Music Notes

As rehearsals continue for The Magic Flute, I find myself thinking about music, and the impact it can have on both participants and listeners. Music can give people chills, it can make people laugh, cry, and dance. There has been a lot of research done about the effect music has on listeners.
     The now-debunked idea of the “Mozart Effect,” the idea that listening to classical music makes you smarter, has led to the release of numerous albums of music that will supposedly make your baby smarter, help your children get better grades, and help you succeed. However the question that interests me the most is what happens to the people participating in music, especially when we make music together?
     Dr. Daniel Levitin, author of This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs, suggests that making music together has a profound impact on people and may have even shaped the course of human history and evolution. Research indicates that when people play and sing music together, their neurons start firing in time to the beat. The like-mindedness that this creates could aid in the creation of friendships and social bonds, allowing people to live and work together more harmoniously and productively. Music can also be a collective expression of joy, or sometimes sorrow, that we share with those around us. When we sing a joyful song our bodies respond to the music, and when we sing it as a group that experience is shared.
     Dr. Levitin gave a TED talk summarizing his research at a conference in 2012, and you can watch the 15 minute video here.
     It’s a fascinating look at the many emotional and physiological effects that music can have on participants, and their wider implications. After watching it I, for one, am grateful to have music in my life.

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