People who know me know that Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Not for gifts (we don’t really do them in our family — just to our mothers and my son). I love the season because people, in general, just seem to be making an extra effort to be pleasant and friendly.

A friend sent me this link to a flash mob event in a food court. Since it is the season. Enjoy.

I remember singing this in high school when I was in chorus. At the time I was a soprano … can’t believe I used to be able to hit those high notes. Still love the song though.

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Some days it hardly seems worth getting up Today for instance, it’s wet, rainy, foggy, and cold.  I haven’t checked the outside temp so maybe it’s just me that’s cold.  So anyway, I’m sitting here at my desk shivering even in all my layers and trying to catch up on some work when I get this link to a YouTube video.

What can I say? Sometimes the video says it all.  If the Muppets doing Bohemian Rapsody don’t cheer you up on a dreary Wednesday before a major holiday with a drop-dead deadline looming on the horizon well, check your pulse.  So for everyone else having a downer of a Wednesday.  Enjoy!

It just doesn’t get any better than the Muppets — not a bad rendition either.

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I was sent the link to this YouTube video yesterday and just loved the sentiment and the music. Originally published on YouTube on September 17th, 2009 it is a beautiful tribute by Melodysheep (John).

Here’s what he says about this piece:

A musical tribute to two great men of science. Carl Sagan and his cosmologist companion Stephen Hawking present: A Glorious Dawn – Cosmos remixed. Almost all samples and footage taken from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and Stephen Hawking’s Universe series.

If you click on “more info” in the upper right-hand area with the links the words are listed so if you have a problem hearing the lyrics you can check the actual wording out.

Enjoy. I did. I miss Sagan’s simple explanations of complex topics and his apparent joy in science.

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Classical Music Montage Art Giclee Poster Print by Dynamic GraphicsI’ve noticed that music can lighten my mood if I’m unhappy. Depress me if I’m sad. Give me that extra energy to go just a bit more on some task or other when I’m tired. Music, even when it’s the music of wind in the leaves and birds at the feeder, makes life just more “there”.

For many years, I’ve noticed that when the music fits a movie it adds to the viewing and the story. When the sounds are right and the music is right you don’t even notice it it just stays in the background — but it can make you cry more at the sad parts, shudder at the scary parts, and thrill to the adventure — it adds to the story but in a way you don’t even notice.

Today, this article in ScienceDaily caught my eye, or rather the title did, “Scary Music Is Scarier With Your Eyes Shut“. Prof. Talma Hendler and Dr. Yulia Lerner at Tel Aviv Universities Functional Brain Center studied people listening to scary music with their eyes open and closed and found some interesting results:

15 healthy volunteers listen to spooky Hitchcock-style music, and then neutral sounds with no musical melody. They listened to these twice, once with their eyes open and a second time with their eyes shut, as she monitored their brain activity with an fMRI. While volunteers were listening to the scary music, Dr. Lerner found that brain activity peaked when the subjects’ eyes were closed. This medical finding corresponded to volunteer feedback that the subjects felt more emotionally charged by the scary music.

The amygdala, the region of the brain in which emotions are located, was significantly more active when the subjects’ eyes were closed. “It’s possible that closing one’s eyes during an emotional stimulation, like in our research, may help people through a variety of mental states. It synchs connectivity in the brain,” Dr. Hendler says.

They’re hoping that this research can be used to design future studies that could help people with dementia and systemic brain disorders.

Music brings balance to the brain and more readily integrates the affective and cognitive centers of our mind. Music may help us think better and even improve our learning abilities.

I don’t know about people with actual physical neurological problems but for many years Hollywood has been experimenting on hundreds of thousands of people by using music to play with their emotions. Just as many students use music to help them concentrate on their studies. Workers the world over use music to mask annoying background chatter so that they can work effectively. Many people have used music to regulate their movements so that everyone is in sync when group efforts are required (rowing, lifting heavy objects, etc.). Guess now science has caught up.

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