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10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Music

Music has been slowly taking over the world, one year at a time. It’s more accessible than ever before and easier for people to create from home – or anywhere! With the rise of music culture comes different kinds of music. With that, we can’t help but try to analyze these genres and how they can personally affect us and those around us.

Music is much more than words that cohesively flow. It is more than simply a beat that you can’t stop tapping to. Music is a psychology lesson in itself. Understanding the psychology of music means understanding the ways in which we listen, remember, perform and create music. We wanted to dive deeper into this topic so here are 10 things to know about the psychology of music.

Music can promote a better mood.

Have you ever been in a terrible mood and then the perfect song comes on the radio? Yeah…us too. All of a sudden you’re dancing, singing and turning up the volume! Some music has the power to increase our serotonin levels and help us release endorphins in our brain. The right song can easily help us feel better and think positively in a natural way. Add some dance moves to this and your body is just asking to feel like a rainbow. Knowing what songs work for you and don’t work may give you a lot more control over your mood than you realize. It may also change the environment of a place you are in – whether it’s a doctor’s office, work space, store, party, etc.

Music can easily ruin a mood.

Similar to our reference about a song promoting your mood, a song may also ruin your mood. When we listen to music, we hear rhythm and a tone. While listening to a rhythm, our heart beat falls in sync. When a rhythm is slow and a tone is sad, our heart rate will tell our brain that we feel sad or depressed. Because of this, genre is everything. Music can control an environment. Since our bodies are so receptive, it will benefit us to give music the credit it deserves when affecting our day.

Music may improve our memory.

While studying or practicing for something, it may be helpful to have some background music. Research has suggested that music may help, but it does depend on the type of music. It also depends on whether the person studying enjoys music and how musical they are personally. It’s possible that people who are musically trained will perform and test better if they listen to neutral music while studying. This is likely because the music is not distracting and it is easy to ignore. It is simply helping us engage better without us realizing. For those that aren’t musically trained, listening to positive music can promote positive emotions without getting in the way of memory creation. For both sets of people, music may improve motivation and concentration which in turns ends with better results!

Lyrics are a journal entry in someone else’s brain.

Some songs are instrumental and do not contain lyrics. However, the ones that do have lyrics can be worth paying attention to. For many artists, lyrics are a journal entry from someone’s brain. They may written from experience or from someone else’s experience. Because of this, we get to learn about an artist’s life and how they think about the world around them. It may be an inside perspective that you otherwise never would be able to hear about. One of the biggest reasons that people listen to music is to stir their emotions. In order for that to happen, someone had to feel those emotions as well and write them down for us.

Music promotes self awareness.

Both listening and playing music may promote self awareness. When listening to music that allows you to spend time with yourself, you are understanding that you can be your own company. The more time you spend with yourself the more aware of your brain and heart you become. Listening to music may also promote self awareness by listening to artists who write lyrics we can relate to. Words that touch us may help us work through things and become more self aware with each song. Playing music can also help us become more self aware because there is an outlet for those emotions. Whether that means mastering an instrument or writing lyrics rooted in self awareness, the deed is happening.

Music is used for pain management.

As if music isn’t magical enough, it may also be helpful when it comes to pain management. Studies done have shown that patients with chronic pain who listen to music every day can significantly reduce their pain levels. There has also been research that proves that listening to music prior to a surgery may promote better outcomes. Music kickstarts the brain’s creation of serotonin and release of endorphins, as we discussed before. This is especially helpful when it comes to getting pain under control.

Empathetic people listen to music differently.

Music seems to posses a certain power. This power allows us to connect with others in more ways than one. For example, feeling at home in a crowded venue full of strangers. Or listening to a marching band and feeling truly united with each fan in the stadium. However, as a result of some studies, empathetic people tend to listen and feel music differently than others. Highly empathetic people have some interesting brain patterns that make them more sensitive to words and sounds than listeners who don’t identify as empathetic. This could mean that most big music buffs are empathetic humans.

Music therapy can change someone’s life.

Music therapy uses music to analyze the physical, emotional, social and cognitive needs of an individual. The therapy has many different forms. A therapist may have a patient listening to melodies, playing an instrument, keeping up with a beat, writing lyrics, or practicing guided imagery. All of these forms of the therapy have proven to be successful with healing, growing and learning. 

Nostalgia and music are best friends.

Nostalgia and music probably went to high school together. Whether it’s an old mixtape or a verse that socks you right in the gut, music has the ability to transport us back in time regardless of where we are in life. Most of us hold lyrics close to our hearts, have songs that will always mean the world to us and know which songs will immediately lead us onto a dance floor. Our brains store music like a photo album on our book shelf. Songs possess the power to trigger nostalgia – which can also trigger good or bad feelings!

Musical brains may be sharper and more productive.

A study conducted by Wheaton College showed that music may provide longterm benefits such as brain productivity and sharpness. This study is referencing people who study, play, write, and perform music. These benefits may be because they use their brains in multiple ways and can understand and transcribe a language that they are going out of their way to master. Any challenge is beneficial for our brains but it’s nice that this one is overflowing with benefits!

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