Why Is Music So Important to Our Lives? Can music improve my mood? my learning?

Do you listen to music at some point during a typical day? If you are like most people, the answer to that question is YES! We naturally listen to music for a variety of reasons. It might accompany our travel. It might be on in the background when we are studying or reading. It might get our adrenaline pumping during a good workout. Or we might even let it soothe us to sleep at night.

However, most of us probably include music into our daily routines automatically. We probably don’t consider the fact that music is truly important and even beneficial in many important ways. Most things that are truly important to humans have a long history. And that is certainly true of music.

If we think about it historically, music has truly been around about as long as there have been humans. In fact, some of the most ancient artifacts ever found have been musical instruments. For example, some flutes have been found that are around 37,000 years old. In comparison, written language has only been around for about 3,500 years. That means that by the time people figured out how to write down all of the words they were able to speak, there would have been plenty of music for the ancient scribes to listen to as they scribbled on their scrolls.

Over the generations, music has become a human language. It helps us to express feelings and ideas that words alone cannot. Music helps us understand what it means to be human. We use music to accompany the happiest and saddest of human events. Religious worship, political and military victories, sporting events and funerals are just some of the occasions where you will hear music. In short, music is a key component of human culture.

So, we know that music helps define us. But more recently, through scientific study, we have begun to learn about some of music’s other huge benefits. One of those is the impact music can have on our mood.

Most people can probably point to times when music made them feel happy or sad. But does music alone really have the power to control our mood? Researchers at the University of Missouri did some studies to test this idea. They had three different study groups. One group listened to sad music. Another group made a conscious goal to be happy and then listened to upbeat, happy music. A third group made no goal to be happy, but listened to the same happy music. All participants rated their happiness on a 1-15 scale when the music was done. The results of the study showed that only the group that set a goal to be happy and then listened to the “right” kind of happy music were successful in making themselves feel good.

So, what happens when we’re in a sad mood? Can music help us then, too? Those same researchers found that participants who were in a sad mood due to something very personal, such as a heartbreak or a deep personal loss, much preferred to listen to somber music, at least for a time. It almost acted like a friend to those in need until they could shift to a happier mood later on. If the sadness was due to a simple frustration in life, however, those participants avoided the sad music and found that happy music actually lifted their spirits. The bottom line from all of these experiments is that we should consider our mood when choosing our music, because the two go hand in hand.

Credits:

Created with images by klndonnelly - "guitar6" • Anybid - "earplugs headphones in-ear headphones" • SplitShire - "drummer men band" • terimakasih0 - "musicians women playing" • skeeze - "trumpets musical instruments" • Unsplash - "concert performance audience" • gonzalodago - "color sad clown" • T.JackPhotography - "Happy"

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