What Effect Does Music Have on a Person?

Delainey Root, MVC writer

Music has been around for at least 35,000 years. Music is an important part of many people’s lives and consists of many different genres. These genres range from classical to rap. The average teen spends 2.5 hours per day listening to music and everyone ages 18-29 report streaming music every day as reported by the JED foundation. Many people claim that music helps them mentally or is very important to them, but does music actually have the ability to do these things? Can music really help someone mentally? According to experts, the answer is most likely yes. 

Music is often observed to lower stress levels in people. A study in 2019 found that college students who listened to classical music every day for two months observed significantly lowered levels of anxiety. Another study from 2016 observed the connection of music to the anxiety of people scared of heights. There were two groups of people observed in the experiment. Both groups were put into a virtual reality experience where they were riding up an elevator. The groups were split into one group listening to music on the ride and the other group in silence. The research found that the people who listened to music recovered from the stress and fear quicker than the other group. 

Bethany Cook, PsyD, recommends if people want a break from what they are going through to find music that parallels the challenges. This action can easily transport a person and give them an escape from their worries. 

Music also helps people express the feelings they are trying to deal with. Cook often puts on classical music when working with clients who are in a difficult spot mentally. She explained this by saying, “Listening to music that does not have lyrics attached to it lets the listener project their personal feelings and their personal struggles into music.” There has also been research by Kazuo Okanoya that found that listening to music that is sad can make people feel better and less bad about the situation they are in. 

 Music is also incredibly helpful to people who struggle with verbalizing their emotions. The lyrics of songs give people an easier way to express their feelings without using their own words. 

Music builds community and helps people form connections with others. Making music, whether that be singing or joining band, can connect someone with other people with similar interests. People can also find others who enjoy the same musical bands or genres. Bringing together  a group of people that share interests makes them feel accepted and greatly improves mental health. 

Creating music is also helpful for brain development. Playing music activates parts of the brain that are not used otherwise, as well as several parts at once, making some compare it to a full-body workout for the brain. Cook encourages people of all ages to try and play music for the connections that can be made, social or otherwise, and for the brain development it provides. 

Music is enjoyed by many people. Not only does music provide people some background noise to their everyday life; it also helps them mentally and with brain development. Overall, it is a positive experience that every person can enjoy.