Articles for music students for advice and inspiration.


by Robert and Linda Stoodley

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

Can you imagine a world without music, no bird song, where brooks trickle silently, and where a politician would not whistle a tune having just announced his resignation? Music is intrinsic to life, but why should we listen to music?

Valorie Salimpoor, (neuroscientist at McGill University) injected eight music-lovers with a radioactive substance, (that binds to dopamine receptors) after listening to their favourite music. A scan showed that large amounts of dopamine were released, leaving the participants feeling happy and excited.

Evidence also shows that that listening to music can increase immunity-boosting antibodies and cells that protect against bacteria and other invaders. Further research has shown that music can be helpful for treating conditions like depression or even Parkinson’s.

There is more. Chakravarthi Kanduri, Computational Biology Researcher (University of Helsinki) said that listening to classical music increased the genetic activities that are mainly related to reward and pleasure. In other words, music gets the good genes going, and especially helps with mood change, memory and learning. But it also seems to slow down the genes that cause brain degeneration, thus acting as a shield to the brain.

Today, music is used in hospitals to help patients relax, ease pain, alleviate confusion and even anxiety. It is used in counselling, and in Music Therapy for mental disorders from depression to dementia and schizophrenia. Music is invaluable possibly because the brain reads it differently from language and it is connected to many different areas of the brain. It thus extends the medium of spoken language.

In experiments conducted over the last 10 years, Hans-Joachim Trappe (Department of Cardiology and Angiology, University of Bochum, Germany) suggests that research has shown that persistent negative emotional experiences or a negative mindset can increase the possibility of getting colds, viral & yeast infections, raising of the blood pressure and heart attacks.

His advice is to choose “healthful” music, adding that classical music & meditative music are the most beneficial, whereas heavy metal or techno are ineffectual or even dangerous. Bach or Mozart are said to improve health, with significant effects on the cardiovascular system, and blood pressure.

And what about plants? In 1973, graduate student Dorothy Retallack published a paper after her experiments had shown that plants grew better when exposed to classical music than when exposed to acid rock.

The information went viral. However, the initial experiment only tested 4 plants, with unequal care in the 2 groups: being grown in separate rooms with no special control of watering, use of fertilisers or temperature.

So, do play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto to your plants, but don’t expect amazing results, or if you preferred blasting heavy metal to them night and day, it won’t bother them, though your hearing might not be too happy.

Interestingly, experiments revealed that the greatest benefits of music were found in people with previous musical experience, so the instrumental lessons your parents spent a fortune on were not such a waste after all.

In conclusion, do not hesitate if you are considering picking up an instrument again. Researcher Brenda Hanna-Paddy says that as the process of learning to play an instrument takes years, it creates brain connections that help prevent cognitive decline as we age.

If music be the food of life, play on!

Please note that the opinions expressed are ours, based on research, and may not be the opinion of medical practitioners.


1. Hans-Joachim Trappe, Department of Cardiology and Angiology, University of Bochum, Germany
2. ResearchGate: Dawn Kent: The Effect of Music on the Human Body & Mind
3. LaidBack Gardener: Larry Hodgson: Do Plants Hate Heavy Metal?
4. How Does Music Affect Your Brain? Ashford University., 8620 Spectrum Center Blvd., San Diego, CA 92123, 866.711.1700
5. “New Research Shows Listening to Music Alters Your Genes in Surprising Ways” by Kate Beaudoin in “Mic”
6. Valorie Salimpoor: neuroscientist at McGill University.

February 2019