Have you ever stopped to listen to the sounds around you? I never did......not before I started to pay more attention to music. Music teaches us about patterns, silence, timing, to notice detail, to focus and more. Science now has research that shows what happens in the brain when we listen to a variety of kinds of music. The brain becomes stimulated like a disco ball, lighting up in all different areas. Scientists are also doing cutting edge research on how they can measure the networks in the brain that are stimulated and that each connection has a sound when it's slowed way down and layered bit by bit. Imagine listening to the orchestra of your brain one day!!!
When we dance we listen for the layers within the sound including the silence it is all played over. This silence is similar to the canvas an artist begins to apply paint on. The silence is where the musicians sense the timing and quality of what they add to make the song have it's overall feel. Listening in to silence requires focus and also the ability to filter out sounds, it's a great way to strengthen discernment and attention to detail. To feel the body as the silence and allow the sounds to move thru can truly heighten the experience of dance.
Sound is a vibration that our bodies feel before our ears actually take it in. This vibration is patterned in a timing that can support the body in finding a variety of rhythms to attune with. Our bodies and brains need these patterns to establish an understanding of harmony at times. From an empathy standpoint, music reminds us of things we all experience. From a physical perspective the act of walking is rhythmic and constant. The brain learns walking from creating a pattern of repeated measured movement, similar to a constant beat of a song. On any given day, our bodies timing and what happens around us changes......The more adaptable we are to the change the healthier we bounce back and thrive. Listening to a wide variety of genres of music not only bring more appreciation of different cultures and the complexities and details in different music, it also inspires the body to move in a myriad of ways offering more neural networks in the brain to lean on when needed.
Listening to music puts us on a journey into someones experience and reminds us of that experience in ourselves. This emotion inducing effect can be helpful for people to shift out of a mood and develop the ability to have more emotional expression and resilience.
People often have a personal preference with music. There is a great value in knowing your preferences ...however, there is a strong gift in the wiring of the brain to listen to all kinds and even kinds that you feel adverse too. This builds less dependency on the music, and more inner strength ( plus more brain development). In dance we can use music to play with opposite emotions of the singer, and to find ways to connect with music you feel "adverse" too. This opens up new tools to tap into pleasure and joy even in experiences that aren't your deep preference ( say, scooping the cat litter:) This also surprises the brain, and excites the body. Our nervous systems need to both be stimulated and also to be able to be calm and still. Sometimes a song we "don't like" can shift us out of a mood that we are in on a steady basis and take us to places we can't even imagine yet!
Another powerful experience of music is to listen for the over all feel of a song, and yet, NOT dance WITH it. Dance AROUND it. Let it be the playing as if its a person talking that you are truly listening too ( you can hear the rhythm, melody, nuances, instruments) but NOT effected by. This is a tricky practice for those "entrained" to the beat of music. Often in traditional fitness or if listening only to "pop " music with a steady driving beat the ability to move "outside" the music takes time to develop the sensitivity to feel the difference.
Music is a gift and a great power. There is so very much pleasure and freedom in developing these skills mentioned above. It may take some will power to practice them, yet that is exactly where the gains are happening.