Updated: Nov 2, 2019
It’s official: music can make us happy.
Scientists have found that music triggers the production of dopamine – your brain’s natural happy hormone – and reduces stress levels. It’s so influential that it can even change your pulse rate.
According to research1 that was carried out in Canada, the joy of hearing a favourite piece of music can be so intense that it actually has a physical effect on us. In fact, just the thought of listening to a favourite song can have the same effect. It’s no wonder that cultures worldwide have had such a deep connection with and love for music.
It goes beyond affecting our physical wellbeing, though. In Berlin, a study2 showed that music might also be beneficial to our ability to empathise and establish psychological connections with others – improve our relationships, in other words.
Just think how easy it is to switch on some music at home …
It turns out that music helps us to connect with each other as we concentrate on synchronising our efforts – singing, dancing, playing together. The sense of wellness that comes from the dopamine might stretch far back into the mists of our earliest ancestors’ days when they performed music together around the fire. For them, trusting each other and cooperating as a group was a matter of survival.
No wonder it’s a family strengthener.
Parents sing lullabies to their babies which not only soothes them (as long as they’re singing softly and slowly) but helps them to bond, too.
So easy. Switch on and enjoy - happy family.
The thing with research is that it doesn’t take into account all the human variables. In theory, listening to music together as a family should work for the good. It’s not as easy as flicking a switch, though.
What if you hate each other’s music?
I mean, how many parents really love their teenagers’ song choice?
Is there a teenager alive who doesn’t roll their eyes at the slightest hint of a bit of Dad-dancing?
Here are a few tips that smart families share about enjoying music together:
1) The playlist must be fairly composed. The exact same number of favourites each. Don’t try to get clever with ‘themed playlists’ and so on to begin with: if
you can just get through drawing up a list without pouncing on each other you’re off to a great start.
2) This means that you might end up with a curious muddle of jazz, Eighties soul, heavy metal and ‘The Wheels On the Bus’. No wincing or moaning is allowed: if anyone does, they forfeit one of their songs from the playlist.
3) In the early music training stages, limit the ordeal to just half an hour. If you don’t, your head will explode and you’ll wonder where all that Dopamine was when you needed it.
4) It’s a good idea to associate the music with other fun things, too, like pancakes, popcorn and pizza.
Once you’ve tried it a few times and even the teenager can live through it without disappearing into a dark room somewhere, you’re on your way to experiencing all the goodness that music can bring to your home.