Surprising benefits of Music
Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain. It is intrinsic to all cultures and can have surprising benefits not only for learning language, improving memory and focusing attention, but also for physical coordination and development.
Of course, music can be distracting if it’s too loud or too jarring, or if it competes for our attention with what we’re trying to do. But for the most part, exposure to many kinds of music has beneficial effects:
Overall, music does have positive effects on pain management. Music can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and postoperative pain.
Reducing blood pressure
By playing recordings of relaxing music every morning and evening, people with high blood pressure can train themselves to lower their blood pressure - and keep it low. According to research reported at the American Society of Hypertension meeting in New Orleans, listening to just 30 minutes of classical, Celtic or raga music every day may significantly reduce high blood pressure.
Medicine for the heart
Music is good for your heart. Research shows that it is musical tempo, rather than style. Italian and British researchers recruited young men and women, half of whom were trained musicians. The participants slipped on head phones and listened to six styles of music, including rap and classical pieces, with random two-minute pauses. As the participants kicked back and listened, the researchers monitored their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. The participants had faster heart and breathing rates when they listened to lively music. When the musical slowed, so did their heart and breathing rates. Some results were surprising. During the musical pauses, heart and breathing rates normalized or reached more optimal levels. Whether or not a person liked the style of music did not matter. The tempo, or pace, of the music had the greatest effect on relaxation.
Music boosts immunity
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.
Music improves memory performance
The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart’s music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activates the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, cause the brain to be more capable of processing information.
Music improves concentration and attention
Easy listening music or relaxing classics improves the duration and intensity of concentration in all age groups and ability levels. It’s not clear what type of music is better, or what kind of musical structure is necessary to help, but many studies have shown significant effects.
Music improves body movement and coordination
Music reduces muscle tension and improves body movement and coordination. Music may play an important role in developing, maintaining and restoring physical functioning in the rehabilitation of persons with movement disorders.
Relaxing music induces sleep
Relaxing classical music is safe, cheap and easy way to beat insomnia1. Many people who suffer from insomnia find that Bach music helps them. Researchers have shown that just 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime can make for a restful night.
Prescription for the blues
Music’s ability to “heal the soul” is the stuff of legend in every culture. Many people find that music lifts their spirits. Modern research tends to confirm music’s psychotherapeutic benefits. Bright, cheerful music (e.g. Mozart, Vivaldi, bluegrass, Klezmer, Salsa, reggae) is the most obvious prescription for the blues.