Music and Wellness

Volume 2, Issue 5, May 2017

By Maika Dang, MD

Music is everywhere: from the rhythmic sounds of the ocean, to the cadence of a foreign language, to the guitarist on the corner. The ubiquity is evident; in one way or another, music is a part of our daily experience, and wrought with meaning in all cultures. It is used to celebrate, to mourn, to evoke emotion, or to even tell a story. The effects are profound, as music can stimulate both an emotional and physical response.

Music possesses many therapeutic values, including having analgesic effects which can reduce both pain and anxiety. You cannot deny the physiological effects a song has on you as well. Compare Rage Against the Machine to Otis Redding. One brings on an adrenaline rush and makes you want to… well… rage, and the other slows your pulse by invoking calming images of the tide rolling away. However, just like art, music is in the eye (or rather, ear) of the beholder. People can have vastly different responses. But it is interesting to observe the immediate response music has on almost everyone, as listeners nod their head, tap their feet, or start moving to a beat.

Even more, there are tremendous cognitive benefits of music and specifically of learning to play an instrument which has been shown to increase memory, improve comprehension, enhance coordination, and can even expand reading and mathematical abilities (1). Music is an art that one can experience, create, or interact with. Join a drum circle or just go dancing. Even the accompanying exercise and socialization have great health benefits.

Ultimately, music is a beautiful thing that we all should incorporate a little more in our lives. Find your music!