The power of music on our physical, mental, and emotional health as well as the social connectedness it nurtures cannot be overstated. The notion that music is medicine has roots that date back to tribal-based societies. Music also helps us grow as caring and connected individuals and enables us to build more harmonious communities. In addition, neuroscientists have also discovered similar psychological and physical effects from nature. Being outdoors or even just viewing natural scenes has proven to decrease cortisol levels in the brain (the neurotransmitter produced when we experience stress, anxiety, or fear) and increase the production of serotonin (which gives us a sense of calm and peace).
Nature restores mental functioning in the brain the same way that water and food fuel our bodies. Like every other part of the human body, the brain requires periods of rest and refueling. Out cognitive capacity and ability to plan, organize, solve problems, and control impulses depends specifically on the prefrontal cortex or the command center for executive functions. Exposure to nature enables this region of the brain to slow down and recover form the constant stream of data and incoming stimuli. In addition, further research indicates that time spent in a natural environment reduces neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness. These findings suggest that natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.
Extensive research over the last two decades demonstrates a correlation between an increased exposure to natural environments and positive physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits, like faster recovery time after injuries or medical procedures, higher academic achievement, and a reduction in crime and violent behaviors. Having the ability to measure the activity in the central nervous system, such as respiration, heart rate, and other physiological changes exhibited during stress, has proven that being outdoors is a calming agent on the mind and the body, Increased exposure to outdoor spaces also significantly affects both intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations such as nurturing relationships, making positive contributions to the community, or striving for a job promotion.
Clearly, the physical, emotional, social, and cognitive benefits of music and of nature are comprehensive and compelling. Further exploration of the impact of music and nature combined is the obvious step. While we are still in the early stages of this research,we are learning more about the benefits of experiencing music in outdoor spaces within various subsets of society. Outdoor music environments provide schools and other educational organizations with an effective way of incorporating learning and physical play opportunities essential for healthy cognitive and emotional development.
Combing music with nature has such a profound impact on us - not because science tells us so - but because how it makes us feel. These two powerful forces extend the benefits form the individual to the community and make it possible for people of all ages, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and ability to make music. There are no rules for the expressive art created in outdoor music spaces. Rather, it is simply an invitation to experience music and nature in a way that enriches, relaxes, soothes, and feeds the soul.