The Benefits of Music


Music is a global art form, celebrated across cultures around the globe. Musicians compose songs using vocal or instrumental sounds for aesthetic beauty or emotional expression.

Scholars have explored potential functions of music from an evolutionary standpoint. Others have compiled lists of its functions through open surveys or literature research.

It Exercises the Brain

As with any exercise, regular music listening strengthens your brain. Because music stimulates all parts of the brain at once and brings them all into coordination, music can help improve cognitive function, spatial-temporal reasoning and neurogenesis (the ability of neurons to form new connections).

Studies have demonstrated the physical differences in musicians’ brains compared to non-musicians’. One such study discovered that pianists have larger corpus callosums compared to non-pianists; another demonstrated that musicians possess stronger links between motor areas of the brain and fingers, signifying enhanced coordination.

Many of us have heard the expression, “Use it or lose it.” This also applies to our brains – unused pathways can weaken and eventually be forgotten if not stimulated regularly. Music provides an effective way of keeping the brain stimulated; playing it regularly activates nearly all its pathways and keeps your mind sharp!

It Improves Memory

Music not only enhances our emotional well-being but can also have an incredible effect on memory. According to one study, researchers discovered that stroke patients exhibited improved verbal memory and focused attention when listening to their favorite tunes daily as opposed to audio books or control groups who did nothing at all.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to discover that familiar songs stimulate an area in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain that controls emotions and memories, particularly when listening to personal music such as songs that recall happy events. Furthermore, their researchers discovered that when hearing such personal songs that bring back happy memories the connection between these areas became even stronger.

Researchers have also discovered that musical training enhances implicit and explicit memory for familiar tunes by manipulating surface characteristics like timbre or tempo. These effects indicate that learning a musical instrument provides an essential foundation for future skills by improving temporal processing and aligning attention in time, key factors for cognitive development.

It Enhances Creativity

Music can also trigger powerful feelings and allow us to express them creatively, helping us express ourselves creatively. Additionally, it serves as an incredible social unifier; from mother and child singing together at bedtime or ancestral men dancing before hunting or battles, music has the ability to bring people closer and build community.

Recent experimenters exposed participants to silence or classical music aimed at inducing four distinct emotional states (happy, calm, sad and anxious). After listening, participants completed creativity tasks which measured divergent and convergent thinking respectively; results indicated that listening to happy music significantly enhanced creativity on divergent thinking tasks while not improving performance on convergent tasks.

Results indicate that there is no single type of music which stimulates creativity; therefore it is vitally important that one experiment with various genres and tempos of music until finding one which works for themselves and puts them in their most productive and creative state. By finding their unique style of music which puts them into their ideal state they may find ways to increase productivity and creativity more readily.

It Reduces Stress

Stress can be an enormous source of discomfort. Your body releases hormones such as cortisol to help your cope with stressful situations, but over time these levels can increase and lead to anxiety or depression. That’s why taking steps such as listening to music can be so helpful in relieving tension.

No matter if it be Native American, Celtic, Indian-stringed drums or light jazz; music has been proven to help reduce cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase levels, helping restore your pre-stress state. Unfortunately, studies in this field are few in number and often report discrepancies which could be due to methodological constraints.

One key point about stress recovery is its relationship to returning to pre-stress baselines; therefore, future investigations must take this into account when designing their studies. Furthermore, a clear definition of stress recovery must exist in order to enable comparison between studies; researchers should focus on investigating neuroendocrine and autonomic mechanisms behind stress recovery.