Mainly Mozart Festival: The Health Benefits of Music
The Mainly Mozart Festival returns to San Diego this month, celebrating its 30th anniversary as one of the highlights of the region’s cultural calendar. Concerts are held at various venues, and feature world-class artists performing works by Mozart and other masters of western music.
In addition, the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra, a year-round program, provides young people, including students with cognitive differences, an opportunity to learn from some of the top classical artists. It also gives them a means to communicate and share via the universal language of music.
Music has been used as therapy for a very long time. Listening to music can calm and soothe, and is often used as a therapy for people undergoing surgery. In several tests where patients listened to music both before and during surgery, blood pressure readings were lower and patients self-reported needing less calming medications. Slow and more structured music produced a more relaxing effect on patients, as the tests demonstrated that tempo affected blood pressure. Music therapy is often incorporated in treatment for patients with traumatic brain injuries. Patients with Parkinson’s Disease have showed improvement in controlling their movements when exposed to music therapy. Not only do patients benefit from listening to music, but surgeons who listened to self-selected music showed fewer signs of stress and performed better as well.
Music and Athletic Performance
Everyone who has watched Olympic competitions in the past decade has undoubtedly noticed the number of athletes who remove headphones immediately prior to their competitions. Listening to music helps these top-tier athletes focus and concentrate prior to performing, and of course it blocks out pre-performance distractions. There is also a link between listening to music and actual performance, since rhythm is an important part of athletic prowess.
Music can inspire
Listening to music is often inspirational. There is a reason that music is used in church services. It can provide comfort and calm, and a shared understanding with other attendees. When you hear a favorite song, does your mood change? Do you think of a specific time and place when you first heard that song? Music is a trigger for strong emotional responses. Dancers, of course, but artists in other mediums often use music as inspiration for their work.
Music in Theater and Film
Music is an essential part of theater and film. Have you ever watched a film and tried to imagine it without the music? What would Jaws be without the threatening music indicating the imminent shark attack? At the end of The Sopranos, the screen goes black and all you hear is the music. Musicals tell stories, using the tempo and the tone to prepare audiences for what’s about to come next. Certain characters may even be introduced to the audience using a specific instrument, like a cello. Music is even used in cartoons to signal the arrival of a character.
Attendance at cultural events affected mortality
In a study done in Sweden, over 10,000 subjects were studied, and a remarkable effect was noted. Subjects in the study who attended cultural events, including concerts, actually lived longer than those who did not attend these events. Maybe it was the camaraderie of shared experience, but isolation can have many negative consequences. Sitting in an audience is good for your health!
The Mainly Mozart Festival is an excellent way to spend time enjoying a cultural event. In doing so, you will also be able to reap the many benefits of listening to music.
Take advantage of this uniquely San Diego experience, support the students who benefit from the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra, and see if you can identify some of the ways music has positively enhanced your life. There are bound to be lots of them.
For more local events and attractions, check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.