Metamorphosis - Cycle 4 - How does music affect people?

Hey everyone! This will be my last post of the year. My inquiry question was “How does music affect people?”. Here's what I learned, and what challenges I had to overcome.

How my inquiry now impacts my thinking:

There are endless ways music can affect us, and I learned a lot. I managed to look into how it affects our brain, mood, memory/learning, the Mozart effect, health, athletic performance, dementia, and personality. I’ve known for a while that music can have an effect on us – for example, I had heard of the Mozart effect before – but I never really knew any of the other effects music can have on us. I only knew about how it can make you “smarter”, which I know now isn’t very reliable information. The research isn’t conclusive, but I believe it’s possible music can make you smarter in a certain way: by improving your spatial-temporal reasoning, which is the ability to mentally create and move shapes, solving puzzles and multi-step problems. In addition, I always thought that it was obvious that sad music should make people feel sad as well, but I learned that listening to sad music can be like having an empathetic friend - someone who understands what you’re going through - and now that I think about it, I feel the same way when I listen to sad music. I just never really thought about it before. Moreover, I never really thought that there would be a lot of science behind the effects music has on people, but there is actually a fair amount of science involved, such as music releasing dopamine to make us “feel good”, releasing oxytocin to help us bond, lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and musicians having a larger corpus callosum, which is the band of  nerve fibres that connects the right and left hemisphere.

How this investigation will impact the decisions I make:

Because of the fact that music can help us concentrate, memorize and learn, I might start trying to listen to music when I do my homework or study, preferably classical or any music without lyrics because it’s less distracting. Funnily enough, my french teacher is making us create a song about the participe passé rules so that we can remember them better. I already like to listen to music when I exercise, so that will remain the same. I will also listen to music if I’m ever feeling really stressed out since it lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and when my stress is lowered, my immune system should be stronger and I will be able to sleep better.

The broader impacts this new knowledge might have on others locally and/or globally:

I strongly encourage that everyone makes music a daily part of their lives if they haven’t done so already. Music is everywhere, and we need to use it to our advantage, whether we use it to study and learn, to reduce stress and help us get better quality sleep, to motivate us and divert our minds when we’re exercising, or to help a loved one with dementia express emotions and bring back memories. I would also encourage people to take music lessons if they don’t already do so. It would be best to start music training before the age of seven as it’s a good brain exercise, and musicians who started learning music before the age of seven have an unusually thick corpus callosum (band of nerve fibres connecting left and right hemisphere), but it’s better late than never! And it’s also very fun! I’m in grade 8 piano right now, I started taking lessons at the age of seven, and I still find it extremely fun just to sit down at the piano and play my pieces.

Overcoming challenges:

There weren’t that many challenges because music is a very popular subject and there are so many different ways music can have an impact on us, but what I did find a little challenging was wondering if all of the resources were reliable. The reason for that is because sometimes different websites I used contradicted each other, and that is because some of the research still isn’t concrete. I especially had some struggles figuring out what to stay about the Mozart effect, because that subject has a lot of controversy. What I did to overcome these challenges was state that “one website said this... and another says this... and this is what I believe, but you can have your own opinion.”

Overall, I learned a ton and had lots of fun with this inquiry project, and I hope you learned lots too!

Thanks for reading!

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