Music. Oh, music.

Being a native from the Live Music Capital of the World – music is and always will be integrated into my life.

Music can give words and sounds to accurately describe any feeling state. It’s an art form that can validate and move you through various thoughts, feelings or life experiences. I find it amazing that it’s even possible to tell a story so creatively that it would be a full body experience. And, often, the stories of the music makers themselves are just as remarkable.

When trying to find the words to talk about music in this blog post, I connected with friends on Facebook to ask:

How has music affected you?

I was in awe of the responses…

“I used music to grieve the very sudden and tragic accidental loss of my husband. I was in such shock that I didn’t have access to my emotions. I listened to a group of about 6 cd’s over and over again and the music was so moving that I felt I was expressing the depth of my sadness and loss…I had been listening to this song earlier in the day to embrace beauty, then I used it to calm myself during the ‘unknown’ period, then I used it to comfort myself through the grieving process. I suppose the music gave me some sense of continuity in a situation when everything became turned upside down. The music was also a bridge — a connection — between a time of happiness and great sorrow. One of the very few, actually, consistent things during such a time of turmoil.”

“Music helped me find words for my feelings and know that I wasn’t alone because someone else was articulating that same state of being.”

“Music has shown me how to convey feelings when words cannot do. Also, I feel like music is an international means of communication and can connect people on a deeper level, even if they’re from different backgrounds.”

Music is like a force that gently connects us. There are no barriers either. One doesn’t even need to know the lyrics of a song to understand what it’s about. One doesn’t have to be of a particular era to appreciate that era’s music.

Music is universal.

And now, as a therapist, I get to geek out on the healing effects of music.

Here are 9 scientific findings demonstrating the power of music.

  1. Listening to music can lead to a release of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that governs reward, pleasure, regulating movement and emotional responses. Source at nature.com
  2. The more into music you are, the more likely you are to experience chills when listening to music. This was also found to be true no matter what your musical preference. Sources at sagepub.com and Musicpsychology.co.uk
  3. Experienced musicians have more developed motor, auditory, and visual regions in the brain. Source at jneurosci.org
  4. Your heartbeat changes and mimics the music you listen to. Source at scientificamerican.com
  5. “Earworms” are songs that get stuck in your head. Source at bbc.com
  6. In addition to music affecting your mood, listening to particularly happy or sad music can even change the way we perceive the world. Source at sciencedaily.com
  7. Listening to music measurably improves physical performance while exercising. Source at thesportjournal.org
  8. Neurologists have prescribed music for a multitude of conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke and depression. Source at health.usnews.com
  9. Practicing a musical instrument in childhood is associated with enhanced verbal ability and nonverbal reasoning. Source at journals.plos.org

For those in Austin – I hope some of that SXSW music seeps into your heart a little bit this week!

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