Ever since man has learned to mimic the rhythm of his heartbeat to create beautiful sounds using a variety of ordinary objects like sticks and rocks and leaves, music was born. In fact, the history of music can be traced to the evolutionary development of man himself. People always believed there was something to the sound generated by the beating of the drums, the blowing of the horn, or the strumming of a stringed instrument that somehow coincided with the internal rhythms of the human body. And this belief now has the full backing of science. Experts now agree that music, especially when played, can establish that connection to the very soul of a man.
No matter how it is played, music bridges the gap between our physical selves and our mental and emotional selves. Who would not be moved by the works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bach, and Beethoven? Who would not feel upbeat with today’s rock n’ roll and pop? Who would not feel madly in love with ballades and love songs? Music helps us get connected to our inner selves. Now, if these are the benefits, then playing music will have more benefits.
One of the most important benefits of playing music is in helping us calm our nerves and helps us soothe our emotions. Music therapy is a mainstay in many cognitive behavioral therapeutic programs. It is primarily intended to calm the mind and relax tensed muscles. It teaches the mind to focus on the melodies being played, to differentiate notes from each other, and to coordinate very fine muscle control to fiddle the violin or to strike the keys of a piano or even strum the correct strings of a 12-stringed acoustic guitar. Playing music teaches the mind to focus and concentrate on creating beautiful melodies while at the same time coordinating the different muscle groups to perform those finger movements as well as the amount of air blown into the mouthpiece of a wind instrument. This helps in the management of stress and anxiety. And from here on, the other benefits emerge.
Because we are so focused in playing music, stress levels are at their all-time low. The stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine are nowhere near their usual manner of creating havoc in the body. The heart rate is stable at a steady pace. The blood pressure is just right to help maintain optimum oxygenation of the different tissues. What is released by the playing of music are endorphins which function in making use feel great about ourselves. Playing music is not just a pastime activity or a profession; it is one good way to keep your body and mind healthy by improving the release of endorphins and improving cardiovascular health. If the oxygenation of the different tissues is optimized, every organ in the body is also functioning properly. Studies have shown that music can greatly improve the contractile nature of the heart, making it more efficient in pumping blood across the entire body.
The stress hormone cortisol is also known as a very potent immune system suppressant. This means that if you are too stressed out, you simply have too much cortisol in your body. And this significantly weakens your immune system making you more vulnerable to infections and other diseases that rely on a healthy functioning immune system. Playing music is not only about creating wonderful melodies but also about strengthening and reinforcing your body’s ability to fight and ward off infections.
Since stress is related to almost every other aspect of man’s life, managing it through playing music can simply have its profound effects. It can lead to a significant reduction in both depression and anxiety and makes us feel a lot better about ourselves. This also helps us feel a lot more confident about what we do with our lives and in our work. It increases work productivity and helps improve scholastic performance in school. It also gives us the opportunity to maintain solid healthy relationships which, in turn, can again help us feel a lot better about ourselves.
Studies have also shown that children who play music grow up to have higher IQs and EQs than children who did not play music at all. Verbal and visual skills were vastly improved among children who played music as they showed more sophisticated brain responses to playing and listening to music. Studies also show that elderly people with neurodegenerative conditions can also benefit from playing music as it keeps normally-functioning nerve cells stay optimally healthy.
Music has become a very important part of our lives. Playing music is more than just strumming a chord or hitting a piano key or hitting the high notes on a flute. It is the bridge that connects the body to the human soul where it can radiate to bring about these many wonderful health benefits.