Music and Good Health
Music is a phenomenon that has transcended all ages and time from generation to generation and it is as old as time itself. Music is an art of creation that resonates from the state of mind of the artiste. There is more to music than just listening or dancing to its tunes and we must not confuse “songs” with music. A song is like a subset of music, just another media with which music can be expressed or channeled.
Music and the human body have had a deep connection overtime. Music has been known to affect moods and as such has been used as a good method of therapy. However, the scientific approach to the effect and relationship between music and the human body will be discussed below in the light of how music affects health.
There are various ways by which music could enhance a good health but before we go into that, it is essential we know how music enters the brain.
The human brain consists of several receptors which respond to various music elements which basically determine the kind of music we like or dislike. These receptors are usually what determines musically preference of individuals as well as taste. The receptors are also what determines how music generally affects anyone. They are why music can be used as a form of therapy as well as a way of torture.
Music often starts off as vibrations and as the vibrations circulate in the air, they form sound waves. These sound waves are caught by the outer part of the ear which transmits them into the ear canal where they come into contact with the “eardrum” before the sound waves are then being directed into the middle ear. There are three tiny bones in the middle ear which expands the sound waves right before they go into the inner ear, the sound waves enter the “tapered cavity” of the inner ear which is known as “cochlea” . The cochlea is filled with fluid and it is this fluid that stimulates small nerve cells which changes the sound waves into electrical impulses. The auditory nerve transmits these electrical impulses to the brain where they will be translated as sound.
Areas of the brain affected by music are:
- Cerebellum: it associates itself with movement such as dancing, playing an instrument, foot tapping and also emotional responses to music.
- Hippo campus: it involves the memory for music and also musical experiences and perspectives.
- Visual cortex: the visual cortex is determines the perspective with which we look at and adjudge musical performance or read a piece of music.
- Amygdala: it involves emotional reactions to music.
- Motor cortex: it associates itself with movement such as dancing, playing an instrument, foot tapping and also emotional responses to music.
- Corpus callosum: it connects left and right hemispheres.
- Prefrontal cortex: it is involved in the formation of expectations, violation and fulfillment of expectations. It also controls behavior and decision making.
- Nucleus accumbens: it involves emotional reactions to music.
- Sensory cortex: perceptible feedback from dancing and playing an instrument.
- Auditory cortex: associates itself with the first stages of listening to sounds. It analyzes the sounds.
The benefits of music in relation to health includes but not limited to the following:
- It induces sleep: music helps in improving the quality of sleep. People who find it difficult to sleep can listen to slow music. It is a very good way of dealing insomnia.
- Reduction of stress: listening to music that appeals to you will decrease the stress hormone which is known as cortisol in your body.
- Reduction of depression: good and cheerful music helps the mind focus on good and cheerful memories and also help to take away painful memories and events that could cause depression. A lot of people suffer from depression, studies depict that music reduces the symptoms of depression.
- Alleviation of pain: music can reduce the amount of pain especially in areas like intensive or geriatric care.
- Reduction of anxiety: music in its various forms or expressions is capable of calming nerves and reducing anxiety. Listening to cool and relaxing music releases hormones that are responsible for calming nerves and soothing the mind off any anxiety or panic attacks. This is one of the reasons sports men and women listen to their favorite music before competitive performances. This is most common in footballers and basketball players.
- Enhancement of workout fortitude: listening to music during workout can improve physical performance and also increase the rate of endurance during difficult sessions of exercise. Listening to music tries to win the brains attention thereby superseding the signals of fatigue during workout sessions.
- Uplifting of mood: listening to music that gets in touch with people’s feelings tend to put listeners in a good mood. A chemical called dopamine is released in the brain which makes people cheerful whenever they are bored or sad.
- Strengthening of memory and IQ: music aids learning and bringing to mind information. It also increases the rate of IQ which in turn helps to achieve good academic performance. Playing an instrument enables the accessibility of relevance and predictability of information. So, when performing tasks such as listening to speech or learning a new language, musicians remember more than non-musicians.
- It relaxes the blood vessels: listening to music you enjoy relaxes the blood vessels especially in patients with heart disease. Listening to music helps in the production of a gas known as Nitric oxide which helps in the dilation of blood vessels thereby making them flexible and healthy.
- It fosters creativity: making or listening to music allows your brain to think in a more creative way. It increases processing difficulty which helps abstract processing and in turn leads to high creativity level.
In conclusion, music as a phenomenon is a sure way to improve good health and quality of life. We must not be myopic in limiting music to just “songs”, but we learn to enjoy every piece of musical elements we come across.