It has been established a long time ago that music affects our mood. It can make us happy or sad. It can make us pensive or help distract us from our worries. When we listen or play music an endorphin release takes place and this can lift our mood.The good that it does has recently been proven to be better.

Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill at the Hawk’s Well theatre in Sligo

Cancer patients who routinely listen to music exhibit significantly fewer symptoms of depression, pain, fatigue and anxiety (University of Nebraska Medical Centre Division). In many studies music therapy has also been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression. The playing of an instrument is proven to be particularly effective in this success.(Anna Maratos A. et al, 2011). A recent study suggests that some sounds, such as lullabies, may have a calming effect on pre-term babies and their parents. These same studies even show that music can improve the infants’ sleeping and eating patterns, while decreasing parents’ stress (Pediatrics, 2013). Playing ‘Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash on repeat mode always helped send my children asleep!

Music can also trigger memories by activating the medial prefrontal cortex, which sits in the brain just behind the forehead. This region is one of the last areas of the brain to decay during Alzheimer’s disease, possibly explaining why many Alzheimer’s patients can recall songs from the distant past. Music is often deliberately played in the background in care homes. The continuous playing of music on low volumes helps new babies and the elderly fall to sleep more quickly.

Freddie White at the Hawk’s Well theatre, Sligo

One of the best presents that you could give someone would be some music. I think a record player is a great idea because it means that you have to be disciplined and make music the centre of your attention. When you place the needle on the vinyl it makes practical sense to let it play the whole of side A or B play out in its entirely. Modern devices allows us to skip tracks too easily. People get it hard to focus. And filling a room with sound is always more atmospheric than filling headphones.

Making some space for music in your life could prove to be one of the best decisions you can make. There is therapy in the simple things of life. Since society reopened I’ve been at Freddie White, Sharon Shannon, Luka Bloom, Mick Flannery and Susan O’Neill. I’m on a musical high!!