Music is amazing, and if you’re here you probably already know that. But more than simply being great to listen or dance to, music has biological and psychological effects that are simply awesome. Music therapy is a branch of psychological counseling that uses music to help people understand their issues, work through them, and has even been looked at as a method to treat children with Autism and help them communicate. Take a look at some of the amazing ways music affects the brain and body.
It has been proven in clinical tests that the pace of the music you listen to often directly influences your own heart rate. When you listen to upbeat music, for instance, you probably notice that you suddenly have more energy, feel like going for a run, or simply want to dance. It’s no accident that this happens; when your brain hears fast paced music, it often translates that into an increased heart rate, giving you more motivation and kick to get things done. In the same way, very calming music with an extremely slow or absent beat (like a ballade or mediation music) can calm your heart rate, providing you with peace and helping you sleep or be calm.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling down you often want to listen to sad music? Or that when you’re feeling really excited you listen to happy music? People often choose music that reflects what they’re feeling, and in doing so they can safely experience emotions and work through hard times, or rejoice along with the song they’re listening to. There’s a reason you choose to run to a rock song and listen to a ballade when you’re thinking of the one you love; your mood is affected by the music you listen to. However, this also means that you can change your mood with music if you so desire. For instance, if you’re feeling really crummy but you really want to be happy, listening to upbeat music can actually shift your mood. Pretty neat!
Culture and Communication
It is interesting to note that music is present in every single culture. No matter what country you visit, you will find local music, most of which has a very long history in the region. Even if music changes over time, music itself is almost always present. It has also been shown that mothers can more easily and effectively communicate with infants by singing rather than speaking, because music in itself is almost a language that children and infants readily understand. It is not known why this is true, but many studies have confirmed it. In some cultures, music is used as a communication tool among adults, as well, sometimes as a sort of code to be used in certain situations. As it turns out, music really does speak.
Music as Therapy
Many therapists use music to help their clients get to the root of issues that may be bothering them. For instance, some therapists will ask their clients what sort of music they like to listen to. If there seems to be a conflict, such as a mild mannered introvert who for some reason loves to listen to heavy metal, therapists can often help the client pinpoint issues they have that they may not even be aware of, but that their musical choice expresses. In one case, a man who fit the mild mannered introvert description expressed to his therapist that he loved hard rock and heavy metal. As it turned out, the man had anger issues from childhood that he had never resolved, and listening to darker music allowed him to experience those emotions by proxy. His therapist then helped him work through those issues. It might seem controversial to some, or even silly, but science is continually coming out with more evidence that music is ingrained in the human psyche, and that music choice can tell you a lot about a person. Alternatively, music is also used to help patients with illnesses like Autism. Some therapists have found that even though speech communication is difficult for some Autistic patients, using music to communicate is much easier, which has led to some great results for those patients, as well.
Music lovers everywhere have always known it, but science continually confirms it; music is just plain cool, and has a lot of amazing effects. If you want to get pumped up for a run, relax and get some sleep, or cry it out, music can help you. The list of benefits one can obtain from music is always expanding, but there’s no question that listening to your favorite tune or finding a friend in a song is a universal experience that can be extremely helpful to your wellbeing.