Author: Lange, David

This is Your Brain on Bluegrass
I must have music to listen to when I exercise. Otherwise, it’s a matter of staring at the LCD readouts on the treadmill, watching each fraction of a mile and each calorie progress at an absolute snail pace. Without the music, thirty minutes can seem more like four hours…..

I select songs spontaneously during my exercise session. Sometimes I stick to one artist, sometimes multiple artists. What songs I choose has much to do with my energy level and mood at the time. If I had to drag myself to the gym that day I may start out with some toe tapping, hard driving bluegrass or country.

Music has always been a huge influence in my life. The right dose of the right music at the right time works wonders. But just how powerful is music to the human psyche and body? (Well thank you for asking!!).

From doing a little research I discovered that there is a LOT of information out there about this subject. Many articles and studies that include some pretty big words. And when I went to look some of those words up in my trusty dictionary….. It gets worse. Some definitions gave me more words I did not understand …….. and had to look up.

So, I will boil it all down to this. According to some people… laboratory studies have shown that music can change neurochemical (uh….. the chemical composition and processes of the nervous system and effects of chemicals on it). Music can also change heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, pulse, and brain waves. In fact the affects of music can send shivers up and down your spine. Many people use music for emotional regulation in the same manner caffeine or alcohol might be used. Music we listen to can calm, motivate, make us alert and vigilant, and can enhance our mood, all depending on what our needs are.

I have a very diverse collection of music. I may be in the mood for fast pace uplifting music, or I may view my collection as a medicine cabinet during difficult times and find music to help me cope. I might even be in the mood to travel back in time. Funny how music can spark those memory cells and allow you to tour vivid memories that might otherwise lay dormant forever.

And let’s just say “Get High on Bluegrass” isn’t just a bumper sticker. Why does the bluegrass community and events continue to grow? Why is it so important to those that listen to or play bluegrass to preserve it? You got it! Part of the reason is bluegrass gives you that neurochemical…uh, er, shivers down the spine thing. Yeh! It makes you feel great! You are hooked on bluegrass!!

Stay up until the sun comes up, and then carry on the next day after three hours sleep and do it all again!!?? No where else I can do that except at a bluegrass event. This is your brain on bluegrass.

Willing to let your significant other stay out all night with a bunch of strangers; and with a smile?!! This is your brain on bluegrass. (Ok, some of you may challenge me on that one… at least the “with a smile” part).

Bands that devote so much time to practicing and performing when they are lucky to make enough money to pay for gas expenses. They must be getting a pretty good buzz off of the music. Yep …… brains on bluegrass.

It is important that people be able to choose what they listen to rather than having it imposed on them. Now I’m not sure of the effects if you are succumbed to endless music that you DON”T like.
So for my next assignment, I am going to get myself stuck in an elevator for twelve hours and see what happens. So if you don’t see a column from me next month ……

Till the next time……..
Posted:  3/17/2008

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