In the 1950s, German physicist Winfried Otto Schumann discovered that the Earth’s magnetic field resonates at 7.83 Hz.
In 1979, Schumann’s associate Herbert Konig found a correlation between the Schumann Resonance and the alpha rhythm of brain waves. When you are in the alpha state, the Earth and your brain are operating at the same frequency. This frequency and synchronization with the Earth is associated with creativity, overall mental and mind/body coordination, calmness, alertness, and learning. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
There are five levels of brain wave activity
Beta: waking hours, consciously alert, reasoning and active processing
Alpha: deep physical and mental relaxation
Theta: sleep and reduced consciousness, light meditative state
Delta: deep sleep, unconsciousness
Gamma: recently discovered, this level is associated with bursts of insight and high-level information processing
We want to get to alpha
Of these five mental states, alpha is the level which helps us learn, be creative, memorize, and read the thoughts and emotions of others. Creative people show the alpha state when listening and arriving at solutions.
In the beta state, which is the normal level of mind activity when you’re awake, the brain’s frequency is higher than it is when it’s in alpha. Since the brain is a lot like an electrical circuit, all of your thoughts and activity tend to clutter it, making it less capable and perceptive than it can be. Sound familiar? If a non-ADHD person’s brain can be cluttered in beta state, just think what your ADHD brain is like in beta! Yowza!
That’s why it’s so important to get to alpha. Alpha untangles our brains and removes the clutter, allowing them to work more efficiently and be more powerful, stronger, and more perceptive. Feels better already, huh?
Receiving information in the alpha state makes you far more likely to remember it, as well. By freeing the brain from a constant stream of activity (such as when you’re in beta), you actually use more of it. Focus and concentration, memory, learning, and powers of insight increase dramatically in alpha.
How does music help you get to alpha?
The good news is, you can slow down your beta brain and change your electromagnetic frequency to alpha (and re-align yourself with the Schumann Resonance, the frequency of the Earth) anytime, by listening to music.
But first, how does music affect your brain?
• Many studies have shown that music enhances memory, spatial reasoning, math skills, and increases IQ.
• Music helps communication and synchronicity between the two brain hemispheres. This is important because whole-brain thinking is “genius thinking.”
• Music can stimulate the brain to enter the alpha and theta states. Now that’s what we’re talking about!
However, we’re not talking about just any music. Most music fluctuates in frequency, tempo, and volume so it doesn’t create a constant alpha state in the brain. It can relax you, but it won’t put you in a specific, constant brainwave state. We need real brain music to do the job.
Listen to this particular classical music
The following pieces of music, in particular, are brain music. They have been recommended for guiding your brain into the alpha state and keeping it there long enough to do some good. Your body may appear relaxed while listening but your mind is still alert, which allows you to focus your energy effectively and get your best ideas without getting distracted by your fidgety body.
The following recordings are from 20 minutes to several hours long, long enough to actually get some work done. Replay, or move on to another piece of music after a short break.
(Scroll down for my favorites and suggestions for working to brain music for the first time.)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sonata for Two Pianos
Symphony No 40 in G Minor
Johann Sebastian Bach
George Frideric Handel
Concerto for Violin D Major
Ludwig van Beethoven
Emperor Concerto for Piano No 5
The Four Seasons
Peter Illych Tchaikovsky
Concerto for Piano No 1
Canon in D
Mozart is better than Beethoven, apparently
According to a June 2015 article in the UK’s Daily Mail, people who heard Mozart’s music showed an increase in brain wave activity linked to memory, understanding, and problem-solving.
No brain wave increases were found after the group listened to Beethoven, suggesting there is something specific about the effect of Mozart’s music on our brains.
Researchers from Sapienza University of Rome reported the results may be due to the fact that Mozart’s music is able to activate circuits of nerve cells in the brain related to attentive and cognitive functions.
Studies were made before and after a test group listened to ‘L’allegro con spirito’ from the Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K448 by Mozart, and before and after they listened to Fur Elise by Beethoven.
“The results of our study show an increase in the alpha power and MF frequency index of background activity in both adults and in the healthy elderly after listening to Mozart’s K448, a pattern of brain wave activity linked to intelligent quotient (IQ), memory, cognition and (having an) open mind to problem solving.
“No changes in EEG activity were detected in both adults and in the elderly after listening to Beethoven.”
Researchers noted that some of the distinctive features of Mozart’s music are frequent repetition and the virtual lack of “surprise” elements that may distract the listener’s attention from rational listening. This repetition helps listeners find a resolution for each element of tension in the music and confirms their expectations.
My particular favorites are:
Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos and
Pachelbel Canon in D
Some of the others seem a bit too jumpy for me—I think I like the “lack of surprise” mentioned by the Daily Mail in their comparison of Mozart vs. Beethoven. For some reason, both the Mozart and Pachelbel pieces become background music for me, and I’m able to concentrate on the work instead of the music.
If you try it
- It’s important to turn the music on and start listening before you begin to work, giving your brain a chance to ease in.
- It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to change to alpha mode, so be sure to listen long enough.
- If one piece of music seems more distracting than helpful, as it did for me, try another until you find something you like and can stick with.
- Different pieces of classical music may work for you for different types of work. I like the calmer music for writing, and the livelier music for design, visual, and organizational work.
Please let me know your favorites in the comments below!