By Dr. Perry, PhD
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“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 with my iPhone in my pocket playing music on Spotify. I love all music because it makes me feel happy and alive. Research shows that classical music is exceptionally beneficial for your brain and overall health. The way classical music affects the brain is universal regardless of gender, class or nationality. Wouldn’t it be great if listening to Beethoven or Mozart could unite us all?
Here are 5 ways classical music benefits us all:
1. Improves your focus
Numerous studies have shown that listening to classical music such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven can improve focus. Complex and continuously changing melodies can help the mind focus 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, which makes the part of your brain that is responsible for attention to become engaged. Try listening to some classical music the next time you need to focus on a task or have a long study session. A little Mozart goes a long way!
2. Lowers blood pressure
In the words of Henry Ward Beecher, “Of all the music that reached farthest into heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart.” Classical music helps to keep the heart healthy. A study from the University of San Diego compared changes in blood pressure among individuals listening to classical, jazz, pop or no music. Those listening to classical music had significantly lower systolic blood pressure than the other groups. Other studies have shown that listening to Mozart lowers both blood pressure and heart rate. Amazingly, research reveals that classical music can even improve cardio circulatory functioning.
3. Improves immune system
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and charm and gaiety to life and everything” ~Plato
Studies have shown that listening to classical music can 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. In our current high-stress culture it is not always easy to maintain healthy levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can lead to health problems so its important to maintain a healthy balance. By listening to music we reduce our levels of stress, which in turn lowers cortisol levels. 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! 🎼
If you are lucky enough to be musically gifted, don’t just listen to music play it! A theory called The Mozart Effect was developed stating that listening to Mozart makes you smarter. Parents took to this theory like wildfire and had their children listen to Mozart in the womb. The widely accepted theory now is that there is nothing uniquely beneficial about Mozart’s music. Rather, taking any music lessons at an early age enhances brain function and structure. 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 hour a day will benefit your brain.
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