Find the music in you

Q: Singalongs and musical performances are offered at my community center. I don’t normally participate in group activities, but am thinking about going to an event for something to do.

A: Yes! You should go. From prehistoric times, music has served as entertainment, a practical function, or part of religious rituals. Historical sites have uncovered bones or carving implements used to create instruments. Horns and conch shells were some of the first wind instruments. Pipes, whistles and clay drums have been discovered, too.

Why is music important?

It benefits your physical, mental and emotional health. Light jazz, classical or nature sounds calm the mind. Research tells us that listening to music engages the brain—that’s why it’s so beneficial for infants to hear musical notes to sharpen their linguistic development at an early age. A child’s language comprehension is enhanced by music, and it expands their auditory memory capabilities.

What are the benefits of music?

Scientists believe that listening to music increases mathematical capacity by the introduction of math concepts (heard in musical rhythms, patterns and sequences). Classical music introduces a range of emotions experienced when the beats switch from soft, then to a louder volume, tone or pitch. Higher scores in emotional intelligence, creativity and spatial awareness by children who were enrolled in musical lessons at a young age compared to those in technology classes.

While young persons benefit from listening to music, it connects us to others at any age. When people are at a sporting event, a concert, or any public performance, certain songs bring us together, uniting people in many ways, from protest marches to hymnal music at places of worship.

Studies have shown that memory retention increased when people listened to classical music while reading a list of items, then reciting that list out loud later—they had better recall than those listening in silence or with white noise, reports a 2020 Healthline article. “The same study tracked how fast people could perform simple processing tasks—matching numbers to geometrical shapes—and a similar benefit showed up. Mozart helped people complete the task faster and more accurately,” the article notes. While music cannot reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia-related illnesses, it has been shown to slow cognitive decline, while calming dementia patients and building trustful relationships with them.

Additionally, neuroscientists confirm hearing music reduces anxiety, improves overall brain function and regulates mental health by triggering the release of neurochemicals. When this happens, brain changes occur: dopamine alters pleasure and reward regulation; cortisol has an effect on stress response; seratonin controls mood, sleep, memory; oxytocin influences bonding with others.

Here are some ways to learn more.

Books about music

Music Is History (Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson)

The History of Musical Instruments (Curt Sachs)

A Little History of Music (Robert Philip)

The Story of Music (Howard Goodall)


Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, Arizona. I highly recommend visiting and exploring their 15,000 instruments from 200 countries and territories.

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, Tennessee.

The American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Missouri.

Motown Museum, Detroit, Michigan.

Grammy Museum L.A. Live, Los Angeles, Calif.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio.

Movies about musicians

Song of Summer, 1968 (Eric Fenby)

The Buddy Holly Story, 1978 (Buddy Holly)

Coal Miner’s Daughter, 1980 (Loretta Lynn)

La Bamba, 1987 (Ritchie Valens)

Bird, 1988 (Charlie Parker)

The Pianist, 2002 (Wladyslaw Sziplman)

Ray, 2004 (Ray Charles)

Walk the Line, 2005 (Johnny Cash)

What Happened, Miss Simone? 2015 (Nina Simone)

Elvis, 2022 (Elvis Presley)

Films about events or genres

The Sound of Music, 1965 (Von Trapp Family Singers)

Amadeus, 1984 (rivalry of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri)

Latcho Drom, 1993 (history of flamenco)

Backbeat, 1994 (portrayal of Beatles’ early days)

Whiplash, 2013 (cutthroat world of music education)

Score, 2016 (film score development)

La La Land, 2016 (musical romance)

A Star is Born, 2018 (musical romantic drama)

Where words fail, music speaks. –HC Andersen.

Add music to your life!

Karen Casanovas, PCC, CPCC, CLIPP is a health and wellness professional coach practicing in Anchorage. If you have questions write to her at

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