We all know that music affects our mood in many ways. Different songs bring about different emotions within us. For example, listening to an upbeat song makes us smile and dance. Listening to a slow melodic instrument playing can relax us and put us in a state of tranquillity. And listening to sad songs can lead to depression.
Research indicates that music affects mood by producing an array of beneficial molecules in our biological pharmacy. Listening to music can create peak emotions, which increase the amount of dopamine, a specific neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain and helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
We often feel emotions are experienced from our heart, but an enormous part of emotional stimulus is communicated through the brain. Our newfound understanding of how music affects the brain and heart is leading to innovative ways to utilize music and the brain to create emotional understanding between people.
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Examining The Brain & Music A But Closer
The meter, timbre, rhythm and pitch of music are managed in areas of the brain that deal with emotions and mood.
These key areas are the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and the parietal lobe.
The hippocampus, a structure of the limbic system, is responsible for spatial orientation, navigation and the consolidation of new memories. It also brings about emotional responses. The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, manages extreme impulses and emotions. Known as the “seat of good judgment,” it enables one to make good and acceptable calls so that inappropriate behaviors are prevented.
As for the parietal lobe, it is in charge of spatial orientation, information processing, and cognition, affects many others. Because of its ability to alter the different parts of the brain, music has been utilized in a number of therapies. For example, it has been applied to stroke victims to teach them how to talk once again.
At the same time, it is recommended to stutterers so that they can dictate words clearly once again. Since it reaches the emotion-related barriers too, music is now being utilized as a mood-altering therapy for depressed and anxious individuals.
A study from the Journal of Music Therapy shows that using songs as a form of communication could increase emotional understanding in autistic children. The study incorporated specific songs to portray different emotions.
It’s true that music evokes and engages our emotions in many stages of our lives both individually and in groups. Music can evoke the deepest emotions in people and help us process fear, grief, sadness, and resentment, even if these emotions are held on a subconscious level.
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How Does Music Affect Your Memory?
A study conducted in 2009 from Petr Janata at the University of California, found that there is a part of the brain that “associates music and memories when we experience emotionally salient episodic memories that are triggered by familiar songs from our personal past.”
10 In other words, our own familiar music can reconnect people with deep, meaningful memories from their past, like it did in Henry’s case.
These principles are what we will use later to form the basis of specifically constructed playlists to evoke certain emotional responses that we wish to produce by the interaction with music and the brain.
Getting Deeper Into Music and Memory
The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart’s music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activate the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information.
The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.
According to The Center for New Discoveries in Learning, learning potential can be increased a minimum of five times by using this 60 beats per minute music. For example, the ancient Greeks sang their dramas because they understood how music could help them remember more easily ).
A renowned Bulgarian psychologist, Dr. George Lozanov, designed a way to teach foreign languages in a fraction of the normal learning time. Using his system, students could learn up to one half of the vocabulary and phrases for the whole school term (which amounts to almost 1,000 words or phrases) in one day.
Along with this, the average retention rate of his students was 92%. Dr. Lozanov’s system involved using certain classical music pieces from the baroque period which have around a 60 beats per minute pattern. He has proven that foreign languages can be learned with 85-100% efficiency in only thirty days by using these baroque pieces. His students had a recall accuracy rate of almost 100% even after not reviewing the material for four years.
Music Therapy For Autism
Music helps so many people in a profound way. As stated earlier is has a tremendous affect on our mood, because of this it is used as a therapy to uplift and bring joy to those who are suffering from mental and physical illnesses.
Many additional studies have found that children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) respond well to music. Often, individuals with autism respond positively to music when little else is able to get their attention, which makes music a potential therapeutic tool.
A 2009 study by Kim, Wigram, & Gold found that children with autism showed more emotional expression and social engagement during music therapy sessions than in play sessions without music. These children also responded to the therapist’s requests more frequently during music therapy than in play sessions without music.
How Much Does A Music Therapist Make?
The average salary for full-time music therapists is $48,066, according to AMTA. The median salary is slightly lower, at $45,000, and the most commonly reported salary is $40,000. Salaries can range from $20,000 to $188,000, depending on education level, experience, industry, and location.
As a music therapist you will be providing treatment to patients in the form of music. The therapist first conducts an assessment of the patient and then develops a music-based treatment plan. This may include creating or singing along, moving or simply listening to music.