At dawn I drove into a rain-soaked city, in an unfamiliar car while a flute played Clair De Lune. It felt entirely other. Like something out of a movie. I almost had to remind myself that it was a rainy Tuesday, I was driving my husband’s car, and classical music is what to expect when you turn on Fine Music Radio. And yet, my usual morning commute turned into something quite magical. Music transformed it.
Music has been proven to be beneficial in so many facets of life. It can positively affect our bodies by reducing heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels, perhaps even boosting immune function.
Music can temporarily unlock memories of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, easing what can otherwise be a frightening degenerative loss of recall. An Israeli study found that playing classical music quietly in neonatal intensive care units supported the weight gain of premature infants by slowing their rate of energy expenditure — babies exposed over two days to 30 minutes of music slowed their metabolisms which helped to accelerate their growth.
Research also suggests that people with dyslexia, or reading difficulties often also have issues with auditory processing and have poor timing. They have difficulty filtering out background noise and tuning in to what they want to hear. Intensive music instruction can develop those skills, and along with them, some skills associated with reading.
Music can provide us with insight as well. Imagine if our lives had a soundtrack — that would give us an edge. If we had the presence of mind to hear ominous strings when swimming in murky water, or walking through a dark forest alone we would know something bad was about to go down.
We could listen to the soundtracks of our lives and know in advance whether we were about to do something brave or amusing or stupid.
We could ensure that the next track would be something soothing when we were feeling stressed or frightened.
Music also allows us to be our ‘other’ selves. I know that certain music makes me feel like another me. A younger me, or the me that took a different path in life. Music can be the passport to all the possible paths that were once open to us. It can be a window for us to watch worlds that are now in the past. It can paint memories so vividly that you would swear they were real.
Our choice of music can also tell people about us, our characters, if you will. The music on the car radio this morning would have told the audience watching the movie of my life that I was thoughtful, perhaps affected by the wet weather, the smears of light reflecting off the tar would have pointed to a small, independent film — it would also quite possibly involve Jake Gyllenhaal with a beard.
What is the soundtrack to your life? Think of your ‘fight song’ — the song you hear in your head when you need a boost, or your ‘everything is going to be alright’ song. Or your go-to tune you hum while you go about your business. All this music makes up the soundtrack of your life, creating little pockets of art in our day to day lives.