Arts / The Mental Health Issue

Community in Music

November 15th, 2017

How Live Music, Dancing, and Counter Culture Can All Aid to a Happier and Healthier Life.

A quick google search will bring up countless articles regarding how music is a positive influence on your brain and well-being. One Australian study takes this concept further by specifically mentioning how going to concerts and dancing can result in a higher level of subjective well-being. Live music and dancing create a happier atmosphere. Another Australian study done showed that people who listened to Punk or Heavy Metal in the 80’s and 90’s are more satisfied overall and are better adjusted to middle-aged or current college-age comparison groups. Another aspect of this study states that being part of a counter or fringe cultural grouping can help enhance identity development in troubled youth. Studies in the 80’s and 90’s found that even amongst the many heated debates over lyrical content, angry rock didn’t turn people into alienated or maniacal people, it helped with identity understanding.

Melissa Weinberg and Dawn Joseph from Deakin University conducted a study where they found that Australians who participate in communal musical experiences have overall elevated levels of satisfaction in life. It sampled 1000 Australians, whose age average was 56, over the phone in 2014, answering questions in regards to their levels of satisfaction in areas of health, achievements in life, relationships, etc., as well as levels of engagement with music. They answered on a 0-10 or yes/no response scale, and the scores were significantly higher for the avid dancers and concert-goers. Everyone in the study who danced with others and enjoyed live music had increased satisfaction and well-being in life. Scientific studies have shown that live music can universally lower stress levels, increase social bonds while also decreasing levels of pain, and can even cause “skin-gasms” in people who get physically moved by music.

 

“It creates a sense of community that many may not feel they have, and it can give the feeling of a support group if someone is suffering from depression, anxiety or general feelings of not fitting in.”

 

University of Queensland psychologists Leah Sharman and Genevieve Dingle conducted a study titled “Extreme metal music and anger processing.” In this study, they subjected 39 extreme music listeners from the age range of 18-34 to anger induction. During this, they talked about irritating things like money, relationships, and work. Once their stress levels were high enough, the subjects either listened to a random assignment of extreme music from their playlists for ten minutes or complete silence. Previous studies that have been done on the subject tried to link loud music to higher levels of aggression and delinquency, but the results of Sharman and Dingle’s study shows that listeners became calmer and inspired. The music aided in the exploration of the full emotional gamut, while leaving them more active and inspired. In their report they write, “at the forefront of the controversy surrounding extreme music is the prominence of aggressive lyrics and titles”. In their additional experiments, they found that violent lyrics did increase the participant’s hostility state, but that it was a fleeting, temporary effect. The results of this study have shown that extreme music has alleviated the listeners’ angst and aggression, made them happier, calmer, and better able to cope with anger-inducing stressors in the everyday world.

Intrinsically, every avid concert goer, dancer, or music lover feels this is true, and now finally some studies have scientifically proven how positive live music can be. It creates a sense of community that many may not feel they have, and it can give the feeling of a support group if someone is suffering from depression, anxiety or general feelings of not fitting in. It is a safe space where people are having fun and communally experiencing something together. It creates a oneness that many don’t get to feel, and it is such an important aspect of healing and processing the effects of mental illness. We’re all family in music, let us support you when you are in need.

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