The Power of Music


Today I had a tough time getting going – even after my healthy morning routine. I was caught up in self-doubt and general angst – one thought leading to another and then another and then all of a sudden my whole life’s purpose was being called into question. You know, just an average Tuesday morning.

So I did what so many self-employed, urbanites do – I went to Starbucks with my laptop, notebook, and pen. It was a bit noisy there today, so I put on my headphones and called up some music streaming – the Upbeat Indie channel, if you must know.

Within about 2 minutes, my energy was more positive and I was able to get out of my head, focus, and just start working. The self-doubt (and existential crisis) was still lingering somewhere, but was drowned out by, well, Upbeat Indie music! Just that one choice shifted my energy enough to make my day 100% more productive than it might have been otherwise.

For a life-long musician, I am terrible at remembering to harness the power of music to either honour or change my mood.

Music is practically synonymous with humanity – people (and our ancestors) have been making music with their bodies and all manner of instruments since, well, forever. According to author Elana Mannes in her book The Power of Music, “music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function“.

Oliver Sacks writes, in Oxford’s Journal of Neurology, Brain, “All of us have had the experience of being transported by the sheer beauty of music—suddenly finding ourselves in tears, not knowing whether they are of joy or sadness, suddenly feeling a sense of the sublime, or a great stillness within.”

The findings from scientific research into music’s powers are profound – the two resources I have referenced cover enormous ground. We know it intuitively, too – music must have a purpose or it wouldn’t exist. The mixtape (or modern playlist) cements relationships, fuels parties, and enhances our workouts. Music can help heal brains, incite war or peace at will, and evoke/release emotions we didn’t know we had.

So while I generally avoid making New Year’s Resolutions, for 2016 I am resolving to use music more often to sooth my savage inner beast, raise my spirits, increase my productivity, and give me an excuse to dance like no one is watching.


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