You may not spend much time thinking about the music playing at your campus facility, but what you should know is music makes a difference. The article “How Music Affects the Brain” by Deane Alban (Be Brain Fit, February 9, 2019), concludes, “And the evidence is in: music activates every known part of the brain. Listening to and playing music can make you smarter, happier, healthier and more productive at all stages of life.” The article goes on to talk about how music stimulates dopamine levels in the brain, and that listening to shuffled playlists can further increase dopamine levels, especially when a favorite song unexpectedly starts playing. It also points out how music is associated with memory, and thus is linked to positive or negative experiences.
There are two implications from this for your campus facilities. The first is that playing background music at your facilities is a good thing to do. It stimulates students’ and guests’ brains, and helps put them in a better mood. It also helps create a stronger association with your facility. The second, however, is you need the right music and the right mix at the right times. Outrageously loud music or songs laden with profanity and innuendos might be some people’s preference, but is that really appropriate in public settings with students, faculty and guests present? Conversely, you also don’t want to put people to sleep with low-tempo, low-energy songs throughout the entire day.
The point is, you need to think about what kind of atmosphere you want to create in your facilities at different times. Selecting a single radio station or one genre of music is probably not going to create the effect you are looking for.
Here are some things to consider. In the morning, you want to stimulate and awaken students, without blasting out their eardrums. In late morning and early afternoon, most people are at their highest energy levels, so your music should probably reflect that. In late afternoon, most people can use a ‘pick me up,’ without getting too carried away. Weekday evenings may be for winding down, whereas on the weekends you may be looking to fire people up for the big game.
Selecting the right music for the right atmosphere at the right time can make a big difference in the impression you make on students, staff and guests. In short, music matters.