Apparently, listening to and playing music does wonders for our memories and our mental health. So says “lifehacker,” whose blog I landed on, but have no recollection how. Obviously I need to listen to music more often if I’m to benefit from its positive effects on memory.
“Lifehacker” offers up many ways in which music might be good for us, but acknowledges that most of them are unproven. However, the connection between music and positive moods is one for which there is evidence. From one study cited on WebMD: “Not only did our sample of students report more positive emotions after listening to music, but their already positive emotions were intensified by listening to music.” (Valerie Stratton and Annette Zalanowski, Penn St. U.)
Music triggers the release of dopamine in various parts of the brain and dopamine is connected to feelings of pleasure. Jonah Lehrer, Wired magazine, writing on “the neuroscience of music says, “Sound stirs us at our biological roots.”
I know from experience, and science supports this, that when we exercise to fast-paced music we move faster. Also, “soothing music reduces stress.”
I found this quote, from http://www.news-medical, particularly interesting. “Regularly playing a musical instrument changes the anatomy and function of the brain and may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills.”
All of this brings me to my latest avocation: playing the ukulele. After only a week into it, I can report on the effects of my own scientific experiments with a string instrument after many years of playing a piano. The first and most obvious result is deep indentations in the fingertips of my left hand immediately after practicing, which disappear in a few minutes, only to be replaced by ongoing tenderness. On second glance, is that a blister I see? Another outcome is a sudden liking for normally disagreeable songs, such as, “You are my Sunshine” and “Tiny Bubbles,” since I can now strum the chords for them…sort of. And the last is the discovery that even if I can play the right chords, I cannot sing them. The good news, however, is that I had a great piano lesson yesterday and played my pieces well.