Sound Therapy

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about affect of music:

Which songs improve my concentration and brain power?

Signed, Songs Can’t Be Wrong

DearĀ Songs Can’t Be Wrong:

Your question implies that you think certain types of music affect concentration and brain power. That is a popular impression that merits research and common sense experimentation. We make no claim as music researchers or therapists. As you know if you scan even a few of thousands of Q&As we have posted, our focus is on communication-related workplace matters. But because we frequently get questions like yours, we have investigated what is purported to affect employees’ attitude and performance.

Our look into this topic has resulted in limited support of music or but not for special a type of music for the workplace. However, we are firm in that how a choice music or no music is made is what matters. That is to suggest that imposed music and its volume are central determinants for those who are forced to hear it while they work. Those who are captive resent being forced to listen to music of one type or another, especially if it is music they dislike.

As you probably have heard or read for the past couple of decades what is called the Mozart Effect affects the brain. In brief that research says: music sequences that regularly repeat every 20 – 30 seconds, just as Mozart’s compositions do may trigger the strongest response in the brain wave patterns that also occur in 30-second cycles. Researchers of the Mozart Effect claim improved performance in a number of areas. For example, Jovanka Ciares and Paul Borgese in “THE MOZART EFFECT: FACT OR FICTION?” (2010) state:Researchers found that music can lower or increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, depending on the type of music.

As might be expected, rock music can increase these readings while more soothing New Age instrumental has proven to lower them significantly. The auditory nerve in the inner ear can strongly affect many muscles in the body. As many people know, fluids in the inner ear enable us to maintain our balance. Music has proven to reduce muscle tension and improve body movement and coordination. In Norway, doctors began using music as therapy for children with severe physical disabilities and found that many types of music, including classical and popular, reduced muscle tension and relaxed the children. They however report a research finding that Mozart kind of “serious music from the 1700s to the 1850s, had a negative effect on some study participants. Instead of improving brain functionality, their findings indicate that exposure to such music actually decreased their subjects’ capacity to concentrate.” And they conclude “Like some of the researchers, we remain skeptical that such positive effects are limited to any specific type of music.” Elizabeth Scott, M.S., “How and Why Is Music A Good Tool For Health” Guide (October 27, 2011) advocates music as good of one’s health. She proposes: “Using Music On Your Own: While music therapy is an important discipline, you can also achieve many benefits from music on your own. Music can be used in daily life for relaxation, to gain energy when feeling drained, for catharsis when dealing with emotional stress, and in other ways as well. This article on music, relaxation and stress management can explain more of how music can be an especially effective tool for stress management, and can be used in daily life.” Some vendors for music make specific explicit claims of certain types for different purposes. For example: Music for Concentration Tempo: 50-60 beats per minute A musical springboard to intellectual achievement, Baroque Masterpieces have been expertly streamlined and harmonically enriched to sharpen focus and promote mental endurance. Experience improved organization, clarity and precision in everyday tasks.

Music for Productivity Tempo: 70-130 beats per minute increase productivity with music that generates the energy needed to set goals and bring tasks to completion. Expert arrangements of classical and original masterpieces use upbeat tempos to enhance alertness, creativity and focus at home, work or school. And specifically music for Office work Manali Oak in an essay opines: “Negative Effects that Music Can Have For music to have positive effects on the mind and brain, it should be complex enough to involve brain activity. It should be synchronous and generate sound waves that are in tune with the body’s internal rhythm. It should be played at a volume the listeners’ ears can accept and should have regular beats to have any good effects on the body and mind rhythm and functioning. Here are some of the negative effects of music on the mind. Very loud music can disturb the symmetry between the right and left halves of the brain. Loud music results in a disturbed state of mind.

Exposure to harsh or disruptive music at an early age can lead to learning disabilities and behavior problems in children.According to a study by Dr. John Diamond, an Australian physician and psychiatrist, body muscles go weak when subjected to the stopped anapestic beat in hard rock music. He also says that shrill frequencies and irregular beats are harmful to the mind and body.Disharmony in music has been shown to reduce retention levels of the brain and lead to aggression and hyperactivity.Heavily repeating musical patterns can lead to feelings of anger and boredom.” So,according to Manali Oak “the effects music can have on your mind or brain depend largely on the kind of music you choose to listen to.

To experience the positive psychological effects of music, you should listen to only good music. A sound which spells melody is music. It’s the sound that has the power of creating a calm. That’s the magic of music. Listening to music gives me the experience of divine pleasure. What about you?” (Last Updated: 1/27/2012) Thank you for prodding me to update my understanding of how music can affect our general well-being and more specifically the workplace. I suggest that so far debate and research leads us back the wisdom of trial and refined experimentation for individuals and decision making by voting and/or consensus in the case where music is decided for a working area. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that included decisions about music when we work.

William Gorden