Music: a soundtrack for wellness

As far as I can remember I have loved music, I don’t discriminate I listen to everything. This doesn’t mean I like all music equally, I do have my preferences of course, but if you were to look at my lists on my iPhone you would be surprised to find anything from Beethoven to Metallica…and whatever you can imagine inbetween. Pop, rock, jazz, movie soundtracks…….these all feed my soul. They are my soundtrack for wellness.


Studies have shown music benefits our well-being in various ways. It sustains brain development from the womb, it subtlety encourages analytical reasoning and brain development in children, it changes our mood, and it takes us back to a specific place and time, bringing on feelings of nostalgia and sometimes even tears of joy or sadness. It is precisely the reason why  music appreciation is now taught from a very young age, and why university degrees have been instituted in musical therapy.

best-prenatal-baby-music-player-wombA specific Stanford study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory(1). This being said we can compare listening (appreciating and/or playing ) music to physical exercise for the brain.

I often listened to music while I studied through my high school and university years, and still do today as I write this blog post. My soundtrack for wellness just gets longer as the years go by.

It’s not by chance we have an all-time favourite song, or choose a special tune for the first wedding dance. We all have a soundtrack to our lives, it’s just that some of us feel it more intensely.

I grew up in the eighties, listening to rock and pop on the radio. Our family road trips came to the tunes of Michael Jackson, Culture Club, and Madonna, who when I listen to their music, all still bring back that “smell” of the eighties I cannot shake off.

Of course my music education did not end there. The youngest of a brood of older teen cousins I was soon introduced to the likes of U2, The Police, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin…and a few more.

What a privilege to have grown up in this era.

The first LPs I ever purchased were in 1983, and these included U2 -WAR (still one of my all-time favourite rock bands), Synchronicity by FullSizeRender.jpgThe Police and Fame “The soundtrack”.  I mean how many of you still associate Jennifer Beals throwing her head around to the tunes of “Fame, I’m going to live forever?”. Or are brought back to a specific time and place whenever you hear “Sunday Bloody Sunday” or “Every Breath you Take’?

My first concert experience was an Air Supply concert when I was 11….with Canadian artist Gowan as an opening act! Wow, that was ages ago. I haven’t stopped since. I believe a concert experience, good or bad, is never wasted money. I have rarely attended a concert I did not enjoy.

I would love to list all the concerts I attended in this post…but that would take up too much space. I have lists….of those I attended, those I will attend, those I would love to attend, and those, alas I will never have the privilege of attending. Perhaps I will save these lists for another post!

I still own many of my LPs, cassette tapes and CD’s…There are certain things you just cannot let go of, as you just can’t let go of certain memories. FullSizeRender_1

I sometimes think of what my children will treasure as they get older, and how, with iTunes and their iPods the thought of buying a physical cd or LP, does not cross their mind. The LP is making a comeback…but I believe it’s mostly for the nostalgic and not so much for the millennial.

I am guilty of this as well….how easy is it to download a playlist or a couple of songs you like?

The sound of a tune brings me to a place and a time, even more than a scent can. I am not a musician,and the only instrument I ever played was a 1 year stint with the sax in high school…..but I can appreciate great music, in all its forms. Music feeds my soul, it is my soundtrack for wellness.

Barbara C.

(1) Baker, Mitzi. “Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds.” Stanford Medicine. Accessed February 24, 2015.

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