Music Therapy: the Impact of Music on Us

Different genres of music can have great influences on you. Music can have a wide variety of effects on you and your mind. It can be used as a recreational remedy, as well as a tool that therapists can use to treat serious mental health issues. Not only can it help with emotional issues, but it can improve your mental functions in your everyday life. Whether it’s the peaceful beat of a song, or lyrics that really speak to you, music can have have a positive impact on anyone who is open to listening.

One way that music can positively affect you, is by improving your cognitive performance. Having background noise while completing a task, such as homework or scheduling, doesn’t sound like it would be very beneficial. It may even seem like it would be detrimental. However, having music playing in the background has been found to have multiple positive impacts on the person who is completing the task. Playing upbeat tunes, has been shown to increase the person’s processing speed while completing the task, while both upbeat and downbeat music has shown to improve memory (Cherry). Allowing students to listen to music while doing homework or while studying, can help them to more efficiently do their homework and to study better for the test.

Another positive impact that music can have, is the effects that it can have on stress. Music has been shown to decrease and manage stress in people of all ages. A study done in 2013 showed the correlation that it had. Sixty females took a standardized psychosocial stress test after being randomly assigned to one of three conditions; relaxing music, the sound of water, and no music. The three conditions significantly differed, showing that the participants who listened to the relaxing music before the stress test had much better responses regarding stress (Cherry).

Not only can music help with issues of the mind, but it can also help you to recover physically. One study published by Elsevier, looked at the effects that music can have on patients recovering from fibromyalgia. They found that those who listened to some sort of music for at least one hour per day, experienced significant pain reduction compared to those who were in the control group. Some patients with fibromyalgia were assigned to an experimental group that listened to music once a day for four weeks, or a control group that did not listen to music at all. At the end of the four week period, those who had listened to music everyday had experienced significant reductions in feelings of not only pain but also depression. These results suggest that musical therapy could be used to treat chronic pain. Music is also a helpful tool in those who are recovering from surgery. Music can help with pain management. Patients who listened to music before, during, or after surgery showed to have less pain and also use less medication than those who hadn’t, though listening to music before the surgery showed the greatest results. ‘More than 51 million operations are performed every year in the USA and around 4.6 million in England,’ said Dr. Catherine Meads of Brunel University, ‘Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery.’ (Cherry).

Musical therapy can be used in all aspects of your life. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can cause people of all ages trouble with sleep. While there are many ways that you can treat this problem, studies have shown that listening to classical music can be a safe, effective, and affordable remedy.? In a study done by Semmelweis University, participants listened to classical music, an ebook, or nothing at all. They took 45 minutes before bed to listen or to try and fall asleep. Researchers looked at sleep quality both before and after the test and found that students who had listened to music before bed had better sleep quality than those who had listened to the audio book or received no audio aid (Cherry). Since music is an effective treatment for sleeping problems, it could be used as an easy and safe strategy for treating insomnia.

There are good reasons as to why many people find it easier to exercise while listening to music. One experiment done by John Moores University investigated why, and had twelve healthy male students cycle on a stationary bike at their normal biking speeds. They had three different trials and had them listen to three different popular songs. Each of the participants were grouped into either a fast, slow, or neutral group. They had some listening to music that was slowed ten percent, sped up by ten percent, or at normal speed. The researchers discovered that speeding up the tracks resulted in increased performance in terms of distance covered, the speed of pedaling, and power exerted. Slowing down the music’s tempo led to decreases on all of these variables. The participants not only worked harder while listening to faster music, but they also expressed greater enjoyment of the music (Cherry).

Another way in which music can impact your everyday life, is by making you happier and to boost your mood. Surveys showed that people rated music’s ability to make them become more self aware and to improve their mood as the two main reasons as to why they listen to music. By choosing what type of music you like to listen to, you can show who you are and make yourself more self aware. Music can also alter your mood. If you are down in the dumps, music can be used to help you let your emotions out, as well as to lift your spirits.

Researchers have also found that music therapy can be a safe and effective treatment for a variety of disorders, including depression. A study appearing in the World Journal of Psychiatry found that in addition to reducing depression and anxiety in patients suffering from conditions such as dementia, strokes, and Parkinson’s disease. Music therapy showed no negative side effects, meaning it is a very safe and low risk approach to treatment. The type of music is also important. Classical and meditation music offered the greatest mood boost, while heavy metal and techno music were found to be ineffective and even detrimental. Emotion regulation is an important part to mental health. Poor emotion regulation is associated with a number of mood disorders, including depression. Clinical music therapists are able to use music to help their clients to have better moods and even to help relieve symptoms of mood disorders. Many people also listen to music on their own as a means of emotion regulation, but not much is known about how this kind of music listening affects mental health. Researchers at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Music Research investigated the relationship between mental health, music listening habits, and neural responses to music emotions by looking at a combination of factors. The study was published in the journal “Frontiers in Human Neuroscience”. Participants were assessed on several markers of mental health including depression, anxiety, and neuroticism. They reported the ways they most often listened to music to regulate their emotions. Analysis showed that anxiety and neuroticism were higher in participants who tended to listen to sad or aggressive music to express negative feelings, particularly in males. This style of listening results in the feeling of expression of negative feelings, not necessarily improving the negative mood. To investigate the brain’s emotion regulation processes, the researchers recorded the participants’ neural activity as they listened to happy, sad and fearful-sounding music. Analysis showed that males who tended to listen to music to express negative feelings had less activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). In females who tended to listen to music to distract from negative feelings, however, there was increased activity in the mPFC. These results show a link between music listening styles and mPFC activation, which could mean that certain listening styles have long-term effects on the brain.

If some types of music have benefits to the mind and body, then what types of music may cause harm? Some types of music can cause detrimental effects to the mind and body. A study reported by the Scripps Howard News Service found that rock music causes abnormal neuron structures in the region of the brain associated with learning and memory (Hegarty). Exposure to hard rock, regardless of gender, has been shown to worsen the ability of some people to store studied information correctly in the brain. Rock music was found to increase adrenaline levels, while piano instrumental had a calming effect.

I interviewed my schools music teacher to try to get some answers to any questions that have been left to wonder. I learned that musical therapy can be crucial in kids from birth until they are seven years old, as this is a crucial developmental stage for them. She also stated that it is very much used in recreational and clinical use. Music can be used to influence the mood of shoppers everyday in stores. Not only is it very effective for managing your mind, but it can also be used for physical healing as well. She stated that music therapy can take place one on one with individuals or with a group of people, as well as using different instruments including the flute, harp, piano, and violin. All types of music can be used for therapy depending on what the client is dealing with, and his or her music taste. She believes that the benefits of music are just starting to be found, and that there will be a great growth within the next ten years of musical therapy throughout hospitals and schools. There are countless benefits to listening to music in your everyday life.

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