Music Benefits Us All

Find Your Spark! Workshop - Anya Beebe

Most of us have heard music or been involved in music at some point in our lives. Music actually has the potential to help us out in ways that may not have crossed your mind. Continue reading to find out more about the benefits of music.

Helps ease pain – Using music to ease pain has been found particularly effective in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine. However, studies with other populations such as with people who have fibromyalgia show similar outcomes of pain reduction. Though it is not completely clear why music helps with pain reduction, one hypothesis is music’s impact on dopamine release. Another possible explanation is the the link between pain and stress and the effects of music on stress reduction contributing to the pain reduction since there is such a close link.

Supports exercise performance – Listening to music helps increase motivation to cycle harder, improves running motivation and performance, increases workout endurance, and even helps with speeding up post-workout recovery.

Blood vessel function enhancement – When scientists looked at the effect that listening to music has on blood vessel function, they found that the emotions patients experience have a healthy effect on those vessels. People felt both happier and had in increased blood flow in their blood vessels.

Stress and anxiety reduction – Biological reactions to stress can be calmed by listening to music. For example, music can prevent anxiety-induced increases in heart rate and systolic blood pressure while decreasing cortisol levels. Research has also shown that while listening to slow tempo and low pitch music without lyrics or loud instrumentation that people can be calmed even if the situation is highly stressful or painful. Further studies have been done in specific contexts like after surgery all revealing similar results.

Helps with depression and elevates mood – Music has the potential to help pick people up but the type of music does matter. While classical and meditative sounds have a more uplifting effect, heavy metal and techno have the potential to make depressive symptoms worse. In a 2013 study, researchers revealed that music helped put people in a better mood and get in touch with their feelings.

Improved cognitive performance – For this benefit to be accurate, it depends on whether the music first improves the emotional state.

Improvement in immune functioning – According to studies performed by Wilkes University and Massachusetts General Hospital and 2013 meta-analysis by authors Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel Levitin, music has the potential to positively effect the immune system.

Helps with memory – Once again dopamine plays a role here. When dopamine is released from enjoying music it has an effect on motivation which in turn is linked to learning and memory. Studies have been conducted that use music in different ways like listening to music all the way to actually singing to test this effect. Different contexts such as with memorization or memory loss due to illness have also been utilized.

Other surprising benefits include: improvements in quality of sleep, supports in people eating less, and helps with better performance in high-pressure situations.

Music Education and Children – Bonus

Music at a young age can have impacts developmentally as well. Researchers have demonstrated that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances other skills that children draw on in other areas of life. When learning music children utilize multiple skills sets, many times simultaneously.

Language development – The impact on the brain from learning music reveals physical development in the left part of the brain that is involved in language processing and wires the brain’s connection in specific ways. As the relationship between music and language development is social advantageous, when children engage in music their capacity to be verbally competent is strengthened and they do better in social situations.

Brain engagement – Neuroscience is starting to show that children involved in music have larger growth of neural activity than people who were not trained music. As a musician with an instrument, the brain is being asked to engage and be accessed more often.

Spatial-temporal skills – Through additional research a causal link between music and spatial intelligence has been brought to our attention. By understanding music children are better able to visualize various elements that belong together.

Test score improvement – A 2007 study out of the University of Kansas, showed that elementary school students with a good music education program scored higher in English and math standardized tests when compared to students who had a low-quality music program. The interesting part was that these results held true despite socioeconomic disparities among the schools or school districts. Christopher Johnson, author of the study, draws a connection between the required concentration that music training and the concentration needed to perform well on a standardized test. Music training also helps with memory recall.

Other benefits include that children may experience include: development of critical thinking, leadership skills, self-esteem, and the ability to work cooperatively in teams.

Next time you have the instinct to listen to music to give you a boost go ahead and listen to that instinct and let the music help you. Happy listening!

Resources and References:
Greatist.com – 20 Surprising, Science-Backed Health Benefits of Music
Huffiest Healthy Living – 5 Ways Music Improves Our Health
PBS Parents – The Benefits of Music Education
Save The Music Foundation – The Importance of Music Education
Lifehack – Scientists Find 15 Amazing Benefits Of Listening To Music
The Atlantic – Using Music to Close the Academic Gap
National Geographic – Your Aging Brain Will Be in Better Shape If You’ve Taken Music Lessons
Science Daily – First Evidence That Musical Training Affects Brain Development In Young Children
Wheaton College – Long Term Benefits of Music Study
Program for Early Parent Support – Benefits of Music in Child Development

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