Want to be happy? Attend a music fest

Music festivals have been around for decades. However, in the past several years, they have gained new prominence. No longer a boomer’s past fantasy, people don’t trek to a muddy dairy farm to listen to the Keef Hartley Band.

Today, the festival season lasts almost an entire year. And the sheer number of these jam-packed events promises that everyone has an opportunity to catch a live show that aligns with their tastes.

Besides presenting opportunities for finding a hookup before the Odesza set, going to festivals may also be good for your health and well-being.

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Concerts Make You Feel Good

We don’t mean to get all “the power of music, man,” but it’s true, live music has an effect on the human body. In a 2016 study by researchers Haruka Shoda, Mayumi Adachi, and Tomohiro Umeda, the trio measured the difference in physiological reactions between listeners who watched a live performance versus those who just listened to music on speakers.

The 37 study participants watched pianists perform selections from Bach, Schumann, and Debussy live. About 10 weeks after the performances, they returned and listened to the same recordings on a speaker. The researchers monitored the participants’ heart rates in both conditions.

What Shoda, Adachi, and Umeda found was that watching live music appeared to decrease stress in the audience members.

“Thus, the pianists’ live performance appears to have led the audience’s nerve activities toward induction of relaxation or reduction of anxiety,” they wrote in the study. “This finding implies that sharing time and place with a performer is not awkward but normal (or spontaneous) for the audience, supporting that such a social context facilitates stress reduction during a cognitive task and music listening.”

Beyond that, the researchers found that people intently watching and paying attention to a live performance contributed to reducing anxiety. While variables exist, the combination of paying attention, the live performance, and its context (a shared experience with people) made attending live concerts a stress-reducing activity.  

Festivals Give You the Feels

Many festival attendees aim to go to one particular event every year. For some, festivals are a ritual. For others, they offer a break from the doldrums and the daily routine. Overall, they present an opportunity to socialize and escape.

In a study conducted by Jan Packer and Julie Ballantyne, the researchers looked into whether music festivals affected the psychological and social well-being of attendees.

Festivalgoers filled out a survey and questionnaire, and researchers identified four themes from the responses. Those themes included separation from the every day, the social experience of the festival, the atmosphere of the festival, and the music at the festival.

Packer and Ballantyne found that music tied the social experience and festival atmosphere together. Participants reported that they felt a stronger sense of self and acceptance of others at a festival. Others described a deeper connection. They revealed that going to music festivals made them feel more positive and gave meaning to their lives.

Furthermore, festivals can help audience members form a greater sense of identity. In “The Importance of Music Festivals: An Unanticipated and Underappreciated Path to Identity Formation,” researcher Kimberly Rudolph went to Bonnaroo. There, 150 participants filled out a survey about the Tennessee-based festival.

Responses showed that 67 percent of attendees planned on meeting and making new friends at the festival. The overwhelming majority (98 percent) also defined ‘Roo as a “community,” which they tie to identity and belonging.

So, when considering whether to splurge for that Coachella ticket, remember buying it might make your bank account a little lighter. However, the experience and benefits of going may be priceless.

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