Diverse music is the food of life: Play on

Moira Duffy
Listening to different music genres activates different sections of the brain and can lead to positive effects such as enhanced performance in stressful times, creativity, appreciation for music theory, higher self-esteem and happiness.

Unlike other kids my age, instead of listening to rap or the tunes that’ll come on the radio when I listen to KISS FM, I favor Bob Dylan or Wilderado.  But I’ll also sprinkle in a healthy dose of Fall Out Boy or 5 Seconds of Summer.

My sister puts me on blast all the time for my diverse music choice.  How can someone go from listening to “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton one minute to belting out “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond the next?  She says “pick a genre and stick with it.” But is listening to a singular music genre good for you?

When talking about diversifying your music tastes, it’s good to start with the brain.  Different parts of the brain interact with different parts of music. There are specific parts that interact with the processes of emotion, pitch, volume and the release of dopamine.  The Portland Chamber Orchestra even found that music activates the areas in the brain involved in attention, expectations and rules, and emotion. Along with that, different areas of the brain trigger when different genres are registered, leaving each song to work with different areas of our brain.

Each genre of music has its own benefits that you can’t get from any other genre.  By depriving your brain of a certain type of music, you miss out on the benefits listening to it can have.  I looked into five main categories of music to explore their benefits.


Classical music encompasses many different types beyond Mozart and Bach, but regardless, all of it blends together when it’s in the background when you’re pulling an all-nighter to get a paper done.  Classical music as a study aid is proven to be beneficial, with a Harvard study suggesting that the tempo of the music enhances performance for important, high-stakes tasks.

Recommendation: “Messa Da Requiem: Dies Irae – Tuba Mirum”  – London Philharmonic Orchestra


To quote one of the best-selling artists of all time Johnny Cash: “Of emotions, of love, of breakups, of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.”  Country music gets a bad rep with a lot of people. Yes, the genre isn’t for everyone, but the music goes far beyond the stereotypical “I love my truck and my farm” that everyone associates with the music. Country music’s instrumental quality has been shown to curb stress, increase creativity, and in one study done by The Maryland School of Medicine, this music increases cardiovascular health.

Recommendation: “Jolene” – Dolly Parton


Saying you like pop music is like saying you like fruit — there are so many options and it’s really vague.  Pop encompasses the majority of what we hear on the radio and the majority of music in general. This type of music is beneficial when it comes to learning music theory and making deeper connections, according to Ed Lettner, founder of The Music Studio music school in Toronto.

Recommendation: Cracklin’ Rosie – Neil Diamond


The rap and hip-hop genres are the closest things we can get to mass media poetry.  At the end of the day, looking at the lyrics on paper looks like a soliloquy done by an actor in a Shakespearean play.  Cambridge University found that rap is able to help those experiencing depression or other mental struggles, along with increasing self-esteem and writing output.

Recommendation: “Humble (Radio Edit)” – Kendrick Lamar


Rock has evolved over the years, with artists ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Metallica to Imagine Dragons.  In a study done by Humboldt State University, they state that listening to heavy metal music leads to a happier youth and a better-adjusted middle age.

Recommendation: “Proud Mary” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Altogether, these genres have diverse benefits that you would miss out on if you only listened to one genre of music.  For example, if you only listen to classical music, you’re depriving your brain of the experiences that rap offers.  

At the end of the day, disregarding science, listening to a diverse array of music is just fun.  With Apple Music, Spotify, and hundreds of other streaming services out there, one would be a fool not to take advantage of having the world’s discography at their fingertips.  By diversifying your music taste, you have a whole new world to explore with new moods and attitudes to go with it.