Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make us feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make us feel more optimistic and positive about life. On top of that, making music is social, pleasurable and meaningful. In fact, it has been argued that music making engages people in ways that words may simply not be able to - Mike Crawford
Music for the brain and for the wellbeing
"Playing music is the brain’s equivalent of a full-body workout", it benefits the brain more than any other activity. Anita Collins explains that playing an instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once — especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. And, as in any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brain functions, allowing us to apply that strength to other activities. Playing music has been found to increase the volume and activity in the brain’s corpus callosum — the bridge between the two hemispheres — allowing messages to get across the brain faster and through more diverse routes. This may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively, in both academic and social settings.
A wide range of references also show playing music is great for training a healthy brain. For instance, researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland found making music can alleviate the symptoms of clinical depression by helping people to express their emotions and reflect their inner experiences. "Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in non-verbal ways – even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences" - affirms Professor Gold from this study. Their research found, after six months of treating two groups of patients with depression -both groups with standard procedures but only one group with music therapy- that those treated with music therapy had significantly fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, and scored better on general functioning than those of the group that was treated only with standard methods. In the same group of researchers, Professor Erkkilä says people often expressed their inner pressure and feelings by drumming or with the tones produced with mallet percussion instruments. "Some people described their playing experience as cathartic".
Improved problem solving in musicians
Because making music also involves crafting and understanding its emotional content and message, musicians also have the ability to manage interlinked tasks that include planning, strategising, and attention to detail, and requires simultaneous analysis of both cognitive and emotional aspects. This also has an impact on how our memory systems work. And, indeed, musicians exhibit enhanced memory functions — creating, storing, and retrieving memories more quickly and efficiently. Studies have found that musicians appear to use their highly connected brains to give each memory multiple tags, such as a conceptual tag, an emotional tag, an audio tag, and a contextual tag — like a good internet search engine.
Music and sounds that soothe
Among the types of music that reduce stress the best there are references on the particularly positive effects of some of the native genre, celtic, Indian stringed-instruments, drums and flutes- are thought to be very effective at relaxing the mind even when played moderately loud.
Additionally, nature sounds and relaxing music are efficient to keep levels of cortisol and enzymes released during stressful situations. In fact, research suggests that auditory impressions of natural compared with urban environments facilitate recovery after psychological stress. Aspects that are affected during stressful situations such as our skin conductance level (SCL) tend to recover faster during natural sound than noisy environments. These results suggest that nature sounds facilitate recovery from sympathetic activation after psychological stressors.
Dr. Oliver Sacks affirms that in 40 years of medical practice he has found two types of non-pharmaceutical “therapy” vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens. "Indeed, I think there is a biological need and craving that goes across all cultures and all times both for music and for greenness", he adds.
Trying to improve your mental capabilities and emotional state with music can be then a very effective, healthy and inexpensive solution. Try some options for making natural sounds yourself in here.
All of us have experienced walking through a garden, by a river or ocean, or climbing a mountain and finding ourselves simultaneously calmed and reinvigorated, engaged in mind, refreshed in body and spirit. The importance of these physiological states on individual and community health is fundamental and wide-ranging. In many cases, nature and music are more powerful than any medication - Oliver Sacks
Making music alleviates symptoms of depression https://www.thesoundagency.com/2011/sound-news/making-music-alleviates-symptoms-of-depression/
Restorative Commons https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_nrs-p-39r.pdf
How playing music benefits your brain more than any other activity https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/01/29/music-brain-ted-ed/