Today (June 21) is World Music Day, or, as it’s also known, International Music Day – a day which seeks to celebrate music in all its guises, from the sheer love of playing and/or listening to music, to the far-reaching benefit its can bring people beyond the realm of pure entertainment. Headliner takes a look at the history of the phenomenon and why we all should honour it.
The origins of World Music Day can be traced back to a certain Jack Lang, the French Minister of Culture who, in 1981, came up with the idea of celebrating the musical talents of ordinary people, leading to the inaugural Fête de la Musique in Paris the following year.
Since then, it has become a day celebration in over 120 countries, whereby amateur and professional musicians alike are encouraged to perform, with all concerts staged free of charge to make music universally accessible. What’s more, in recent years, the emphasis has not so much shifted, but expanded to encompass not just people’s passion for music, but the health and wellbeing benefits it can also bring to people, irrespective of style, genre and ability levels.
In a new interview with music and pro audio giant Sennheiser, Dr Julia Jones – an entrepreneur, author, musician, and communicator who has spent over 30 years studying the effects of music on peoples’ health and wellbeing – discussed the significance of World Music Day and why it deserves to be observed.
“The health benefits associated with music engagement is well documented and the body of evidence has grown significantly over the past decade,” said Jones. “This has been accompanied by official recognition by government bodies, the music industry and the World Health Organisation.
“Music is being recognised as much more than mere entertainment. The soundwaves and vibrations absorbed by us during listening (and created by us during singing) trigger action potentials that electro-chemically activate almost all regions of our brain.”
Jones also noted that among the health benefits that have been identified are pain management, mood regulation, decreased agitation, improved posture, improved cognitive health, boosted self-esteem, increased lung function, improved sleep quality and positive neuroplasticity, to name but a few.
“The act of creation and composition also delivers profound health benefits,” she continued. “Creativity has been the subject of increasing attention by researchers in recent years. Unlike some tasks there is no specific brain region that drives creativity. It involves multiple brain circuits on both sides of the brain.
“It’s becoming evident that as a professional musician or composer you are building and maintaining a brain that is highly networked,” Jones added. “This is known as plasticity and maintaining this high density of brain connections throughout life helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline.”
So, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of learning a musical instrument, or dusting one off after years of neglect, today might not be a bad day to do so.