The magic of music


I have been struck today by the power of music to do some quite miraculous things. Truly remarkable.

As someone who as a 9 year old sang in Westminster Abbey Choir, I would know that, wouldn’t I? But it’s funny how you lose sight of it until something wakes you up. Like what happened today (and is happening even as I write). 

First off, its ability to change mood. I was down in the dumps: my laptop’s backlight gave out on Saturday, rendering me Internetless for days. That itself stressed me, until I found a workaround in hooking it up to my TV and using that as a monitor. Causing me to have to create an office in the middle of the sitting room. Disruptive, uncomfortable, inconvenient. Furthermore, my wife has abandoned me for 4 whole days, had the cheek to go and visit her mother (how dare she!), so I have had to mind the fort, walk the dog, water the garden, even cook for myself, as well as run my business. So unfair!! Oh, and then the internet went down this morning, requiring phone calls to BT, testing connections and all sorts. I mean, what am I, some sort of IT helpdesk to myself?

A few hours later we were back up and running, and it occurred to me to put on some music. Why not test the Internet connection and use Spotify? And why not make the most of that amazing site to play some oldies?  So I found myself on a Jean Michel Jarre album from the 70’s: Oxygene.  It’s just been remastered, so I put on some headphones and found myself listening in amazement to the incredible sounds.  It’s as if it were produced yesterday.  Within seconds my mood had lifted.

One of the intriguing things about music is that it creates what’s known as an “autonomic response” in humans.  Believe it or not, music can increase the heart rate (and decrease it), which is why savvy pub owners have a well researched music policy: they know that loud Irish music increases the consumption rate of Guinness!  As a trainer I use this regularly to bring energy up or down to suit my purposes.  The fact that the listener can’t control their response to it gives the guy with the ipod that much more POWER!

My final thought on this is that the music took me instantly back to the summer of 1976, the year in which I first heard this album.  I taped it and used to have it on continuously in my car, a rather grand blue Morris Oxford which my parents kindly gave me when I passed my driving test (on the basis that it was so big, when I crashed it, as they assumed (wrongly) I would, I might be less likely to die).  So, I can tell you that as I listen to it now it is June 1976, and I’m on the M4 motorway, hurtling along  at a breakneck 60mph, black smoke belching out of the exhaust, steering wheel gripped with white knuckles to tackle the wheel wobble, as I make haste to meet up with my girlfriend.  Happy days, 34 years ago, and I can feel the emotion as if it were happening now.

Call to action this time, then, is for you to dig out a well loved piece of music from your teens (Spotify is a good place to look) and ask yourself how much detail you can recall of the moment.  That is the power of the Right Brain for you, and the reason why we should use it so much more in our communication and our daily lives.

Enjoy!  And do tell me what you listened to and the picture it painted in your head.

Westminster Abbey photo © Tony Baggett – Fotolia.com

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About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at www.hownot2.com
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2 Responses to The magic of music

  1. Roy says:

    Right-on! you’r right about music doing wonderful things. I use music to lift spirits when things have not quite gone to plan – although my tastes may be a bit different to yours – country and western or YEEHA! music as my wife calls it. When she goes out and I have the house to myself I make the walls vibrate to bit of TOBY KEITH, not traditional but great to singalong with. Also am educating my grandson (18 months)in the delights of C&W by (when his parents ar not around) teaching him some line dancing.

  2. spencer says:

    New York – Lou Reed – some gorgeous unbridled dark pessimism, perfect for a confused adolescent!

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