When clients walk through the door for music therapy at Balance Stress Management and Therapy they can expect a personalized experience from their very first visit.  Our board certified music therapist surveys each client’s unique preferences in music in order to customize every music therapy session.   Part of the reason for this is because of the clinical nature of our work at Balance where assessment, treatment planning and goal setting are key to successful change.  But also because there is a psychology of musical preference.  Skilled music therapists find ways to use your preferred music to enhance the the relaxation response.    In fact, musical preference is very important in whether or not the music will even elicit a relaxation response.  For example, while one person might find Kenny G’s smooth jazz relaxing, another might feel anxious or trapped in an elevator. (insert read more tag…)

A recent study published in the Journal of Music Therapy found that musical preference was significantly correlated with perceived degree of relaxation (Tan, Yowler, Super & Fratianne, 2012).   What that means is that the more someone liked a certain song or type of music, the more relaxed they reported they felt.   The same study also demonstrated that music preference had a greater influence on the degree of relaxation compared to familiarly of music played (Tan et al., 2012).  So even songs that were very familiar to the listeners did not help them relax as much as the songs that were their stated preferences in music.   So, the music you like most and how often you practice with that music will influence how relaxed you’ll feel whenever that music is played.  Simple.  Right?

Well, how do you determine which kind of music you prefer?  And once you figure that out, how can you practice relaxation to  music?

Here are three easy ways to discover the most relaxing music for you:

  1. START PAYING ATTENTION – The good thing is that most music listening platforms or app software have the ability to recommend similar artists to those you might already be listening to.  So start paying attention to what’s being suggested for you when you feel relaxed while listening to music.  Then, branch out to try some new artists you might like. Build a playlists of those that help you sigh, release emotion or think of a memory.  Can’t think of any?  Look up the soundtrack from your favorite movies.
  2. SPEAKING OF MEMORIES – Think of the happiest or hardest times of your life when you turned to music to discover more about yourself or connect to the experience at hand:  your wedding day, your child’s birth, your life as a single young person, the day of first job or graduation, the loss of a loved one.  There are so many examples of ways we can use memories to connect  the songs or artist that are most meaningful to us.  Create a playlist that is titled “the best day of my life/ or the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”  See where that inspiration takes you.
  3. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY -as you try to relax find something that you feel matches your body’s need.  Are you finding it hard to quiet the mental chatter?  Than perhaps you need to start with an active piece of music that matches the rhythm of your thoughts or has lyrics that will help organize your mind before you can release and relax.  Do you find that you want to sleep after relaxation?  Then choose an instrumental piece of music that is less active and more spa like so you can drift off to sleep without a tempo controlling your breathing as it deepens and deepens and you become weightless.

So just remember, your memories and emotions are uniquely tied to music and only you know which type of music makes you feel most relaxed at any given moment.  So choose wisely and you’ll see an impact.  If you still think you might need help discovering the most powerful relaxation music for you, a board certified music therapist can help you make selections that will guide you towards your goals for stress management and relaxation.  Carefully chosen relaxation music can be a beautiful catalyst for balanced wellness by helping to access feelings.  Learn more about how music therapy can help you cope through life’s challenges such as depression, anxiety, fear and even grief or loss.  Contact Us Today to arrange a music therapy intake.

Tan, X., Yowler, C.J., Super, D.M., Fratianne, R.B., (2012).  The Interplay of Preference, Familiarity and Psychophysical Properties in Defining
Relaxation Music.  Journal of Music Therapy, 49)(2), 150-179.