Written by Dr. Eric Perry
“Music is the universal language of mankind” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Around my house, I am known as the music man. I have the habit of walking around playing music out loud from my phone. I have my own personal soundtrack to my life, continuously playing. Music for me is like a dose of happiness. I love all types of music. It makes me feel joyful and optimistic. When I write I love to listen to classical music. I feel it helps me focus and research appears to validate what I have noticed. Studies have been done on the effects of classical music and it appears that it is exceptionally beneficial for our brains and overall health. These positive effects are universal regardless of gender, class or nationality. Here are some ways that classical music has been shown to be beneficial:
1. Improves focus
Numerous studies have shown that listening to classical music such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven can improve focus. It appears that the complex and continuously changing melodies of classical music help the mind stay focused by keeping it engaged. When your brain is expecting to hear a certain note but is surprised by an unexpected chord or harmony, a cognitive stumble occurs. This disruption will cause the part of your brain that is responsible for attention to become engaged. In a sense, it wakes up the brain.
2. Lowers blood pressure
Classical music helps maintain the heart healthy. Research from the University of San Diego compared changes in blood pressure among individuals listening to classical, jazz, pop or no music. The study showed that individuals listening to classical music had significantly lower systolic blood pressure compared to those listening to other types of music. Other research indicates that classical music can help improve cardiocirculatory function and a further study on the effects of specifically listening to Mozart showed that it lowers both blood pressure and heart rate.
3. Improves immune system
Research shows that listening to classical music can help boost your immune system. When we listen to music that touches us on a deep emotional level our bodies produce certain immunity boosting hormones that help ward off illnesses. One can say that music that touches your soul will literally give you more life.
4. Improves Memory
Classical music makes your brain dance. In one study, EEG machines were used to record electrical brain activity of participants as they listened to classical music. People who listened to Mozart showed increased brain activity in areas linked directly to memory, understanding, and problem-solving.
5. Relieves Pain
Studies have shown that patients who listen to classical music post-operation used significantly less pain medication than those who listened to no music. There are other studies that reveal it may alleviate chronic non-malignant pain. A study done on individuals who suffered chronic headaches showed that when music was paired with their normal medical treatment they were better able to cope with pain. Of course, classical music should not replace medication, but a little classical music does no harm and might help alleviate some pain.
One Last Note! 🎼
The Mozart Effect states that listening to Mozart’s music will make you more intelligent. Many parents accepted this theory and consequently had their children exclusively listen to Mozart even while in the womb. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case as recent studies have shown that there is nothing uniquely beneficial about Mozart’s music. Current studies suggest that taking any music lessons at an early age will enhance brain function and structure. Research shows that children with musical training do better in language, reading and math than children who have not had similar training. The good news is you don’t need to become a virtuoso. Just half an hour a day will benefit your brain.
Thank you for reading and I would love to hear how music impacts your life.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
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