We caught up with neurological music therapist Bethany Best.
We all love a good set when we find one. They have a magic little knack for keeping a groovy beat for hours at a time, no matter what the genre is. As it turns out, a banging set can do much more than put you in a grouse mood. According to science, listening to a music set can do wonders for your brain too.
Sets are mostly made up of consistent tempos or BPMs. When your brain listens to a consistent beat, it activates neural pathways, enhancing your ability to be attentive. Providing you’re listening to a solid set you enjoy, you’ve got yourself a shortcut to keeping your focus on point. With attention spans like sieves, most of us can hold attention for just a few moments before we’re distracted. Fortunately, sets can be a great solution.
Bethany Best is a neurologic music therapist, specialising in music for cognition. She says that a consistent BPM can improve our ability to concentration on tasks. “It will definitely help modulate or regulate your arousal state or attention,” she says.
“Music helps with awareness, motivation and concentration,” Best says. “If you’re needing that arousal to get motivated, pop on a good song to get you going.”
Within a set, the constant movement of the BPM can clear the way for more productive thought. And, according to Best, it has the power to increase our creativity too.
“It can keep you concentrated on the tasks,” she says. “It’s that element of the music that isn’t changing, so it helps you stay focused. This means you can come up with a broader range of ideas.”
But you can’t listen to something that’s too complex. Even lyrical content can be detrimental to your focus, dividing your attention between your activity and the song.
Listening to songs with complex structures can also conflict with your attention, inhibiting your auditory processing systems, bombarding you with sensory information and causing overload.
Your ability to stay attentive depends a lot of your personal preference for the music and, equally, the task at hand. The time of day can have an impact, too.
“In the afternoon, we feel a bit tired. So, putting on a bit more fast-paced music will increase your neural pathways for arousal and attention,” says Best.
“You want to choose the music that will slightly heighten your mood.” So, whether it be a classic uplifting and groovy like Moodymann or something darker and more left-field like Tornado Wallace, picking the perfect set is something you’ll have to discover for yourself. Anytime you stumble across a set that you vibe with, take note – it could be more beneficial for you than you originally thought.