What kind of world would ours be without music? The drive to work would drag by with only the sound of honking horns and the squeal of breaks to keep us company; much of the enthusiasm at sports events would be lost; dancing would be virtually extinct and showers would be taken in silence.
It is hard to find a person who doesn’t admit to being influenced in some way by music - but that influence goes beyond personal preferences.
Music has been played and studied for years. David in the Bible played his harp to soothe King Saul. The Israelites sang after they successfully crossed the Red Sea.
The Baroque period introduced us to Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. We met Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn during the Classical era and Strauss, Mendelssohn and Wagner during the Romantic Period.
Native Americans used music to pray, to celebrate and to mourn. Many other cultures still hold to their own unique forms of music.
Whether you prefer rap, hip-hop, country, classical, pop or any other one of a myriad of musical genres - the fact still remains: there is hardly a person who doesn’t enjoy listening to or playing music.
So what is the draw?
Music is very powerful. According to “Effects of Music on the Mind and Brain” by Manali Oak, music can affect the way we think and sometimes act. Think about a scary scene from a horror movie. Then imagine what it would be like without the suspenseful music moaning in the background. Tear-jerking love stories would be much less emotional without stirring music beginning to crescendo during the climaxes. Even kids movies wouldn’t be as funny without the silly songs.
But music goes beyond movies and stories. Oak says, “Music has a direct influence on your mood.” Calm, slow music subdues us when we’re stressed. Loud, head-banging music can often provide a release for someone who is upset or angry - and soothing, slow songs can help the same person calm down. Conversely, “happy,” energetic songs widen the smile on the face of someone who just received good news.
Elizabeth Scott, M.S. has written about a fairly new form of health care, called Music Therapy. This is used to “help cancer patients, children with ADD and others; and even hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients, to ease muscle tension and for many other benefits that music and music therapy can bring.” Music can slow our heart beats, help our brains work faster and even lower blood pressure.
So listen away: your music might be providing you with even more than just pleasant thoughts.