“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
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.”.
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!
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!.
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.
Music and memory
Magical music never leaves the memorySir 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.
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!