It’s Science: Classical Music Lifts Mind and Mood


Classical music, though no longer part of popular culture, has had great staying power.

Not everyone appreciates classical sounds and rhythms, yet science tells us that this type of music benefits the brain - and in turn our body - in specific ways.

Classical Music and our Brain

Here are nine researched benefits of hearing classical compositions.

  1. Classical music uses a variety of tonal modes or keys (e.g, major, minor), sometimes within the same composition. The different keys evoke similar emotional responses in humans across cultures, creating a universal emotional form of communication. Our response to the different keys is thought to reflect how the different keys imitate the tonal qualities of emotion in human voices.
  2. Research shows that medical procedures, such as prostate biopsies, are made less stressful and painful when patients wear noise-canceling headphones playing classical compositions by Bach. It is unlikely Bach ever imagined his music being used this way.
  3. If you need to lower your blood pressure, put on some Beethoven or Mozart. Classical music did a better job of lowering research participant’s blood pressure than either pop music, jazz, or no music al all.
  4. Putting on some classical melodies can help you express your feelings verbally or in writing. Students that relayed a significant event in their life while classical music played in the background demonstrated more openness and depth of feeling than those who shared an event without a musical backdrop.
  5. The rhythms and musical patterns in slower classical pieces help insomniacs fall asleep. They not only doze off faster but sleep longer to the tunes of Brahms, Handel, Strauss, Bach, and Mozart.
  6. Children exposed to a background of classical music for an hour each day over six months showed different brain wave patterns than children unexposed to the music. Those who heard the compositions were significantly more relaxed as evidence by changes in their alpha brain rhythms and increased coherence between different areas of the cerebral cortex.
  7. While exposing a child to hours of classical music will not make him or her a genius, studies indicate that hearing classical compositions, and eventually playing an instrument, facilitates the development of math, spatial, and verbal skills, and enhances self-control.
  8. Several cities, including London, Portland, Minneapolis, and Toronto, have discovered that piping classical music into high-crime transit stations significantly deters crime. Some speculate that the classical sounds drive certain people away, but maybe the classical pieces have a soothing effect, or create an atmosphere of civility.
  9. One group of premature babies in Tel Aviv was exposed to a half hour of Mozart each day, while another group was not. Those who heard Mozart grew and developed much faster than those not exposed to the music. Doctors theorize that the calming effect of classical music reduced the babies’ stress and supported their immune systems.

Source: Dr. Joe Today
Photo credit: Jim, the Photographer - flickr


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