Monday, October 29, 2012

Music to Soothe the Savage Breast ...


Musick has Charms to soothe a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

William Congreve 
 The Mourning Bride

Do you want to calm the cacophony of thoughts and feelings filling your head and your "savage breast" after a long day at work -  or an even longer day's caregiving at home? Researchers say that making or listening to music can help calm your nervous system, boost your mood and reduce your anxiety. In fact, according to a review of 22 research articles, music alone and music-assisted relaxation exercises can significantly decrease nervous system arousal due to stress.

It doesn't seem to matter what kind of music you listen to. The important thing is that the music is a good fit for your individual musical preference, previous music experience, and the sort of stress response you're experiencing. (ie Upbeat music will energize you when you're feeling down and soothing music will calm you if you're feeling anxious.) That said, several studies have acknowledged the particularly effective soothing power of classical music.

We're not sure how music works its magic. Perhaps it is its ability to absorb our attention; perhaps, its capacity to distract us; or perhaps, its tendency to connect us with our emotions. However it works, adding music to our days can have a profound effect on our sense of well-being.

Over the years, I have compiled an eclectic list of musical pieces that is my go-to list for relaxation or a little cheering up. It includes, (and I'll really date myself here!):

To Calm and Soothe:
1.  Ladies in Lavender Soundtrack 
2.  Mozart for Mothers-to-Be
3.  Carolyn McDade's As We So Love
5.  The (British) National Trust's  "Time for Tea" Collection
6.  Enya's A Day Without Rain and Watermark
7.  Gloria: The Sacred Music of John Rutter
8.  Daniel Kobialka's  Fragrances of a Dream
9.  John Lennon's Imagine
10. Simon and Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Waters
11.  Truly, Madly, Deeply Soundtrack
12.  The Rankin Family's We Rise Again 
13.  At Christmas:  Marty Haugen's Night of Silence ... 
 To Energize:
1.  Mozart's Clarinet Concerto
2.  Schubert's Trout Quintet
3.  Ketelbey's British Light Music
4.  Abba's Mamma Mia
5.  Simon and Garfunkle's 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
6.  John Denver's The Essential John Denver
7.  The Beatles
8.  The Beach Boys
9.  Carole King's Tapestry
10. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos 

What about you? Do you have favourite music for relaxing and getting recharged? How long is it since you've had a listen?

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