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Ever since I was about seven years old, and my parents sat me down on the gleaming, mahogany bench, the piano has been a part of my life. Even now, I still play the piano daily, learning new compositions and pieces. After a time, I began to wonder why my instruction book primarily taught classical music. What makes classical music different? How is it special? Although I play the piano every morning, I do not usually listen to classical music, though I have come to realize that I should more often. When was the last time you listened to classical music? Last week? Last month? Last year? Never? If you haven’t, maybe you should start. Research has shown that routinely listening to classical music has intellectual, health, and psychological benefits.

You may have heard of a mother playing classical music on the radio for her infant’s benefit, but does this really work? Or is it just an old wives’ tale? To what extent does classical music actually benefit babies? Is classical music better than other genres of music? A recent study attempted to answer these questions. Researchers at the Institut Marques played fifteen different songs from three different genres of music to over three-hundred babies in the womb. They tried to determine the level of stimulation in the babies by measuring their tongue protrusions. The findings were intriguing: only ten percent of the babies showed tongue protrusion when listening to the popular disco song ‘Y.M.C.A’ by the Village People; on the other hand, when the babies listened to a classical piece by Bach, eighty-seven percent showed tongue movement. Cleary, the babies had a greater response to a classical piece. However, babies weren’t the only ones responding to classical music. In 1993, researchers founded the so-called “Mozart Effect” by having one group of college students listen to classical music, the second a relaxation tape, and the third silence prior to a test. Unsurprisingly, the group that had listened to classical music generally performed better on the evaluation. Further, the US General Social Survey found, also in 1993, that students who were avid listeners to classical music even had a higher IQ than those who despised classical music. Obviously, there is a strong correlation between listening to classical music and the intelligence of children, as well as adults.

Not only can classical music improve your intellect; listening to this type of music also has multiple health benefits.  Do you know anyone with high blood pressure or some type of painful medical condition? Maybe you should buy them a classical music CD, as studies have shown that listening to classical music can help relieve pain and decrease blood pressure. Since certain compositions of classical music are extremely calming, these such pieces can also alleviate stress, which can additionally improve some stress-based medical conditions. This is due to the release of dopamine, the chemical secreted by the body that causes feelings of happiness, which blocks the release of stress. Further, people who are under stress may have trouble sleeping. To no surprise, listening to classical music can also improve the quality of sleep. Studies have proven that, when you listen to classical music forty-five minutes before going to bed, the soothing tunes can even help you fall asleep faster and longer. Finally, a Harvard health study has found that classical music might even help improve stroke recovery! Classical music has truly provided aid to the medical field in a variety of different ways.

Furthermore, classical music also has numerous psychological benefits. Obvious to all who listen to it, classical music conveys a variety of different emotions—from a fast-paced quick piece, to one with a gentle, soothing tone. In 2016, a study found that opera, which features multiple pieces of classical music, can even produce a thoughtful, more empathetic response in those who listen to it. Listening to classical music can clearly help the listener become in touch with their emotions, as well as that of others. Interestingly enough, thousands of workers across the globe are routinely listening to classical and baroque music while in the office, likely believing that it increases their performance and all-around productivity. However, does classical music actually help? Actually, multiple studies have shown that, as previously stated,  classical music can also improve your mood and make you happier. Then, on account of this mood-boost, workers were found to have an increase in both their productivity and their general contentment. As well, classical music was found to also decrease stress levels in those suffering with anxiety. Multiple studies showed how music, particularly classical music, lowered cortisol levels, associated with the stress of a patient. For anyone dealing with anxiety, classical music has proved to be a long-awaited pain-relievant. Classical music, obviously, has multiple benefits to the mind, as well as the soul.

Finally, have you been overlooking classical music in your go-to playlist? Perhaps you should add some Bach and Mozart to your list, because if there’s one thing I learned from researching and then writing this article, it’s that music makes you truly human.

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