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Physical and Mental Benefits of Music

Aug 27, 2013

Many studies have been conducted to find the deeper benefits of listening to and playing music. From sci-fi notions of increased fetal development to everyday emotional healing, the growing field of music therapy is presenting increasing amounts of evidence that points toward the greater powers of music.

Emotional benefits
The right song can put anybody in a better mood and soothe emotional turmoil. We all go through our phases, and most people will turn to certain songs to improve their moods. The main reason behind this phenomenon is that music has the ability to verbalize and express our feelings better than any other medium. Additionally, we have favorite songs for particular situations because we tune into the melodies that capture our vibe the best.

To enhance the relationship between your emotional state and music, try creating associations among songs and moods. This way, when you feel a certain way, you will know exactly which song or CD to listen to in order to give you the lift or the calm you need in any given moment.

Music and exercise
Have you ever noticed how pumped you get when listening to an AC/DC song while doing a chest press at the gym? Now flip your iPod to Nana Mouskouri and take note of how much heavier those plates got. It has been suggested that stimulating music can actually increase muscle tension, while sedative music decreases the muscle tension. 

It has also been documented that music can improve motor skills. An experiment conducted on a handful of elementary students proved that children learning basic motor skills such as throwing, catching and jumping while listening to music did better than those who practiced the same exercises with no music. Maybe if MLB players were given some headphones during a losing season, such as the Royals in 2006, they could turn that season around. 

Chronic pain relief
Music has the ability to ease the perception of chronic pain. In fact, according to a paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, music can reduce chronic pain by up to 21%. The paper reports that 60 patients participated in a controlled clinical trial and were subdivided into two groups -- music and no music. 

The results revealed that people who listened to music for an hour each day for a week had improved physical and psychological symptoms compared to those who were deprived of music.

As stated earlier, music can put you in a better mood, which can advance recovery time since a positive-thinking patient almost always recovers better and faster than a patient filled with negative energy. Music shouldn’t be considered a first-line treatment for your chronic pain, but once medical treatment is underway, a healthy dose of your favorite tracks can help ease the suffering.

Better grades
According to the American Music Conference (AMC), music won’t rot your mind -- in fact, it’s actually good for your thinking-cap. The AMC has cited research that has shown that studying and creating music may help improve your capacity to learn other subjects and get better grades overall.

Apparently, the human brain works very much like musical note patterns. Whether or not the style and depth of the music plays a role has yet to be determined. All we know is that the thought patterns that arise while creating music help increase language learning, math skills and social skills -- among others.

Developed interaction within the brain
Short of mentioning the cortex and the subcortical layers, some research shows that people who play music have a more developed interaction between their left and right sides of the brain.

The experts claim that music functions as an exercise for the transmission of signals in your noggin. These transmissions are used for the activation of other mental duties. 

The “Mozart effect” is the most popularly known notion, in which it was demonstrated that listening to classical music, more specifically to a Mozart piano sonata, increased the measured results on the Stanford-Binet IQ test by eight to nine points. 

In a similar exercise, rats were exposed to the same music and displayed an increase in their skill in a maze experiment.

The one underlying fact throughout all of the research is that music plays a positive role in many areas of human development. Also, it is unknown exactly what the specific effects of different rhythmic patterns play in each of the areas discussed here. Let’s not forget pitch frequencies, harmonies and arrangements among numerous other variables that make music research difficult to pin point. The world of music is infinite, and establishing patterns in its effects might take a little longer than expected. 

Whether it is fact or fiction, the great powers of music are undeniable. From trying to increase you’re learning ability to simply kicking back to your favorite song with a cold brew, music seems to have a positive effect on absolutely every individual who can hear a harmony.

 

By: Beisman, G. L. & Pearce, K. A.

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