How to Challenge Your Guitar Style...

Courtesy of Casey van Wensem... 

Finding your sound can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing...

Whether you’re a singer, an instrumentalist, a producer, or an engineer, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time trying to “find your sound.”

Having your own signature sound can help you define yourself as an artist, but it can also make you feel trapped.

Do you really want to spend the rest of your career being known as “that alt-country band” or “that singer/songwriter with the ukulele?” 

If you want to keep pushing the boundaries as an artist, (and don’t want to be defined by simple genre descriptions for the rest of your career), then sometimes knowing how to lose your sound is just as important as knowing how to find it.

So if you don’t want to become a musical one-trick pony, here are some methods you can use to “lose your sound.”

Collaborate with as many people as possible
In the world of contemporary classical music, there is no composer with a more easily recognizable style than Philip Glass. Perhaps that’s why he’s spent so much time trying to redefine himself. “Getting [your] voice isn’t hard,” Glass told NPR, “it’s getting rid of the darn thing [that’s hard], because once you’ve got the voice then you’re stuck with it.”

Not wanting to be defined by a single style, Glass has found a simple formula that helps him whenever he needs to push his boundaries: collaborate with as many people as possible.

“The only hope of shaking free of your own description of music [is] to place yourself in such an untenable position that you [have] to figure out something new,” he said. “That means constantly finding new people to work with.”

These frequent collaborations have helped move him away from the trademark brand of minimalism he developed in the 1960s and '70s to the more eclectic style that he’s well known for today.

Create limitations for yourself
It’s the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, but that’s exactly what songwriters do all the time. If you start every song by strumming some chords on your guitar, then a lot of your songs will end up sounding pretty similar. Sometimes, simply switching up your songwriting routine can be enough to set you off in a new musical direction.

Instead of humming a melody first, start by writing down lyrics; instead of starting with a guitar riff, start with a drum beat instead. 

If that’s not enough to help you stir up new ideas, then you may have to limit yourself even further. Maybe there are certain chord progressions that you always turn to that you need to ban from your tool kit, or maybe there are certain lyrical themes you need to swear off of for a while.

As the great composer Igor Stravinsky said: “My freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one's self of the chains that shackle the spirit.”

Listen better than you play
Guitarist Bill Frisell may have a recognizable sound to those who know his work, but he’s also known for the extreme diversity and flexibility of his playing style.

Frisell seems just as comfortable playing jazz standards as he does playing American roots music, Malian folk tunes, or Brazilian bossa novas. This relentless eclecticism is perhaps due to the fact that Frisell has never actually found his own sound, at least not according to his own description.

When asked about his musical voice for his “Solos” project in 2010, he said, “I’m not even sure if I know if I have [my own voice] or not.” That’s because his ears are always ahead of his fingers. “Every time I pick up the instrument it’s a struggle to try to get the sound [I want]…. I’m always hearing something just a little bit beyond my grasp. So there’s always this struggle going on.”

This struggle is what keeps Frisell learning, and by constantly learning, he has managed to keep his sound fresh after more than 40 years of playing music. Likewise, if you can learn to be a better listener than performer, your playing style will naturally continue to change as you consistently strive to close the gap between what you hear and what you play.

The artists mentioned above aren’t the only ones who have sought to constantly redefine their sound. From Miles Davis to Bob Dylan to Radiohead to Kanye West, many great artists have gone through a constant cycle of finding their sound and then losing it again, and this cycle has contributed to long and successful careers in the music industry. So if you feel like you’ve finally found your own unique sound, perhaps the best thing you can do for your music career is to lose it and find a new one.

Casey van Wensem is a freelance composer, musician, and writer living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada

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5 Ways to Jumpstart Musical Creativity...

Courtesy of Hugh McIntyre... 

Creating music is difficult, and nobody said that it was going to be easy... 

If you want to be a musician you need to learn to play an instrument, and that means practice every day, and on top of that, you’re expected to share your innermost feelings and emotions, and doing so eloquently is nothing short of a daunting task.In fact the whole idea of being a musician is a daunting task...

Sometimes it’s not just the beauty that isn’t immediate, it’s anything. Everybody hits snags when they’re involved in something creative, and music is notorious for catching people in spells of indecision, doubt, and pure nothingness.

If you’re having a hard time getting over the blank space in your mind, here are a few tips that can help get the ball rolling.

1. Just start
The hardest part sometimes can be just getting started, so one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is, well... just get started. I know that sounds like a very "not-helpful" comment, but it actually can be the best way to kick things off.

Putting pen to paper can help get your creative juices flowing, and though it may take a while, you need to keep at it, and eventually you’ll see your words start improving, and true themes and ideas may come to life.

It can be the most helpful if you start out with some really vague ideas, words, or even a line or two you’ve had laying around that sound like they might be useful, but this tip can be applied to almost any time when the lyrics or music just aren’t coming. You may find that what you first come up with is completely terrible, or perhaps it doesn’t even make sense, but that's all part of being creative.

2. Forget perfection
Many songwriters have a hard time not being critical of their own work, and that’s usually a good thing. What artist wants to spend time creating something that, in the end, isn’t actually all that good? I’d never suggest that a musician write terrible music and share it, but making bad things is a great way to eventually make good things. You need to stumble, fall, and completely mess up in order to find out how to create truly wonderful tunes.

Your music will never be “perfect,” but it should be the best it can be for you – though, that’s not something you should concern yourself with at all times. If you’re having an especially difficult time working out the words or melodies of a song, try to get something down and finish it. The track doesn't need to be finalized just yet; that can come later.

Editing is important, but before that, you need to have an actual song to rework, so forget about getting it exactly right the first time and just get it done. I'm not a songwriter, but this practice has helped me when trying to get through phrasing and wording on tough articles, and I’ve heard it works well for almost anything involving writing.

3. Get moving
Sitting in the same spot isn’t a great way to feel energized and excited about writing something, so why would you do it? To get things flowing, try doing almost anything physical, be it walking around, a few exercises, or even just changing where you’re sitting. Go to a coffee shop, stand up, lay upside down, or drive around.

It doesn't matter what works for you, or even if you aren’t sure what that is just yet. Trying things is the only way to figure that out, and none of these options will hurt your writing, that’s for sure.

4. Try something new
Seeing that you’re a musician, you probably already listen to a lot of music. That’s great, as it likely inspires you, and there are influences of some of your favorite artists, songs, and albums in your own music. If you're finding it difficult to craft that next tune, try playing something completely different from what you're used to and letting it soak in.

If you’re a rock guy, turn on some hip-hop. Working on a pop song? Think about electronic melodies. Sample styles of music only popular in remote parts of the world, and try to hear what makes them so special. Again, even if this tip doesn’t come in handy at the moment, you won’t be hurt by exposing yourself to new music, and you never know when something will pop up later on in your songwriting endeavors.

5. Avoid distractions
It’s tough in our increasingly connected world, but sometimes you just need to turn everything off and focus on one thing. Yes, that’s right, I said focus on one thing. If you're trying to write a song while the TV is on, you’re answering emails, and you’re browsing Twitter on your phone, you aren’t giving your art the attention it deserves.

Even if you’re not actively doing all of these things (or the million other distractions available to you at all times), you should put away your devices, turn off your internet, or remove yourself from certain locations. Do whatever it takes to ensure that you are 100 percent focused on the blank page in front of you.

Hugh McIntyre is a freelance pop music journalist in NYC by way of Boston. He has written for Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and MTV, as well as various magazines and blogs around the world. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of the blog Pop! Bang! Boom! which is dedicated to the genre of pop in all of its glory.

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NEW: QwikLicks 11 - "E Minor Heavy Metal Licks"

NEW: QwikLicks Series - Video (011)

The latest QwikLicks video is, "E Minor Heavy Metal Licks" Available in the FREE members area. Includes a PDF handout!

QwikLicks are a FREE lesson series for all membership levels at Creative Guitar Lessons in the QwikLicks Series will run through a short collection of guitar licks in all kinds of different playing styles...

Episode 011 breaks down three licks from the key of "E Minor" played in the Heavy Metal style. Lick #1 is a fast repetitive lick. Lick #2, is a lick using a 3-octave stacked line along the neck. And, lick #3, applies an 8th-note triplet idea using an "E Minor 7" arpeggio with highlights of the popular metal scale "Harmonic Minor.". 

Sign into the website with your free members account to watch the lesson, and be sure to download the PDF lesson handout. 

If you're not currently a FREE member of the website, sign up today!

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How Sleep Affects Your Guitar Practice & Performance

Courtesy of Casey van Wensem... 

The Scientific Truth About How Sleep Affects Your Guitar Practice Sessions and Performances

For most of the 21st century, sleep has been the elephant in the room as far as medical science is concerned. While the benefits of a good night’s sleep have been known for decades, doctors and other medical professionals have been reluctant to see sleep as a legitimate part of a comprehensive medical treatment, and many doctors themselves regularly work in a sleep-deprived state, despite evidence showing that sleep deprivation causes more car accidents than drug and alcohol use combined.

Many musicians treat sleep in the same way. While we know that getting good sleep is important, we’d gladly trade a few hours of sleep for a few hours of extra practice time, or a few hours of hanging out after a gig. But if you’ve ever thought that it’s worthwhile to trade sleep for practicing, it turns out you’re only making things worse.

What you lose when you lose sleep
While there are some people who claim they can get by on four hours of sleep every night, research shows us that a typical healthy adult needs anywhere from five to 10 hours of nightly sleep in order to function at their peak.

We also know that after just five to 10 days of sleep deprivation, people start to experience a number of symptoms including “cognitive decline, altered mood, poorer motor skills, decreased motivation, and lack of initiative.”

To make things even worse, people who are sleep deprived often don’t realize how much their lack of sleep is affecting them, as they lack the ability to properly assess their level of impairment. In short, it turns out that many of us are probably suffering from sleep deprivation without even realizing it. The only cure is to set a regular sleep schedule, as “sleep debt,” or missed hours of sleep, can only be made up through “extended periods of deep sleep.”

So if you’re out on the road and you’re staying up all night to drive to the next gig, those hours of sleep you’re losing could not only affect your performance the next night, but all of your performances to come until you’ve made up your sleep debt.

The importance of "sleeping on it"
Many of us have used the cliché of “sleeping on it” when we have an important decision to make and, as it turns out, there’s actually a lot of truth to this expression. One of the main benefits of sleep is that it helps consolidate our memories. “During sleep, recent memories, such as those of that day, are transferred to the higher cortical centers where they are consolidated into long-term memories,” Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg explained to Medical Daily.

Robert Stickgold, cognitive neuroscientist and director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Harvard Medical School, sees sleep as not only a key memory-making tool, but also as an essential process for stimulating creative thinking. Not only are people able to remember more from the day before after a good night’s sleep, he says, but they’re also able to come up with more of what he calls “creative intrusions.”

“You can gain these insights, when you didn’t even know there was an insight to find, just by sleeping on it,” he says in his TED talk on sleep, memory, and dreams. So while you may not actually be able to make a decision in your sleep, a good night’s sleep will help you remember more from the day before, and also help you identify new connections between those memories – a key skill for creative functioning and decision-making.

Learning while you sleep
All of this research shows that sleep clearly has its benefits, which begs the question: Can you actually learn while you’re asleep? The answer is yes and no.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, “sleep learning tapes” that promised to help people learn a new language or acquire some other new skill enjoyed a moment of popularity (there are even stories of drummers listening to metronomes playing polyrhythms while they slept to improve their drumming), but these methods have largely been disproven. What sleep does do, however, is help us make sense of what we’ve already learned – and this, it turns out, is where the real benefit for musicians lies.

“I discovered that sometimes if I worked on a piece and put it away, went to bed, and got some rest, I had it better learned than if I stayed up all night cramming,” opera singer Brad Cresswell tells the Radiolab podcast. It’s no coincidence that many musicians have had this exact same experience. The explanation, according to Dr. Giulio Tononi, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist who holds the David P. White Chair in Sleep Medicine, is that your brain performs a type of “sorting out process” while you’re asleep.

Dr. Tononi says that during sleep, there are waves of electrical activity called “slow oscillations” that essentially turn down the background noise in your brain. So say, for example, that you spent two hours practicing your instrument during the day, but you also performed a bunch of other activities, like talking to friends, watching a movie, and so on. If you concentrated more on practicing your instrument than anything else that day, that practice time is what will remain after those slow oscillations have cleaned up the background noise in your brain. This, according to Dr. Tononi, is why someone like Cresswell is better off getting a full night’s sleep than staying up late and practicing.

Musicians are known for being night owls, but if you’re serious about your craft, getting to bed earlier (or sleeping in later) could make a huge difference to your musical abilities. Without giving your brain enough time to consolidate memories, make connections, and clean up unnecessary information, you’re not allowing your brain to do all of the work it needs to do in order to truly learn something. This is on top of the decreased functioning that a chronic lack of sleep causes.

So next time you’re thinking about pulling an all-nighter in the studio or trading sleep for driving time while you’re on tour, remember how much better of a musician you’ll be with a good night’s sleep behind you.

Casey van Wensem is a freelance composer, musician, and writer living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada. You can hear his musical work at

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5 Guitars You Should Never Buy...

Courtesy of Jesse Sterling Harrison... 

Manufacturers are torn in two directions, trying to push the envelope of technology and playability while also striving to save money and increase their profits... 

Maybe your first guitar was grossly inadequate, and everything about it was blown away by the next instrument you bought yourself. More likely, that first axe colored your feelings about how a guitar should look, feel, and sound.

That’s why each guitar is a compromise. Here are some compromises that didn’t work.

1. This Gibson SG doubleneck
In case you ever feel the need to play 12-string and six-string parts on the same live song, and you also have almost $7,000 burning a hole in your pocket, there’s this monstrous Gibson. Canny players will ask a few pertinent questions before investing in this situation. For example, how does a player with only two arms mute the strings on the unused neck? Or is a third arm necessary to turn the volume all the way down when the switch is made? Otherwise, there might be some serious feedback going on, especially if you’re in the dirty channel.

Also, how much does this puppy weigh? Oh, 32 pounds. That may not sound like much, but it’s the equivalent of four gallon jugs of milk. Hanging around your neck. For an hour-long set. The regular SG with just one neck is no lightweight. This is just silly. Leave goofy multineck instruments to Spinal Tap. Or at least to Rick Nielsen.

2. This Dean SKY6 electric
Do you want the good news or the bad news? The good news: the price on this baby dropped by almost a thousand dollars while I was writing this article. The bad news: it still costs more than a minivan coming off lease.

For more bad news, just look at it. This looks like what might happen if Prince was frustrated with his guitar design team and they just started drawing random designs hoping he’d like one. He didn’t like this one. Also, for almost $15,000, can I at least get a rosewood fretboard? Although the alder body is nice.

3. Any guitar with friction pegs
One of the reasons that you’re a guitarist instead of a violinist? You want an instrument that you can accurately tune, and that stays in tune once you tune it. The first thing that’ll make you hang a guitar back on the guitar shop wall is if you find it has slippy tuning pegs and can’t handle a bent G-string without losing a few cents. Fortunately, almost all modern guitars are equipped with real, metal tuning machines and can hold a tune fine, unless they’ve been in a flood.

But if you ever feel drawn to the sound of nylon-string classical guitars, quite a few of them, like violins, come standard with friction pegs instead. These close-fitting wooden pegs have to be forcibly pushed into the headstock so they don’t lose tune. And with their one-to-one gear ratio, a quarter turn could be a minor third, making fine-tuning almost impossible.

If you find yourself struggling with the friction pegs on a nylon string, replace ‘em with real tuners, no matter what the aesthetic cost may be. After all, nobody ever hears your guitar slightly out of tune and says, “Close enough for classical.”

4. Any guitar with an aluminum body
Manufacturers who endeavored to be a little different have always played with materials, making guitars out of clear lucite and various metals. But there’s one problem with aluminum-bodied instruments: they’re freezing cold. Unless the air temperature is close to your body’s natural set point (we’re talking high 80s or above), that dense metal will suck the warmth right out of your hands. Play at room temperature and you’ll be catching frostbite in your living room.

This is the same reason you should buy cold drinks in cans instead of plastic bottles during high summer: you can hold the ice-cold can against your forehead before you drink, but there’s nothing refreshing or ice-cold about a plastic bottle. And there’s nothing refreshing about an ice-cold guitar.

This is not to say you should avoid dobros or National guitars. They’ve been made with metal bodies forever, but these acoustic instruments use much thinner metal, with warm air behind it, so the chilling effect is minimized. Plus, they’re typically played in Nashville or points south, where it’s hot anyway.

5. Acoustic guitars with "laminate" or "hardwood" bodies
Take a look at your Walmart computer desk you bought for $125 last year. Remember when you and your partner spent the whole afternoon trying to assemble it, matching tab A with grommet B? You probably broke a piece or two, because that desk isn’t made of wood – it’s made of a composite of wood dust and glue, the stuff they sweep off the workshop floor after dimensional lumber is cut. If trees were made of this stuff, they would never make it through the winter.

That composite is what “laminate” guitars are made of. Just like how that “fruit drink” you buy for 50 cents a gallon has no fruit inside it, this laminate is a wood “product,” resembling real wood but lacking its strength, density, or sonic properties. Sometimes manufacturers also call this stuff “hardwood.”

True, some decent electric guitars have bodies made from this amalgam, but no respectable acoustic uses it. The solid wood top of an acoustic is what produces its singing tone and good sustain, and you won’t get that from pulp. Save a few pennies and invest in a real wood acoustic. Your music deserves it… and deserves better than any of these battle axes.

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Jesse Sterling Harrison is an author, recording artist, and part-time farmer. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, three daughters, and a herd of ducks.

Shut Out Distractions and Get in the Zone...

Courtesy of Anthony Cerullo... 

Ever just 'zone out' when rehearsing, recording or playing live? ...It can happen, and at the worst of times. Thankfully, there are a few ways to control your focus and stay musically on-track...

Whether it's music, work, or socializing, we've all been guilty of tuning someone out. Sometimes it's because we simply lack interest, or sometimes we're just feeling spacey.

When listening to a friend tell a boring story for the hundredth time or playing the same guitar part every night, it's understandable why the brain wants to zone out. But while the brain may be thoroughly enjoying this vacation, it's not necessarily a good thing to do while practicing, recording, rehearsing, or performing-live onstage.

How distractions affect musicianship
Playing a gig can be an exciting experience, but it's certainly a different environment than at home in the practice room. Whether playing for a crowd of hundreds, or for just two people shooting pool at a small bar-gig, there will be some form of distraction plaguing you onstage.

Your own brain is likely the biggest enemy here. The brain is responsible for things like performance anxiety and anything else that attempts to distract you from the music itself. Add in the factors of the given environment and it's easy to see why many musicians have trouble focusing.

That being said, there is a key to overcoming these distractions. You must have dedicated focus on the things that matter the most when onstage, which is, in this case, the music.

Saying "just focus more" isn't much help, though. When under pressure, it becomes more difficult to pay attention to what matters most. On top of that, most musicians have never practiced working on the ability to maintain focus. Even if you do know what to focus on, a lack of experience makes this a difficult task.

The end result is a musician onstage who looks like he's playing and listening, but instead, he's just taking part in a mindless act of repetition. Just because you may be hearing the music, doesn't mean you're necessarily listening to it.

What you should be thinking about onstage?
So what should you think about while onstage?
...It's quite simple, actually.

#1). For one, ignore the past. So you just played a wrong note. Who cares? It already happened. Stressing out about it won't send you back in time to fix that note. Just let it be and move on.

#2). Secondly, ignore the future. Yes, the future is coming up, but the future won't be very good without the present. There's our answer: Complete focus onstage lies within presence.

#3). The present is the only thing we have control over, so it makes sense to put all effort here. Some may think that presence means focusing on just technique or the mechanics of the instrument. Micromanaging every little detail of your playing has no place onstage. Save that for practice.

When you're onstage, presence means increasing your awareness. It'll help to concentrate on the subtle delicacies of the music itself. You should be thinking how to craft your unique voice in a way that fits beautifully in with the others around you.

Being in "the Zone"
Once this feeling of being "fully present" happens, musicians will find themselves in a realm referred to as "the zone." It's likely you've been there before. Be it by mistake or through concentrated effort, the zone is the ideal performance state. Here, musicians have an effortless flow to their playing that leads to a great performance.

Ideally, this is how every musician wants to play and it's actually quite obtainable – with a little practice, of course. However, this is not the type of practice you may be used to. They're a time and place for technical practice, but for this particular situation, we're going to examine a mental kind of practice.

The Art of Being in a State of "Mindfulness"
Psychologists are becoming increasingly aware of a concept called mindfulness. Essentially, it's a state of mind in which we purposely pay attention to the present moment. Using mindfulness, musicians can completely absorb themselves in the music at hand and enter that cherished state of "flow." How to get in "the zone"

Alright, so we've been talking up "the zone" quite a bit. It may sound like a mythical tale spun by the musicians of years past but alas, it's real. Like most things of value, getting in the zone takes a bit of work. It's not as simple as just closing your eyes and chanting a mantra like you see in the movies. There are various listening exercises musicians can try to work out their focus "muscles." So find time in your day that you can dedicate to silence and isolation.

Bring your instrument of choice and attempt these steps:

Take a long hard look at your instrument. Hopefully, you enjoy playing it. Perhaps you even have a favorite note of yours on there. Think of that note. If a zombie apocalypse happened and you were stuck in a panic room with one note for the rest of your life, which note would it be? Take some time to ponder.

Once you've determined your zombie apocalypse note, try playing it. That's right, play it. After all, you have the instrument right in front of you, so just give it a go. Don't crank it up to 11 and blast that note across the world – just start off slow. Take your time, breathe slowly, and really focus on the intricacies of that note. Try to sustain it as consistently and long as possible.

Now, listen to that note. Really listen to it. Don't treat it like the sound of a passing car or dog barking in the distance. Listen attentively to it. Pretend it's the first time you've ever heard that note and it has taken your full attention. Observe how it sounds when you first play it, and then how it plays out in the room. Listen to how it resonates and, eventually, how it lingers after you stop playing.

Think about how it sounded. This isn't a competition. Don't judge if it was a good sound or bad sound; just think about how it sounds. The point is to let your thoughts be completely taken over by this sound and the present moment.

This exercise will feel strange at first. After all, you're alone listening to one note over and over. Once you get past the ridiculousness of it all, though, you may find a deep feeling of focus take over you. You'll realize you're so caught up in this one note that there's no other room for distracting thoughts.

Like most things, the more you practice this, the easier it will become. Once you've mastered complete focus in this environment, you'll be ready to bring that same concentration to your studies, your rehearsals, the recording studio or live on-stage. The best part is that doing this work will ultimately improve your performance more than you might ever have imagined.

Anthony Cerullo is a nomadic freelance writer and keyboard player. In his spare time, he can be found reading, hiking mountains, and lying in hammocks for extended periods of time.

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3 Ways Music Can Improve Your Life...

Courtesy of Katie Medlock... 

Research into the profound effects of listening to music is not new. Science has proved how the right tunes can help with everything from work productivity to dementia...

Emerging science shows that the range of perks expands even further, including everything from experiencing stress-busting benefits at live shows to improving the lives of cancer patients.

1). Music Therapy
A review of studies on music therapy used for cancer patients found that symptoms were eased with some enjoyable tunes. Anxiety, pain and even fatigue were all affected by the presence of music. Patients were also found to have lower blood pressure and heart and respiratory rates.

Joke Bradt, PhD, study author and associate professor in Drexel University‘s College of Nursing and Health Professions, stated, “The results of single studies suggest that music listening may reduce the need for anesthetics and analgesics, as well as decreased recovery time and duration of hospitalization.” Continued research will show just how far the scope music therapy has on cancer patients.

2). Stress Reduction
Another study from the Centre for Performance Science at the Royal College of Music in London has pioneered research into live concerts and their effects on stress. What they have found is that live music reduces some of the hormones associated with rising anxiety levels, very similarl to other types of musical practices. Authors of the study state, “This is the first preliminary evidence that attending a cultural event can have an impact on endocrine activity.”

The endocrine system is complicated, yet there are certain hormones associated with stress levels. The study found significant reductions in cortisone and cortisol after participants had spent some time enjoying live music by composer Eric Whitacre. These results indicate that a sense of relaxation and calm is a bonus perk of music festival prices of admission.

3). Watching Live Music
Live music can also improve life satisfaction, according to a new study out of Australia. Participants reported an increased sense of happiness and quality of life after experiencing a live show. Being a part of a communal activity is thought to be what makes this sensation so real, as opposed to listening to music solo.

There is still time for plenty of outdoor musical adventures and to enjoy a state of bliss alongside your fellow concertgoers. There are also tons of other ways to revel in the health benefits of listening to tunes, so incorporating your own version of music therapy into your daily life could mean lower stress, increased relaxation and more overall happiness.

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