July in Reno is a time when the community comes together to celebrate art through Artown. This includes literary, dance, and musical events. However, art can also be incorporated into the workplace. Studies show that 77 percent of small to medium-sized business owners believe that music can increase employee morale. But can it also improve the bottom line?

As a music therapist and executive director at Note-Able Music Therapy Services, my team and I apply music therapy to help clients achieve non-musical goals. While the data on the effectiveness of music therapy has been limited, recent years have seen increased acceptance of its potential in the scientific community. Music therapy can contribute to professional outcomes such as improved productivity, stress reduction, and shorter recovery times.

• Improved productivity. Music has a profound impact on the brain, enhancing coordination, language processing, and motor skills. Daniel J. Levitin, founding dean of Arts and Humanities at the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute in California and James McGill professor emeritus of Psychology and Music at McGill University in Montreal, discusses in his book “This Is Your Brain on Music,” how playing music engages various parts of the brain, including the cerebellum for timing and coordination, the temporal lobe for processing tone and language, and even motor and sensory cortex functions. This can lead to improved dexterity and productivity.

• Mitigation of stress. Music is not a magical solution that instantly eliminates stress and anxiety within a team. However, it has been shown to have various positive effects such as reducing blood pressure, releasing dopamine, and influencing breathing and heart rates. According to a 2007 study, classical music can also aid in the easier interpretation of information.

• Reduction of recovery times. Not everyone needs to be at work all the time, but if workers on medical leave don’t have the right support or time to prepare for a change in team size, it can add stress to the team environment. At Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, a study found that patients who listened to music after cardiac surgeries had a shorter recovery time. These patients reported feeling less anxious and experiencing less pain compared to those who didn’t use music during their recovery.

I don’t recommend forcing anyone to listen to music they don’t like, but there are definitely benefits to incorporating music into team environments.

• Collaborate on playlists. Encourage team members to share songs that help them focus. Compile a company focus playlist that your team can listen to at their discretion. Alternatively, encourage your team to share any playlists they have already curated. You may be surprised by the songs your team members discover that can transform a sluggish Tuesday into a productive day of checking off to-dos.

• Music as a write-off. Consider covering the cost of streaming platforms for your team members to avoid ads. Many team members may already be using Spotify or Pandora for music, but if they don’t have the ad-free version, removing disruptive ads could improve productivity.

• Block the time. Consider implementing mandatory meeting-free hours for your team members. For example, you can designate every Monday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or every Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. as meeting-free hours. During these hours, team members should avoid agendas, Zoom meetings, phone calls, and other distractions. Encourage them to block out any disruptors, including emails if they are willing to do so, and instead focus on their tasks while listening to music that helps them concentrate.

We use music for various positive purposes. It helps us celebrate important events like graduations and weddings (you can probably hum the tunes for both), enhances athletic performance (think of the Spotify “gym” playlists you’ve created), and even regulates our mood (who hasn’t blasted rage songs in the car during traffic hour). Therefore, it’s logical to use music to improve your team’s performance.

Manal Toppozada is the executive director of Note-Able Music Therapy Services. She leads a team of music therapists who offer a wide range of services to people in Northern Nevada.  

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