We all know songs that we can’t help but crank up when they come on. The tune takes hold and leads us to a different mood—maybe even to the moment and place we first heard it. When we listen to music, whether we stream it, spin it on a record player, or even hear it played live, we give ourselves a gift.
Turns out, music changes us, both physically and emotionally. “Everything is vibration. Our entire system is vibrating at a cellular level,” Frank Fitzpatrick, music researcher and writer, explains. “The quality of those vibrations and the highly complex systems they control—our emotions, our thoughts and moods, our perceptions, and even our physical well-being—can be significantly affected and shaped by music.” Consciously or not, these vibrations permeate our eardrums and make their way into our beings.
It’s not our imaginations. Music shifts how we feel. A happy melody we love can help us feel upbeat; a tune that recalls a sad memory can feel melancholy. The sounds of music activate multiple senses at once. We hear them, of course, but we also feel the sounds in our hearts and in our bones. And we can’t help but think about them.
it transforms you
When you think of it that way, choosing to listen to music—and what music you choose—can make a world of difference. It can transform us in four big ways:
music boosts your spirit. It’s really a balancing tonic, Fitzpatrick notes: “The right music can help organize our thought waves, stimulate our bodies and reset our emotional state to help us pass through the stresses of our day in a more relaxed, productive and inspired way.”
it can heal us. Music decreases anxiety, speeds healing and decreases pain. Research has shown therapeutic benefits for chronic health issues ranging from occasional depression to Parkinson’s disease.
it helps us remember. When we listen to music, we integrate it into our memories. Music resonates because it quickly transports us to a different place (and memory) in time. The words we remember best appeared to us in songs we heard as teenagers, when our brains were busy developing.
it connects us to others. Music has a way of holding a group together, like trees framing an open field. And the choice of what you listen to influences the air in that space. It adds color, warmth and atmosphere to the time you share with friends and loved ones.
do try this at home
The next time you’re in a funk, turn on a song you love. Quiet ones can calm you down, of course. But you may want to pick a tune that always picks you up. We have more choices than we realize. When was the last time you cranked the music and sang along at the top of your lungs? Start small—with just the chorus. Then, feel how the music actually feels. Like Carole King, you may even feel the earth move under your feet, the sky tumbling down, and your heart start to trembling...