Music is an innate expression of human life. Archeological evidence suggests that people began creating music before developing written language, with prehistoric instruments found in China dating back as far as 7000 BC. Music transcends language – it’s an extension of our thoughts, feelings, hopes, and grievances. It’s a form of communication that can be understood in some capacity by everyone, regardless of nationality, mother tongue, and background. As such, expression in the form of music has the potential to touch humanity on a global level.
Though we rarely consider our appreciation for music as a daily therapeutic, it’s important to our sanity and happiness is beyond measure. Spinning your favorite record after a long day, empathizing with sad songs after a breakup, and drawing motivation to press forward with songs of positivity are all examples of situations in which music touches our feelings and inspires our thoughts and moods. Some situations are difficult to imagine without music, like the car ride home after quitting a job you hate, dancing at a nightclub, or the first kiss scene in a romantic movie. Few things outside of our basic needs for survival are so crucial to human existence. Though we are well aware of music’s potence in our history, culture, and personal lives, we are just beginning to understand the science behind music’s therapeutic capacities and ability to sharpen our minds and expand our thoughts.
One of four adults in America suffer from mental illness, but out of shame, embarrassment, denial, or simply a lack of resources, nearly half never address the issue with professional help. Many such people instead find relief from recreational and creative activities. Music is no exception. Studies have found that music can alleviate symptoms associated with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and intermittent explosive disorder. Music can also combat the symptoms of brain and central nervous system disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, by improving speech and expression skills, memory organization and attention processing, and motor skills by providing a steady rhythm and purposeful motivation. Furthermore, exposure to music at an early age can improve a person’s connection to math, expressive, problem solving, and memory skills. Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital found that children and adults with musical training exhibit enhanced executive function when compared to non-musicians.
From here, it seems evident that people are meant to connect with music. Music provides us with a platform for our human need to express, create, and share. It gives meaning to our lives, improves our cognitive abilities, and makes us distinct from other species that roam the earth. As it’s always been, music continues to be an essential aspect of human life, and always will.