• GABRIELA SELVA '24

In Praise of Classical Music


No doubt that you have heard of either Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, Mahler, or J.S. Bach. All of these talented, influential composers and yet most of them are extremely underlooked in this day and age. According to a survey sent out to the SUA student population, 27% say that classical music is the genre of music they listen to the least. This was the second highest genre voted for, with country being the first.


Why is it that a style of music known to have so many benefits for the mind, body, and soul is extremely underlooked? The simple answer is this - most people don’t know what classical music entails.


Ms. Jennings, one of SUA’s fine arts teachers for chorus, points out how “a lot of people don't realize that most music that we listen to on a regular basis was derived from classical music. Many of our favorite artists use the basic chord structures designed by early composers.” Without realizing it, classical music already has so many integrations in our day to day lives.


So here I am, giving you all the rundown of what makes classical music one of the most instrumental genres of music (figuratively and literally) that improves individuals’ overall wellbeing.


6 Benefits of Listening to Classical Music:

It reduces anxiety and depression

Classical music’s tempo is similar to the rhythm of the human heart, which helps ease both anxiety and depression. The slow, calming rhythm increases the amount of dopamine released in the brain, which activates the brain’s pleasure center, making the human body much more relaxed.


It improves sleeping quality

Listening to classical music around 45 minutes before falling asleep aids in how long you sleep, how fast you fall asleep, and how deeply you sleep throughout the night. Songs with upbeat tempos cause the brain to become overwhelmed and multitask, while classical music’s slow tempo and rhythm helps the body properly prepare for sleep and fight against insomnia.


It relieves pain

Nurses and doctors have been known to use classical music as a natural rehabilitation tool for patients in recovery. The sound of the music increases the brain’s reward center with its levels of dopamine, which helps ease pain and lead to a faster healing process.


It decreases blood pressure

According to Welsh National Opera, “Researchers suggested that, in order for music to reduce blood pressure, it should have no lyrics, have few changes in volume or rhythm, have harmonies that ‘are not rousing’, and that certain parts of the music should be repeated in intervals.” When tested, participants who listened to classical music for just 25 minutes had a substantial decrease in blood pressure compared to those who listened to no music.


It enhances memory and creativity

Classical music helps stimulate your brain, improving its memorization abilities and other cognitive functions. It allows your brain to retain and interpret new information quicker and more efficiently. This is why many experts suggest listening to classical music while studying or doing homework.

It improves productivity and focus

Listening to classical music “increases the amount of alpha band brain waves transmitted,” which causes our brains to alter its awareness and problem solving abilities. By hearing less noises around us, it allows for a greater engagement in work and productivity.


What to do with this information?

With all of these clear benefits mentioned, you don’t need to know every single advantage of one type of music in order to enjoy it. All that it takes is the initiative to try something new, and you never know, classical music could be something that touches a part of you that no other music has touched before.


One great way to introduce yourself to new kinds of music, including classical music, is by taking SUA’s course called “Listening to Music.” Here you will be able to hear a variety of the best works and discuss it together.

You could also try going to a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert in Cincinnati. Mr. Brown, one of SUA’s fine arts teachers for guitar, says that “we have a really great professional orchestra in this city, and they have a particularly great concert season that's just beginning.” Students are able to buy inexpensive tickets to these shows. “Take some friends and go to a concert, and hear what a great orchestra can do. It's good for your soul.”


Mr. Brown added, “I think that classical music is such a huge and diverse topic that it's easy for it to be overwhelming for people just getting into it. But I think that this most abstract of all the arts is important for what it teaches us about ourselves. It's our birthright as humans, and one of the great privileges of being human is having access to these works of art. And if you have a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music, you have access to all of it right now. Dig in, and let me know how it's going. I'm happy to suggest things to listen to as you explore.”


Sources:

“Does Music Really Improve Work Productivity?” Scientific Scribbles, University of Melbourne, 2 Oct. 2021, blogs.unimelb.edu.au/sciencecommunication/2021/10/02/does-music-really-improve-your-work-productivity/#:~:text=Listening%20to%20piano%20pieces%20from,in%20work%2C%20greater%20our%20productivity.


“Four Health Benefits of Listening to Classical Music.” WNO, Welsh National Opera, 28 Dec. 2018, https://wno.org.uk/news/four-health-benefits-of-listening-to-classical-music.


Neuman, Brooke. “10 Shocking Benefits of Listening to Classical Music [Infographic].” TakeLessons Blog, TakeLessons, 28 Sept. 2022, takelessons.com/blog/benefits-of-listening-to-classical-music-z15.