Make a Positive Music Playlist
Music: it’s all around you. From the melodious bird chirps you wake up to in the morning to the latest album release from your favourite artiste(s) that you fire up at work to the soft music filtering through to you whilst out and about in that warm and cosy restaurant, it is really difficult to go a whole day without listening to some form of music. However, the best way to enjoy the numerous benefits of listening to music, is to have a properly curated and positive playlist. The ubiquity of smartphones, the rise of music apps and the strides that have been made in the cloud storage scene means you can take your music along anywhere. Why not take full advantage and tap into the benefits of listening to music?
Why Listen to Music?
There are numerous benefits to listening to music. Here are some scientifically backed explanations for some of the feelings you have when you are listening to your favourite tracks.
- Music Makes You Happier
This study shows that the brain releases a “feel-good” neurotransmitter know as dopamine when you are listening to music you like. During the study, the different test subjects showed feelings of excitement, joy and happiness following the release of large amounts of dopamine. This explains the feeling of positivity that comes when you are listening to songs you like, even when the lyrics can’t be completely classed as positive! So when next you are feeling happy while jamming some hard metal song you probably can’t hear the lyrics, you know why!
- Music Makes Exercise Easier
Another study demonstrated how runners who listened to fast motivational songs were able to complete the first 800 meters of their run faster that people who listened to slow or no music at all. If you want to get the best out of your exercise routines therefore, make sure you are listening to music that inspires you.
- Music Can Reduce Stress Levels and Make You Healthy
When listening to music, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body decline. Why is this important? According to research, 60% of all illnesses and disease can be traced to high stress levels. This study shows that your immune system is boosted even further if, in addition to passive listening, you play musical instruments or sing. So when next you can, sing along to those songs you love. Tap your feet while at it too!
- Music Helps You Sleep Better
According to this study, listening to classical music an hour before you go to sleep can help you sleep significantly better than those that engage in their normal routine. So if you’ve always had problems with sleep, fire up some Mozart as your bedtime approaches.
- Music can Improve the Driving Experience
This study shows that music can help you feel better when driving in comparison to not listening to music. In fact, cruising in your car with nice tunes emanating from your audio system can help you drive in a safer manner.
- Music Can Take Away the Pain
Researchers have found that pain in cancer patients can be better reduced through music therapy in comparison to other standard treatments. There has also been research showing how music can decrease pain in intensive care patients especially when the music is meditative, classical or the patient’s favourite.
- Music Can Improve Verbal Intelligence
Researchers have demonstrated how music training had an effect that makes it easy for children to quickly understand words and explain their meaning. A separate research highlighted how adult women that were musically trained performed better at verbal memory tests than those that do not have any music training. Regardless of your age, therefore, taking music lessons can significantly boost your verbal skills.
- Music Can Help Your Brain Stay Sharp in Old Age
A research involving seniors showed that those that have played music for ten years or more performed better on cognitive tests than those with nine years or less of musical study. The reasoning was that the study of instruments creates an alternate connection in the brain that balances out cognitive decline, because it requires years of practice and learning.
How to Make a Positive Music Playlist
Now that we have established the benefits of listening to music regularly, it is time to discuss how you can create a positive music playlist.
Creating a playlist is tricky. There is always the danger of just going off the basic genre and packing songs that are classed under the same genre into one list. This is often a bad idea as you are going to end up clicking the skip button more times than you actually listen to songs. To get the perfect playlist, here are some key points you need to keep in mind.
- Focus on the theme instead of the genre. Every genre has several sub-genres so you will end up mixing songs that give off different vibes if you are only looking at the genre. Feel free to mix songs from other genres as long as they match the theme you are trying to create. Some of the albums from Coldplay for example, are classed as Rock but they have songs that can fit into playlists named “Easy” or “Romantic”. So instead of fixating on genres, analyse lots of music and fit them into playlists like “Work”, “Gaming”, “Aggressive”, “Trippy”, “Slow” “Meditation” “Dance Party” “Commute” etc.
- Have your Shazam ready to fire. There is no telling when that perfect song will come on over the radio or at that dinner event. When you are able to quickly identify any music you’ve not heard before, you can bring more depth to your playlists.
- Go big on nostalgia. Ever wondered why songs from your childhood or your freshman year sound better today? Songs that remind you of great experiences in the past or remind you of past relationships make magnificent playlists.
- Get organised. As you listen to the songs you have put together, you can remove, add or reorder the list on the fly. Thankfully, many music players have mobile-cloud synced versions that allow you to make changes to the entire list at any time.
- Use apps. Spotify and Pandora are two of the most popular. Al you need to do is to select artistes that appeal to you to get started. As you listen to more songs, the artificial intelligence will suggest more playlists to you. Depending on the app you are using, you can save the playlists permanently or pick songs that appeal to you. Keep an eye on the indie playlists as they hold some gems that may never go mainstream!
- Make sure you understand your mood. Regardless of how magnificent the playlist might be, it only resonates soundly when you are in the right mood to listen to it. Listening to a heavy metal playlist, featuring Depeche Mode, Five Finger Death Punch, Wage War and other similar bands, when you having a dinner date is not a good idea. In the same vein, listening to a playlist populated by Enya, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift and other tear jerking professionals when you are recovering from grief doesn’t help!
To help you get started on your playlist creation, check out the following playlists:
How to Integrate Music into Your Everyday Life
What use is the perfect playlist if you are not able to listen to it? How can you enjoy all the benefits of listening to music if you only listen sparingly? Here are top ways to integrate music into your everyday life.
- On the Commute
Even if you are among the lucky few that only spend 15 minutes on the commute, that’s 30 minutes per day and 3 hours over the course of a 6 day work week. That’s enough time to listen to 60 songs a week or 240 songs a month! This is not including other short trips you have to make to pick the kids at school, buy groceries, turn up for a meeting and more. If you don’t read or work on the commute, pull out your headphones and get jamming to that playlist. It’s the perfect way to energise in readiness for the day ahead. Be careful to only listen to your music safely. Don’t get too engrossed that you forget your stop, get out on the busy street with your ears plugged in, or that you lose track of your valuables. You don’t want to lose money or items because you couldn’t hear a thief ruffling through your bag.
- At Work
Many assume that playing music while working is a distraction. For others however, playing music in the background helps in multitasking, enhancing brain function and lightening up the overall atmosphere in the workplace. The key is to find out what works for you. Try some music during your work hours and see how you respond to it. Your light music playlist is often the best if you are working in a typical office environment.
- Before You Sleep
How do you feel about sleeping to music? Loud party music will obviously impact negatively on your sleeping schedule but have you considered classical music or other variants of soft music? Some people sleep with the music on all night but that kind of defeats the purpose. You should listen to the music and feel all the benefits before you go to bed. Thankfully, there are apps that can help you avoid having to wake up to turn off the music. This is especially true if you play your music off your smartphone.
- When Unwinding
There is no better way to announce that you are done with the day’s exertions than by playing some music. Look for a playlist that contains some of your favourite tracks. Singing along and probably breaking out into a few dance moves while you whip dinner in place is a great way to throw off the stress of the day! Even some soft music tends to go down well. The point is, do not miss the chance to listen to music.
- During the Shower
Singing in the shower is an age-old habit for many. However, it feels less awkward (and you can hide your “magnificent” voice), when you are singing along to music in the background. Can’t hear your living room music in the bath without risking a police compliant? You don’t need to bring in your £900 smartphone. You can find different Bluetooth connected speakers that can be moved around at your local electronics store or online. Again, a playlist with songs you know well works great here. You’ve got minutes to shower. You don’t want a song you’d want to change immediately coming on when you can’t do anything about it!
- While Eating
Many people feel better with movies or their favourite shows on TV while eating but music can work quite well. Music can help you pass the time and the meal can taste better when there is nice music playing in the background. Got company? You can improve the conversation and the ambience with the right music in the background.
- While Exercising
This is the most obvious way to get in more music time. A workout playlist can make the routines less strenuous and shorten the overall length of time. This is especially great if you are working-out indoors but many outdoor runners agree that the music helps them a great deal. So find work-out relevant music gear, put together a healthy workout list, and get going. The influence of exhaustion, soreness and fatigue will be felt less!
- During Parties
Who organises parties without some music? Even during corporate dinner parties, there is still music in the background. If you are putting together a party on your own, you can easily find software that can be used to mix a perfect playlist for the event. Parties are also a great way for you to share your songs with friends and family.
- During Video Game Sessions
Do you really need to hear that engine rev as you play Need for Speed? Do you need to hear the gunshots and bomb blasts as you play Call of Duty? Do you need to hear the same tired commentary from Jim Beglin and Jon Champion while playing Pro Evolution Soccer? For some, it is part of the gaming experience but it is the perfect way to enjoy music. If you are like most people, you spend two hours on your gaming console weekly and over 6 hours in total during the weekend. That’s reasonable time to feel good with some high quality music!
Top Places to Find the Best Music in Your Favourite Genre
So you are building that playlist and you want to unearth some of the best musical gems that are not yet popular. Pandora, Last.fm, Shazam and Spotify are all decent in their own rights but for deep music diggers, they can come up short. Here are some places to look.
- The filter
- Taste Kid
- The hype machine
- Pitchfork Media
- Stumble Audio
- Live Plasma
- If You Dig
Looking for better music discovery apps? Find them below. Please note that all apps are available in the Google Play Store and the App Store unless otherwise stated. Simply search for the app in your preferred store to get started.
- Band of the Day
- Indie Shuffle
- Yap Music (App Store only)
- Discovr (App Store only)
- Pitchfork Weekly
- fm (App Store only)
- Who Sampled (App Store only)
- Sound Tracking
The importance of listening to music cannot be overemphasised. The overwhelming scientific evidence of the benefits of music makes it even more important to build the right playlist for every situation right away and squeeze in as much music as you can over the course of your busy schedule. Music is a therapy for all occasions. From the hospital down to the pub down the road, a little music can make everything better! Get started on that playlist today.