Ear Worm- why is my brain playing a song over and over in my head?



Do you ever suddenly realize you have some phrase or part of a song that is stuck in your head and it is playing on auto-pilot during your day? Did you ever wonder why that is happening?


Your brain likes predictability and self-soothing. And the brain loves melody and repetition. So when you sing or repeat in your mind a snippet of melody over and over it is super soothing. You can reverse engineer this to purposely sing a simple melody with a positive message when you are struggling and your brain isn't coping. If you can move the energy. Emotion is just energy in motion. So move that energy. Move your body and let that song flow through you. Whistle a tune and sing out loud and share your voice.


I remember when I was teaching elementary orchestra, I would sometimes go around in-between class times- singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Other people would ask me- how can you stand to listen to these basic songs all day long when the kids don't "sound good"?

But it was my favorite teaching. I taught elementary, junior high, and high school. But my favorite group class was the elementary orchestra. And I think partly my brain enjoyed all that repetition. There was a predictable book and I got to the point where I knew all the songs and what was coming next. It was comforting to me and I enjoyed the fact that the kids were always so excited when they learned anything new. So, I got a lot of positive feedback in the classroom, which was good as a teacher.


I used to catch myself singing twinkle and was perfectly in a good mood. I would try to change that song in my head. I would think of some more complex songs that my high school students were playing. I thought surely they were more worthy of my brain space. But, part way through singing something else -my brain would go back to the basic songs. I now understand it was my brain loving the simplicity and predictability of the music.


So the next time you are struggling. . .

Think of some simple tune, sing it in your mind or out loud and let your mind be soothed as you go about your day. Your brain will thank you for it. There is power in your voice.

If you would like to learn strategies to take control of your voice and songs to soothe -Stay tuned as my new Brain Songs class will be coming soon. I am designing lessons for singing and specific songs to help parents of autistic kids. But, I am sure there will be themes and songs that will be helpful for all parents and even teachers. The lessons are designed to be watched by parents and then they can teach the songs to the kids or the kids can watch the lessons together with you. Either way the emphasis is on empowering you to use your voice to sing, without judgement, to help keep the brain calm so it can function at it's best.