Music is all around us in many forms. In nature, we hear birds singing, a brook babbling, crickets and frogs chirping in harmony. If you listen carefully, rain falling on a roof can sound like planned rhythm. Music has existed for as long as man, perhaps even before. In ancient times, people gathered around to sing and accompanied their songs with clapping, using their bodies as instruments. Music, in all its glorious variety, is still a fundamental part of every culture in the world, including tribal groups which are isolated from the rest of society. In fact, in some places, musicians are elevated to god-like status.
But why is it so important that it seems ingrained into our very being?
Music is influential on our brains and many of its cognitive functions. Brain health, intelligence, mood, learning, focus and age are all improved through music. It is a gift for our well-being. Music sensibility is as fundamental to humans as language is.
Music and the Brain
Scientists say that music stimulates more of our brain than anything else. It has the power to change the structure of the brain through a process called epigenetics. In fact, the brains of musicians are different when compared to non-musicians.
Musicians have more grey matter in areas of the right cortical such as:
- The Precentral Gyrus
- The Superior Parietal Cortex
The corpus callous located between the two cortical hemispheres is also greater in musicians due to super neural connectivity. In cases of brain damage, music is used to heal as well. Music therapy helps people regain their ability to speak. It’s also effective with Alzheimer’s patients in regaining memories associated with the music they’ve listened to in their past. Music literally penetrates the human body and increases the neurotransmitters that are responsible for movement and mood alike, namely dopamine. Since Parkinson’s Disease is related to low dopamine levels, music is useful for treating this debilitating condition. Studies show that it even increases your immune system and keeps you from getting sick as often.
Music for Social Connectivity
Even though we may sing in the shower or while driving home from work, most of the time music is a shared social activity. It is a way to communicate or express feelings, thoughts or concepts oriented towards others.
It can cross boundaries of language and culture, helping people to make connections with one another, whether the music is created or consumed. It’s almost a natural way to send and receive messages from others in a non-threatening way. The combination of music and dance have been part of the human experience from the beginning. The matched rhythmic movements bond dancers together as they take part in any number of rituals or events.
We were born with a musical toolbox, the brain structure needed for appreciating and creating music. Sound and rhythm have always been part of our being, from the womb to the grave. Its energy, healing powers, and ability to bring humans closer to one another make it a fundamental part of life. We were given music for a reason, use it to your advantage.