You probably have first-hand experience in how music can shift your mood and improve your performance. But there’s growing evidence that music can be used to make massive improvements to your family life, too.
For hundreds of years, music has been used as a natural remedy for illnesses and to improve psychological states. Today, the power of music is no longer attributed to mystical properties. Science is stepping in, explaining exactly how music works its magic on us, both psychologically, and physiologically.
When it comes specifically to the effects of calming music, we can see a number of applications to help drastically improve family life.
Reducing Stress & Improving Relaxation
Research shows that music, and calming music in particular, leads to a substantial reduction in stress-inducing hormones such as cortisol.
Translated, this means that listening to calming music on the way home from work can shed left-over anxiety from the office. Regular listening can also help your stress levels to recover more quickly after an argument, or an anxiety-inducing time with the kids.
Improving Your Immune System
Time spent feeling under the weather is time wasted. Not just through taking time off work, but also missing quality time with your loved ones. To combat this, most people will start working out, turn to vitamin supplements, or start eating healthier.
A less used tool for improving your immune system is music. Through analyzing 400 related studies, Prof. Daniel J. Levitin found that listening to music increases both immunoglobulin, and natural killer cell counts. Immunoglobulin is a critical antibody in the immune system. Natural killer cells help your body attack invading bacteria and germs.
This neurochemical effect of music on the immune system works not just to improve recovery times, but as a preventative, too.
Increasing Your Fitness
Although not specifically related to calming music, listening to the right tunes for working out, (generally those between 95–130 bpm) can increase both motivation and performance.
Levitin thinks there are two possible causes of these effects. “Either music acts as a distractor (and distractors are known to modulate pain levels [so you can keep pushing past your previous personal best] or music acts as a mood enhancer”.
However music works during your workouts, this added encouragement understandably filters down to a healthier and happier family life.
The effects of sleep loss on mood are pretty drastic. According to Zohar et al., this is because “sleep loss amplifies the negative emotive effects of events while reducing the positive effect of events”. This can leave you feeling agitated, irritable, and hostile. The perfect moods to ruin an otherwise great day with the family.
Luckily, you guessed it, calming music can be of assistance. By listening to songs with a slow bpm (60–80), your heart rate will be lowered, and breathing slowed, helping to more quickly induce sleep. Spotify actually created a playlist packed with such songs. Though other research suggests that classical music may be particularly helpful in curbing insomnia.
Listening to the right kind of music when you wake up can also set you on the path for a more positive day, too.
Music can help with both calming unruly kids, as well as increasing school grades.
Those calming effects and emotive responses that we spoke about earlier? They apply to children as well as adults. In the British Journal of Sociology of Education, background music was shown to improve the academic performance and behavior of children (especially those with learning difficulties, or with a history of being disruptive). The effects also extended to “improved co-operation and a reduction in aggression”. Other studies have found similar effects in children with ADHD.
When it comes to calming your kids before bedtime, or coercing them into doing their homework, perhaps music has been the missing ingredient.
How to Use Music in Your Household
If you want your household to reap all of these benefits from music, there’s no better time to start than now. The majority of these benefits come from calming music, which we’ve shared a playlist of before. But creating your own is easy enough.
Once you’ve found music that you want to play around your house, you could simply play these through your current speakers, from a CD, or just listen to a relaxing radio station. But a far more convenient and future-proof option is to use a wireless speaker system which allows you to play your chosen music in various rooms throughout your house, from any device.
One of the leading (and premium) wireless speaker systems comes from Sonos. Each speaker, though extremely high quality, will set you back between $200–$600 each. Through the Sonos app, you can stream music from pretty much any device via over 40 streaming services.
Each Sonos speaker you purchase acts as a bridge, expanding network coverage, so you can stream music around even the largest home. As each speaker is always “on”, you can start streaming to all (or specific) speakers within seconds.
Another leading wireless speaker system is Google’s Chromecast Audio. Unlike Sonos (read a side-by-side comparison), with Chromecast Audio, you can turn any of your speakers into a Wi-Fi enabled speaker.
This is possible with Sonos. But with the Sonos Connect ($349/CDN$450/£260) and the Sonos Connect:Amp ($499/CDN$650/£400) costing so much compared to $35 for the Chromecast Audio, that price is a hard pill to swallow. There is large a difference in audio quality, but is it worth the extra cost? That’s up to you.
The Chromecast Audio is a device that you plug into the 3.5mm, RCA or Optical ports on each of your speakers. You’ll then be able to stream music to one or more of your speakers via a huge range of supported music streaming apps (excluding iTunes and Apple Music), from any device.
If you’re heavily into the Apple ecosystem, chances are you use iTunes and Apple Music. If so, the Chromecast Audio may not be for you. AirPlay is definitely worth consideration though, as it essentially reroutes the media you’re playing on your Apple devices to a compatible speaker or Apple TV. This works with most major music streaming apps.
When you turn on a compatible speaker for the first time, simply grant that speaker access to your Wi-Fi network. Once enabled, you can easily choose which device(s) you want to stream your audio to.
When it comes to choosing the best AirPlay speaker, there’s a decent range to choose from. The service is compatible with Sonos, many Libratone speakers, including the highly recommended Libratone Zipp ($249/CDN$365/£220), and other AirPlay speakers we’ve covered before.
Amazon Echo ($180/£150) is “a hands-free speaker you control with your voice”. In the context of this article, you can ask the Echo to stream specific music, or kinds of music, from a range of apps. These include Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and a couple more.
As time goes on, the Echo is routinely updated, supporting even more apps that go far beyond just streaming music. For example, you can ask the device to order an Uber, order takeout, and interact with other smart home devices. This could be a definite way to improve your family life!
Adopting Music Into Your Home
The advancement in wireless audio technology has made it easier than ever to introduce music into every corner of your home. Even if you don’t want to splash out on entire wireless speaker systems, you could just stick to bluetooth speakers. The audio quality isn’t as good, and the range isn’t as far. But they tend to match even the tightest of budgets.
Once set up, you can use any of this technology to take advantage of all the benefits benefits of calming music mentioned in this article. From reducing stress, to improving your sleep. Feel free to thank us later!
Over to you: have you tried using music to improve your family life? If so, how did it go? Which songs, artists, and playlists would you recommend?
Image Credits: altanaka/Shutterstock