May 23, 2024

Music is a cornerstone of culture. Every society has it and every society values it. It is a source of pride across cultures and throughout history. While we don’t depend on music to survive, it seems vital to our existence in some ways. 

Liliana Belton, CBU alumna in sport and performance psychology, has done extensive research on the subject of music in relation to our focus and motivation. 

“I found out in the past that strong emotions are evoked by music and that emotions improve memory processes,” Belton said. “There is existing research on binaural beats, a beat produced at a particular frequency that tends to stimulate specific neurons and electrical signals in the brain. I think this could be related to our brain’s memory structure, which has been shown to improve the quality of our sleep in addition to helping people concentrate better on daily chores and almost everything, particularly before and after performances.”

From a research perspective, Belton explained that music’s ability to increase motivation varies widely based on the individual and their music preference.

“As far as creativity goes, that plays a role hand in hand with being motivated by the music. Have you heard the quote, ‘Music is what feeling sounds like’? Music can inspire and give perspective, elements of brainstorming and creative behavior,” Belton explained. 

In her personal experience, Belton has found ambient sounds or binaural beats to be extremely relaxing with her sleep. However, she clarified that this is unlikely to be the experience of every individual. 

“Depending on the task or scenario, it will also dictate the choice of music to help limit distractions, possibly regulate heart rate and anxiety levels and my favorite – get into that flow state of mind,” Belton said. “Most people may agree they do not enjoy chores. One can find motivation and focus on completing those chores with their upbeat, favorite songs playing in the background.”

Karla Piña, senior art therapy major, explained that music draws in different listeners depending on their moods and emotions. 

As an artist, Piña uses music to increase inspiration and creativity as she creates. She believes music’s ability to motivate and inspire depends on the type of music being the right match for the individual. 

“I’m learning in my art class that color in art is relative, which is why everyone interprets color and art differently,” Piña said. “Music is a form of art and I think the same concept applies here that each person has their own perception of music and hears and interprets it differently.”

Because we interpret music differently, it motivates and inspires us differently as well. 

Leanna Huddleston, CBU alumna in commercial performance, is currently putting together a worship music album. 

“I believe music holds strong power over our mood, emotions, and energy,” Huddleston said. “God created music to be a universal language, one in which all people relate and understand.” 

Huddleston said she believes music is powerful not only psychologically but also spiritually. She has seen music affect her life through its powerful ability to affect our mental and spiritual health. 

“Music has influenced my actions toward good and bad decisions and helped me to grow. Through songwriting, music has given me the ability to process my emotions and help others to do so,” Huddleston said. “God has used it to draw me nearer to him and to love others, and there is no doubt that music’s impact is greater than we understand.” 

Huddleston said music’s ability to change and sway emotions ties into its ability to increase motivation. 

“We see all the time in athletics where people do workouts to a specific playlist. The right words, melodies and rhythms can strengthen people’s beliefs in their ability and help them to achieve their highest performance goals,” Huddleston said. 

Huddleston also highlighted music’s ability to change one’s state of mind, feelings and decisions over time. Patterns in media consumption can lead to patterns in one’s life. 

“Music is absolutely inspiring to my creativity as an artist. It inspires new ideas and is a huge encouragement to work hard and make life a more fulfilling experience,” Huddleston said. “Our brainwaves change as we listen to music. If you’re in school and need to study for a test or focus on homework, playing classical music in the background can not only help you be more productive but also increase your ability to memorize and retain information.”

Huddleston said music can have an effect on almost all areas of life and study, it is all about finding what type of music motivates and inspires us as individuals. 

“I would like to encourage and challenge each person to think about the songs they listen to and reflect on the incredible influential power music has had in their lives. In Proverbs 4:23 it says ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ The messages you fill your mind with every day will determine and influence the way you live,” Huddleston said. 

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