The Role of Music in Day-to-Day Life

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If anyone were to go into my Spotify account, they would find seven or eight strangely titled playlists with various types of music. There’s my workout playlist, my game day playlist, my studying playlist, my Artward Bound playlist, my “can play when my parents are around” playlist and more. Each playlist has a specific purpose and the music in them reflects specific parts of my life.


Many people have specific songs or types of music they study with. Many people choose soft,  instrumental music to use as background noise when they are trying to think, other people use old favorites, others don’t have any specific study music, they just need to hear some sort of noise. Studies show that upbeat music is, on average, most effective for studying as it gets the brain focused and ready to learn. When people need to be extremely focused and can’t have any distractions, instrumental music is proven to work best. Ultimately, it is up to the listener as to what music best helps them focus.


Like the music people use to study with, the songs people listen to while exercising varies from person to person. While this also hinges on personal preference, there are types of songs that are generally seen in workout playlists. Many people enjoy fast-paced, loud and energetic music. When running, people often inadvertently run to a beat, so a song with a faster beat ultimately can lead to a faster run and a better workout.


Music can also be used as a form of therapy for both physical and mental illnesses. When planning music therapy sessions, “the most characteristic of music to consider is an individual’s preference regardless of diagnoses,” says Grace Rapetti, a music therapist who works with hospice patients. She said that besides someone’s personal preference, she employs the ISO-principle, which involves matching the music to the person’s mood. For example, matching restless music to a restless person. From there the music is then gradually shifted to the desired mood. “It seems almost counterintuitive, but you must first match the client’s mood with the music, even if it isn’t the desired outcome, to eventually get to where you want to be,” says Rapetti. Music is used as a form of therapy for numerous illness from premature birth, to cancer, to mental illnesses.


Although writing music is not technically a form of therapy, the art of creating something is intensely personal as a song can have therapeutic benefits. Writing a song can be compared to having a deep conversation with a close friend. It is a way to express emotions and feelings that are challenging to voice in normal conversations. On top of writing songs, learning to play instruments has shown to have positive effects on brain development, especially in children. Many musicians experience improvement in memory, auditory processing, and learning speed. Learning music is believed to increase the amount of gray matter in the brain similarly to how exercising increases the amount of muscle mass in the body.


Music can play numerous roles in day-to-day life. It can be an escape, a career, a hobby, a form of therapy, and so much more. The effects of music are intensely personal to the person listening to it, but we are all impacted by the music we listen to every day.