How does music affect our connectivity?

It’s no surprise that if you are a supporting member and ongoing patron of The Center for the Arts, you love live music. And now, research shows us that live music gives back. A study conducted by Fancourt and Williamson found that attending a musical performance significantly reduced stress hormones in audience members. In particular, listening to music and singing together directly impacts neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection. 

Some researchers believe that it is the rhythm in music that synchronizes our brains and coordinates our body movements with others, creating a sense of unity within a crowd. Indeed, one study found two year olds synchronized their body movements to a drumbeat—more accurately to a human they could see than to a drum machine (Lakens and Stel, 2011). A 2016 report showed that the heartbeats of audience members at a live performance exhibited greater entrainment with the musical rhythm than those of listeners at a pre-recorded performance (Shoda et al. (2016). Performer presence was also found to produce greater relaxation in audience members compared to those listening to a recording. 

An article from Hopkins Medicine suggested that one of the best ways to keep your brain young is to listen to live music. “Music is structural, mathematical, and architectural. It’s based on relationships between one note and the next. You may not be aware of it, but your brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of it” and therefore it is much like a workout – really good for you.

Time and time again, research reveals that live music is more than just a common pleasure, it is beneficial to us both as individuals and as a greater community. People who regularly experience live music boost their creativity and cognitive abilities, reduce stress hormone levels while increasing the production of endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, experience consistent social connection, and even live longer (Patrick Fagan). 

So, the next time you’re on the fence about attending a live performance, just remember that you are improving your overall health and creating a stronger sense of group identity while you’re at it. Here at The Center, we call that a “win, win!” 

We are proud to have Dignity Health as one of our annual sponsors. Their crucial support for the performing arts helps our community thrive and live healthier lives.