Parenting & Schools
Business
Happiness Exercises
Health
Relationships
Home » All, Happiness Exercises, Pathway 1 "Pleasure", Positive Feelings, Savoring / In-the-Moment, _1 Positive Experiences

Mozart and Minidiscs

By on March 22, 2007 – 1:59 am  14 Comments

Derrick Carpenter, MAPP '07, is a founder of Vive Training where he coaches individuals and corporate clients on creating high-engagement lifestyles through physical and psychological wellness. Full bio.

Derrick's articles are here.



Roughly 30 million Americans do it every week. And I hate to admit being one of them.

But watching American Idol has become a habit for many people as the show has grown into an icon of modern culture. Why do so many people watch? Perhaps they tune in to hear the judges share uplifting aphorisms grounded in positive psychology (insert sarcastically-raised eyebrows here). Or perhaps, I like to think, there’s just something special about music that we connect with emotionally unlike anything else.

What Does Music Do For Us?

Great music energizes us, inspires us, and brings us together. Some music makes us want to dance while other songs encourage us into pensive sadness. Even terrible music captivates us with laughter and shock, as proven by contestants on the initial Idol audition episodes. Music is a ubiquitous feature of celebrations and rituals throughout the world and history.

Music adds something to our lives. Now that spring is here, take a walk through your favorite nature trail or outdoor area soon—do it once in silence and once listening to, for example, Vivaldi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons. It becomes a totally different experience. We all have favorite songs and know lyrics and melodies that bring back robust memories. Fred Bryant and his colleagues have shown that reminiscing on past positive events is an effective method of savoring that increases happiness and life enjoyment. Music that takes us back can be a powerful positive psychology tool.

A few entrepreneurs have even grown rich off the commonly believed Mozart effect—the hypothesis that listening to Mozart compositions makes us smarter. But this effect has been shown as an artifact of the positive mood induced by the music [1], and you’ll perform just as well on intelligence tests after hearing a classic rock song you really enjoy. The news that there was nothing special about Mozart’s music in particular seemed to dishearten people. I couldn’t understand this. We know that there exists a plenitude of benefits to experiencing positive emotions, and music has been shown as one fairly reliable pathway to feel good. So why don’t we use music to increase our moods on a more consistent basis?

IPods versus Minidiscs

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the midst of a healthy debate over iPods. I don’t have one and doubt I ever will, and my friend couldn’t understand this. As far as he was concerned, iPods are currently the best technology in the music world. For years, I’ve been carrying around an oversized, overused minidisc player. Minidiscs are essentially small CD’s that were introduced in the early 1990’s by Sony and became fairly popular in Japan. A minidisc holds the same amount of music as an average CD at approximately 74 minutes.

When I began arguing for my minidiscs, I was already sure that Barry Schwartz’s paradox of choice was the driving force behind my anti-iPod sentiments. I knew if I could carry with me 1,200 of my favorite songs, I’d constantly be looking for the perfect song and skipping songs after only 30 seconds of listening. This would limit any real chance I had at genuine savoring. Carrying only 20 or so songs on a minidisc eliminated this problem.

A Musical Diary

As I explained this to my friend, however, I began to see a deeper reasoning for my minidisc attachment. Not only do I carry just one minidisc with me at a given moment, but I usually invest serious time in making a disc and will listen to it for a few weeks, if not months. During that time, I’ll make a conscious effort to listen most often during positive emotional peaks or times when I feel particularly inspired or elevated. And after a period of time, those 20 songs will feel old to me and I’ll create an entirely new disc for the next few weeks, rarely revisiting the old one. But it is those rare revisits that are the key. By listening to the same 20 songs over and over for a few weeks during my best and most positive moments, I deeply associate the events, emotions, and experiences of that time period to those songs. And now if I pop a disc labeled “Fall 2001” into my oversized player, I am instantly taken back to a rich, vivid series of memories of all the things that mattered to me at that time. A musical diary, if you will.

My minidisc routine, albeit esoteric and quirky, brings music into my life in a powerful way that helps me to build intense positive emotions. I suppose the message I wish to convey in this post is that music can be an incredibly powerful catalyst in enhancing the quality of our lives. I hope that you have your own esoteric and quirky rituals around music and that you even have a few guilty pleasure songs. I hope you have special songs that symbolize bonds you have with special people in your life. And I hope you have found a few songs that truly celebrate who you are.

As for American Idol‘s ability to increase viewers’ positive affect? You’ll just have to tune in and decide for yourself.
 


 

Bryant, F. & Veroff, J. (2007) Savoring: A new model of positive experience.. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schwartz, B. (2004). The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. New York: Ecco.

Thompson, W. F., Schellenberg, E. G., & Husain, G. (2001). Arousal, mood, and the Mozart effect. Psychological Science, 12(3), 248-251.

Image
Minidisc courtesy of kurichan+

14 Comments »

  • Senia says:

    Hi Derrick,
    Neat new positive intervention (positive exercise) – to focus on a certain set of 20-30 songs and just enjoy them for a significant time. (Plus then you always have your history too of what you were listening to and enjoying at different parts of your life – Neat.)
    I’m a big fan of your title: Mozart and Minidisks.
    Best,
    S.

  • Christine Duvivier says:

    Hi Derrick,

    I didn’t know about the new information disputing the “Mozart” part of the “Mozart effect.” Thanks for telling me- -it makes total sense to me and now I won’t feel guilty when I read something about the Mozart effect and remember that I didn’t fill my kids’ lives with Mozart. They certainly were filled with lots of great music.

    I love your point about your minidiscs. And whatever works for you…

    I have to say, though, I am an ipod fanatic– I think it is the single best invention of the past 100 years. If you ever decide to try it, you can do with “play lists” what you do with minidiscs– and in less time. I love your way of savoring by connecting specific music with specific time periods.
    Christine

  • Dave Shearon says:

    Neat, Derrick! I like the idea of being able to associate with a past time through music. Wonder if that’s why oldies stations stayed around so long as those of us in the baby boom generation aged? I note they seem to be going away now, but don’t know why. Anyway, I’ve always thought it funny that not only my two boys, but their friends also know most of the same oldies, many of which I enjoy.

  • Paul G Cognata says:

    If you’re looking for some references on the so-called Mozart Effect, have a read of the following articles in the order they are listed, and they will give you a sense of the chronology:

    Rauscher, F., Shaw, G. & Ky, K. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature 365, 6447. p. 611.

    Chabris, C. (1999). Prelude or requiem for the Mozart Effect? Nature 400, 6747, pp. 826-7.

    Steele, K., Dalla Bella, S., Peretz, I., Dunlop, T., Dawe, L., Humphrey, K., Shannon, R., Kirby, J. Jr. & Olmstead, C. (1999). Prelude or requiem for the Mozart Effect? Nature 400, 6747. p. 827.

    Rauscher, F. (1999). Reply to prelude or requiem for the Mozart Effect. Nature 400, 6747. pp. 827-8.

    Jenkins, J.S. (2001). The Mozart Effect. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 94. pp. 170-2.

  • […] A few weeks ago, I had made plans to run on the university track after a day at work. I wasn’t planning to run far—just a few laps. I walked to the stadium in my shorts and running shoes, minidisc player in hand, only to find the track had closed for the afternoon. Slightly dismayed and preparing to do my usual routine on the treadmill at the gym, I began walking back to my office and suddenly decided that this might be the perfect opportunity to jog along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia through Fairmount Park. I had wanted to explore the park and river for months, but had not found the time. It was a beautiful May evening and, inspired by the scenery, I ran farther than I should have. My water bottle quickly emptied and I grew overwhelmed by thirst. I developed a bad, throbbing blister on my big toe. I desperately needed to find a restroom. My experienced pleasure was nothing worth telling a story about, but my remembered pleasure of the evening—tied to images of the lush greenery, the gardens and sculptures, the rowers on the river—is amazing. It soon became a small adventure that highlighted my spring in Philadelphia. […]

  • The Self-Directed IRA: Why to Invest Your IRA Beyond Stocks, Bond & Mutual Funds…

    Diverting a portion of your savings into an IRA is a real no-brainer. So much so that, according to the latest figures, the average IRA account today contains well over $25,000….

  • life insurance…

    A good colleague of mine, Clever Dude , just hosted the# 103 edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance which I suggest you check out. First off, some serious props to CD because he themed it really well (24 anyone?) Â  and it is obvious he put …

  • investing foreign currency…

    Is Your Partner Check it out and find the To a beginner, most guitars from outside investors and developers alike. As with all signs, Horses have numerous calls coming from the same results in a short period of Also if \”content is king\” then thro…

  • fx trading course…

    Whenever the new year rolls around car companies get excited and start their marketing on their latest models. We, as consumers, have a natural reaction of actually wanting the latest models. People who buy new cars are actually wasting so much money b…

  • foreign currency training…

    Again life is never that easy as precious metals also took a hit over the summer as the massive currency interventions caught the market off guard in thin summer trading. But that does surely leave gold and particularly silver at exceptionally attracti…

  • forex trading…

    Kuwait’ s investment fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority, or KIA, was founded in 1953, making it one of the oldest sovereign funds in the Middle East, if not the world. It manages an estimated 225 billion worth of assets and, because of falling pri…

  • auto trade forex…

    The fundamental Forex method takes currency into account all aspects of the country in which the currency The technical Forex vision does not try to make long term predictions about the market but instead forex software review job description forex tra…

  • Forex Broker says:

    Forex Broker…

    As an individual having a potential of becoming a successful forex trader, make sure you carefully understand all about forex trading before investing your money. Opening a free trial demo account……

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.