Why is Music Important?

Why is Music Important?

Even the most cynical of human beings will not debate the importance of music. All of us enjoy it in some form or the other, from classical renditions to hip-hop and rap. So what makes it so integral to our lives and how does it help us? We try and understand the phenomenon that is music.
"I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs, and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music."

Mary Anne Evans or George Eliot as she is more popularly known, was a creative person who believed in the power of music and how it affects us as individuals. And that is a truth that all of us will agree with. From moments of extreme grief to times when we experience ecstatic happiness, our one constant is music. As a race we have long shared our story with music. It is so intertwined with our lives that it is impossible to actually trace its history. It has been around since the first rhythmic thumping of feet that was recognized by human beings. Maybe that is the reason why it is such an integral and important part of our life.

Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.
- Henry Ward Beecher
Why is music important to human beings? There is no objective answer to this question. The importance of music is different in every individual's life. It inspires people and allows us to get in touch with our emotions in a way that is unique. For those amongst us who find it difficult to express ourselves, music can evoke reactions. Your mood can change from dark and depressed to elated and deliriously happy with just the selection of the right track and a hit of the play button. You can use music to liven up a boring party or to create a romantic ambiance. Music works wonders on creating a certain atmosphere.

The highest mission of music is to serve as a link between God and man.
- John F. Kennedy
Several people proclaim the benefits of music to heighten their spirituality. Every religion on the planet uses music in some form or the other to enhance the soul, whether it is the rhythmic chants from Buddhism or the devotional songs in Hinduism. Music is recreational, listening to soothing songs can be a way of relaxing and allowing your body and mind to take a break from the monotony of life. Music can often be a form of meditation. It elevates our consciousness to a level where we are able to look past the mundaneness of everyday life. It allows us to reach deep within ourselves and connect with a higher power.

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.
- Plato
How does music affect the brain? Music uses both sides of the brain, thus resulting in the overall development of the brain. In fact there was a research conducted at the University of Montreal that proved that the all four of the cortex's lobes are activated when the brain is involved in musical activity. During these musical tasks, even the cerebellum of the brain is activated. A musician has to constantly make decisions about the elements of music, like form, timbre, melody, tempo, tone, rhythm, etc. This helps in enhancing the ability of the brain to become very good at multitasking and organizational abilities. It improves abilities of expression and also enhances the intelligence of a person.

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
- Berthold Auerbach
Music therapy has been widely heralded. It is powerful and non-invasive, which is why the outcome of the therapy may differ from person to person. The reason music works wonders to cure feelings of depression is because of the secure feeling that music gives to a listener. It is familiar and stimulates our senses. It is also a great means of communication and expression. It has also been found that people who take lessons in playing the keyboard experienced a significant depreciation in depression and stress. It allowed them to cope with anxiety and loneliness better and resulted in improved health.

Just as certain selections of music will nourish your physical body and your emotional layer, so other musical works will bring greater health to your mind.
- Hal A. Lingerman
Several studies have shown how music enhances life. According to the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse Report, released in 1999, students in secondary schools who had participated in some form of band or orchestra were less prone to indulge in substance abuse. Also more students who performed music or took classes in music appreciation and related subjects scored high marks on SAT as compared to their other classmates. In fact many colleges believe that an active interest in the arts and music broadens a student's mind and allows him or her to appreciate the world more. It contributes heavily to the social and intellectual growth of the student.

There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacing of the spheres.
- Pythagoras
A study on the enhanced learning of proportional math through music training and spatial-temporal training conducted by Neurological Research 21 in the year 1999 showed that almost 27% of 237 students who used piano keyboard training, displayed better skills in using mathematical software. Studies have also shown that students who had an interest in music tend to do better academically, receiving honors.

Forget the scientific studies and research that has been done on the numerous benefits of music or how the different music types affects us. Take our own example. We have music that we relate to for every occasion. From the sound that wakes us up in the morning , to the song we listen to when our heart breaks or we are in the doldrums. We have exercise music and on-our-way-to-work music. We listen to party music and music that calms us. Life without this music would leave us kind of lost, unsure, and probably incapable of venting our emotions. Music touches our soul, and allows us to express different moods and emotions. And honestly, life without music would be, well, boring. So, whether you listen to Beethoven or Marilyn Manson, Louis Armstrong or Arctic Monkeys, your daily dose of music is what keeps you going.
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