Viva La Musica

Written by: Dan Kuksa on Monday, July 15, 2013

In a little under three weeks I was about to enter my first day of “all-day-long” school...the 1st grade. I was totally unaware of the fact that approximately 1,000 miles away “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 days of Peace & Music” was about to get underway.

32 separate acts. 400,000 concert goers. Woodstock. Powerful stuff music can be. The ability to make you cry, laugh, love, hate, reminisce, and even sometimes...forget. A casual part of some lives, but influential for many others. Music. It’s all around us. Even at work.

Our firm (HTH) enjoys it’s music. We even post a vinyl album track of the week to Facebook every Friday morning. The American Transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson even penned a poem titled “Music”:

It is not only in the rose,
It is not only in the bird,
Not only where the rainbow glows,
Nor in the song of woman heard,
But in the darkest, meanest things
There always, always something sings.

The intangible effects of music are everywhere. But there is also research to back up some of our casual observations. Dr. Adrian North, of the University of Leicester, from 1922 to 1997, published many of his findings regarding the effect of music in the workplace. North found that music can:

  • Raise employee morale
  • Improve employees’ physical health (thus potentially reducing sick days)
  • Improve employees’ willingness to co-operate with one another

In separate studies music has also been found to enhance intelligence, learning, and over-all IQ levels. It was also found that listening to upbeat music can effectively eliminate fatigue symptoms caused by monotonous work. The Journal of Neuroscience of Behavior and Physiology also determined that a person’s ability to recognize visual images, including letters and numbers, is faster when either rock or classical music is playing in the background...Jimi Hendrix and Mozart help create better accountants? That’s what I’m talking about!

All the research is “...fine and dandy...” you may say, but music is a distraction to me during the work day. O.K., that’s a valid feeling...but maybe you’ve never had the chance to tune into your own musical “sweet spot”! Diversify I say! Get the iPod out, or Pandora, Tune-in Radio, or whatever your digital jukebox preference may be.

Start by getting feedback from the crew about their tastes in music. Get a consensus...and then set it on auto-pilot! Everyone will be happy at some point (except if you’re a law firm and someone decides Black Sabbath is their go to artist). The point is that there is ample evidence that music can create a more vibrant, creative, and focused work environment. Here are a few more findings from research conducted by VisionCritical back in April of 2012:

  • 55% of work staff feel less self-conscious talking to other employees, customers, and clients when music is being played
  • 85% of work staff believe the working environment is much more relaxed when music is being played
  • 74% of work staff enjoy going to work when good music is being played
  • 62% believe they can positively influence the behavior of employees through the playing of music
  • 87% say playing music in the workplace improves morale
  • 71% say it relieves tension and awkward silences in the workplace
  • 86% agree employees are happier when music is played

To further “ram home” my point, Peggy Rostron, (New Horizons for Learning) from the John Hopkins University School of education, states:

“Of all the art forms, music can be considered the most pure because it bypasses the intellect and affects us on a cellular level. Our bodies literally transmit sound vibration, and are profoundly and subtly affected by the music we hear, as well as other sounds in the environment.”

I do not profess to being a Musicologist. It’s really more about feeling good when, say, a Jack Johnson tune comes on. When I feel good I am productive. As a matter of fact the staff is working away to “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5 as I write. The moods are good. The smiles are wide. The people are productive. Time to end it here with a line from the Doobie Brothers tune “Listen to the Music”:

What the people need
is a way to make them smile,
It ain’t so hard to do if you know how,
Gotta get a message
Get it on through
Oh, Oh...Listen to the Music.

Dan Kuksa

1860 W. Winchester Road , Suite 103, Libertyville, IL 60048