Is it true that listening to classical music is actually good for you? Looking at some of the scientific studies conducted recently, classical music does have benefits. Findings show that there are many benefits for our mental and physical health. It can stimulate the brain, improve sleep, reduce stress and also strengthen the immune system. Here are 8 reasons why you should be listening to more classical music much more often than you probably do now.
1. It makes your brain work better
At Northumbria University (UK), a research team performed some experiments on students’ brain functioning when doing tests while they listened to Vivaldi’s Spring concerto. They were answering faster and better than when they listened to the sadder Autumn concerto. The conclusion was that brain activity is improved when listening to pleasant and arousing stimuli. If you want to refresh your memory on the uplifting Vivaldi Spring concerto, you can listen to it here.
2. It helps people with dementia
If a loved one suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is well worth noting the studies showing how music can help them to regain memories and enormously improve their quality of life. Watch the video here of a man who was brought back to life by listening to music he loved in the past. If your loved one was particularly fond of any music, classical or non, they can be enormously helped by listening to the same music. The explanation is that because music affects many parts of the brain, it can reawaken those parts of the brain not affected by dementia. This is especially true when the music is linked to a particular event or memory. It is fascinating to read the book by the late neurologist Oliver Sacks called Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain which explains the phenomenon and recounts many moving stories.
“People with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can respond to music when nothing else reaches them. Alzheimer’s can totally destroy the ability to remember family members or events from one’s own life—but musical memory somehow survives the ravages of disease, and even in people with advanced dementia, music can often reawaken personal memories and associations that are otherwise lost.”- Oliver Sacks
3. It can help you sleep better
There are many studies on the beneficial effects of classical music on sleep quality. One study shows that a group of students who listened to relaxing classical music were getting much better sleep quality than when they were exposed to an audio book, for example. Researchers are convinced that music is better than verbal stimuli for the purposes of relaxing body and mind before sleep.
Here is a list of some famous classical music pieces which will help you get off to sleep.
- Johann Sebastian Bach – Air on the G String
- Ludwig van Beethoven – Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight” – First movement
- Frederic Chopin – Berceuse in D flat opus 57
- Claude Debussy – Claire de Lune
- Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 5 – Adagietto
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto in C major K 467 – Second movement
- Bela Bartok – Piano Concerto No. 3 – Second movement
4. It can calm you down when driving
Are you prone to road rage at times? The German government is worried about the high number of road accidents on the country’s motorways (2.4 million annually). Many of these accidents are caused by aggressive driving and road rage. To counteract this, the German Ministry of Transport has released a CD for drivers which features Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21. played by the Minister himself! He hopes that the soothing effects of music will calm drivers down. (Fun fact: There is no word in German for road rage). Let us hope they will not need it now.
5. It can help reduce pain
Various studies show that listening to music can reduce post operative and chronic pain especially after surgery. It will never replace painkillers of course but will be a great help in reducing depression, disability and pain. The reason seems to be that it can help to tune out the pain by increasing the brain’s reward center, thereby alleviating the sensation of pain.
“One good thing about music, is when it hits you, you feel no pain.”- Bob Marley
6. It can help you express your emotions.
“If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it.” – William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Music can express what we may never be capable of verbally and thank goodness for that. We may have to struggle with anger, love, depression and many other emotions and feelings. When we connect with music, we can begin to cope. It helps us to be more honest with ourselves. Research at The Southern Methodist University shows that when listening to classical music, undergraduate students were more communicative and open about their emotions. Everyone has their favorite playlist to help them when they feel romantic, lazy or exhausted. Listening to classical music helps you express your emotions in unique ways.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” – Sigmund Freud
7. It can help blood pressure
It is fascinating to discover that cardiologists have found a connection between Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and our blood pressure levels. They found that this piece and many other classical music pieces are in natural sync with our own body’s natural rhythm and that helps to keep blood pressure at optimal levels. Professor Bernardi at the University of Pavia in Italy has done some interesting research on this.
8. It can help people on diets
You now how difficult it is to eat slowly, chew your food properly, and really enjoy it. Playing soft music and dimming lights in dining areas has been found to help people enjoy their food more and eat less! This is the main result of a study carried out at Cornell University. On the other hand, places like fast food joints use brighter lights to encourage fast eating and more profit for the business. You can improve the way you experience food by being more intentional in the way you eat, including playing soft music during meals.
We look forward to hearing about the ways you have benefited from listening to classic music. Post your stories in the comments below!
Featured photo credit: Sycamore High School March Orchestra Concert 2014/ Meredith Bell via flickr.com