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The Amazing Effects of Listening to Music

All forms of art are unique only to human beings. You have to be talented, artistic or at least a little bit creative to revel in a beautiful painting and to understand the depths of a new age art work. You will have to be a bookworm to appreciate the latest as well as ancient anthologies, novels and literary collections. But to enjoy the effects of listening to music you don’t need talent or a special skill. Every one of us does it, whether we are aware of it or not. Even simple games like The Sims show how music elevates the moods, especially if you play the one your Sim prefers. Every culture in the world has music. Whether you can search on the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere, the South Pole or North Pole, you will find different notes far and wide. Every civilization from the beginning of time was entertained by some sort of melodic tunes. Sometimes they used rhythmical beats as fertility treatments for the groom and bride, other times they believed music notes will make it rain or end the rainy season. Maybe those times were a little primitive to begin with, but even so, people knew that music causes several effects. You can be the judge yourself and see how music affects your mood, learning and work performance. Even if you are deaf you can still feel the melody if you play it loud and place your hand on the speakers or put them on a wiggly table.

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Effects of Listening to Music on the Mind

Every tone has different and unique vibration and those vibrations are the ones that actually get in touch with our brain cells. Music also consists of a meter, pitch and timbre and together they activate many parts of the brain simultaneously. Pitch and rhythm are processed in the left brain hemisphere, while melody and timbre are mainly processed in the right hemisphere of the brain. Without getting into further anatomy details, let’s see how music affects different parts of the brain. Maybe the most amazing effects of listening to music are the stimulation in the parts of the brain responsible for spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning is a type of intelligence amplified in the brains of architects and engineers. It’s the part of the brain that is activated when you look at a map and try to imagine the road in your mind. It is the ability of the brain to see things with its own eyes and make 3D pictures out of words and two dimensional pictures. The origami technique is a perfect example of the spatial capability of the brain. The people with strongly developed spatial reasoning ability can easily comprehend how to make a swan out of a napkin. The rest of us can listen to Mozart to stimulate the brain region responsible for visualizing. Allegro con spirito from Mozart can elevate this type of intelligence during and 15 minutes after listening. A study has been made in 1993 with this sonata and students have proved their spatial capacities increased by the equivalent of 8 or 9 IQ. Since then, the influence of this type of music is called the Mozart effect and many young mothers tried to pre-develop their infants’ spatial skills using this effect. As you know, babies first start to see once they become a part of this world, but they can hear even while they’re still in the womb. As grownups, we underestimate that fact and perceive things as we see them. Instead, try closing your eyes and listen to music for half an hour or before bedtime. That will put your mind in the Alpha state, where the sound you hear will penetrate your entire body and affect it far beyond any medically measured point.

The Therapeutic Effects of Listening to Music

Healing with music will be considered a holistic approach to health by many people. However, we all know that tension and panic disappear once you sit behind the wheel and turn the music up and sing along. The Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates was known to play music for his patients to heal them faster, even though there was no visible evidence or a scientific fact at the time. The first intentional medical application of music was after the world wars. Musicians were hired to play for depressed and traumatized soldiers. Today, many doctors operate while listening to classical music. Heart rates and blood pressure normalize when the brain recognizes violins and piano notes, which is soothing for the patient and the doctor equally. In many hospitals, Eastern as well as Western, there are music therapy departments, because doctors know how music affects the immune system, not just the brain. You don’t need to be a scientist to be familiar with that fact. You can feel the flow of endorphins when you hear your song on the radio and that is basically what music therapy consists of. Not only Mozart’s music boosts the brain performance. Piano concerts by Chopin for example are best for treating headaches and severe migraines. Most classical pieces have the same soothing effects on the body, mind and spirit. Whether or not, Mozart, Chopin or Beethoven knew what kind of healing effects their music will have on the human body, the results are obvious and studied. Half an hour spent listening to classical music will increase the melatonin levels in the body. This hormone mostly regulates our sleeping time (REM and non-REM cycles), but small clinical trials showed that its use can help fight off infections and diseases, such as AIDS or some cancers.

Calming classical music compositions can also help people with autism spectrum disorders improve their sleeping patterns, because it increases their melatonin production. As melatonin increases, naturally the adrenaline production decreases. That means that you can fill your phones and MP3 players with classical music and hit play every time you are on the computer, driving or waiting your turn in the post office. We know how much waiting gets on your nerves and we spent several hours every week waiting for something. So instead of nervously fidgeting while you wait for the lights to turn green, you can use the time to calm down and get your mind prepared for the more important tasks.

What if Classical Music Isn’t Really Your Type?

The choice of music depends on the person’s character and likes. Some people find jazz music relaxing, while others think it’s chaotic and confusing. Same goes for classical music. Especially proxies from the younger generations rarely have a deeper appreciation and understanding of what guys like Bach, Mozart or Tchaikovsky left us. Many would say that music as a form of art is made to bring us closer, help us share emotions and express our feelings, but lately all music genres only divide people into separate groups. Regardless, you have to know which genre makes you happy, calms you or makes you more productive. Classical music is best because there are no lyrics to distract you from your work at hand, but other genres have their own benefits also. You will have almost no fun if you listen to Chopin in the night club and a hard heavy metal band may cause an arrhythmia to your embryonic infant’s heart. All doctors will recommend you to avoid listening to loud music because hearing damage is nonreversible in most medical cases. There are tiny hair cells in the inner ear, which flatten out every time you listen to loud music, but they bounce back in a few days. However, if you wear headphones as accessories, your hearing will be diminished over time, because they get destroyed when subjected to prolonged noise exposure. So next time you feel edgy and you want to unwind, you can disturb your neighbors with loud music for a couple of hours without any long term hearing defects. Bob Marley, John Mayer or Let It Be by Timothy and Woods will do the trick immediately.

You can try out your own favorites but remember that every word and sound you hear will be directly transferred to your brain, so be careful what you feed your subconscious. Just as some songs can make you calmer and relaxed, others can make you angry and violent. It’s a matter of choice of course, but as we said earlier, all music sounds produce vibrations which ultimately have a responsive impact on your brain processes. Musicians always let you in their minds with their notes and lyrics, but they enter yours just the same. In the 60’s, the general public called the Rock and Roll genre the Devil’s music because it altered people’s behavior. Since then, many genres are more and more sexually explicit and violent. Scientists argued about the effects of listening to music like rap, heavy metal or death metal and tried to answer the question about the mind manipulation that goes hand in hand with the hardcore genres. Some studies have come to the conclusion that behavioral patterns have little to do with the type of music someone listens. They also stated that teenagers are more susceptible to this type of manipulation because they don’t fully comprehend what the artist wants to express. Most songs contain references of drugs, alcohol, sex, pregnancy and physical violence, but mature, well balanced and fully developed person has a different understanding than a teenager about the whole picture the artist presents. Eminem is one of the musicians who have been criticized by parents and the music industry throughout his entire career. Nevertheless, in many songs he explains that the type of life he lived, left him divorced, addicted, emotionally as well as physically damaged. So, if you consider yourself mature and well thought out, Eminem’s music might actually lift your spirit, make you more assertive and action oriented, but teenagers and young adolescents should be always controlled and restrained in the music department.

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