Monday, June 22, 2015


by Kate Collins

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.”

Who would’ve thought that current research now shows that those famous lines from eighteenth century playwright William Congreve are truer than we ever suspected? Not only does music calm us, but it also inspires, energizes, lowers our blood pressure, activates neurons in the brain, and affects our thoughts. It’s better than any pharmaceutical drug out there for altering our moods.

But watch out! If you’re feeling blue and you listen to a song of woe, your mood will stay low. However, if you listen to something upbeat and happy, your brain will respond with a release of good chemicals. Smiling does that, too, by the way.

I’ve always known the power of music in my life. There are some genres I love, some I like, some I tolerate, and a few I just can’t stand to listen to. Are you affected that way?

My husband loved to listen to classical music in the morning as he got ready for work, which I enjoyed until a song played on a harpsichord came on, and then I had to turn the station. I don’t know why, I only know that it set my teeth on edge.

When I write, I don’t usually  have music playing. I’m too busy listening to the characters talk to each other. But when I need something in the background, my standard is Mozart. It’s invigorating and yet doesn’t distract me. But when the CD ends, I rarely realize it, so deep in the zone am I.

When I need a pick-me-up, I have to have a peppy or encouraging song, and since the loss of my husband, I’ve found that I’m drawn to that type exclusively. No sad, depressing music for this writer. No whining or complaining, no songs of revenge, nothing of the sort allowed.

My current favorite upbeat songs are “Baby, I’m Good,” by Andy Grammer, “What Makes You Beautiful,” by One Direction, and “On Top of the World” and “I Bet My Life,” by Imagine Dragons.

What songs do you listen to when you want to feel better? Does music affect your mood?

On a fun sidenote, playwright William Congreve was also responsible for penning these immortal words:  “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”  Ya just gotta love him.


Jeanetta said...

I think music feeds the soul and stimulates the brain.

Unknown said...

I love music as well. I have a number of playlists on my iPod and Kindle, and I choose a playlist suited to my mood or situation. I like a wide variety of music styles - pretty much anything that isn't just noise. I like light classical (like Pachelbel and classical guitar), light jazz (Kenny G), big bands, "oldies" from the 50's-70's, some country, relaxation music, Disney tunes, etc. Every night when I go to bed, I put on some quiet music with nature help me fall asleep. When I'm working around the house, I put on upbeat songs to keep me moving.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to be picking up 5 feral cats at a clinic (where they will be spayed/neutered in the morning), and transporting them to the County shelter. So tonight I made a CD with quiet music and nature sounds to play during the hour trip from the clinic to the shelter. I've found that the quiet music soothes them, and when songs come on that includes birds singing, they tend to quiet down.

Can't imagine my life without music.

Diane said...

I have always been surrounded by music and love most of it. I like light jazz and the oldies. If working around the house I like Classical. I don't care for country music except for a very few of the artist who don't seem to be singing the sad songs. My son played Trumpet as did my husband, my father played violin (not well) and Mom played the piano by ear. Me? I sing off key. I do sing around the house and in Church. I'm still waiting for a miracle to let the sound come out like the way Julie Andrews sang. I've been waiting a very long time.

Kate Collins said...

The world would be a gray place without music to color it. Lynda, I admire your work with shelter cats. I was just reading a Dr. Becker article about shelter cats needing small boxes to hide in rather than open cages. They adjust better. Have you ever read that?

Kate Collins said...

Some of us can sing, some can write, and others have all sorts of amazing abilities. Yours just isn't singing like Julie, Diane. LOL. But I'll bet you have other talents that you're proud of.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

I love the Beatles! Whenever I hear their music I feel happier, more carefree. It's just like a burst of energy. Great blog, Kate.

Anonymous said...

I like most music but forget to turn it on when I'm at home. I just took a 600 mile road trip of which about half was in the high desert of Oregon. I could get an Oldies station for about 80 miles each way. I sing along, bounce around, and stay awake which is a very good thing when the scenery is sagebrush, juniper, and occasional cattle. Cordella

Kate Collins said...

Me, too, Mary. I find myself humming Good Day, Sunshine in the mornings. It makes the day brighter.

Kate Collins said...

I'd say staying awake was a very good thing,too, Cordella!

Unknown said...

I hadn't read that, but it doesn't surprise me. Cats don't like change, and being put in a strange and scary environment like a shelter is so traumatic to most. Some will adjust quickly and be begging for attention. But some of them are so traumatized that it makes you want to cry when you see them squeezed in a corner, so afraid. The cages at the shelter have an open cage area and then two smaller areas that are mostly enclosed. One for their litter box and another for them to hide if they want to.

When I bring new fosters into my home, I always make them a small, quiet, dark area where they can hide if they want. Then I sit outside the area and talk to them. I let them come out on their schedule for the most part. Sometimes if it's taking awhile I will lay down at their level and slowly let them smell my hand and eventually will pet them, while letting them stay in their refuge. I've never had a cat that didn't eventually come out and feel comfortable.

Occasionally a cat will have the opposite problem and feel uncomfortable in an enclosed environment. I had one foster that had been so traumatized that she hated being "cornered" (right after she gave birth, crows swooped in and carried off all but two of her babies). She was the only foster I've had who had difficulty transitioning into a home environment. She wanted to, but would have these panic moments and would hiss, swipe at me and run away. It was sad because she would look at me like she was saying "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that". It broke my heart. But we eventually found her a home where she could be a barn cat. The family who took her in have been transitioning her slowly and she is doing very well.

Like with people, all cats are different - molded by their experiences - and need to be treated as individuals.

Fred said...

In the last 8-10 years I have learned to enjoy classical music. I am fortunate enough to receive a 24 -hr. classical station, operated by Andrews University. From 6 AM to 7 PM, using 4 full time announcers and some students. Then 7 PM to 6 AM they use Minn. Public Radio's Music Overnight. I like it particularly when I am reading, as I can concentrate on reading and not be distracted by talk or singing. I like to say that I like a lot of "noise", in other words I like songs that use the whole orchestra. I love, especially, Tchaikovsky and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Kate Collins said...

I understand what you mean, Fred. I don't like a solo instrument, such as a violin, but a full orchestra is a joy to listen to.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

I love this post, Kate! To me there's nothing like Classic Rock to get the mood up - great when I need some pep.. I too love Mozart and baroque music if I need to concentrate or be soothed. So much music, so little time.