Music streaming grew by over 118 billion plays in the first quarter of 2018.
This is proof that listening to music is a huge part of modern life. Music is everywhere, from film and TV soundtracks to the busker on the street and our own personal choices in between.
But why do people listen to music? Apart from wanting something other than silence, are there any benefits to have some tunes on in the background? The short answer is yes. Here’s the longer version.
Why Do People Listen to Music?
We’ve all met someone who seems to permanently have headphones in their ears, or maybe it’s the radio always playing in the kitchen. There are people who just need music in their lives. But there are also times where listening to music has a definite benefit. Read on to find where tunes could give you an edge in life.
Work or Studying
A study from Stanford University found that listening to music, particularly baroque music, helped the brain to pay attention, make predictions and put things into memory. In other words, if you listen to music while you are working or studying, you’ll get a performance boost.
Of course, it does depend on the music that you’re listening to. For some people, music with lyrics is too distracting so choosing something instrumental, like classical music is helpful.
There are also pieces of music that have been specifically written to aid with concentration. Some of these include alpha waves, which are said to help induce a state of relaxation that allows your brain to take on more information.
Do you like listening to music? It could be because of brain chemistry. When you listen to music that you like, whether that’s K-Pop or Death Metal, your brain releases dopamine. And dopamine is one of those chemicals that makes us feel good.
There are even songs that can help reduce anxiety by up to 65%. If you find yourself feeling particularly stressed then you could always pop on a pair of headphones from this website and put your favourite tunes on a loop.
If you’ve ever been to the gym, you’ll know that they pump music into the place. They don’t only do that to cover up the ragged breathing or grunts from the heavy lifters. Music can also help improve physical performance.
That’s partly because of the improved mood we’ve already talked about helps you stay, ‘in the zone’ even when exercise is getting boring. But for certain exercises, like walking or running, the beats per minute can keep you on track.
That’s why people listen to music when they job, by timing footfalls to the beat you can stay on pace. You can even download exercise apps which alter the bpm of a song to match your target pace.
Another of the many reasons to listen to music is that it helps you to think more creatively. The combination of words and tone does something magical in the brain to encourage new connections. If you ever find yourself stuck on a problem, put on some tunes and see if they shake a new idea loose.
Not all music is equal in this effect, classical and opera will give you the biggest boost. Other genres will still help but may influence the ideas that you have depending on the lyrics.
If you’ve ever been through a bad breakup, there’s a good chance that you’ve used music to help you through your painful emotions. But it isn’t just emotional pain that can be released with music.
Studies have repeatedly shown that listening to music helps us deal with physical pain, too. Although most music has a beneficial effect, it seems to be lyrics which talk about happiness or contentment that give the biggest pain relief boost.
The type of music you like, or even the band, can become like a tribal identity. If you see someone wearing a t-shirt for the band that you like, you know you have something in common and a way to start a conversation.
And if you go to live gigs, or gather in venues that cater to the musical style you prefer then you are likely to meet other, like-minded people. Having an ‘in’ for joining a new group can be a really useful way to boost your social life.
From the third trimester, unborn babies can recognize their mother’s voice and even simple tunes. A study showed that they could even remember a simple tune like, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’.
And this early exposure to music, Mozart in particular, has been linked to an increase in intelligence in children. On a practical level, having a song that your baby feels comfortable with can help get them to sleep more easily once they’ve been born.
Musical training helps improve memory and verbal intelligence. Those who play an instrument get a boost in their ability to communicate. But that doesn’t just relate to those who play – listening to music has a similar effect.
You’ll get better at processing speech when you’re in a situation where there’s plenty of background noise, and become more adept at understanding language and the nuance that comes with different tones.
Why Do You Listen to Music?
These are just some of the benefits of listening to music. There are plenty of other reasons to put on some tunes, like reducing depression, keeping you alert while driving and helping dementia patients to recall the past.
So, why do people listen to music? They do so for a whole range of reasons above and beyond simple enjoyment.
If you enjoyed this article, then you might also enjoy some of our other content on improving your health and wellbeing.
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