Depending on how we feel or what we are doing, we have a certain emotional connection to music. The unique way it moves us is why it is so important in our lives//why we keep coming back for more. Like a detailed scenery, music is as layered and complex as we are, and has been seen as a form of emotional expression since it’s existence.
Music has been studied as a medium in therapy for its powers to alter our mood. Research has found that most people listen to music for motivation, happiness and overall well-being. As a way to get excited at the gym, rest and relax, or simply have something to cook to in the kitchen.
When we have a bad day and are feeling down, we either indulge in that emotion or seek to change it. Perhaps listening to pop music will make us forget our worries and feel happier in that moment, or a blues song could help us to understand our sadness and let it pass. Maybe sitting in nature and listening to a wind chime move with the breeze is the best music for us. Either way, music has a transformative power which is why it is utilized as therapy. Because of the powerful effect music has on us, we should consider why we are listening to it. Music’s strong correlation to our mental health inspired a study that evaluated how music is used to regulate negative emotions on the Music in Mood Regulation Scale. Participants either listened to music that matched their emotional state to relate to or better express that emotion, or music that served as a distraction. After looking at their brain activity and self-evaluation, it was determined that it is more positive to vent and meditate on a certain emotion rather than become distracted from it.
How do we choose which music to listen to? Because of our specific personal preferences, we are able to connect to the music we choose to release our deep thoughts and emotions. Nowadays, most people listen to a variety of musical genres with the wide range of access we have on the internet. However, there are theories and studies that demonstrate how our taste in music displays our personality. The Big Five Personality Traits are used to demonstrate the connections between our personality and music preference, how we use music, and how it affects our mood. Knowing these general connections can be very beneficial to those practicing music therapy.
–Music Therapy Practice–
Music Therapy was first referenced in the late 1700s and became a profession in the 20th century as an aid to veterans of both World Wars. According to the American Music Therapy Association, it is designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.
The therapeutic effects of music have been studied and used to help treat autism, dementia, depression, as well as improve infant development and sleep quality. That’s definitely a lot of power in sound!