Rumplestiltskin’s Concerto No. 3 for Femur

The scene is outside of a remote village in Slovenia, in a cave. The time is somewhere between 60,000 & 30,000 years ago. The object we see before us appears to be the femur of a cave bear. This is no ordinary femur, however. Note the evenly spaced holes along the center, likely Neanderthal engineering at its best, but for what purpose? Madonna said of it, in 2000, that it makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel. Alabama, the country group, said it was best played on a mountain, in the style of one’s grandma and grandpa. In the 70’s, Don McClean told us the day it died he went on a road trip to a dry levee, in his Chevy no less. There may have been whiskey and rye involved. Yes, we’re talking about music; what it means, what it does, how it makes us feel, and how it has shaped us.

From a scientific perspective, music is downright medicinal. When the first bars of your favorite song register with your brain, molecules of dopamine, the brain’s pleasure chemical, begin to form. Simply put, music you like makes you feel good. When you feel better, you respond more favorably to things around you, initiating a lower stress level. Musicians receive even more benefits. Studies of the brains of professional musicians show more symmetry than the average noggin. Their brain segments responsible for things like motor control, special coordination, and even auditory processing are larger than average. If you’ve ever heard about a possible connection between music and better math skills, this is the origin of that claim. In a NY Times recent article, results from an office cubicle environment study proved that employees allowed to listen to music with ear buds while they worked were far more productive than those who only worked with a symphony of office background noise. So, basically, music makes everything better, unless you’re a pro musician, in which case, you’re super human. The experts have spoken.

 

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