Music Helps Learning, Memory and More

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I started in music because I liked it so much I felt compelled to learn to play and sing and all the rest. Now we have learned music can be so much more.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords used music therapy to help her learn to talk again. The theory revolves around the idea that music is represented in multiple parts of the brain and therefore accesses deeper pathways between neurons. Music then helps patients connect the stored knowledge of words through songs and helps create the new connections needed for speech. This same idea has been used for stroke victims and has been dubbed the Kenny Rogers Effect.

Performing music has been proven to increase memory and language skills, but for listeners, it’s better used as a means to recall memories. It has been shown in Alzheimer’s patients to help with memory recall, and can even restore cognitive function, and works the same for the rest of us.

When I hear any song from Fleetwood Mac’s album Rumours, I remember where I was the summer the album was popular because listening to music you know stimulates the long term storage section of our brains. If you need to remember something, listen to music while memorizing it, then use the same music later to help recall those memories.

Soothing music is known to decrease stress, and therefore the level of the stress hormone cortisol, upbeat dance music is known to increase the level of antibodies in your system. The pleasant state music can put us in can leads to this stress reduction and resultant well being.

Of course upbeat energetic music helps to pump you up. Everyone knows that. 120 – 140 beats per minute (dance music) does this best, but heavy metal or bebop jazz will have the same effect and boost your immunity at the same time.





In a recent study, listening to the Monty Python song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” caused basketball players to lose focus and execute their free throws with minimal involvement from the prefrontal cortex, improving free throw percentage. Pretty much any catchy upbeat music will do to get them out of their heads. Will probably work for golf puts, meetings, dinner with the in-laws… Humorous and lighthearted is the key here.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Dick in a Box

Business Time

My Girl Bill

A few years ago I needed to improve my productivity and focus so I lo0ked into the research and found that music can help. Boring music seems to work best – no singing, nothing too bombastic or attempting to grab our attention.

Do a web search and you will quickly find lots of options, and at least for me it works wonders.

If your work is boring – cleaning the house comes to mind, listen to music will improve your mood and take your mind off the tasks to some degree.

Do you have a particular song that always puts you in a good or productive mood? For me anything by Steely Dan works every time.



Thanks to LifeHacker for the inspiration and research for this blog post.

LifeHacker is a fantastic resource for all kinds of articles to help make your life better.

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