How Music Can Improve Your Life

Women Listening to Music with speaker

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

Plato

Sure, we all love music. It makes us happy, makes us dance, it expresses emotions we ourselves don’t know to express.

But did you know there are scientific links between playing an instrument and brain development? That scientific studies have shown the incredible effects music can have on memory, hormone levels and even pain?!

music as medicine: how music can improve QUALITY of life

child playing guitar
Music can improve your quality of life!

Youth brain development

The University of Vermont College of Medicine recently completed a study of 232 children who played an instrument. The study found that the more the child practiced music, ”it accelerated cortical organization in attention skill, anxiety management and emotional control.”.

Amazing!

The same study also found that practicing music changed the behavioral regulation in the brain. For example practicing music was found to thicken the part of the cortex that is connected to memory and attention span.

We have always been passionate about the transformative power of music in youths, so this study is so interesting!

person playing guitar
Learning an instrument can help brain development from a young age.

Pain RElief

Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heart strings. It acts as medicine.

Macklemore

But seriously. There have been scientific studies around music reducing pain. Such as this 2014 study of patients with Fybromyalgia.
Incredibly the study found that ”Listening to relaxing, pleasant, self-chosen music reduced pain and increased functional mobility significantly in our FM patients.”.

Miraculous! Listening to music was improving their quality of life by reducing the pain they felt with their condition!.

orchestra playing violin
Listening to music has been shown to decrease feelings of pain.

Mental Health

Everyone knows that music connects with us emotionally. When we’re angry we might listen to loud angry music, or when we’re sad we might enjoy listening to sad music.

Do you know the effect of music on the brain regarding stress relief?

A plethora of studies have found that listening to relaxing music decreases our cortisol levels, such as this University of Tennessee study. And this one.

Cortisol is our stress hormone, and has a strong link to anxiety and depression along with stress. So decreasing levels of cortisol in our body decreases feelings anxiety and stress! Go Music!

This study was researching effects of listening to music on depression. They found ” significant decreases in cortisol levels and positive effects on depression, fatigue and mood ”.

Wow. That is anxiety, stress and depression that music is found to have decreased the effects of through releasing certain hormones.

happy man playing guitar
Lowering levels of cortisol is an effect of listening to music

Music and memory

Magical music never leaves the memory

Sir Thomas Beecham

You know that feeling when you hear a song from your childhood, and you are completely transported to a specific memory, to a moment.

BUT did you know music has such a powerful connection to memory that it can be used to help Alzheimer’s sufferers? Studies (such as from the Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease) have shows that memories of music are not lost to Alzeheimers, and can even help shake the Alzheimer’s daze and confusion for a short burst of ‘normality’. Now that really is special.

happy children play together
Music can help with Alzheimer’s disease

Music and autism

Music therapy has become a popular tool used in Autism therapy. It has been found to improve communication and social skills, which are particularly difficult for those with Autism.

This article uses a great analogy, that for autistic children interacting in group settings can be very difficult. However through use of music, a child must first learn and understand their own instrument, and then slowly integrate and open up to play that instrument with other children. Furthermore, music teaches vital communication skills; that we need to listen and pay attention to what another person is saying, understand how to keep quiet until it is our turn to speak, and to ignore background noises. These skills can be very difficult for autistic children however learning music is a natural way to develop them!

If you enjoyed reading this, maybe you would consider volunteering with us! Have a look at our website and volunteer program!
We’d love to host music teachers who can help us teach music lessons to underprivileged children here in Western Uganda who don’t otherwise have access to music education!

The Volunteer Experience in Uganda

Uganda. The Pearl Of Africa. Dangerous. Violent. Barren.

Tell your friends and family that you want to go to Uganda and they will probably have some pretty negative comments to make about how it is not safe….

Uganda is a complex, developing nation. But there is so much more to it than that image of a child with huge sad eyes and a swollen belly.

so, What is it actually like to live and work with the living music foundation?

1: The work

group of friends learn guitar
Learning to play guitar with the Living Music Foundation
community group in Uganda
Visiting communities is a daily part of life with LMF

Volunteering with the Living Music Foundation, your work day revolves around Music and Empowerment.

Volunteers teach music lessons to disadvantaged people and communities. We believe in the power music has to transform lives, having experienced it for ourselves (That’s why we set up the organisation!)

You will travel with us to women’s refuge groups, orphanages, schools, church groups… or any other community that we work with! This is where most of our training takes place.

Sometimes you may stay at the LMF office to undertake 1-1 music lessons.

read more about the importance of music education here

two boys play instruments

And the next day you may be with us performing at fancy functions!
If there is something Western Uganda enjoys more than eating Matooke, its a good function!

If there is a wedding, a give away or most any function near our town of Mbarara, you can bet we’ll be performing there…

two girls sing
Jean and Patience love to sing!

With the Living Music Foundation, through teaching music lessons volunteers are creating a positive and long lasting impact in our communities- without the damaging voluntourism!
Just musicians sharing music!

HOME life

Some volunteers are actually pretty surprised when they see we have full on houses here!
The most common image of life in Uganda is of hand built huts, like below.

However, Uganda has towns and cities too!

The Living Music Foundation volunteers will stay in a house with a local family from Mbarara.
Volunteers will have their own room, and a super lovely and welcoming family.
Here is one our families!

Happy Ugandan Family
LMF volunteers live with a lovely local family in Mbarara

Host families will treat you as one of their own children. As a volunteer you will share meals together, enjoy your evenings together and maybe even go for some weekend excursions!

All of our host families are wonderful and loving people- that’s why we chose them! Some of them are teachers or business people, some of them have farms, we even have some reverends! But they are all local people who want to get to know you.

What better way to learn about a people and their culture than by sharing a house with them!

the food

We already wrote a little blog post about Uganda’s favorite food items!

The photo below is an average lunch time meal in Mbarara.

As you may notice, it is all natural (except maybe the chapatti).

Avocados, tomatoes, rice, nuts, beef, matooke (a steamed banana dish), peas…

The West of Uganda (where our program is based) is rich in variety of yummy nutritious foods! Everything grows abundantly here, fruits, veggies, legumes.

Ugandan Meal

Volunteers need not worry about having enough to eat! If anything, you’ll eat too much as everything is so delicious!

Social life

Mbarara is a large enough city that there is always tons going on! From live local bands playing in the evenings to hiking groups!

A huge group of us get together and hike some of the hills surrounding Mbarara, starting at sunrise! Then we like to do some aerobics at the top of the hill. Much more fun than the gym!

Volunteering with LMF means you’ll always have friends!

Jean and Disan love going for the local bands.
Babrah and Patience always love to go hiking and Innocent is always down to hang out!

The best thing about our group is that we are all young people who like to socialize- who else would start a non profit organisation, travelling everyday to communities to play and teach music!

work colleagues have fun together
The Living Music Foundation is full of fun and friendship

So, is life here is different to how you imagined it?

We hope you enjoyed this little taster of our volunteer program!

If you want to learn more, click HERE