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Music’s Influence on Students Emotions

Music is a constant part of life for Redwood students. It’s a comforting routine to have a song playing in the background to help wake up and get through the day. However, do students fully appreciate the effect of music? Have students noticed how songs affect their moods throughout the day? Does the type of song being played make a difference in how a person feels? 

According to an article written by Jennifer W.L. Fink of Pfizer Medical, “Listening to – or making – music increases blood flow to brain regions that generate and control emotions. The limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions and controlling memory, ‘lights up’ when our ears perceive music.” Fink demonstrates that music has a confirmed effect on humans’ emotional processes.

Drawing by Mae Mohr

When one listens to an upbeat song, they generally start to feel better as well. People often listen to music that actively reflects the current mood that they are feeling. In turn, they magnify the emotion and can work through complicated feelings. According to the Harvard Health Journal, “Bright, cheerful music can make people of all ages feel happy, energetic and alert, and music may even have a role in lifting the mood of people with depressive illnesses.”

Students throughout Redwood listen to music on the daily. Airpods, over-the-ear headphones and even playing songs out loud permeate student life. In fact, according to the March 2024 Bark survey, 76 percent of students listen to music while at school. Graphic Here

Senior music enthusiast Zach Baumgarten enjoys reviewing songs on Instagram as an extracurricular. He loves music for its ability to affect emotions and focus.

“[Music] amplifies the emotions I’m feeling in the moment. So, if I’m feeling [a strong emotion] I can listen to songs that will amplify that feeling. I tend to enjoy that,” Baumgarten said.

There are many different reasons why students might listen to music. It can be used to focus, calm down or just wake up for a challenging day. 

Freshman concert band member Sloane Ryan discussed the importance of music as an emotional tool. 

“Listening to music is something I love to do and that just makes me happy. If I’m having a hard day it calms me down and makes me feel better, and if I’m ever bored it just keeps my mind alive,” Ryan said

Baumgarten and Ryan have similar feelings on the subject of musical focus.  

“I think [Music] helps me learn better. I don’t see it as something bad, I see it as a tool.” Baumgarten said. 

It has been proven that music indeed has a physical effect on the human brain, and according to Harvard Health, “The researchers speculated that listening to music helps organize the firing of nerve cells in the right half of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher functions.” 

Making music is shown to have an extensive effect on humans medically, not just emotionally. According to an article by Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, “Active music-making positively affects neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, that influence mood. Dopamine influences focus, concentration, memory, sleep, mood and motivation. Likewise, serotonin impacts mood, sleep patterns, anxiety and pain.”Additionally, music has been proven to help with mental pains such as depression and anxiety.

Similarly, according to UCSF, “Research indicates that music therapy can significantly reduce anxiety and stress in patients. This reduction often results in a decreased reliance on pain medications and shorter hospital stays, enhancing the patient’s overall experience. Moreover, patients who undergo music therapy often express higher satisfaction with their hospital care.”

Music therapy is essentially the practice of using music to help patients express themselves and use a different medium of communication, and it doesn’t always need to occur in a hospital. The simple act of listening to and making music can be a game-changer in terms of how a person is feeling.

First Year Redwood music teacher Chip Boaz has been a lifelong enthusiast of how music can connect and affect people. 

Photo by Mae Mohr

“I think we listen to music a little differently today, and when I say listen to music to me, that’s always different than hearing music. I think that music has become a little bit of a utility in a way. I’m having trouble focusing on studying so I put on chill piano musicI need to fall asleep so I put on this, I’m hanging out with my friends, so I put on this. It doesn’t connect with us in the same way, but I think when we are tuning in and listening to a piece of music, whether it’s on a phone and the car, or wherever we are these days, it can be really powerful,” Boaz said.

Music is a universal art form, something that can be created anywhere at any time. Heard in car radios, on public transit, in restaurants and in schools, Music is a part of daily life, and yet it is rare for one to take it in and reflect on why it’s so essential. 

“I think in today’s day and age, we take music for granted a little bit. There’s so much easy access, which is amazing, but I think we’ve gotten to a point where we don’t think about things like this because we’ve kind of gotten to that point where it’s just fluid in our lives and we take it for granted.” Boaz said.

Drawing by Mae Mohr

Whether it be in musical therapy, in the halls at school, or studying at home, music occurs all around, and can be heard at any time.

“There are lots of great things that music does for our body and our brains, right? But at the end of the day, music is about people and making those connections I think really lifts people up,” Boaz said.

Music is everywhere, and yet it is constantly taken for granted. By acknowledging music’s impact on human emotions and connections, students may inspire themselves into a new field of discovery. 


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About the Contributor
Mae Mohr
Mae Mohr, Cub Reporter/ Staff illustrator
Mae Mohr is a sophomore at Redwood High School and Cub reporter for the Redwood Bark