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Music & Mood: Musings from Songwriter & Therapist

MUSIC & MOOD: MUSINGS FROM A SONGWRITER & THERAPIST

At first look it may seem that songwriting and psychotherapy  have little in common. But the older I get, the more I see the connections between my two “careers”.  Songwriting is my personal expression of emotion and thoughts, and fulfills my desire to connect with others in a meaningful way. My hope is that my songs will help you feel more hope, faith, relief, joy in your life…Music can be a powerful tool to help achieve a desired emotional state.

My work as a psychotherapist helps others express and make sense of their emotions and relationships. People generally come to me for therapy because they don’t like how the feel in at least one aspect of their life and want to “feel better”.

Emotional expression and connection tie both of my careers together. They are also what tie my family life together. They tie my life together.

THE POWER OF MUSIC

Music parallels all human emotions and can help us manage our feelings and change our emotions to a more desirable state. Your emotional response to a piece of music depends on your past musical experiences, the meaning of certain sounds on your culture. Today the soft hits of the 60s-90s are considered “easy listening music”, but at the time they were released they was considered edgy, even revolutionary.

Music is present in all cultures throughout time. It is used to bind groups of people together, such as signing hymns with a religious congregation or singing the National Anthem to promote patriotism. Through shared emotional experiences, music indelibly links your memories allowing you to emotionally revisit certain life events simply by listening to a few bars of the song that you associate with that time.

While there are many elements in music, rhythm is an important one that promotes movement or stillness in our bodies. On one end of the spectrum is Dance music, designed to elicit movement. In the middle of the rhythmical spectrum are ballads with slower rhythm that have a more neutral bodily movement response. One the other end of the spectrum is music without rhythm, collections of sounds that flow. Generally, music from the classical era, 1800’s, like Bach, and Mozart, is highly rhythmically organized and tends to promote brain activity, rather than physical activity, thus the term “the Mozart effect”.

IMPROVE YOUR MOOD THROUGH MUSIC

Here are a few suggestions for using music to improve your mood based on my own musical experiences and genre preferences. I’d love to hear your playlist suggestions!

1-STRESSED– Songs to help you relax

Look for music that has minimal rhythm, soothing tones, sounds from nature, organic instrumentation.
Recommended Genres: New Age, Classical, Acoustic Singer/Songwriters, Smooth Jazz

iTunes Playlist:

Liquid Mind – VIII Breath in Me
Claude Debussy – Suite Bergamasque: Claire de Lune
Mindy Gledhill – If I Had No Songs
Beth Nielsen Chapman – I’ll Give My Heart
Chris Botti – When I Fall in Love

2-LAZY – Songs to help you get moving

Select music that has a steady, driving beat, high energy feel, hopeful lyrics.
Recommended Genres: Dance, Oldies, Pop, Hip Hop, Electronic, Jazz

iTunes Playlist:

Beach Boys – Surfing USA
Kaskade – Face the Music (Kaskade Club Mix)
Glee Cast – Tell Me Something Good (Glee Cast Version)
Owl City – Fireflies
Destiny’s Child -Survivor

3- FRUSTRATED – Songs to help you find more joy/peace

Find songs with up-tempo rhythm, happy music, lyrics that give you a perspective shift, major chord structures.
Recommended Genres – Blues, Country, Folk, Alternative, Singer/Songwriter

iTunes Playlist

Sara Evans – Born To Fly
James Brown – I Got You I Feel Good
Tim McGraw – Watch the Wind Blow By
Nickel Creek – This Side
The Submarines – You, Me and the Bourgeoisie

4-DOWN– Songs that bring hope

Look for music with major chord structures, hopeful lyrics, authentic vocalists, and organic arrangements that life your spirit.
Recommended Genres – Indie pop, singer/songwriter, hopeful country, Gospel/Inspirational

iTunes playlist

Joy Williams – Sunny Day
Tyrone Wells – And the Birds Sing
Ryan Shupe – Dream Big
Jason Mraz – Life is Wonderful
Glee Cast – Don’t Stop Believing
Natalie Grant – Held

5-LONELY – Songs to help you feel more connected

Focus on hopeful lyrics, lyrics with relationship themes, and remind you of when you felt historically more connected in your relationships.
Recommended Genres – Country, Pop, Rock, Jazz

iTunes playlist

Mary Chapin Carpenter – I Have A Need For Solitude
Carrie Underwood – Temporary Home
John Mayer – Half of My Heart
Micheal Buble – Haven’t Met You Yet
Jordan Sparks – One Step At A Time
Miles Davis – You’re My Everything
The Remnant – Know This

Thank you to my dad Lex de Azevedo and my friend Krista Maurer for playlist suggestions!

How do you use music to improve your mood? Please share your iPod playlists for certain emotions.

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