updated: Jan 15
Whatever genre of music you like to listen to, play or sing, you would be hard-pressed not to agree that music plays an important role in most peoples' lives. Think of the impact of songs heard just over the last couple of years such as 'Let It Go' from the movie Frozen or John Legend's 'All Of Me', and you'll begin to realize what I mean. Besides songs like the two mentioned, everyone has their own go-to songs that they never stop listening to - songs that give you comfort and solace, and which often evoke great childhood memories of all kinds.
In the field of medicine, there have been considerable advances in studying the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional benefits of music in your life, with some interesting results. So when you ask the question: "How is music good for your health?", you will receive many more concrete answers today that were certainly not available 30 years ago.
Intelligence and Music
If you select perhaps one of the most amazing classical composers of all time - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - everyone agrees that he was a musical genius. He was able to write music at the drop of a hat and rarely changed anything once written. In his short 35 year life, his musical output in all genres was nothing short of phenomenal and mostly very high quality.
The reason for mentioning Mozart is that researchers from the University of California found, among other things, that when students listened to a piece of music written by Mozart for two pianos, the spatial IQ of the listeners was temporarily increased. According to Wikipedia, this is a primary function of the right side of the brain and is used when solving puzzles, figuring out maps and taking part in any type of construction or engineering project.
Also, it was found that kids involved in pre-school music education experienced increased intelligence over time. Apparently, many types of music education have profound effects on the brain, which means that the logical left brain links with the more creative right hemispheres of the brain. This in turn points to intelligence increases in children as they grow and develop and participate in consistent music education programs.
The Beat of Music
Some of us can dance up a storm while others (like me) have two left feet when it comes to dancing. However, we all possess some sense of rhythm, and often become somewhat synchronized with our environment. In other words, lively debate tends to keep us more alert and focused, while a boring documentary can send us to sleep. Slow, soft music can actually lower your blood pressure, whereas louder, more intense music can raise your blood pressure and increase your heart rate.
Even animals can synchronize to their environment. Take chickens for example. I hear that chickens on a farm who are subjected to constant rock music, generally do not lay many eggs, but if those same hens are given easy listening jazz or soft classics to listen to, their egg production soars. In other cases, mating rituals can be very rhythmic with beating wings, repetitive and rhythmic sounds and even dance moves to attract a mate.
Music and Pregnancy
When my wife Lynda was pregnant, we played music through headphones placed on her tummy. It was never loud but seemed to calm the baby in the latter stages before birth. We discovered that any pleasing and gentle music would be appropriate for this activity and the most surprising discovery was that after birth, the same music when played at bedtime, acted as a soothing and comforting lullaby to help the baby sleep.
Later we looked at studies on this topic and were gratified to know that we had, without really knowing it, been on the right track as far as choosing the right kind of music for our baby in the womb. The studies also showed that music can be used even in the early stages of labour to help lower the mother's stress levels. Even after birth, some hospitals use gentle music to make mother and newborn feel more comfortable.
Our energy levels, concentration, motivation and desires are all influenced by music, regardless of what we are doing. Music can make you feel good about your activity whatever that may be. For example, pro ice hockey players like to practice to certain songs because these songs make them feel more confident and invincible.
At the start of a hockey game, anthems are always sung, which makes the players AND the crowd feel nationally proud and emotionally charged before the start of the game.
Personally, I like to do chores (especially the ones I've been avoiding) while having music playing in the background. The simple act of eating a meal is made much more enjoyable by having appropriate background music playing, whether live in a restaurant or canned at home. Your vehicle is an ideal place to listen to music, especially if it's a long journey.
Some people really enjoy listening to music while in the bathtub or shower to create that special atmosphere. The same applies to music in the bedroom for more of a romantic atmosphere. And who hasn't heard a song and be instantly reminded of a past event?
These are all great examples of just how critical music is in everyone's life. Music has always been there and I strongly believe that it always will be a major part of our lives. You may sing; write your own music; play one or more musical instruments: teach other people the joys of music or you may be an avid listener.
Mozart may be your thing or you may prefer Beyonce. Musical theatre and opera combine acting, singing and dance and appeal to many people who prefer to listen live rather than on a recording. Whatever your tastes and preferences in music, this is food for thought:
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." Plato
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