Hello everyone! My inquiry question this semester is “What is the relationship between music and trauma?” To answer such a complex question, I will first need to understand the relationship between music and humans in general. To understand how music affects humans, I will be breaking up this post into 3 different questions. The first being: How does music affect our brains? The second is: Why do certain songs stay with us since childhood? And the third is: How does music connect people?
How does music affect our brains?
Music affects us all in so many different ways, whether it’s physically or emotionally. However, various studies have found that music can actually affect us in deeper ways than that. It can create a positive impact on illnesses, depression, and even our perception on the world (1). Music can also help our brains grow, and this can lead to better learning (2). Doctors from John Hopkins University have even said that they recommend for people to listen to music because it stimulates their brains (2). This is proven by scientists because during studies, they can see active areas in people’s brains light up when they listen to music (2)! Music can also affect our brains by reducing anxiety, blood pressure, and pain, and it can even improve our sleep quality, mood, and memory (3). However, this does depend on the type of music you listen to. Genres like Classical, and Lo-fi music are the best to listen to for lowering anxiety levels (4). This is because they have relaxing elements and harmony’s that typically won’t startle your brain, and your brain gets familiarized with these beats because they tend to be repetitive (4). Another way music can help your mental health is that it makes you want to move! Certain songs will make you want to dance, and that can help your blood pressure, and brain health immensely (2)!
Why do certain songs stay with us since childhood?
Have you ever heard a certain song on the radio and it reminded you of a very specific memory of your childhood? Or do you have any favourite songs that you’ve loved since you were a child, and you still love them to this day? Well, there are reasons for that! Studies have shown that “our brains are at their most efficient during adolescence” (5). This means that our brains learn, and remember small things very well during childhood. When we are children, listening to or making music is a way we express ourselves, whether we realize that or not (6). Also, as children we may be exposed to the same song for various amounts of time (3). These songs get embedded into our memories at certain moments without us even knowing that it’s happening (5)! That is why many of our most important memories will frequently have a song attached to it, and why certain songs will stay with us forever. Also, songs that are attached to positive memories are generally the ones we hold with us forever (5)!
How does music connect people?
Another wonderful thing music does is connect, and bring people together! There are lots of different examples of this including lullabies, which connect a child and their parent, national anthems that connect a crowd during a sport event, or even protest chants that make you realize you’re not alone in fighting for a certain cause (2). However, music can even connect people in simpler ways than that. When people sing together, they can feel a sense of community and belonging (7). This can happen during many scenarios, but I think concerts are the best way to explain it. If you have ever been to a concert for an artist you love, then you know what an amazing feeling it brings. Hearing a large group of people all singing the lyrics to your favourite songs is such a good feeling, and it gives you a sense of belonging and togetherness (8). Music can even connect people by letting you know you aren’t alone. For example, relating to certain lyrics in a song can help people understand that other people are going, or have gone through what you have. This can help people feel less alone, and create a unique connection that only music has the power to do so (5).
Next post: For my next round of research, I will be researching more on the direct relation between music and trauma. I will also be looking more in depth into music and mental health. I will need to understand this topic in order to fully understand what the relationship between music and trauma is. For example music has helped many survivors of traumatic experiences with their healing journeys, and this is because music can reach a part of our brains that human connection cannot. This is something I want to understand, and it will help me with answering my overall inquiry question!
Thank you for reading (: