January 21, 2020 —Kendal at Oberlin residents always look forward to the beautiful music of Oberlin College’s annual Artist Recital Series, which got underway in September and features an eclectic mix of musical performances.
Music though is a year-round happening at Kendal, including sing-alongs, courtyard garden concerts, Conservatory student recitals, and both formal and informal gatherings of residents playing piano, violin, bells and other instruments.
“In general, we want to maintain a quality of life using music,” says Kendal’s music therapist, Jara Dell.
The Health Benefits of Music
The benefits of music – listening to it, playing it, singing with others – are many. Music helps rekindle memories, improve mood, mental alertness, productivity, creativity and more, according to researchers.
In one study, a team of Swedish researchers found that frequently listening to music you like reduces your cortisol levels, which help reduce pain and boost positive emotions.
In another study, patients, who were about to undergo surgery, were randomly assigned to either listen to music or take anti-anxiety drugs. The patients who listened to music had less anxiety and lower cortisol than people who took drugs.
“There are few things that stimulate the brain the way music does,” says one John Hopkins otolaryngologist. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.”
How to Add Music to Your Life
Here are 3 ways to add more music to your life:
- Listen to different kinds of music. We all have musical preferences, but explore other types of music, which is easy to do with today’s digital services, some free, like Pandora, Spotify and Sirius XM Radio, as well as extensive collections in your local library.
- Learn to play an instrument. Several months after Jean Slonneger moved to Kendal, she put the word out that she was looking for people interested in playing the recorder. Now Kendal has two groups of about 10 recorder players who meet regularly to play Baroque and Renaissance music, and also learn more about the wind instrument.
- Sing with others. Join a church choir or community choir (Oberlin’s Choral Spectrum requires an audition) or start your own sing-along. Folk singer Judy Cook started a Song Swap when she moved to Kendal at Oberlin. Residents gather twice a month to sing and share favorite tunes. Occasionally Judy and her husband, Dennis, host a song swap in their cottage with Oberlin College students.
For more information about adding music to your life, and the brain health benefits that come with that, check out our blog.