I love the theatre. More specifically, I love musical theatre. If money was no object, you would find me flitting between West End and Broadway, watching the latest shows multiple times and from multiple different seats in each theatre so that I could see them from many different perspectives. My love of theatre does not stop at my own experiences. I love the joy that comes from hearing every last detail of someone else’s theatrical experience, especially if it is their first. So, as well as flitting between West End and Broadway to satisfy my own love of a good musical, the money-is-no-object-version-of-me would also be ensuring that those who may never otherwise have an opportunity to experience the theatre would get a chance to do so.

With my love of musicals, it is probably no surprise that I have multiple musical theatre soundtracks in my iTunes library. I play these in the car on the way to work, on my earphones at my desk during the day to avoid distraction, and at my desk at home when I am blogging so that I can focus on what I am doing. My latest addition to my playlist is the “Billy Elliot” soundtrack, and I totally love it. I have discovered that Billy Elliot is coming to Sydney in October and I feel as though I really, really need to see it! My whole torso is bubbling with effervescence at the thought of seeing it, so I am sure it is a need and not a want!

As I have been listening to my musical theatre soundtracks, I have discovered that I use different albums to manage and create different moods. When I first noticed this, I developed a huge curiosity around music and moods.

I think my conscious attempts to shift my mood with music came after one of the conferences for the coaching course that I completed. We were asked to visualise our most resourceful coaching way of being, and to think of a song that described that way of being. I came up with Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. To be honest, I think I chose it because I had seen the musical at a local school only a couple of days prior, and so the song was fresh in my mind. However, when I listened to the song later, I formed the assessment that it really did describe my most resourceful coaching way of being.

The song starts off with a solo and then, gradually, other singers join in. To me, this is how a coaching conversation works; at the beginning, the coachee talks about an issue that they have probably been dealing with on their own. As the conversation progresses, the coach joins in and the conversation shifts to one of co-inspiration. In my most resourceful coaching way of being, I feel as though I am able to work with the coachee to achieve co-inspiration. This, I think, involves the moods of peace and wonder (for me), and my assessment is that this song (and the whole album) supports me in a mood of peace and wonder.

As a result of the conference experience, I started to listen to Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat whenever I felt that I wanted to shift to peace and wonder. Now, if I feel as though I could benefit from peace and wonder, I play the album. I will do this in the car on my way to work, or at my desk throughout the day via my earphones. The second song on the album is Any Dream Will Do. Peace and wonder start flowing through my body at this point, and they continue to grow for the duration of the album.

Sometimes, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat doesn’t work for me. Sometimes, the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert soundtrack is more useful. What I have realised is that this is my album for when I want peace and curiosity with a hint of ambition. As I work my way through the soundtrack, embodying the determination of the characters to seek out and enjoy life, and sitting with them in the challenging times, I feel driven to succeed; to try that little bit harder.

There are times when I feel like rebelling against the world. In those times, I listen to either The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Book of Mormon. This allows me to sit in my rebellion for just long enough to move on from it. The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack satisfies a minimal to medium level of rebellion. For up to 55 minutes, I can feel rebellion, before becoming the person that whatever situation I am facing requires. The Book of Mormon satisfies a higher level of rebellion. (I think it is because it contains so many words and concepts that, to me, are just so “wrong”!) When I want to mentally stick my fingers up at the world for up to 68 minutes, I listen to this album before shifting to a more resourceful mood. In both cases, I feel ready to take on the world afterwards. It is as though allowing myself a moment of rebellion allows me to accept that I am not in my most resourceful way of being at that time, which then opens up the path for moving on.

Sometimes, I want strength. My “fight album” is the Les Miserables soundtrack. While every musical is my favourite musical (except for West Side Story if I am completely honest), Les Miserables is my favourite of all favourites. So it almost had to feature somewhere in my mood changing music list. When I listen to Les Miserables, I hear desperation and hope. I also hear people who were possibly suffering more than I could ever imagine, and yet they accepted their situation and did their best to work through it in whatever way they knew how. When I listen to this album, I feel driven to fight my battles in the best way that I know how. I feel determination, tenacity and grit, all mixed together with a little bit of hope. After listening to this album on my way into work, all doubt is gone, and I am ready to be as strong as I can be.

When I first made this discovery around using music to shift my moods, I became quite curious about it. Previously, I had shifted my moods by making a declaration about the mood that I wanted to be in, and then doing my best to shift it. If I couldn’t do it easily, I judged myself, and then I struggled until I shifted it. Using music to shift my moods seemed to give me permission to be in whatever mood I was in while also acknowledging that a shift to another mood would be useful. This seemed more kind and gentle than my earlier approach, as it gave me time to be with my current mood and gradually move on. It also didn’t allow me to judge myself. In the past, I would have considered feeling as though I wanted to stick my fingers up at the world as “wrong”. Now, I acknowledge that it is what it is and I accept that once I have done it, it is time to move on.

I then started reflecting on other ways in which we can shift our moods and some ideas that came to me were:

  • Having a conversation
  • Going to the theatre
  • Going out with friends
  • Watching a movie
  • Doing something that we love

I think that what I took from this reflection is that when we find ourselves in less resourceful ways of being, which often involves being in moods that aren’t helping us, there are ways that we can shift our way of being that don’t necessarily involve feeling as though we are struggling alone. Music might not be useful for everyone. That’s ok. What else might be useful?

– The featured image in this blog post is a photo by Pixabay on Pexels 

Who am I? 
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.

2 thoughts on “How Music can Shift our Moods

  1. When I’m feeling in need of a boost I put the Pure Euphoria album on as the dance music just gets me motivated! If I’m in an angry or just plain moody mood then Pink can help me out of it and for nostalgia I play 90’s mix. I like movies for similar moods too….Wizard of Oz will always be my go to if I’m sad or unsure of what to do, the Goonies gives me my spirit of adventure if I’ve not had one in a while and Jaws and Jaws 2 are just for fun! Although ever since I was a kid I’ve always felt sadness for when the shark gets killed! Maybe some nostalgia there too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fabulous! Thank you so much for commenting! I hadn’t thought about having specific movies to shift moods – great suggestion. Thinking about it, when I want to be in a carefree fun mood, my movie choice is Last Vegas. I find new places to laugh every time, and it requires no thought for me to watch. If I am feeling as though I want something a little deeper and a feel good movie, Saving Mr Banks is a bit of a go to. I’m not sure about my other moods.

      Liked by 1 person

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