Your Brain on Music

Your Brain on Music

People say knowledge is power. My teachers may disagree with me here, but I’d have to say that MUSIC is power. Music has a way of making people feel a certain way and of magnifying what we are already feeling. It lifts us up when we’re down and it relaxes us when we’re stressed. Music can get us pumped up and feeling excited or it can help heal a broken heart. Some people even say that music helps us with school – it can help attention, reasoning, and with retaining information during studying. Some studies show that even plants grow better if there’s music playing. For me, music is like therapy you can dance to.

But beware: music is a bit of a manipulator. Just speeding up the tempo of a piece of music changes how our bodies react to it. Listening to faster songs creates changes in our bodies like increased heart rate, quicker breathing and muscle tension. It makes us want to move! It’s hard to just sit calmly when up-tempo, fun music is blasting. And slower paced, softer music like what is piped through surgery suites and yoga retreats, encourages us to be mellow and Zen.

We can use music as an easy way to either change how we’re feeling or to elevate what we’re already feeling. Sure, sometimes there’s no better way to climb out of a funk than to listen to sad music. We can settle into the bad feelings, acknowledge them, and then work through them to feel better. But sometimes some up-beat, happy pop music gives you no other choice than to be happy when you’re chasing away the blahs. In both cases, the music and lyrics speak to us. Often the songs express what we are feeling and thinking, keeping us connected to our emotions and to other people around us who also like the same artists or kind of music.

Of course, music can have a negative effect on some teens. They can get too wrapped up in an artist or a song and if they connect too much to the music, it can be concerning. Parents and friends should watch for changes in a teen’s behavior if they are listening to music with negative themes like violence, suicide, or aggression.

Music lets us express ourselves, helps us work through our feelings, and connects us to the world. So if you’re feeling sad or excited or happy or angry, crank up the tunes for a bit of music therapy.

 

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