Music can help people in many ways. Music is known to help people with memory and languages problems by helping them remember and learning how to speak again. It can also improve your health and productivity and it serves as a form of expression, as well as a way for teenagers to understand and identify some emotions that they might be feeling. Listening to music is also good for people who are under a lot of stress, so they can relax and sleep better. Because taking music lessons can also improve many skills, it’s recommendable to get involved with it to help yourself in school or work. For patients with mental illnesses, like Alzheimer and dementia, taking music therapy can be really helpful mentally, physically and emotionally.
How Music Affects Human Beings
The auditory system is the most abundant in the human body, which is why listening to music can affect people. Many have said that music makes them feel better; some say that listening to music helps them learn; others, it motivates. While reading in the internet we found many interesting stories of how music has helped stroke patients learn how to talk again, how patients with Alzheimer could regain some of their memories, and that premature babies could gain weight while listening to music. When we read this, we couldn’t help but wonder how can all of this happen with music?
Musicians have better memory than people who don’t know how to play an instrument. This is because their training gives them a high working-memory brain. Having this is good because it enhances thinking and concentration, and you develop better listening abilities. Music training can improve verbal memory and attention. Because it helps concentration, you are able to remember what you are being told and you can distinguish what a specific person is telling you even if you are in a noisy room. This is a very useful ability in school because classrooms are usually very noisy and paying attention can become very difficult, but, if you learn this, you can concentrate on the class and what is being taught. Psychologists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong wanted to prove that kids who receive musical training have better verbal memory and they divided a group of 90 boys into 2 groups, half of them had received musical training. They gave the kids verbal memory tests to see how many words they could remember and the group that had received musical training had remembered more word than the other group, and learned more words with every test.
It’s been said that listening to music can help patients with dementia. Henry Dryer is a 92 year old man who has dementia and has been living in a nursing home for 10 years. Before he was given an iPod, Henry would sit and stay quiet for hours. After he started to listen to his favorite music, which is Cab Calloway, he started to have short conversations and he could remember some things from the past. The reason why it happens is because when you listen to music you are stimulating the hippocampus, which is where the memory is located. When you listen to music you are creating a new memory with music. Even if retrograde and anterograde amnesia are affected, your musical memory could be intact, and it can help you stimulate some of your other memory.
According to Gardner (1983), every person has a different kind of mind and there are 7 types of intelligences that people can use to learn in a way that’s easier for them to learn. One of these intelligences is musical. People with musical intelligence can learn a lesson by turning it into a song.
Learning how to speak a new language can become easy while listening to music. Listening and singing along to music of the language that you want to learn helps you learn how to pronounce the words correctly; it expands your vocabulary, and it teaches you some typical phrases from that culture. Musicians are able to learn new languages even faster, since they are able to turn sound patterns into words. They’re able to do this because they have to learn how to recognize specific sounds within melodies and have to compose their own music.
Learning how to play an instrument at a young age can help improve your reading skills. The brain can adapt and change while you train and exercise it. Playing an instrument teaches the brain to choose what’s more important in a complicated process, like reading and communicating. In an investigation made by Piro and Ortiz, they took two groups of children that were as similar as possible, apart from knowing how to play an instrument, and they analyzed that at the end of the year, the group that had taking music lessons had better vocabulary and verbal sequencing scores than the group that didn’t take lessons.
Learning music can also help kids in math. San Francisco State University researchers co-designed a curriculum called “Academic Music” where they use music to teach third graders fractions. They divided a group into two groups, one group was going to follow their curriculum, and the other group was going to receive the regular curriculum. They would teach these students fractions by associating them with the value of a musical note. They learned how to add and subtract by drawing notes in a music sheet making sure that the results gave four beats in each bar. At the end, the group taking the musical program had improved 50% in fractions tests.
Music has been known to help people with stroke to learn how to speak again. Music functions are located on the right side of the brain and the language functions are on the left side of the brain. People with stroke can learn how to speak again by singing, training their brain to move the music functions to left side of the brain associating it with language and, finally learning how to talk again.
Listening to Mozart can increase spatial-temporal intelligence. This is the ability to visualize and manipulate an object mentally. People who have spatial intelligence use the right side of their brain, which is why they have a lot of imagination and creativity and they enjoy art. People with this ability can become artists, architects, physicists, navigators, chess players, and golfers because they can see the world from an observer’s point of view.
According to Diamond, the reason why this happens is because “On a computer monitor, the patterns look like brightly colored strips of Native American beadwork with geometric patterns that continually shift and change. And they sound a bit like Mozart”. But, unfortunately, this doesn’t work for everybody, as this can only last for 10 to 15 minutes in adults after the songs are over, but the younger you’re exposed to this type of music, the longer it will last because it will start to accumulate.
Music, for teenagers, is a way to express, identify and express certain emotions. When a teenager focuses more on the lyrics, they are identifying and expressing sadness or happiness, and psychological or sociological problems. For teenagers struggling with problems that are associated with adolescence, sexuality, sexual orientation, loneliness, sadness or depression, music can be really helpful for understanding these emotions. When a teen feels incapable to talk about their problems and emotions with their friends or family, whether it’s because they feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, listening to songs of similar subjects makes them feel that they have someone they can relate to, and feel less lonely. Music can serve as a mood changer for teenagers, it can strengthen positive emotions, but you must be careful to what you listen to because some songs can also reinforce negative emotions.
Listening to certain genres of music can give teenagers admittance to a group of other teenage that share the same likes of music. Adolescent music groups range from straight-edge punk cliques to progressive-rock aficionados and hip-hop heads. Sharing the love of a music genre gives those in the group an opportunity to construct a good friendship and share common interests, which can benefit emotionally the teens. Live music events, like concerts in which teens are allowed to attend, are a safe and supervised way for kids to socialize and meet other people without the involvement of alcohol and drugs. However, being identified with certain groups could also cause negative effects on teenagers because certain types of music are associated with violence, sexism or gang culture. For teenage girls, sexist music can reduce their self-esteem and confidence
Being involved with music, whether it is listening, creating or a performing it can be extremely helpful for people when they to express what they’re feeling. Writing lyrics is a way for singer-songwriters to release their emotions. Amy Lee, of the band Evanescence, describes to St. Petersburg Times that music is her therapy. Music gives teenagers a channel for them to express themselves, releasing and dealing with their emotions, whether it’s listening to the lyrics of a song, writing one, or dancing like crazy at a concert or live show.
Music can be used as a form of self-expression. Repressing or “bottling up” an emotion can be very unhealthy, and music can be like a channel for teenagers to express their emotions by listening to music or playing an instrument. Teenagers who make their own music or write their own lyrics are able to express themselves better through the music than they could in a non-musical conversation. Bottling up emotions is one of the factors that could cause panic attacks because it is linked to them, according to a report in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy (2004).
Music therapy can allow the families to have an emotional intimacy and relax while they spend time together in an interesting, positive and creative way, which is very meaningful. Additional studies show that music therapy can cause changes in physiology by releasing brain chemicals including melatonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin and prolactin, which help reduce depression, regulate mood and make patients feel calm and more able to sleep.
Music helps the heart. It’s the tempo of the music that’s good for your heart health. In a research made by Europeans, they made a test where they played music to their patients while monitoring their breathing, heart rates and blood pressure. They found that when they played upbeat music, their patients had faster heart beats and breathing and when they played them slow music, their heart rate slowed down and their anxiety and stress levels decreased.
The stress hormone cortisol can affect the ability to think, remember, concentrate and reason, it also causes health problems if it rises too much. Music helps lower this hormone, decreasing stress and helping the person to relax. Slow music helps people relax because it lowers respiration and the heartbeat.
Music has a very strong and definite physiological and psychological effect on people. Consonant harmony can produce many different effects. Consonant harmony can have an upbeat or slow rhythm, it can be bright or dark, it can cheer a person, it can be melancholic, lyrical or disconnected. Dissonant harmony might occasionally have similar effects as consonant harmony, but it’s usually agitating, irritating, or it can have one of any of the other negative effects. It is important to note that individual dissonances occur in consonant harmony, so do consonances in dissonant harmony. This refers to the character of the harmony as a whole.
Although words have a definite effect on the music’s listener, their main influence is manifested through rhythm and tempo, which will be discussed later. The disharmonic use of words in music involves meaningless phrases and repeating excessively one part of the song (as classified by Torres and Torres). Overly repeating the words is what makes them meaningless, or, for example, in religious music, irrelevance to the music or message. The words have a much more understandable meaning in harmonic music. They are related to the composition, and are not repeated excessively.
Many types of disharmonic music, Rock being included as one of them, can become addictive to many people. Schram, who loved to listen to popular music, explained in an interview (1999) that, if he doesn’t listen to his favorite style of music, he often gets depressed. Many other people have said that the same thing has happened to them after they stop listening to their favorite types of music for too long. However, they explain that they haven’t been affected negatively. The “withdrawal” symptoms, such as depression, probably occur because it was customary for them to be hyped all the time and because of the rhythm and tempo and, by taking the music away, it suddenly slowed them down, causing all of this. When some people change from disharmonic to harmonic music, they explain that they’re feeling better, after the initial withdrawal symptoms.
It is also interesting to note that it is possible to minimize the negative effect that disharmonic music has, but only while consciously listening critically to the music and forcing it into the conscious mind disharmonic music causes a number of negative behaviors, although, according to Torres and Torres, those who suffer this are the last ones to notice it. But, thankfully, everyone can choose what music they like and want to listen to. But, it’s still important to know the basic meaning of what harmonic and disharmonic music is.
According to the research I did, the music has different effects depending on the genre you listen to. Children and teenagers can sometimes have a hard time interpreting their emotions in music. This mostly happens when listening to rap music, because the lyrics that are used in this genre, usually, talk about street gangs, guns, violence, sex and drug use, which makes it harder for the teens, and children who listen to this music, to relate to the rapper. This is why rap music has been blamed of acclaiming violent behavior. It is said that being exposed to rap music tends to make people accept the use of violence. Many rap artists have been charged with violent crimes and have been involved with drug problems in real life, which makes many people think that the messages that these artists send through their music is about excuses of why they used violence. Even though there are violence, drug and sex references in modern rock, most of them try to send a deep message about life through their songs. It has been determined that rock music has more influence on older adolescence then in their parents.
It has been prove that music can be used to help the body in many ways. It can have a therapeutic effect against pain, modify blood pressure, treats many mental sicknesses, depression, Down syndrome, insomnia, and many other problems in the human body. According to a musicologist named Julius Portnoy (1978), not only can music change the metabolism, affect muscular energy, increase or decrease blood pressure, and influence digestion, but it can also make all of this work in a more efficient way, exceeding the effectiveness of any other stimulant that can produce the same result in our body (David TAME. El poder oculto de la música, page 138).
The UCLA School of Nursing and the Baptist Medical Center of Georgia in Atlanta realized a clinical research where they were able to observe and study premature babies and they concluded that when they were exposed to relaxing melodies they increased in weight and were able to breathe more efficiently. The reason why premature babies gain weight is because music like Mozart calms them and reduces consume of calories.
Music has many positive effects in managing pain and chronic pains. Music therapy is used in many hospitals because it has been proved to reduce the need of medication during delivery and it’s also used as a complement to anesthesia. There are many theories that explain how music affects positively the person who’s in pain. Some say that it serves as a distraction; it gives the patient a sense of control; music makes the body release endorphins that counteract pain. Dr. Kucharski studied the effects of music in fear management when dealing with dental patients. He noticed that children who listened to music after and during dental procedures had less negative feelings than those who didn’t.
Music helps strengthen the immune system because it increases production of endorphins and immunoglobulin which accelerates the wound healing and reduces a risk for infections. Studies indicate that both hemispheres of the brain are involved with musical processing. Dr. Sacks explains: “The neurological bases of musical brain response involve the whole brain and can help to prevent damages to itself” (El sorprendente poder de curación de la música. 1992).
Music works as a motivator whether you want to exercise or you don’t want to do a specific chore because it’s boring. This can be done by playing upbeat music to keep you hyped and distracted while you keep on working.
When you want to exercise, you can play any upbeat song and, because it is a fast paced song, your heart and muscles work faster, finally, allowing you to do your exercise faster than you normally would and you’ll probably exercise longer than you thought because you are distracted by the music.
The reason why it helps you complete a specific chore is because it’s distracting and you’re entertained while you’re working. It’s good to listen to songs while you’re doing chores because it puts people in a better mood and makes you keep working. You can also use it in your job, because it helps productivity, if you use it during the job, it’s better to listen to a song that doesn’t have any lyrics so you don’t affect the language parts in your brain.
Throughout all of the research we noted that music is extremely helpful to health, learning, for memory, can motivate people and help relax those who are too stressed, which is why we think that music should be integrated in some way into the school programs, hospitals and at work to help people stay relaxed, learn and concentrate, and stay in a good mood. I also recommend parents to give their kids music lessons since they’re very young so they can learn things faster and have better concentration when they’re in school.