Music has the capacity to reach into every human domain – biological, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual - and enhance our quality of life through stimulation, social integration, orientation, communication, expression and daily routine.
Music can be used to evoke a wide range of responses. Research has shown that music can affect blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, pupil dilation, discomfort and tolerance to pain. Music can influence our mood, our stress levels, and our emotional responses.
Music may identify and help manage our feelings. Music may be able to wash up to shore deeply buried, hidden, repressed or painful feelings and with support, these feelings may be processed. Music is a nourishing neural activity and stimulates dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure; serotonin, a mood regulator; endorphins, natural pain killers; and in group music-making, especially singing, oxytocin, the social bonding hormone.
Music has a tremendous capacity to connect people, through shared events, feelings or ideas. It may be a key in motivating participation and developing relationships. Music enhances appropriate social interaction and catalyzes recreation and enjoyment where there may otherwise be isolation and loneliness. Music may facilitate intimacy. Music can be a lifelong form of recreation and leisure and enhance fitness training.
Furthermore, music can bring balance into charged situations. It may serve to neutralize differences and celebrate those things we have in common. Music may catalyze and develop tolerance between diverse cultures. Listening with open ears and open hearts may expand the borders of respect and working together.
Here are some ways you can stay musically active and enhance your well-being.
- Join a choir.
- Take a dance class.
- Make a playlist of 10 songs that stimulate you. Play these when you need to be active.
- Make a playlist of 10 songs that calm you. Play these in stressful situations i.e. driving in rush hour traffic
- Go to a live concert.
- Find gentle soothing music and take a music bath before bedtime.
- Listen to a new piece of music.
- Learn to appreciate a new style of music.
- Pick up an instrument. This may include taking lessons or rejuvenating old skills.
- Join a drumming circle.
- Choose a song that expresses who you are, the values you believe in, or a moment in your life, that can speak to your identity and selfhood. Share this song with people you love.
- Join a songwriting circle.