Music Soothes the Savage Beast (Me)

CNN published an article this week on music and the brain. Can you imagine a poster with the title “This is your brain on music”, with a big smiley face on your brain? Well, science has proved music makes a body feel good. Duh.

If you can’t tell, I am a huge fan of music. I played lots of instruments in my younger days. Need more bass, I’ll play a trombone. Need someone with piano experience (back then), np. I can still pick up a beginner’s book and try anything. There is nothing in the world like playing a great piece of music, in a group, and doing it well. Think of lots of warm fuzzies.

I still use music to fill empty space. Unfortunately, my twins are adverse to prerecorded music. They can handle Mom and Dad struggling through Silent Night, every night for the last 4 years, but put on a little classical, pop, rock or country, and they spazz like you dropped the f-bomb in a church. So my music listening is either when I’m alone in the car, or wearing headphones.

Right now I’m jamming out to some Matchbox20. It’s angsty enough with a mild upbeat edge. It has been a frustrating, stressful few days. When you can’t scream, you need someone else’s angst to feed on. Solidarity.

Sometime this week, I’ll be making a speed playlist. I have several knitting projects that need to be finished. Quickly. I’m being commissioned to make some ruffle skirts for granddaughters of a friend of mine. I want to be able to get them done quickly, and while I have other projects going, I’ll have a hard time concentrating.

Runners use music to control their pace, knitters can too. You want to find songs that have a good rhythm, that are upbeat, and most importantly- not distracting. If music makes you want to stop and sing, don’t use it. You’ll lose your train of thought.

For normal knitting, I go with some Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, CCR, Blake Shelton, Starship, Boston, etc. I mix and match for songs that will raise my spirits, but that I can put in the background. I think I have some Guns ‘n Roses in that mix, as well.

For delicate work, I go for classical. Pachelbel, Beethoven, Latour… They encourage consistency and calm for me. They also don’t have words 🙂 If my feet tap, well, that’s okay.

For a speed list, I will probably use dance music. Few words, good speedy rhythms, and not distracting. There are a variety of tracks on Amazon and ITunes in the Excercise section. Some even tell you how many beats per minute (bpm) are in the songs. Try a few and see what fits your style. There’s a group called Bond that plays instrumental music with electric additives. They are good for quick paced knitting as well. My husband loves their James Bond album, “Bond on Bond”. Seriously good knitting music.

If you’re feeling down, make a feel good playlist. It helps. My problem is that when I’m down or mad, I go to the heavy metal or alternative style musics to push. Push what? I don’t know, but when you want to bang your head on the wall because your oldest stole your chocolate, your twins are telling you that you obviously aren’t cooking dinner because you are sitting down, and you discover you’re going to have puppies soon, a little Tesla, Metallica or something- helps. My kids are still alive, anyways 🙂 So it does some good.

Most people use music, without thinking actively, of what they are doing. I say use it. Everyday. It’s a drug that doesn’t stay in your system, and some good music therapy can last a long time. It’s a tool in your toolbox, a weapon for those days when you just won’t or will.

Science hasn’t gotten far enough to prove all of that, but one day it will.


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