Sometimes I want to spin this off into a music blog. As I type at my kitchen table, I’m floored by the delicate flamenco guitar wafting from my speakers. Alas, this is not a blog about melody, so I won’t be breaking down this particular piece note for note. I’ll leave that to my musician father.
This is, however, is a lifestyle site. We may shy away from analyzing compositions, but music should be playing (see?) a role in your life.
Perhaps the biggest claim made about music is that it makes you smarter. This broad statement isn’t particularly bankable, but there is a smidgen of merit. From the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine:
In 1993 Rauscher et al. made the surprising claim that, after listening to Mozart’s sonata for two pianos (K448) for 10 minutes, normal subjects showed significantly better spatial reasoning skills than after periods of listening to relaxation instructions designed to lower blood pressure or silence. The mean spatial IQ scores were 8 and 9 points higher after listening to the music than in the other two conditions. The enhancing effect did not extend beyond 10-15 minutes…However, Rauscher has stressed that the Mozart effect is limited to spatial temporal reasoning and that there is no enhancement of general intelligence…
You can’t substitute an hour browsing iTunes for a world-class education. It’s clear, however, music impacts our bodies far beyond simply pleasing our ears. From emedexpert.com:
Music can boost the immune function. Scientists explain that a particular type of music can create a positive and profound emotional experience, which leads to secretion of immune-boosting hormones. This helps contribute to a reduction in the factors responsible for illness. Listening to music or singing can also decrease levels of stress-related hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol can lead to a decreased immune response.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that music is going to magically make you well if you’re sick. Wellness isn’t about a pill you can pop. Music is but a piece of the puzzle. Feeling strong is about how we treat others and ourselves and then taking healthy actions to find value at the margins. If listening to our favorite sounds can make our systems even slightly more equipped to protect us, is there even a downside? From Penn State Medical Center:
Music is an effective stress reducer in both healthy individuals and people with health problems. Research finds that listening to soothing music can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety levels in heart patients.
Guessing my Rage Against the Machine records don’t classify as soothing. Lucky for me, I’m no stranger to the likes of Coltrane, Schubert and Paco De Lucia. There’s something calming about the smell of yams baking (I’m in my kitchen, remember?) and notes floating. Soothing is good. From USA Today:
Listening to slow musical beats can alter brainwave speed, creating brainwave activity similar to when a person is meditating or in a hypnotic state. Some research suggests that using rhythmic stimuli (such as music) to induce these states can have a therapeutic effect, easing symptoms of migraines, PMS, and even behavioral issues.
Think of it like this: Music is an ingredient in your recipe, a veggie in your garden, a spice on your rack. It’s an enhancement to your life. If it makes you healthier even only peripherally, and I believe it does, we should navigate our days with a soundtrack.
Time to eat those yams,