The Science-based Benefits of Musical Involvement

Mary Helen Rossi
June 25, 2022

Got Happiness?

We’ve been on a Benefits of Musical Involvement streak lately, and our posts seem to have hit a chord (haha). One reader just shared an article from titled How the Science of Music can Help You, asking that we cover some of the points. How can you go wrong with a title like that? It’s a great post but a long one, so we'll give you the highlights. It’s also made us think about the one overarching benefit of music – which we’ll get to in a minute.

Music is Much More than Just Music

We’ve been in the business of making music for a very long time, so we’ve experienced the myriad changes that learning music can have on people. Year after year, we’ve seen young students develop into far more mature, confident and happy people – in large part due to their musical involvement.We’ve covered some of music’s benefits in our previous posts, including music education as an aid to:

We must admit, we often wonder why music lessons aren’t a slam-dunk-of-course-you-learn-music. The evidence is so compelling!

Do We Even Need the Data?!

It’s interesting. In a culture that’s always listening, dancing, or singing along with some kind of music, we’re generally not conscious of how good it is for us. Perhaps that explains the lack of music in our schools? Whatever the reason, let’s continue on with this Benefits of Music streak to be sure we don’t take it for granted.

5 Ways Music Is Good for Us (plus one overarching benefit)

Whether you’re learning, participating, or just enjoying music, there is always so much to be gained. Take these 5 benefits, for example:

  1. Music Improves Memory
  2. Music Improves Workouts
  3. Music Helps You Heal
  4. Music Reduces Stress and Eases Anxiety
  5. Music Improves Sleep Quality

Let’s take them one by one.

Musical Involvement Improves Memory

Perhaps you’ve seen the research showing that patients with severe memory loss can often remember songs and even specific lyrics. And there’s some new research you may not have heard yet: music and musical training protect the aging brain and keep it healthy. Keeping in mind that aging is happening to all of us, it’s yet another reason why music lessons at The Studio are not just for kids!Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center conducted an experiment on 70 healthy adults, ages 60 to 83. They divided them into three groups based on their amount of musical experience:

  • no musical training
  • one to nine years of music lessons
  • at least 10 years of musical study.

All had similar fitness and education levels and were free of Alzheimer’s disease. They were all given a battery of cognitive tests and the results are pretty amazing.

  • Mental acuity: Those with the greatest amount of musical training and experience did best on these tests of mental acuity (mental sharpness), followed by those with less musical study, followed by those who never took music lessons.
  • Cognitive ability: Compared to non-musicians, the individuals with a high degree of musical experience had much higher scores on the cognitive tests, including those related to visual and spatial memory, naming objects, and the brain’s ability to adapt to new information

The really impressive part? These benefits were still apparent even in participants who no longer played an instrument. The takeaway? “Those with the greatest amount of musical training and experience did best on these tests.” Ready to get started?

Music Improves Workouts

If you’re like most of us, you’ve used music to work out and wondered what you’d do without it. Music motivates our muscles to move because it makes us feel better – and an upbeat tempo makes us work even harder.Again, according to, listening to music releases endorphins in the brain, those buzzy little things that make us feel excited, quell anxiety, ease pain, and stabilize the immune system.Turning up your tunes can also up the effort you exert during exercise. In one study, researchers found that cyclists worked harder and biked a further distance when listening to faster music as compared to music with a slower tempo.For pace-based exercises like running or weightlifting, music can help regulate rhythm and signal to the brain when the body should move. This signal helps us to use our energy more efficiently, so we’re not exhausting ourselves too soon.

Music Helps You Heal

A study from Austria’s General Hospital of Salzburg found that patients recovering from back surgery had increased rates of healing and reported less pain when music was incorporated into the standard rehabilitation process.Music connects with the automatic nervous system (brain function, blood pressure, and heartbeat) and the limbic system (feelings and emotions). When slow music is played, the body follows suit – the heartbeat slows, blood pressure drops, and breathing slows down. This all relaxes tension in the neck, shoulders, stomach, and back, allowing healing to take place.

Music Reduces Stress and Eases Anxiety

Since our body is indeed one whole moving part, music also has a strong effect on our stress levels. Just like slow music calms the body, it can also have a relaxing effect on the mind. In fact, researchers at Stanford University found that listening to music seems to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication. Since music is so widely available and inexpensive, it’s an easy stress reduction option.Researchers at Stanford University found that listening to music seems to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.So, what type of music reduces stress best? That is totally up to you. Many like “New Age” ethereal sounds, but they make me nervous because they never seem to resolve. Instead, I relax to intense music that moves me. Our daughter was the same when she was born -- she screamed her way through the tried-and-true lullabies but went out like a light when we put on Ahmad Jamal’s rhythmic Poinciana album.

Music Improves Sleep Quality

If recent news and Firefox Pockets are any indication, quality sleep has been growing increasingly elusive for Americans. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes claims that “an estimated 40 million Americans annually live with chronic sleep disorders, while 20 million more have trouble sleeping from time to time.”We’re pretty sure COVID has amped those figures upward. Here again, music can help.According to one study of 94 students ages 19 to 28 (all of whom had sleep complaints), the participants who listened to classical music at bedtime showed statistically significant improvements in sleep quality and a decrease in depressive symptoms. There were, however, no statistically significant results found for the others who either listened to an audiobook or received no interventionIn one meta-analysis of 10 randomized studies, researchers tracked 557 participants with chronic sleep disorders. They found that sleep quality was improved significantly with music and concluded that “music can assist in improving sleep quality of patients with acute and chronic sleep disorders.”

So, What’s the Overarching Benefit?

Did you catch the stats on reduced depressive symptoms in the study we noted two paragraphs up? That seems to be a common theme in all of our research: musical involvement makes you happier.Why is that so important? When you think about it, a search for happiness seems to be the unifying factor behind all human endeavors. Granted, we sometimes strive for it in ways that seem oxymoronic, but we do, nonetheless.

Music Lessons at The Studio Make You Happier

There, we’ve said it… again. Join us at The Studio and you’ll see – adults or kids, it makes no difference. Lessons with us could help you heal, improve your memory and workouts, increase your confidence, and improve your sleep quality. So, why would you not?Contact us today!

Mary Helen Rossi
June 25, 2022