The beneficial effect of music on our mood and well-being is a demonstrable fact that nobody can deny. This is true for both private and commercial areas as well as situations where one is expected to perform well. Music encourages, influences and has an effect on us that may not always be easy to pinpoint. We all have our days on which we need a certain song or genre to give us hope again. Or a tune that boosts our feeling — grief or sorrow — allowing us to literally “bathe” in it. In a sense, we prescribe ourselves some music therapy without being doctors for that matter.
The ‘Mozart Effect’
Especially classical music in a major key is said to help us concentrate. Its soothing and encouraging effect can be felt by anybody.
Music for Meditation - The Acoustic Mooring Place For Stress Relief
Special, meditative music with drone-like or comparable pleasant noises has become a staple in yoga classes. Top athletes and busy people listen to music by way of taking some time off. Music is their acoustic mooring place. I sometimes look at myself as a hobby pilot when I’m landing, or as a skipper before mooring: I tend to hum a tune to calm down. The effect on my stress level is obvious. Music’s relaxing effect is increasingly used for medical operations and at the dentist’s - both by patients and medical staff.
Especially for therapy, music can pick up where verbal means inherently fail. Already single notes and intervals played on simple instruments such as sound bowls, sound bars or Orff instruments tend to open new doors in our subconscious and have a measurable effect. Careful, though: not all persons claiming to be music therapists have the required qualifications.
Music for Athletes
Already in ancient times, drums were used to cause slaves to perform better. The effect I’m referring to probably becomes obvious when you think of the song “Eye of the Tiger”. You immediately feel how your pulse starts racing. This effect is also leveraged in competitive sports. Runners, for instance, consciously listen to music whose beat lies above their natural running frequency to instinctively speed up. Music has the power to influence the performance of athletes whenever it triggers “positive emotions” - this is what Brunel University in London found. This psychological effect is confirmed by a research project in Cleveland, where researchers noted a performance boost of up to 20% above the normal level.
Music For Workouts - Finding The Right BPM Value
BPM (beats per minute) refers to the number of pulses per minute, which is just what a classic metronome indicates. Nowadays, each performance type and sport can download tailor-made workout music based on the desired BPM. For power athletes, values between less than 100 BPM and a maximum of 120 BPM are recommended. Endurance athletes should start at 100 BPM, advanced athletes are advised to use 120~140, and competitive athletes can go up to 160 BPM. Too high a beat count quickly leads to exhaustion. Some people like to call using music for this purpose “legal doping”. This may explain why MP3 players were banned from a famous marathon in New York. Prof. Tom Fritz, a brain researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig (Germany) found that test subjects experienced the effort of a workout as far less exhausting when they were able to influence the music through their own activity. Now there is a surprise: interactivity tends to encourage people to perform better. In addition, listening to music is thought to save 8~15% of energy, because it acts as moral support. Especially the procrastination of giving up and the resolve to hang in there are effects that can be influenced in a positive way through music.
Music In Commercials
The advertising sector also tries to open new doors inside us to lull us into buying a given product like a sales rep would. Create trust, cause us to open up and relax, and then persuade us. Classical music is often used to create a trusting atmosphere for a serious product. For products that are associated with a dynamic and modern lifestyle, on the other hand, “hip” tunes are used to emphasize that they are trendy. Music often plays the part of a Trojan horse that instills sympathy and goodwill. Commercials without any music are few and far between.
The iPod - A Revolution For Music Consumption
Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs, who passed in 2011, developed the iPod to revolutionize the way in which people of all social strata listen to music on a daily basis. “1,000 songs. In your pocket.” ran the ad for the first iPod that marked the beginning of an entire product family. Nowadays, permanent “sprinkling” of music has become a fact of life. Users literally “cocoon” in their music to mask the sounds of daily life. Persons listening to music become “soloists” with a clear message for their environment: leave me alone, I only want to listen to my music. They insert their ear buds and start running. Traffic? Who cares?
Music Is More Than We Can Imagine
It should be obvious by now that the effect of music on our mood is often underestimated. Listening and playing music trigger actions and coupling effects that should not be ignored. Music soothes, pushes and amplifies or adversely affects moods. Unfortunately, music is also used to cause people to accept radical political ideas. Plus, music can be addictive. I sincerely hope that this wonderful medium will be chiefly used for positive purposes - first and foremost in training, education, and therapy - and that its beneficial effects will soon be recognized.