Updated: Feb 2, 2019
From concert halls and nightclubs to supermarkets and football terraces, music is simply everywhere. It’s our faithful buddy when exercising, travelling, shopping, eating, driving, relaxing,
cleaning, worshipping, reading and watching TV. In fact, as we navigate through life, there are very few things that we do without its companionship. It can energise, soothe, unite and even heal us, often stimulating the extreme range of our emotional palette like little else. It can trigger the most vivid of memories - a personal time machine that transports us firmly back to a treasured time, or plunges us into tear-inducing despair as those that we have loved and lost are brought to mind. It provides a soundscape for major life events - a stirring fanfare to accompany a blushing bride as she takes her first steps towards married life, or a poignant melody as we bid our loved ones farewell from this world. Can you think of any such events that haven't featured music in some way?
Speak My Language
Whilst music is clearly important to us on a personal level, its real superpower is its ability to speak to us as a community of beings. Although it may sound a little cliched, music is truly a universal language – it is a feature of every culture and, amazingly, if you hear a song from another country, researchers tell us that you can make accurate inferences about it after hearing only a very short 14 second sample. This is because “our shared human nature underlies basic musical structures that transcend cultural differences” (Samuel Mehr, Harvard University). NASA has taken this concept to the next level as scientists are entrusting music to communicate the story of our world to extraterrestrials through the Golden Record, which is housed on the Voyager spacecraft as it hurtles through interstellar space, with the hope that it will be intercepted by other spacefarers. We can only imagine what they will make of the eclectic choices that have been made to represent humankind – from Bach and Stravinsky to Aboriginal songs and Chuck Berry - most definitely something to cater for all tastes!
You've probably heard of the 'Mozart effect' and research does, in fact, suggest that our ability to react to music emerges as early as a seventeen-week old foetus in the womb as the auditory system begins to develop. From that point onwards we develop a deep neural connection with
music that continues throughout the rest of our lives. Scientists tell us that listening to music leads to simultaneous activation of many regions of the brain. It is also proven that the act of making music can take brain activity to a new level. If you want to know more about the effect of music on the brain then here’s a fun little video that’s definitely worth a watch.
Food for the Soul
However, the benefits of music and music-making go far beyond the stimulation of the brain. If you have ever made music – whether crooning in the shower, playing in an amateur orchestra, singing in a choir or even chanting on the terraces - we probably don’t need to explain any further. It’s often difficult to describe the effect of music-making – as the chemical dopamine is released, it transforms our mood and affects our behaviour . Here, at Corporate Conservatoire, we just know that if we could extract that feeling, bottle it up and sell it, we would not only be multi-billionaires but the world would definitely be a better place! What would we label our bottles? Well that’s easy - ‘Food for the Soul’.
Nourish the Workplace?
So it is clear – music is incredibly important to us, providing the soundtrack to so many elements of our lives. Isn’t it therefore a little curious as to why it is often absent from our workplaces? Why do the offices and factory floors where we spend most of our waking time often feel like musical deserts? Come in but leave your soul at the door....!
Retailers have long understood the role of music in improving the customer experience and influencing our consumer behaviour but many of our traditional workspaces are strangely quiet. However, there is substantial evidence to show that listening to music in the workplace can improve accuracy, increase productivity and make employees feel more relaxed. Take a look at this interesting infographic to find out some fascinating facts and figures about the positive effect of music in the workplace.
So what's the answer - pipe some music over the office sound system (that is, of course, if you have one)? Encourage workers to flick on the radio perhaps? Of course, things are not quite as simple as they may seem as you may well find yourself having to navigate the territory of whether you would require a music license. Perhaps the way forward is to encourage employees to don their earphones? Well, although suitable for some environments, this is a matter of some debate - the earphone culture that has developed over recent years has perhaps attracted disapproval in the workplace, being seen to create barriers between team members and leading individuals to work in splendid isolation. “If I want to be around people wearing headphones, I can go home and hang out with my teenagers” blogs Justine Brown, Chief Executive of Mumsnet.
Perhaps, therefore, the answer lies in encouraging extra-curricula music-making within the workplace. This has definitely become a recent trend, following Gareth Malone’s highly successful TV series The Choir: Sing While You Work. According to Balsnes and Jansson (2015) “While wellbeing and health are recognized effects of choral singing , the workplace choir affords certain experiences that are uniquely related to the fact of being co-workers in an organisation. The workplace choir seems to be a direct and rapid way to unfreeze identities as established hierarchy and relations become temporarily suspended”. Most definitely food for thought then......
......and here's more food for thought. None of this is news to us here at Corporate Conservatoire. At the core of all that we do is our deep understanding of the impact that music can have in the
workplace. We know this because we’ve witnessed its positive effects time and time again in building teams, eliminating communication barriers and developing leadership skills. Our approach is founded on harnessing the power of music, and we believe passionately that we can transform your organisation and leave a lasting impression.
Passion is contagious - want to catch some?
Perhaps we should leave the final word with Plato who, we think, sums it up perfectly -
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.
Well, there's definitely no argument from us……
Until next time