I am a massage therapist maintaining my own practice as well as working at a Chiropractor’s office. In the Chiropractor’s office a lot of people come through my door needing help. If I have a person come through whose tight, contracted muscles are manifesting pain in their bodies, and the response time of the muscles to the massage is not good; and, that person is particularly stressed with no change in external circumstances available, ie: they can’t change their job, remove the stress of caring for an ailing parent etc, one of the first things I recommend to them is to remove extraneous noise from their environment. Turn off the radio in the car, turn down the AC fan in the car (I live in Texas where yesterday we set a record high, so this one is asking a lot!) turn your cell phone ringer to vibrate, etc. It is well know that noise/sound that we are mostly unaware of can act as a stressor in our lives and have an effect on the body and how we react to stress. This is fairly well known. But what struck me about this report is the information about when the tempo of the music is increased by 10% and how the body/people reacted. I drew an immediate corollary to how our body/selves respond to the increased “pace of life” present in a lot of the patients I work with who are mildly stressed and then heavily stressed, to the test subjects’ reaction to 10% increase in tempo with a 30 minute workout and runners’ doing the “hard run” reaction to music. If I equate the patients with moderate stress in their lives and their response, both to the stress in their lives and their muscles response to massage to the test subjects response to the 10% increase in the tempo, their response is often the same: the pace of life (moderately increased stress, more noise/sound let into the life) increases (the music is played faster) ” the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort.” The patients response to moderate stress is “I can do this.” On the other hand, those who are in a “hard run” stage (lots of un-removable stress) noise is like the sound of a gnat, bothersome, but not even registered as a factor in their retention of stress. It’s a small thing asking a patient to remove some noise from their life – even if it’s only for 5 to 15 minutes on their way to work – but it can be equated to the “hard run” people enjoying listening to the music. I’d be interested to know if there has been any research done on the effects of music, or listening to music, on dealing with stress and/or if extraneous or ambient noise factors into how our minds and bodies deal with stress.
I'm not sure if you realize this, but it is very hard to find a place that is always completely silent: outside, there's the chirping of birds, the shouts of children playing, the roars of cars going by. Inside a classroom, the teacher may be walking around, as well as the other students. The other students may be talking, and if not, they can't control sneezing or coughing, or if they drop a pencil, etc. In your room at home, there's still the sounds of the other people who live with you, as well as the pets. You can still hear, outside, the sounds of children playing and cars driving. But music can help you focus only on what you're trying to do - it blocks out distracting sounds. And one more thing: listening to music with lyrics that are in your language is distracting - listening to jazz, classical, or soundtracks from video games or movies or TV shows is the best option for studying. I, personally, like to listen to music soundtracks from a few of my favorite Anime.
I’d take it step further and suggest that we actively listening as we play – to as much as possible stay out of our heads and stay in our ears and hearts. One practice exercise that I utilize is something I think of as “living in my ears” wherein I attempt to stay completely in my ears without thinking about what I’m playing at all. I’m letting my ears guide me. It’s a meditation, really, and not easy to achieve for long periods of time. But it’s a great exercise, and it leads to a type of connection with not only your own playing but with the musicians you’re playing with that can be wonderfully transcendental.