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Songs have a way of reminding me of certain periods in my life. James Arthur’s Roses remind me of being a struggling university student. Mohits’s songs from their glorious era remind me of my wide-eyed optimism as a teenager. Wande Coal’s Mushin to Mohits album reminds me of my rush to grow up, enter university and enjoy the rest of my life. Look at how that turned out.
I’m sure this is the same for everyone — we all have songs that calm us, excite us, or remind us of certain periods in our lives. Perhaps when we were different people or when we had different dreams.
Scientists do not fully understand the effects of music on human beings. However, what they do know is that when we hear good music, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which positively affects our mood. It is, therefore, no surprise that songs we like can make us feel strong emotions such as joy, sadness, happiness. (I still get excited when I hear It’s Donjazzy again or Another banger on a track.)
This premise of emotions associated with music prompted researchers to postulate that music may possess the ability to affect our health and well being. While there is still ongoing research on the health benefits of a beautiful symphony, early results suggest that music may have some of the following benefits.
Music and Endurance
Music can be the difference between a boring work out session and an interesting one. Not only does it relieve boredom, but it also improves stamina and puts you in a better mood.
Picture yourself in the gym playing upbeat music [gbedu wey dey burst brain] while exercising. Not only does the tempo move you, it also adds a new twist to your work out session. Motivational or catchy music synchronised to your work out routine has been shown to have positive physical and psychological effects — you can bench press to Burna Boy’s Way Too Big, do push-ups when Zlatan says Gbe body eh, or even prove your gym haters wrong when Davido’s Fem starts to play. All these are satisfying and even encourages you to exercise harder and longer than your usual routine.
Music and Mood
Lights off, scented candles, soft music playing in the background. What does this remind you of?
Let’s flip it: Cold play’s Fix you, lonely nights and a fresh break-up? What does this remind you of?
Worship songs, a place of worship, and a charismatic religious leader. Any guesses?
Because of the chemicals released by our brains when we encounter different musical chords, music can greatly improve or reduce our mood depending on the context. Music can make you sad if you are happy and vice versa. In other cases, it could make someone who is happy happier and a sad person sadder. Alternatively, it could also be a trigger for nostalgia. So, scientists advice that the love song you currently share with your significant other that makes you so happy could one day be a source of sadness. Especially if you guys are no longer together.
Music and Memory
I can bet that no Nigerian can recite the multiplication table without singing it. Okay, what of Nigerian states and capital? Let’s try Rivers in Africa? Last one: spell hippopotamus without singing. I dare you.
Various studies have shown that when trying to learn new a language, groups which sang the phrases fared better than groups who tried to learn normally. There was more verbatim memory recall for the sing-song group than for the other group. This is because repetitive parts of a musical rhythm help the human brain form patterns that enhance recall. This improved memory recall through songs have been shown to be useful in the management of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and early onstage dementia.
Music and Stress and Anxiety
Listening to low tempo music such as classical music has been shown to reduce stress levels as they have a soothing effect on the body. Studies show that it reduces stress and anxiety in healthy people undergoing medical procedures such as surgery, dental appointment, or even routine check-ups. In some cases, while waiting for results of a test. I’m sure many people have a memory of listening to their favourite song, praying, and telling themselves to relax while waiting for the result of an HIV test.