The Health Benefits of Music

Music in the Womb

"Music has charms that soothe the savage beast" but can it heal the beast as well? Music can help you relax, and it can help you fall asleep...you would think that just these are healthful benefits. Let's take a closer look at music and it's effects on our health and well being and see what the actual health benefits of music really are.

It seems we can hear music while we are in the womb. Research varies on the results but the consensus seems to be it can relax a fetus and playing too much music can over-stimulate the fetus. Researchers vary greatly on the outcome of using music in the womb - to a newborn. Some say it causes them to be music lovers and better sleepers, others say it prepares them for the outside world while still others say it has no effect whatsoever. What does seem to be a fact is that music soothes the mother and a calm mother means a calm baby.

Classical music
Classical music | Source

Music and Toddlers

What about after a baby is born? It has been said that music increases healthy sleep patterns. I don't think we need scientists or researchers to tell us that playing a nice lullaby at bedtime often helps a baby fall asleep. If that wasn't the case why would so many companies make toys with music box mechanisms in them? Take a look at a selection of baby toys and you'll notice tons with soothing music. Even the 'mobiles' that are hung on baby cribs or cradles have a small music box in them that plays some type of lullaby. Thousands, no millions of dollars of research goes into making these toys so you would think there must be something to it. If you have children of your own you must remember winding those little music boxes to keep baby happy as he/she fell asleep!

Have you ever seen a two year old dancing and singing? Not only is he having fun, but he's exercising his brain and expanding his learning power. There are some researchers that say music makes your child smarter but that hasn't been proven. What has been proven is that it opens up the brain to develop concentration and even self-confidence. What a wonderful thing to instill in your toddler. Come on, you can sing "Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck". Researchers have found that toddlers who listen to music have better math scores in school.

My two year old grandson's favorite video

Preschoolers to Adults

As we move to preschoolers we see that they can now sing the songs, its not just us singing. They can often keep a beat too. There are so many songs for preschoolers, catered to their interests and their minds as well. What about music videos? There are tons out there. Is this all just entertainment? Again researchers say that music at this time in your child's life helps to improve reading and math scores as well as coordination. Doesn't that make for a healthier child? Learning music is constant learning...new words, new thoughts, new patterns. What could be better for a child's mind?

Okay, we see the benefits but not all are totally health related up to this point in our lives. Children enter school and music in schools is a hotly debated item right now. With the lack of funding and budget cuts so many want to cut music but there are those out there fighting to keep it. Why? For so many of the reasons we have already listed. Not only can music help reading and math, what about self esteem? It seems children involved in music have higher self esteem and more confidence. Some students find a sense of belonging in their music group that they never felt anywhere else, to others its that confidence and new friendships. Music has also been tied to language learning. It seems students involved in music programs have better language skills and find it easier to learn a new language.

What happens as adults? One biggie, and one close to my heart as I age, music has shown to slow down, if not prevent, dementia in some. I have to admit the research says those that play an instrument and are actively learning have a better long term effect. (Guess I'm out again!)

However - I'm back in again, just as in babies, music can improve the sleep habits of adults. It can increase sleep quality and duration of sleep in older adults.

Health Benefits of Music

To look closer at the health benefits of music one of the not so well known areas is music therapy. What is music therapy? The American Music Therapy Association says;

"Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program."

Music Therapy can improve mental health as well as physical health. It is often used with stroke victims as well as people with special needs. Music therapy has been used for centuries but I'm not sure when it became recognized as a medical therapy. Music Therapy for depression. Four recent studies showed results while I fifth did not. Like any other studies there are always those that corroborate and those that refute. The relaxation music can induce shows that further studies are needed and this is not an area of music therapy to be taken lightly or cast aside.

Music therapy continues in schools, in hospitals and even in some psychiatric facilities.


Music can put him to sleep anywhere.
Music can put him to sleep anywhere. | Source
Music in the hospital
Music in the hospital | Source

So, we've run the gamut from the womb to adulthood. We've looked at the benefits of music and the uses of music therapy. Does any of this point out the health benefits of music? Music lifts us up and calms us down...healthy and beneficial. It can and often does provide an outlet for the expression of feelings. We know it calms us and can relieve anxiety.

Listening to your favorite music may also be good for your cardiovascular system according to a research team at the University of Maryland Medical Center. They say that joyful music has a healthy effect on blood vessel function causing tissues in the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow.

A University of Florence study showed a drop in blood pressure (mild high blood pressure) for those that listened to soothing music thirty minutes daily for four weeks.

Playing music for recovering stroke victims, in one study, saw a 60% increase over stroke victims who did not listen to music over a two month period. It seems music stimulates our brains and that has a good effect on our bodies. There are so many reasons why music is good for us it's no wonder there are so many health benefits attached to music.

One of the best things about music is, unlike drugs, there are no side effect of music. It doesn't give you diarrhea, it doesn't increase your appetite, it doesn't upset your stomach or cause a loss of appetite, it doesn't make you dizzy, it doesn't cause hives....you know the side effects you hear on TV about this drug or that...none of that is associated with music.

Are there health benefits to music? I would say there certainly are and will continue to listen to music as much as I can!

FAQ'S

There have been studies that show people who have bypass surgery and have soft music played in their rooms need less pain medication than patients who don't have the music in their room!

Back to babies again, some hospitals play music in rooms for premature babies and have found they have faster weight gain than those who don't listen to music.

There's a growing field of healthcare known as music therapy which uses music to heal. (Music and Your Body: How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health, How and Why Is Music A Good Tool For Health? By Elizabeth Scott, M.S., About.com Guide Updated October 27, 2011)

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Comments 33 comments

Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Music can take us back to any moment in time. I f I want to dance I go to a remix from the 80's. Happiness and joy takes hold of us thoroughly. We would love to sing and dance. Sotthing effects that would take us to a paradise of our own.

Lord


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks for the visit lord. We definitely need music in our lives.


jennyreeve profile image

jennyreeve 4 years ago

Music is wonderful. It creates so many memories for me.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." William Congreve.

This was the actual quote, but "beast" is also applicable.

Good article.

Bob


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

A great hub and thank you so much for sharing.

An up up and away with loads of humour also;enough to share for all!!

Take carenado enjoy your dya.

Eddy.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Jenny, I can't imagine a world without music.

Bob, I know the quote but it wouldn't fit ;) The more popular one here (thanks to Bugs Bunny) is it soothes the savage beast. The sad part is, twenty years from now that popular music will be oldies the next generation will be listening to!

Eddy, so glad you enjoyed! As always, hope your day is great!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

Great article! I have played piano all my life, and I agree with everything you have said here. I feel sorry for the younger generation who are not at all familiar with the classics, but prefer this crazy rap music. I personally know Mothers who played Mosart for their unborn babies. I voted this UP, etc.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Mary. I think classical music has a certain charm that many don't appreciate!


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Tillie....You slipped this one in while I wasn't looking, I guess. You are on fire, girl. I don't think you even took a little break after your 30/30, did you?

Music....love it. The Universal connection. There is very little music that I cannot appreciate. Some, of course, I like more than others.

I'm really fond of the Big Band Era, especially for dancing. Without a doubt, I am loyal to the "oldies" 50's, 60's and most of the 70's.

The memories come flooding in when I hear anything from the 60's....a special and magical time in my life.

I wish your dear hubby only HEALTHY days ahead. Great Hub, Till!


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

One of the things I enjoy the most about being on hubpages is being able to hear from people who know some important things about LIFE, and this is one of the most important, in my opinion. As a consultant in the elementary schools, I always start my classes with a bit of Mozart and some Brain Gym activities -- and the teachers often marvel at the difference in the children's behavior. Thanks for SHARING. Sandra Busby


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Effy you should know by now I'm full of surprises! I did take a short break but I guess I'm on a roll. Music is the best thing we have in our lives (besides people of course) and it's so important to our memories. I share your taste in music as well but then that's no surprise.

Sandra, I wish my little hub could help make a dent in the schools dismissing music as a non-essential when they do budget cuts! I'm sure your students are happy and learn better with their musical interludes.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I know, really...I'm not surprised by too much of anything that seems to connect us. It's almost spooky.

I meant to ask,is the young girl on the violin your granddaughter? That is an awesome instrument to learn to play. I LOVE watching the Celtic Ladies and Celtic Thunder....so talented. They all sing beautifully and play the violin or other instrument. Speaking of them...that Irish music is fabulous!(not to mention that those gorgeous Irish Lads make me wish I was 25 again!!) Cute little buggers!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Yes, that is my granddaughter (several years ago). She plays VERY well - when she first started it was kind of scar but now she's great. Funny you should mention Celtic Thunder, we are big fans. I've been to see them in concert, though only once, while my granddaughter has seen them several times AND had her picture taken with two of those gorgeous lads! One of our friends in Ireland ALMOST made it into Celtic Thunder.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

WoW....exciting news about Celtic Thunder. I would LOVE to see them LIVE! Hey GRAM....you have official, inaliable BRAGGING rights!!! Your grand daughter made an excellent choice in instruments.

I got a chuckle out of your comment about it being scary when she first took up lessons....I lived through novice sax playing. My ears may never be the same again! lol


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Beginning instrument lessons are definitely not music to your ears, but they grow and your ears finally get a treat! If you get a chance to see Celtic Thunder live, grab it. It is a once in a lifetime experience not to be duplicated on TV!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Magnificent hub on the Health Benefits of Music. I inhaled every word and will share this as well as providing a link on my recent hub on the same subject as related to singing. Be sure to look for it. :-)

I love your writing and look forward to more. Voted up and across!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

What a great hub! Wish I'd written it. I favor music for newborns, especially classical and specifically Baroque. I like to listen to Baroque myself when I want to relax or study.

Actually, studies show that children who begin music lessons before age 6 do better in math. As for getting smarter just by listening to music -- maybe if people play the Baroque like I do when studying because that along with a nap after an hour or so of studying helps retain the material. A relaxed mind learns better. Sleeping helps process the new information.

Voting you UP and interesting! Sharing with my followers.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks vocalcoach. I will look for your hub.

Au Fait, I couldn't agree more. Thanks for voting and sharing, both of you.


ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 4 years ago from Lagos

Wow! Great work!! Ilove music and everything about it especially country-side music. There is nothing good as sweet blues on a rainy night. ?? blessed!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Ubie. Music is so many things to so many people! Glad you could stop by. Have a great day.


livingabroad profile image

livingabroad 4 years ago from Wales, UK

Wow, you've certainly done your research there!

I read somewhere (don't ask me where!) that babies listening to classical music makes them more intelligent!

As an EFL teacher I use songs to teach my young students. It's unbelievable seeing how fast they progress, and how much a difference the musical aspect has with their confidence!

Great hub. Up and interesting


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks livingabroad. I've read the same too, but I can't remember if it was classical or just soothing. While I like headbanger music I don't think Quiet Riot would sooth a child or make a baby more intelligent ;)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

Music has multiple benefits so long as it's not black metal music. I favor Sousa marches and rock n' roll with a great beat (That Old Fashioned Rock and Roll Bob Seeger) for relieving depression. I'm fond of Baroque for studying and concentrating.

You have lots of good information here. Voted you up, useful, interesting, and awesome as always! Will share!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Au fait ... music reaches into our soul and finds places to soothe or arouse. Nothing beats it! Thanks for the vote.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Ah music Mary, it's like balm for the weary soul (and the knackered housewife in my case!) :o). Great hub as always.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Jools...I love to turn the music up too.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

I believe music has many health benefits, but I did not know the scientific studies behind this. Recently, I'm learning music meditation. This is so wonderful.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you Vinaya. You are a true and wonderful friend.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

Our little year and half year old granddaughter loved to dance to Achy Breaky Heart. I love music but I hate it while I'm trying to shop. The junk they play in the stores I can't concentrate on what I'm doing. Voted Up.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 2 years ago from Deep South, USA

Music has always been an integral part of my life, and I'm sure I heard it in the womb as my mother sang and played both piano and guitar. I learned to play piano by ear as a child and regularly play my electronic keyboard though not as much as I did before arthritis invaded my hands. The information about playing a musical instrument to (hopefully) stave off dementia guarantees I'll play more frequently and learn new songs rather than sticking to my existing repertoire. Thanks!

Music is not only soothing (or stimulating) for humans, but also for pets. My dog relaxes to classical music with a slow tempo, as do I. It makes good background music when I'm working at the computer since I've found I can no longer concentrate when there is a pronounced beat or singing. That's true also when an instrumental plays of a song that has lyrics with which I'm familiar. Even if no one is singing, the lyrics reverberate in my mind.

I still enjoy listening to classic rock from the '70s when I'm not trying to write or use my "little gray cells" for other work. Music definitely has power over living creatures.

Voted Up++

Jaye


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York Author

Isn't it funny Moonlake, how the little ones pick their own favorites? I don't mind music in the stores as long as it isn't blaring. Thanks for the up!

Oh I'm so jealous Jaye. I never learned to play the piano but just sang along with my Dad who also learned by ear. With all you do I'm sure dementia has left the building! I have to admit I'm a 50s and 60s fan though any music will do and I do the same thing, an instrumental of a song I know gets me singing anyway!

I know all the music my kids listened to in the 80s and 90s too, I guess the repitition. Thanks for the vote Jaye.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I have always thought that music was one of the most wonderful things in the universe. Thanks for a great and interesting write-up!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York Author

Me too Rebecca. I can't imagine a life without music. You are certainly welcome.

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