Research has shown that music has a profound effect on your body and psyche. In fact, there’s a growing field of health care known as music therapy, which uses music to improve our health. Those who practice music therapy are finding a benefit in using music to help cancer patients, depressed children and others, and even hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension, and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring.
This is not surprising, as music affects the body and mind in many powerful ways. The following are some of effects of music, which help to explain the effectiveness of music therapy and how it improve our health:
- Brain Waves: Research has shown that music with a strong beat can stimulate brainwaves to resonate in sync with the beat, with faster beats bringing sharper concentration and more alert thinking, and a slower tempo promoting a calm, meditative state. Also, research has found that the change in brainwave activity levels that music can bring can also enable the brain to shift speeds more easily on its own as needed, which means that music can bring lasting benefits to your state of mind, even after you’ve stopped listening.
- Breathing and Heart Rate: With alterations in brainwaves comes changes in other bodily functions. Those governed by the autonomic nervous system, such as breathing and heart rate can also be altered by the changes music can bring. This can mean slower breathing, slower heart rate, and an activation of the relaxation response, among other things. This is why music and music therapy can help counteract or prevent the damaging effects of chronic stress, greatly promoting not only relaxation, but health.
- State of Mind: Music can also be used to bring a more positive state of mind, helping to keep depression and anxiety at bay. This can help prevent the stress response from wreaking havoc on the body, and can help keep creativity and optimism levels higher, bringing many other benefits.
- Other Benefits: Music has also been found to bring many other benefits, such as lowering blood pressure (which can also reduce the risk of stroke and other health problems over time), boost immunity, ease muscle tension, and more. With so many benefits and such profound physical effects, it’s no surprise that so many are seeing music as an important tool to help the body in staying (or becoming) healthy.
Using Music Therapy: With all these benefits that music can carry, it’s no surprise that music therapy is growing in popularity. Many hospitals are using music therapists for pain management and other uses. Music therapists help with several other issues as well, including stress. For more information on music therapy, visit the American Music Therapy Association’s website.
Using Music On Your Own: While music therapy is an important discipline, you can also achieve many benefits from music on your own. Music can be used in daily life for relaxation, to gain energy when feeling drained, for catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and in other ways as well. This article on music, relaxation and stress management can explain more of how music can be an especially effective tool for stress management, and can be used in daily life.
Does all music have positive effects?
Some research has suggested it can increase aggressive thoughts, or encourage crime.
Recently, a UK study explored how “drill” music — a genre of rap characterized by threatening lyrics — might be linked to attention-seeking crime. That’s not new, but the emergence of social media allows more recording and sharing.
Beside music, the paper looks at social media’s role in fueling violence. The online platforms readily used by many, have given gang rivalries the chance to move online and encourage comments from supporters and opposing groups, which only adds to the pressure to react.
However, there are multiple reasons for the rise in crime, according to Pinkney. He explains that poverty, deprivation, racism, poor leadership, lack of corporate investments, lack of opportunities and resources also contribute.
Daniel Levitin, professor of psychology and music at McGill University in Canada, points out that it is difficult to analyze whether music can create violence.
Studies have very mixed evidence, and mostly use observational data instead of controlled experiments that can take into account people’s personality. People who are already prone to violence might be drawn to violent music, Levitin explained. But that doesn’t mean everybody who enjoys hat music is violent.
“When you’ve got violent behaviors that mimic something that’s out there in the music or art world it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the art caused the person to become violent,” he added. “But just because it’s easy to conclude it doesn’t mean that it’s true.”
Can music increase your performance?
Research on music for productivity is inconclusive, to say the least. Some studies show that background music can improve your episodic memory and overall cognitive performance, yet other research suggests that background music can actually be a detriment to your ability to focus and learn. Still others say that it has no effect one way or another.
There are factors that affect whether background music works or music improve health, too: Some research suggests that background music needs to be free of lyrics in order to promote productivity; other studies say simply that whether music aids in concentrating depends on how much a worker likes or dislikes the music.
How music can trigger emotions?
The subjective experience of music across cultures can be mapped within at least 13 overarching feelings: amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up.
Everyone can relate to the experience of listening to a melancholic playlist and then not being able to escape the mood. But, according to research, even how we perceive the world around us can be influenced by music.
Researchers at the University of Groningen showed in an experiment that listening to sad or happy music can not only put people in a different mood, but also change what people notice.
In a 2011 study, 43 students listened to happy or sad music in the background as they were tasked with identifying happy and sad faces. When happy music was played participants spotted more happy faces and the opposite was true for sad music.
The researchers argue that this could be because the perceptual decision on our sensory stimuli, in the experiment’s case the face expressions, are directly influenced by our state of mind.
But if music can change our mood and perception, the question remains if that is a good thing or music improve health really.
Another recent study says it depends. People with clinical depression tendencies were found to feel worse after listening to sad music. On the other hand, those who didn’t have these tendencies reported feeling better after listening to sad music. It helps work through emotions and fosters connections between people, previous research said.
The study included people with and without depression and found that both groups felt better after listening to happy music.
how music relieve stress?
Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed while releasing the stress of the day. Music improve health and is effective for relaxation and stress management.
Research confirms these personal experiences with music. Current findings indicate that music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat causing alpha brainwaves (frequencies from 8 – 14 hertz or cycles per second).
This alpha brainwave is what is present when we are relaxed and conscious. To induce sleep (a delta brainwave of 5 hertz), a person may need to devote at least 45 minutes, in a relaxed position, listening to calming music. Researchers at Stanford University have said that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.” They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.
So what type of music reduces stress the best? A bit surprising is that Native American, Celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums, and flutes are very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud. Sounds of rain, thunder, and nature sounds may also be relaxing particularly when mixed with other music, such as light jazz, classical (the “largo” movement), and easy listening music. Since with music we are rarely told the beats per minute, how do you choose the relaxation music that is best for you? The answer partly rests with you: You must first like the music being played, and then it must relax you. You could start by simply exploring the music on this web page. Some may relax you, some may not. Forcing yourself to listen to relaxation music that irritates you can create tension, not reduce it. If that happens, try looking for alternatives on the internet or consult with Counseling Service staff for other musical suggestions. It is important to remember that quieting your mind does not mean you will automatically feel sleepy. It means your brain and body are relaxed, and with your new calm self, you can then function at your best in many activities. Let music improve health.
What kind of music help you concentrate?
With the fact that there’s little scientific consensus in mind, it’s worth looking at the handful of research studies on different types of music and their ability to aid in concentration and how music improve health?
Despite the muting of the Mozart Effect, some research still suggests that classical music can help people learn and focus (just not as impressively so as the 1990s would have you believe). For example, one study found that college students who listened to classical music during lecture learned more than those who listened to the same lecture without classical music. Some research suggests, however, that classical (or any type of complex) music is best when performing simple tasks, rather than complicated ones.
Ambient music is a style of gentle, tone-based music that utilizes ambient sounds like the hum of an air conditioner or the buzz of TV static. Ambient music often lacks a true beat, usually doesn’t have lyrics, and ends up blending into the pre-existing background noise — this is why ambient sounds like white noise are often used at sleep aids.
In terms of focus and productivity, one study found that white noise can help people with ADHD ignore noisy environments and perform tasks with more efficiency. There’s still a lot of work to do, however, when it comes to understanding when ambient noise helps and when it doesn’t, according to recent research from the University of Alberta.
We already know that spending time in nature is good for our physical health. It turns out that listening to nature sounds, even when trapped in an office, can boost your mood and promote deep focus. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York found that soothing nature sounds, such as rainfall, can mask intrusive sounds and help workers stay on task.
This Nature Sounds playlist has more than one million monthly listeners, a good indication that the playlist works for something, be it relaxation, sleep or focus.
Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute
Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that’s important in helping you stay focused and productive, but the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.
Dr. Emma Gray, a cognitive behavioral therapist, worked with Spotify to research the benefits of certain types of music. She found that listening to music set in the 50- to 80-beat range puts the brain into an alpha state.
When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brain-wave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”
If you have ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not really hearing the music at all, this is an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.
Your favorite music
When it comes to tackling projects that you’re not really excited about, it can help to put on music you enjoy. Studies have found that putting on your favorite type of music can improve your mood and productivity.
Teresa Lesiuk, an assistant professor in the music therapy program at the University of Miami, found that personal choice in music is important when deciding what to listen to while working, especially for those who are moderately skilled at their jobs. Her research found that participants who listened to music they enjoyed completed their tasks faster and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t because the music helped them feel better and improved their mood.
The only time this didn’t hold true was if the music participants listened to was distracting, such as having a beat that was too fast or lyrics that caught their attention.
So, the next time you need to plow through a mountain of paperwork or stay focused on a task, try turning on your favorite tunes.
Let check whether music improve health or not. For this, you will be conducting a music therapy experiment for two days while you are at home doing work. On one day, do your work while listening to a fast paced song. On another day, do your homework listening to a slow song.
Answer these questions for each day:
- Which song did you listen to? (Title and Artist)
- How did the song make you feel and why?
- Were you more or less productive then normal while doing your work by listening to this song? Explain.
- Did you enjoy listening to music while doing work? Why or why not?
- (Only answer this question after you finished your second experiment) Which song did you prefer working to and why? Write both entries in one Word document or email it to us.