Academic journal article College Student Journal

Playing Music to Relieve Stress in a College Classroom Environment

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Playing Music to Relieve Stress in a College Classroom Environment

Article excerpt

Music therapy can be an effective treatment that prevents stress from contributing to the etiology of disease. For this study, the participants, college students enrolled in an annual Alternative Nutrition class at California State University, Los Angeles, were instructed to select a song to present during class. After listening to each song selection, participants provided written feedback based on a 9-question survey. Self-perceived stress was measured using a Likert scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest level of stress. Microsoft[R] Excel 2007 Data Analysis, was used to calculate t-Test: Paired Two Sample for Meansat a 5% significance level ([alpha] < 0.05), and Descriptive Statistics to determine standard deviation with a confidence level for mean at 95%. Results across all four years were statistically significant, demonstrating overall stress reduction in the study sample. The authors recognize that the study sample was derived from a population known to be particularly vulnerable to stress. However, beyond the college population, listening to music can benefit anyone subject to the effects of stress.

Keywords: music therapy, college, stress, stress-reduction, relaxation techniques


Time spent in college can be a priceless experience, but it can also be a stressful one. In recent years, the academic circle has noted stress to be an important topic of interest, due to the many stresses of daily life (Agolla & Ongori, 2009). There are a variety of reasons students experience stress, which may include: being away from home for the first time; trying to balance the demands of classes, work, extracurricular activities, and a social life; the pressure to perform well academically. Even though some of these may be perceived as positive changes, any departure from a familiar routine can bring about some degree of stress (Richlin-Klonsky & Hoe, 2003).

Some students may not know how to effectively cope with the demands of college life. As a result, having severe and/or prolonged stress may lead to reduced academic performance. This type of stress can potentially hinder a student's level of contribution and participation in campus life, and increases the likelihood of substance abuse and other destructive behaviors (Ross, Neibling & Hecker, 1999). Coping with unhealthy stress begins with recognizing the signs of building stress levels and the stressors that cause them. While stress can be caused by external events, the events themselves may not necessarily be stressful. In fact, it is the way in which an individual interprets and reacts to a stressor that is responsible for producing stress (Busari, 2012). Consequently, although various methods exist to help college students cope with stress, the appropriate method must be selected for the individual.

According to Romano (1992), the interactions between an individual's perception and reaction to stressors are what result in stress. While many may be unaware of the danger of stress, the American Institute of Stress (2012) claimed stress to be the number one health problem for Americans. While stress itself can be debilitating, its main effect on public health involves increasing risk for diseases such as cancer, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease. Stress can also lead to depression and its related conditions. Moreover, overall health and wellness is a matter of concern among populations with elevated levels of stress. College students, subject to pressure from many areas, fit into this category.

Music Therapy--Interventions for Health

Music therapy (MT) is defined by the American Music Therapy Association (2011) as the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. According to the American Music Therapy Association (2011), music therapy is a well-established health program and it is used therapeutically to address an individual's physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. …

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