The Power of Music

Chantal Elias

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I’m sure many of you are regular recipients of the phrase, “I don’t know how you concentrate with that music blasting.” Turns out, music could exponentially improve your cognitive reasoning and focus. However, the choice of music you listen to decide whether it is a distraction or a homework helper. A study carried out by the University of Toronto found that “fast, loud music hinders reading comprehension… and agitates rather than focuses the studier.” These scientific findings were confirmed when the University College of London conducted tests on their undergraduate students (both introverted and extroverted) and reported a weaker reading comprehension test when pop music was played. The next time you decide to blast the tunes, perhaps put on some Bach or Chopin to experience the full benefits of music on your brain. According to CNN’s Elizabeth Landau, the reason classical music is particularly transformative is the melodic lines that are intricately woven through the compositions. It is believed that these bountiful melodies give the listener a feeling that she can tackle challenges and invent new solutions, all the while opening up the sensorial and auditory channels. Listening to classical music has been identified as a spatial IQ enhancer, which increases long and short-term memory retention. The phenomenon, coined as the Mozart effect, suggests that music from the Baroque period, which has a sixty beats per minute beat pattern, increases the amplitude and frequency of brain waves. Moreover, music stimulates the left and right hemispheres of the brain simultaneously, improving cognitive skills – such as creative thinking. Miranda Elder, Grade 11, has found that, “Music allows me to focus on school work as it can be subtler and discreet, but it also allows for creativity and a positive mood, depending on what I listen to. In this sense, music can adapt to the task at hand and provides great support in many circumstances.”

Beyond the benefits classical music poses to your schoolwork, you can expect advantageous effects for your bodily health too. The rhythm and melodic lines of classical music raises the level of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) produced by your brain, thus easing tension and perpetuating a state of serenity and focus. You may be familiar with serotonin – it is the lack of this hormone that triggers depression. Having increased volumes of this hormone running through your body brings your pupils to dilate, and results in increased blood pressure and a higher heart rate. The result of these bodily changes is a heightened ability to focus and to absorb higher amounts of information in a shorter time period.

There are numerous ways to immerse yourself in the music world at BSS. The school boasts three choirs (folk,chamber,senior,) two bands (senior,jazz,) a strings ensemble, and classes for guitar, band, voice, and strings. The ensembles meet one or two times per week, and as Arly Abramson, Grade 12, sees it, “Participating in musical activities at BSS has made me more confident and comfortable expressing myself.”

As summative and exam season comes upon us, consider plugging in some headphones and listening to a couple of concertos or sonatas. The power of music is far reaching, and you may be surprised by the plethora of benefits it presents.

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The Power of Music