Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

GUEST COLUMN: Live music is the real deal

Published on

David Nichols

There is a growing evidence to show that listening to live music concerts is not only pleasurable, but a benefit to your physical and emotional health.

All of the positive impacts of listening to music are augmented when the music is live. Music promotes relaxation, sharpens our thinking processes, and even alleviates anxieties. Music therapy is more effective with live music, and children learn better when they hear live music at their music lessons.

In Perfecting Sound Forever, Greg Milner quotes a striking comment by Dr. John Diamond, who writes, “The only way that digital music can exist is because we have lost touch with our feelings. To imagine that the Berlin Philharmonic is in your room is a form of psychosis, somehow.”

Digital reduction provides only a sampling of the original live sound. It gives the listener a close enough concept of a certain instrument or voice to make you believe you are hearing the real thing. The more you hear the sampling, the more your auditory system causes you to believe it is authentic.

Oliver Sacks, the celebrated neurologist and author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings, comments on the restorative effects of live music on Alzheimer’s patients in his book, Musicophilia: “Music is no luxury to them, but a necessity, and can have a power beyond anything else to restore them to themselves, and to others, at least for a while.”

Sacks concludes from his many case studies that music is the only human activity that permeates every part of our brain, and we should experience music as fully as possible. I know from personal experience that my piano performances at the retirement and nursing homes have very positive effects.

We are very fortunate to live in a city that has always had a reputation for promoting live music. That Sarnia tradition continues with such groups as the Sarnia Concert Association, International Symphony Orchestra, Bluewater Big Band, Lambton County Music Festival, Lawrence House Centre for the Arts and the many performances sponsored by the Imperial Theatre.

Many volunteers are working hard to keep our musical heritage alive, and they need your support and your presence.

Many people find over the years they have stopped listening to music, even at home, and wonder why. They find that returning to the live concert hall revitalizes their interest in music and they begin to enjoy music once again.

There are many opportunities to get out and listen to one of the many live concerts our community provides. Improve your health and reawaken your love of music.

David J. Nichols is the former head of the Northern Collegiate music department and an Associate Composer at the Canadian Music Centre



More like this