May 2017 – Benefits of Music

An article in USA Today listed 20 science backed ways music is helpful to us. Among many other things it has the ability to induce a meditative state, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel functioning and improve cognitive performance.   Across cultures there is variety in what people like, but the type of music that is actually calming or exciting to our system is the same all over the world. I am sure you have at some time felt better after listening to a certain tune. I have my dinner music, my workout tunes and house cleaning music (need to play more often). On the flip side there are a few songs that make me cry almost every time I hear them.

Studies show improved athletic performance and the ability to workout longer when music with a beat is used. I know this from teaching, when my sound system does not work it is much harder to motivate students. Group fitness instructors are taught to set music to what our class members like. I switched up the music for one of my classes that I thought was kind of reserved. I played music from their youth and the energy of the room completely changed. People started dancing in their spots waiting to for class to start and they were bustin’ out some pretty cool moves on their way to get weights. Studies have shown we have very strong associations with songs heard when we where young, as these were highly emotional times. We often never forget a song that was playing on a first date or at a school dance.

Many experts think our judgments about what we like in music is formed by our early 30’s. They say when younger we like whatever is popular at the time. I did not meet that guideline. In my teens I fell in love with big band music. I went through a smooth jazz phase in my early 20’s. I try not to get stuck in a style and Cajun/Zydeco is a more recent musical interest. I love the upbeat tempos. One way I keep open to newer sounds is to listen to college radio. Here in Minnesota the free summer music scene is starting soon, and I am planning some listening time.