Does listening to music help us be creative?
I arrived early at Joe Paquet’s Thursday night studio painting class to get set up for three hours of painting and critique. Joe likes to play music while we paint and on that evening, he started out with opera music. The painters around me weren’t diggin’ it. The music wasn’t bringing out our “inner Italian” as Joe had suggested it could do. After awhile, the opera was replaced with another piece of music, and we painted on until it was time to clean up and go home (or stop in at Kelly’s Depot).
I don’t listen to music when I paint, but I know lots of people do. And some research in this area indicates that listening to music, or even an audio story, can help people problem solve. There is a caveat, though. You have to like the music that is playing for it to have a positive effect on brain function.
Apparently, the brain’s default mode is “wandering.” While focusing on tasks requires a lot of effort and is mentally exhausting, the wandering mind activates creative thinking.
I can’t say the music playing on in the background as I painted Thursday night helped me solve the problem of how to paint beautiful branches on the trees in the landscape I was working on. The branches I created did not have the “flowing” quality Joe suggested I could obtain if I “relaxed” and “exhaled slowly.” Perhaps I am too focused (my branches looked a little tense) and I need to listen to music when I paint.
Do you listen to music while you create? Is it helpful? Let’s make this a conversation. Share your thoughts in a comment.
Read more about how music can help you be creative here.