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  • Jennie Antolak

Music is Medicine

by Kristin Wermus, PCC


I was lucky to grow up in the '80s in California, where music was the narrator of our lives. So many of my memories can only be accessed when I hear a particular song tied to that memory. For example, "Call Me" by Blondie evokes the excitement I felt when call waiting came out, and I could drop one friend for another on my baby blue rotary phone. No more busy signals? Now that was something to celebrate! Likewise, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper reminds me of sitting on the beach watching the surfers, listening to music on my Sony walkman. And not, I never went in the water; I didn't want to mess up my '80s hair!


Music wasn't just popular in the '80s. In 2009, archaeologists in Germany found a flute made out of a vulture's wing bone, attesting that people have been making music for over 40,000 years. ("The Benefits of Listening to Music," Rebecca Stanborough). Perhaps all those years ago, music lovers didn't wonder how we processed notes or the power they possessed. They simply embraced it because of how it made them feel. But since then, curiosity has driven many to decipher how we interact with music and its impact on us. Johns Hopkins Medicine discovered that the relationships between one note and the next cause our brains to work complex computing to make sense of what it hears. ("Keep Your Brain Young with Music," Johns Hopkins Medicine). In addition, they found a number of benefits of music:

  • Increases creativity (especially if we start listening to unfamiliar music, which is more challenging for our brains to process than familiar music).

  • Where is your creativity stunted?

  • What new genre of music could stimulate what seems to be stagnant?

  • Helps memory recall

  • What memories are tightly tied to certain music?

  • What memories do you want to make?

  • What music could store them safely?

  • Can energize or relax your body

  • When does music help you to relax?

  • What do you pay attention to while you are listening to that music?

  • It connects people

  • Where would you like to experience more connection?

  • What music could invite community?

  • Leads to better learning

  • What music could enhance your flow?

  • Boosts exercise performance

  • What is your "Rocky" song?

  • What happens when you switch up your music?

  • Alleviates pain

  • What music could soothe what ails you?

  • Can help train mental illness (reduces stress hormones like cortisol, increases our dopamine)

Random fun fact for fans of Heavy Metal music:

In 2013, the rock band Metallica achieved a new Guinness World Records title after becoming the first musical act to play a concert on all seven continents. They set this record after performing for 120 scientists and competition winners in a transparent dome at Carlini Station in Antarctica. (Best life online music facts)

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