The Power of Music

band of the bay

From singing to our babies to singing in the shower; from performing in school to concert halls; from listening to recorded music to attending live music performances, there’s no debate. Music can enrich our lives. But how many of us are aware of the power of music in enhancing brain health and an active lifestyle?

Music can alter our moods and provides a form of self-expression and engagement. Studies have now found that music as a therapeutic tool can increase cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients (Alz.org). Imagine that!

“If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it.”    Shakespeare (Twelfth Night 1.1.1-2)

Other research shows that music activities (both music listening and music making) can influence older adults’ perceptions about the quality of their lives. Moreover, older participants place considerable value on the social benefits associated with music making activities (as reported by Michigan State University).

The best part is this: most anyone can get these benefits. In my experience, regardless of the restrictions of a busy life, music enthusiasts have found a way to incorporate music into their lives. Whether playing an instrument, attending concerts or listening to music.

How many of us played a musical instrument in grade school? Even if you haven’t played since childhood, now is your chance to become more active by starting to play again. We may discover that it’s exhilarating to join a local group, as did one of my neighbors (first row, right in photo above).

Or, consider learning to play a musical instrument or joining a choral group as some retirees have. Think of it as a small investment in yourself (and your brain).

“The brain that engages in music is changed by engaging in music.” Dr. Michael Thaut (Colorado State University)

If participating in a musical group doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about going to a concert? It doesn’t have to be a formal and expensive outing. Check your local entertainment calendars. In my community, for example, the Melbourne Municipal Band (Brevard County, Florida) hosts monthly concerts. Free.

A summertime favorite with patrons and band members alike is the picnic concert series, where patrons are invited to bring a picnic dinner – as simple or as elaborate as one wishes – to enjoy, as well as the music, in the auditorium before or during the concert.

music

Whether you choose to pick up an instrument, tune up your vocal chords, or attend a concert, the recommended activity in this post is to spend at least thirty minutes engaged in a musical activity.

How do you plan to spend those exhilarating 30 minutes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments below.

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