Prairie Fare: Music, good for body and mind
The young musical artists nodded at me, and I clicked on the stopwatch as they began playing. Each had 10 minutes to play a prepared piece of music.
My role was to stop them if they played too long. The judges were behind a curtain in the back of the room.
“Thank you!” I said loudly to one participant as my stopwatch hit the 10-minute mark.
The young person stopped despite being in the middle of a very complex section called a “cadenza.” I could imagine how many hours the musician had spent practicing the piece. I felt bad about stopping the performance.
Timekeeping musical performances is not part of my day job. I am a proud member of the symphony board. I was helping with the contest one Saturday morning.
As I listened to these talented young people, I thought back to my children’s early musical experiences and my own. Learning to play a musical instrument well takes years of practice and a lot of support.
When you begin to play a violin, trombone, saxophone or other instrument, unfortunately, your family members do not always have a pleasant listening experience. My children learned piano, viola, guitar and/or clarinet. I sometimes asked them to close the door.
That wasn’t all that supportive, I guess.
“Check the key signature, please,” I’d say when I heard a “clunker” note.
A few years ago, when becoming an empty nester was imminent, I joined a community band. I still use the flute my parents bought me when I was about 16.
I was struck by the range of ages in the community band, ranging from early 20s to early 90s.
You can enjoy and/or play music throughout your life.
Music plays some key roles in many aspects of health, whether you are playing an instrument, singing, dancing or simply listening to music.
Playing a horn or wind instrument requires movement of your hands, pushing air out of your lungs, articulating notes with your tongue, reading with your eyes and, of course, interpreting all the notes and rhythms with your brain. If you are in a marching band, that adds another dimension.
Music can promote our ability to think.
Researchers studied the influence of different types of music or silence on intelligence test scores. The college students listened to Mozart, a relaxation tape or sat in silence. The Mozart sonata promoted greater scores.
Music may help patients be less stressed during surgery. When patients listened to music during an eye surgery that is performed while the patient is awake, their blood pressure stayed at normal levels.
Music sometimes is part of therapy among people with Parkinson’s Disease, a neurologic disorder. It helps them retain balance and ability to move.
According to a study of leisure activities and brain health, dancing helped reduce the risk for dementia, better than golfing, swimming, tennis and seven other leisure activities.
In 2020, the AARP reported the results of a survey about music. Women were more likely than men to have participated in dancing or singing, and younger people were more likely to have played an instrument.
Interestingly, a majority of people (58%) sang alone and 38% had engaged in dancing in their lives.
Dancing to music is good for your heart health and brain health. The individuals in the AARP study who participated in music self-reported their general health and brain function as “excellent” or “very good.” The people who listened to music were less likely to report issues with anxiety or depression.
You might want to dust off your musical instrument or learn to play one. Exercise your vocal cords.
What kind of recipe goes well with music? I am featuring the “musical fruit” this week to enjoy with some music in the background. Eating more fiber-rich beans is good for your heart and digestive health. The more beans you enjoy through time, the less you “toot.” Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and click on “Food Preparation” to get to more information about beans and other pulse foods.
This delicious recipe was contributed by Janna Diggs and is featured in the Growing Together Community Garden cookbook.
Black Bean Wraps
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large green or red pepper, diced
- 2 cups diced Roma tomatoes (cored and seeded)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 (10-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese or mashed avocado
Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan; sauté pepper for two minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, vinegar, cumin and garlic powder. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Spread cream cheese or avocado evenly over warmed tortillas. Top each tortilla with the bean filling. Roll up each tortilla, cut in half and serve.
Makes six servings. Each serving has 300 calories, 11 grams of fat, 11 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber and 440 milligrams of sodium.
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson.