Classical Music: Not Just for Entertainment Anymore!

Research! Yes, scientific research over the past thirty years, has finally come to the conclusion that we, as classical music performers, have known all our lives:  classical music is powerful!  We have always known that it draws out emotions and inspires us.  We have known that it has healthy effects on the body, mind and spirit.  It has now been postulated by very serious scientists that classical music is actually healthy for us!  Some scientists are saying that it makes us smarter, kinder, and more efficient.  OK, some of the research has proven this and other research challenges these findings.  Since virtually no research was done on the subject before the 1980s, it is not surprising that this baby field is a little slow to get to the point that is so obvious to us.

OK, like broccoli, we also know that not everyone likes classical music, but there is no denying the body is hardwired to accept the edifying, healing, inspiring effects of classical music. However, not all music is alike. Listening to some music can actually make a person dumber.  Like eating Twinkies actually makes a person less healthy.  Other music incites violence in the listener.  Like some food is actually poisonous.  It is true that our species can exist at a basic level without any music, but classical music allows us to thrive at high levels of efficiency and functionality due to its ability to touch our hearts and to call out our ideal selves. We have scientific evidence!

Still it is not easy to shake the reputation music gets as mere enjoyment, a diversion from the important activities of life, “auditory cheesecake” as Steven Pinker has stated. Yes, it has been difficult for science to detect and measure exactly how music uplifts us or brings us down.  Still, we cannot deny the growing body of evidence that it does.  And classical music is coming out on top!  Due to new super-sensitive measuring instruments and the thousands of studies currently being done, there is no doubt that more will be proven soon but the findings are still too young and too preliminary to take to the bank.

Think of the headlines when the truth finally comes out:  Classical Music is Necessary for a Healthy Life! The FDA will recommend a daily minimum requirement for cantatas.  Maslow’s hierarchy will have Mozart sonatas on the bottom building to Shostakovich for self-realization. We, classical music performers, will be trained in the effects of certain scales or tempi on the heart rate or speed of neurotransmitters of the listener.  We’ll program concerts for specific healthful purposes; Heart Healthy Concerto Concert or Attention Deficit Cure Requiem, so going to the concert will be like going to the spa or therapy.  Our health care plans will even pay for it!  We performers will be paid grand sums of money for this service like doctors!  Ah what a world that will be!

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