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Music is one of the most powerful influences in our lives. It can evoke memories, make us smile, or bring us to tears. It can bridge generations and bring people together. We each have our favourite sounds and our favourite artists, and some of us obsess over them like groupies.
We can use music to benefit us in positive ways like:
- Energising and motivating us. Think of some tunes that we can’t help moving to. These ones can make exercising or vacuuming the carpet easier and more enjoyable.
- To help us relax, unwind or sleep; to sooth a restless child.
- To trigger memories – music is a powerful tool in managing Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Familiar music has even roused patients from comas. In 2012, a seven year-old girl awoke from a coma to the sounds of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’
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It has also been shown that music can have negative effects. Aggressive music can heighten an aggressive mood.
Torres and Torres conducted a study into the positive and negative effects of music and found that exposure to dis-harmonic music increased negative thoughts and feelings. When that was reversed and uplifting, harmonic music was played, the mood changed to a positive one. Constant exposure to dis-harmonic music can negatively impact those suffering from anxiety and depression.
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So we should be mindful how we use music and choose our listening menu to suit the moment. For example, I like to listen to classical music when driving to and from work. I live in the country with a long commute through the hills and classical music makes the journey relaxing and pleasant. I arrive at my destination completely refreshed. During the weekend I like alternative youth radio. That’s when I’m looking for something new and up-beat. At work I stream music designed for study and meditation. It helps me to focus.
I’ve also put together a couple of personal playlists for when there’s nothing much on the radio. There’s a quiet acoustic mix, a heavy rock and one with funky contemporary instrumentals, so there’s something ready for all my moods.
Music plays a big part in my life and is usually present in some form. I was once asked what the ‘theme song’ to my life story would be – not an easy one to answer. I thought maybe ‘The greatest love of all’ by Whitney Houston, even though I’m not a fan, the lyrics had a powerful effect on me the first time I heard them.