The Benefits of Listening To Music

The Benefits of Listening To Music
Capucine P—HS Student

It should be no surprise for any to say that music has started taking up a significant amount of space in our lives in the last couple of decades. Though it started thousands of years ago in civilizations we can barely imagine, the advancements in technology have facilitated communication, and hence the transmission of information has quickened, including the diffusion of music. 

Of course, music can be seen very differently throughout cultures, but the benefits it brings to a listener remain the same despite the wide variety of musical genres. 

The major benefit of music is the sense of collectivity it brings. Through music, people are able to share and express ideas, they are able to connect with others and communicate feelings (source). 

Effect on the mind—Better learning: this point is especially important and valuable for us as high school students. Music has the capacity to lead students to learn better. The correlation between music and learning has been greatly researched through various experiments, one of which is an MRI scan. Listening to music activates and engages several parts of your brain seen during the MRI scan as they light up. This shows that music has a direct connection to various areas in the brain (source).  Social science research has proved that people who listen to music while studying also feel much more motivated to learn (source). However, it is also important to understand that some kinds of music may have opposite effects, for instance, songs with lyrics have been seen to lead to distraction and lower memory capacity (source).

Better memory—once again, this is super helpful if you’re trying to reach that IB 7!

Listening to music improves your memory. A study conducted to prove this compared the performance of two groups of participants in a specific task, one group completed the task without music while the other group completed it with classical music (source). The task was a simple memory recall activity involving reading and recalling (source). The conclusion was that those listening to music outperformed those who weren’t listening to music, hence proving music facilitates and improves memory (source). 

Effect on mood—You have undoubtedly felt stressed because of school and might have noticed that music became a great tool to distract you from that stress, or even, make it entirely vanish. Various studies have shown that listening to music decreases stress levels, doing so by lowering the release of stress hormones like cortisol (source). However, it has also been found that listening to music prior to a stressful event has less of a calming effect on emotions than listening to music after the event occurred, which seems to be more effective (source). Sorry, Mozart won’t help you much before a math test, but he could after though.

Effects on the body—

Healthy energizer: Lived experience can remind you that music during car rides for example can keep a driver awake, but researchers at Shanghai University found that relaxing music had the most effect on fatigue levels (source). Their research showed that listening to relaxing music could significantly reduce fatigue levels and maintain muscle endurance during repetitive tasks (source). 

Boost your exercise performance: Gym addicts don’t need backup research to say that listening to music while working out boosts their performance. However, there are a couple of research studies that support this phenomenon. In 2020 for example, a study found that working out with music boosts the athlete’s mood, leads to more efficient body exercise and reduces awareness of physical pain which hence leads to longer workouts (source). Athletes who listened to upbeat music during warm-ups performed better competitively (source).  

Thus music has impressive benefits for our mental, emotional and physical health and could almost be regarded as a modern medicine for all our problems. Music has greatly shaped cultures and societies around the world and the numerous studies conducted in the last decades have helped us view it not only as an enriching tool but also as an aid to the health of future generations. Its easy accessibility and wide range of rhythms, tunes and lyrics attract diverse groups of people around the world. Hence, awareness of the benefits of music could help this large audience to use music to their advantage. When you create your next Spotify playlist, make sure you account for the benefits each song might bring. Of course, scientific research does not need to change your entire music taste, but adapting your music choices based on events in your life might help your mind, heart and body. 

Capucine P—High School Student