If someone made me choose between movies, television or music, I could live without the first two, but I could never forgo music. I have always loved music; I put it on when I get up in the morning, and don’t turn it off until I

go to bed. When I listen to music, I feel better, no matter what is going on. I can either listen to a sad song and cry along with it, or I can make myself feel better by listening to an upbeat tune. It seems like there’s the perfect song for any mood or experience you are going through.

And, there’s scientific evidence that supports what I have known all this time: music really does change our mood and how our brains function. Here are some of the positive effects of listening to a tune:

Music can soothe us. Just think of all those lullabies for babies. While you might not need an “adult” lullaby, classical music or jazz can do the trick, and help to calm you down. If you’re looking for music to help you fall asleep, try this.

Music can perk us up and lift our spirits. In fact, research studies have shown that it can help reduce depression and that we pick the music we listen to on purpose. Researchers from Chemnitz University of Technology and Ohio State University found that for many study participants, “music offers a valued companion, helps provide a comfortable level of activation and a positive mood.”

Music can help enhance our creativity. I find that certain music helps me write better, and it makes me enjoy the task more. There have been many studies done on this, and while they contradict each other about what type of music is “best,” one thing is largely agreed upon: music impacts higher brain functioning, a key component to creativity. The important thing seems to be that it’s not really a specific type of music that works best, just a type of music the listener likes. And that it remains in the background as ambient noise, otherwise it will interfere with our thinking process.

Music makes you more productive. If you are cleaning, working or exercising, choosing just the right music can help get the job done more quickly — which means you can get even more done than you had planned.

Music is good for your memory. I have to say as I age, I tend to forget things, and have resorted to writing everything down so that I don’t forget. But, song lyrics are the only thing I still remember completely, and not just new songs, but those from when I was very young, like elementary school age. And, more often than not, a song can take me back to a time, place, or person associated with it. There have been numerous studies, and therapists working with patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia that have shown the effects of the power of music on memory. It turns out that the part of the brain that processes music is located next to the part that regulates memory.  While researching for this post, I came across a great organization that provides iPods to nursing home patients as part of their therapy. If you have any music players in working condition that you don’t want anymore, consider donating them.

By Judi Gerber

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