Brain based research backs up the process
There is a definite scientific linkage between music and the brain as it relates to active listening!
The scientific data is in and the outcomes cannot be disputed. Knowledge is undoubtedly power, and it actually all lies within you. When people make comments such as, “music simply makes my thinking better”, “music just clears my mind”, or “when I listen to that song, it touches my heart and mind”, there is an undeniable reason and truth behind those words. Today”s brain based research definitely backs up the fact that the act of active listening & connecting to music enhances the level of one’s left brain activity and the limbic system which controls emotions. Subsequently, the quality of your emotional functioning is affected regardless of your musical tastes or preferences. In other words, music sharpens your brain, healthy emotional functioning level, and subsequently you are more in tune with your inner thoughts and feelings.
An active, engaged brain remains a much healthier brain for a longer period of time. Active listening is the act of focusing, really paying attention and fully concentrating on the message being said in the lyrics, rather than just passively “hearing” the music. Your brain is thoroughly in full cycle during this process. It is thinking, comparing, evaluating, assessing what is being said, and, if it can be helpful as we compare with our own personal situations. The term “identification” explains it very concisely. Depending on your personal situation, you can identify and relate to thoughts and feelings a song may convey. Oftentimes, a song puts everything in perspective for you.
Take advantage of the many positive mental health benefits that can result from meaningful song experiences. Continue to build up your personal playlist with great selections so, really take the time to listen and reflect on the message being said. Try to include listening to those songs you need as a regular, important part of your day. Besides what song lyrics convey to us, we all respond to the music we hear in very individualized ways. When we hear familiar songs, they may remind us of certain emotional responses or situations we experienced when hearing them before. Simply described as an “imprint” on the brain, they can quickly bring us back to those familar feelings or mood.
What we label “Mood Music” does not have to be lyrical to reach you emotionally or psychologically, instrumental music can reach you as well!
Our mood definitely influences the music selections we choose. The sound, the beat, the instrumentation can effectively bring you there emotionally as well. What are we looking for and specifically, what do we feel we need at the time? In seeking out music for relaxation, will it be deep, soothing and calming, music to help us focus during work or study, or uplifting or re-energizing to provide us that needed boost. We seek out those sources of relaxation through mood music which works in a variety of ways.
Radio is still alive and well but has definitely evolved. Today’s powerhouse giant for providing an extensive and diverse range of music styles and song choices dominating the market without doubt, is Sirius XM Satellite Radio. On a much smaller scale, there is a well developed community funded radio station located in the D.C./Takoma Park, Maryland area, WOWD, which provides local as well as online streaming of a wide variety of creative radio program selections. There is a program available every Sunday night called, “A Little Me Time”. The host of the show, Dianne Bradley, focuses on providing relaxation and stress relief through a variety of eclectic music selections for the listeners. Dianne states, “After a long work week and over-scheduled weekend, I hope to provide my listeners with a big, musical hug. An hour of music that embraces the listeners and allows them to relax. “A Little Me Time” is a program intended to connect the listener, through music, to different times, languages and places.” And today, with more people staying put in their homes due to Covid restrictions, people are returning more to the safety and reliability of radio to meet their music, information, conversation and relaxation/stress management needs.
As you seek out forms of mood music to achieve or enhance your sense of calmness or relaxation, certainly be aware of the volume and tempo. Loud sounds may be physiologically stressful with a tempo that can be faster than your resting heartbeat. That can in turn increase your blood pressure, breathing and heart rate. A slow tempo and rhythm slows everything down within your body and works to promote that deep relaxation. This is attained through long musical notes or at times, even soft, subtle sounds taken from nature. To be able to focus more efficiently, listening to solo or limited instrument pieces work best. A faster tempo with more complex instrumentation will tend to energize your mind and body. Musicians routinely compose and utilize their instruments to create and deliver an entertaining body of musical work to you as the listener. They do this without lyrics, only the music itself, to make that emotional and psychological connection with their audience. What are they goals, what is their intent, what is the creative process like for them?
Thomas Mariano, a young, talented musician, specifically a keyboardist from the Rochester, NY area, composes, records, mixes and masters his recordings. Mariano states, “My personal objective, first and foremost, is to make the listener feel and experience. As humans we are biologically predisposed to certain responses and certain sonic qualities. For example, we associate low pitches with large, and fast repetion to high energy/intensity. It is fairly easy to see how these reactions aided us during evolution. As musicians, we manipulate these reactions by carefully arranging sounds to generate subconscious responses leading to noticeable emotions. Active listening especially to more complex music stimulates brain activity, and keeping our brain healthy is paramount to positive mental health. Yes, when I write a song, I do one of two things, 1) I have a passage I like and I think about what I associate that passage with, 2) From that point, I build around that to more clearly communicate a message.” Along with fellow skilled musicians, drummer Chris Palace and bassist Jordan Rabinowitz, their remarkable CD/Digital Album, Dream Float #2, combines many elements of instruments and unique sounds to create an amazing musical experience for listeners, that definitely includes a beneficial psychological aspect. Here is a link to a sample of several of their songs from that CD to illustrate that.
In essence, what we hear ultimately affects what we think and feel deep inside, so… take the time and opportunity for learning to use music and song as a lifelong tool to effectively navigate you through the daily ups and downs we all encounter along the way. So many incredible benefits await…improvement of mood, focus, attending skills, academic test scores, memory, as well as social connection. Music is ingrained in so many critical areas of our life!!
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