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!

Why Music Students Should Volunteer Abroad

A volunteer program Abroad is essential for musicians!

Party in Canggu, Swim with turtles in the Philippines, Teach guitar in Uganda, roadtrip across Australia… there are many things you can do with your gap year | summer | half term.

Here is why musicians should consider a volunteering trip overseas!

1.Alternative Travel

Forget travelling to hit up tourist hot-spots, party and move on without gaining depth of understanding about a place and its culture or people.

Volunteer programs allow you to travel new places in a very different way!

By volunteering abroad you’ll likely be in places completely off the tourist route.

Such as with us in Western Uganda!

This gives you the opportunity to become completely immersed in authentic local culture, and take part in different experiences to your peers (Uganda isn’t called the pearl of Africa for nothing!)

Staying with a homestay, as with most volunteering programs, means you live their culture and daily life. It is very different than staying in a party hostel in Budapest, here you become  a part of the family!

On a Music Volunteering Program you get to travel while using your passion for music to meet people, change lives and have a once in a lifetime experience.

Volunteer with host family in Uganda

2.Make a difference While travelling

Tourists are often known for causing trouble in the places they overrun on their gap years, causing degradation and multitude of problems (just look at Boracay…)

But what if you could travel to an amazing destination and enrich lives there instead of damaging them?

Rather than the ‘I don’t know how to build schools but I’m going to go to Africa and build a school’ program model, you’re using a skill you actually possess to enrich peoples lives.
Music!

Not only are you getting to experience a whole new country and culture. To meet wonderful people, enjoy new food, see new landscapes.
But while doing this you can make a real difference!

You can inspire the communities you are placed with, teach them lasting skills with their instruments, help them find their passion.

The staff here at the Living Music Foundation have transformed their lives through dedicating themselves to music, could you help a vulnerable child find their path?

Read about the advantages of learning music here

3. Not harmful ‘Voluntourism’

To add on to the last point….

‘’It is rare in the voluntourism industry to find projects initiated by a community seeking foreign volunteers’’ (Thinking Beyond Borders)

That is us.  We are a small local organisation, who local communities and people approach wanting musical training to improve their lives and enrich their futures.
We want overseas volunteers who can share their musical skills to help us train these communities!

This is not the harmful act of forcing things to happen to a community, such bringing in unskilled volunteers to build a school they did not ask for.

This is musicians sharing skills with one another.

Group of friends hiking in Uganda
All of the fun, none of the unintended harm

4. A project you’re passionate about

Sure. If you want to volunteer you can do so with any number of organisations and for many different causes.

You’ve dedicated hundreds of hours to your skill in music, whether that’s playing guitar, the xylophone or singing. Why is that?

You probably think other children should have the opportunity to learn  music and the chance to utilize its transformative power.

You probably understand the importance of music, and what skills it can develop, the places it can take you, the joy of playing!

We want musicians to share their musical skills with people that want to learn music

You’ll get to connect with people from a whole new country, lifestyle and culture, but you have one HUGE thing in common – a passion for music!

Here at LMF we have friends all over the world due to a shared passion for our music.

3 friends learning to play guitar together
LMF staff practicing with a volunteer

If this hasn’t inspired you to take part in a music centered volunteer program, check out our website and read more about our organisation!