Yes, that music you listen on your commute and those silly songs you sing with your kids are making you healthier. Science and experience continue to give us more insight into the seemingly endless array of benefits we get from music. In these modern times of self-care and commercialized wellness, what turns music into music wellness? How can you incorporate music wellness into your life, so you and your family can benefit? You likely engage in music wellness every day but probably don't realize it.
Music wellness means getting the benefits of music through harnessing its seven uses: listening, learning, playing, performing, writing, recording, and teaching. The most common use we all share is listening to music and it's been found that music can change our mood and make us feel better in as little as nine minutes. We get a lot of benefits from listening to music, include improving mood, decreasing stress and improving immunity. There are also many more benefits that come from engaging in other music wellness activities, as well.
Many people may have had some experience in music lessons and have seen the fun and growth that can come from learning music. Unfortunately, many traditional music teachers and music programs have rigid structures that make it hard for the masses of people to develop a lifelong love of music and continue to get its benefits throughout life.
The beauty is that music is here for everyone and anyone can access its benefits on any day. You can harness the seven uses of music for your music wellness, even if you've not a performing musician or have never picked up an instrument before. All it takes is being intentional with how you want music in your life and your family's.
HOW TO GET MUSIC WELLNESS
You and your family can start getting the benefits of music today by incorporating as many of the seven uses of music in as many ways as possible throughout the day. This will look different for every family, so don't feel like there's any certain expectations or a mold to meet. The key is to explore, experiment and find what types of music wellness activities work for you and on what schedule.
Here's an example of musical wellness activities you could do today to get the most benefits from your music wellness by doing an activity in all seven uses of music:
Listen: In the morning, play music that gets you feeling good, energized and aligned with how you want to feel that day.
Learn: Pick your favorite instrument or an easy starter instrument, like piano, drums, vocals, or uke, and learn a simple melody, chord, strumming pattern, rhythm, or any other easy music part. Start with something in the beginner level, which means you can play it without a lot of musical information or developed technique.
Play: Find times throughout the day to play the simple musical part you learned. Feel free to embellish on the dynamics, or the volume, intensity and emotion in which you play.
Perform: When you feel comfortable, play what you learned for your family, even if you only play a small section. It's not about being able to perform a song. It's about showing the fun you're having while learning and modeling to your kids an active, participatory relationship with music.
Write: As you become more comfortable with the musical part you learned, maybe you add your own style or even your own adaptation to it to create something altogether new. Or perhaps, what you learned inspires you to write your own piece of music from scratch based on what sounds good to your ear.
Record: Take this music your playing and record it on your phone, so you can listen back to it and play along with it. This helps when you're working on different parts of music that happen at the same time, like harmony and melody. The act of recording also helps you to master these musical parts easier and quicker.
Teach: Show your spouse and kids how to play the same music you're learning or a simplified version. Another thing is you can show them how to play a simple beat on a drum or bucket and play along with you.
If you wake up and set the intention to have this kind of day, imagine what the evening will be like: playing music with your family, hearing your kids laugh, seeing your spouse give you that joyful smile, feeling present with your family and able to appreciate some grateful quality time together. It'd be an evening of bonding as a family as you all share in the benefits of fully participating in the welcoming world of music through it seven uses. Music is a comrade you can always count on.
HOW DO I START GETTING MUSIC WELLNESS WHEN I DON'T PLAY YET?
It's common to think that you need years of music lessons in order to benefit from music, but that's not true. But it's understandable if it seems overwhelming to think of going from listening to music in the kitchen to harnessing all seven uses of music regularly each day. It's okay if you don't get to all seven every day. The idea is to just set and pursue the intention of incorporating all seven as much as possible in your life.
It should be fun! Make it something that fits your family's personality. If you've got a family of goofball performers, put on a concert or talent show at home. You and the kids can play music, sing songs, do a dance, read a poem, do a comedy set, or anything you'd like. Make it your own and give your kids the freedom to express themselves and I guarantee you that it'll be a fun and insightful experience for everyone that you'll want to make a family tradition.
Start with what you know. The West's relationship with music is a more passive one, which requires us to rekindle our active relationship with music but also gives us a different pathway to experience the music and can bring new insight. Begin with your honed skill of listening and branch out at a comfortable pace as you craft your most advantageous relationship with music harnessing all seven uses.
Don't think you have honed listening skills? I bet you can pick out your spouse's voice in a crowded room. Maybe you've found yourself at 11 pm, watching television and upstairs behind a closed door you can hear the slightest whimper from your child. The ear is finely tuned even as an infant that can differentiate it's parents' voices from others' voices. Kids are born with perfect pitch and culture and practice will help retain and develop the skill.
Your listening skills have also led you to develop your taste in music, based both on what's pleasing to the ears but also the body and soul. Your favorite music is so because of how it makes you feel. This gives you a great power over how to regulate yourself. Music is so good at improving mood because it can alter mood in different ways depending on what you listen to. You can use music to relax after a long day, to help process a relationship break-up, to get pumped up for a workout or athletic performance, or to set a romantic mood for a dinner date.
Think of going to a nice restaurant and what kind of music you would hear there. There's a reason that style of music is being played there. It sets the right mood. Or say you're planning a wedding. Are you going to hire just any band, DJ or let some random playlist play? Probably not because you want to create the right type of vibe for your wedding, which includes the right music.
MUSIC WELLNESS FOR THE MIND
You already employ the use of listening to music, so the easiest place to start intentionally getting music wellness is to use the natural listening activities in your day. Here are some easy ways:
Listen to the right music to manage your concentration and mood throughout your different tasks of the day. Listen to morning music that gets you aligned with how you want to feel. Find the right songs that get you energized into the right state for what you want to to do that day, like function optimally at work or the gym, or access the flow state for your writing or art. Use music to self-regulate in-between tasks, like going from a mentally-intensive computer project to sitting down to lunch with your spouse and being present and engaging.
Try binaural beats and the associated music in the genre. This is a channel I recommend that creates soothing music using delta, theta and alpha binaural beats for work and sleep music. Binaural beats are when two different frequencies are played separately into each ear causing the brain to entrain to a brainwave frequency that is equal to the difference between the two frequencies. This phenomenon of the ears and brain relationship is useful as it allows you to put your brain in an intentional brainwave state, which is useful for performance, focus, concentration, relaxation, introspection, and sleep. The science of brainwaves shows how entering different brainwave states: delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma help the mind and body function for different tasks.
Music is also useful for meditation because listening to calming music helps create the feeling of being in a relaxing bubble where you can safely sit with your body and mind. One common reason many people have difficulty developing a meditation practice is because it can be distracting to sit with the noise of your thoughts and merely observe. Listening to music, especially with an alpha or theta binaural beat in the background, can be a tremendous help in turning 30 seconds of meditation into a minute, into 5 minutes, and eventually into a regular practice.
Explore the other uses of music, similar to the description above, and see what musical activities help get you out of the running thought train in your mind.
The idea is to pay attention to how different music makes you feel. Then, use this knowledge to craft your coping skills to respond to the opportunities that life brings you.
MUSIC WELLNESS FOR THE BODY
Music translates directly to the body because the molecules of music and our body are composed of the same thing - vibrations. Everything from quantum particles to our voice is based upon frequency and vibration. That's why when your favorite song hits, you feel that rush go deep into your chest, swirl up the hair on the back of your neck and sink into your bones. Music can be used to create balance and homeostasis in the body, help decrease symptoms of panic and anxiety, and improve immunity. Here are some things you can do:
Actively play an instrument or sing. Music has the power to increase the body's immune response by increasing the production of immunoglobulin-A (IgA), the body's main line of defense against sickness. Listening to music also improves immunity, but active participation in playing music showed the biggest increase of IgA in a comparative review of numerous studies.
Write songs. Songwriting is a great tool to process big emotions you're experiencing and to help decrease panic attacks that can come from anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Musical expression has also been shown to help people reframe their perspective on the world and their life. Writing songs and playing music is an effective supplement to go along with therapy and some people feel that music actually helps them more than therapy.
Sing! It bears repeating, sing from your heart. Singing is a great way to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to relax the body and aide in digestion and other bodily functions. Sing in the shower. Sing in the car. Sing to your kids! It's not about how you sound or whether you're going to compete on a singing show. It's about you experiencing joy in your body and singing is a sure way to do that.
For tips on where to get your first instruments and what to look for, check out this video. If you're interested in music lessons for you or your kids, contact me here or by sending an email to JacksonMusicProgram@gmail.com.
MUSIC WELLNESS FOR THE SPIRIT
As we can see, music touches every part of life. Employing all seven uses of music truly brings holistic rewards to all areas of living. Music helps you to get in touch with the essence of who you are, what makes you want to be alive. It helps you develop an identity and create bonds with others. In many ways, music is what holds humanity together and gives us connection to the bigger parts of being alive, the universal aspects of human nature. Music wellness brings this power into your own hands to better your life. Here are some spiritual benefits of having the seven uses of music in your life:
Feeling connected within and without. Music connects us to the higher sources of things, as well as the deepest inner parts of ourselves. You can turn to music to help understand your mind, body, feelings, and motives, as well as get a feeling for your place in the cosmos. That's why music is such an important friend during hard times. It can also be a great supporter during times of growth. If you have religious or manifestation practices, you know how powerful it is being in an elevated emotion and connected to your higher source of belief.
Songwriting, recording and musical performance are big confidence boosters. Incorporating these uses of music quickly cause you to confront some of the feelings that might be holding yourself back from putting yourself out into the spotlight or expressing yourself to others. Doing these activities regularly in some fashion will gradually desensitize these fears and help you get over them.
Understanding others better because you know yourself better and have tools to sense the interconnectedness with others. Music is something that wants to help you meet yourself and bring you closer to others.
Music wellness is always within reach and ready to help. Everyone can access the benefits of music, no matter what your lifestyle or experience. The first step is to ask yourself, "How can I get the seven uses of music in my life?" Follow your interests and joy from there.
Use the Music Instrument Picker tool to help determine which instruments would be best for you to start learning with based on your personality, age and goals.
Have fun sharing music with your family and I wish you all the most music wellness!
Music Teacher and Music Wellness Expert
Jackson Music Program