Vocabulary about Music – English Language Podcast

Vocabulary about Music – English Language Podcast

Vocabulary about Music

Vocabulary about Music – English Language Podcast

In our fourth episode, we’ll be talking about music and how it makes us feel. There will be a story about music and memory, we’ll hear about some of the benefits of singing and we’ll listen to an article about how music affects the brain.

If you want to improve your English, you’ll find the scripts for each part of this episode here and don’t forget to check out the glossary (vocabulary about music) at the end for words and phrases you may not have encountered before.

Episode Four: Thank you for the music

Narrator: Ever wonder what it’s like for someone not to be moved by music? No foot-tapping to a good tune, or jumping along to the beat at a concert, or singing aloud in the car to your favourite song? Music has the power to transport us, and ignite something in us, it even can make the hairs on your arms stand on end. This episode is called Thank you for the music.

Story One:

I recently saw a story covered on BBC news  about an 80 year old called Paul Harvey. A former music teacher who now has dementia, he is an example of how musical ability can survive memory loss. 

Paul’s son gave his Dad a challenge: to compose a piece of music from just four notes. It had been an “old party trick” of his father’s and he would improvise a song. Although diagnosed with dementia, he has continued to be able to play piano pieces from memory and create new ones. The composition was filmed by his son, put up on twitter and it went viral. 

The brilliant performance was aired on Radio 4’s Broadcasting House for World Alzheimer’s Day, and this led to the BBC Philharmonic orchestra getting involved to orchestrate and play his piece. A great honour. Not only that but the song was released as a single,  and it sped to the top of the iTunes and Amazon charts with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Society and Music for Dementia. Not many 80 year olds can boast at having a top single. 

Music can help relieve depression, anxiety and other problems associated with dementia. Even those in the most severe stages of the disease, who can not speak or dress themselves, can still improvise music.  Needless to say, it is very moving to watch the clip and it reminds us of the healing power of music.

Story Two:

Narrator: People love to sing, whether you are a budding soprano, or tone deaf. In fact, there’s solid scientific evidence to prove that singing is, in fact, good for your body and your mind. 

Here are just some of the benefits of singing:

Singing is a natural antidepressant

Singing has been shown to be a joyful and uplifting experience. It generates a sense of positivity, happiness and enjoyment and helps distract people from any negative thoughts and feelings.

Singing lowers stress levels

Making music in any form is relaxing. Singing releases stored muscle tension and decreases the levels of a stress hormone in your bloodstream.

Singing stimulates the immune response

There’s evidence that singing boosts the immune system and helps fight off illnesses.

It may improve snoring

Regular singing may change the way you breathe, even when you’re not singing. Researchers found that significantly fewer choir members snored. This led them to recommend regular singing as a potential treatment for snoring.

And Improves lung function

Because singing involves deep breathing and the controlled use of muscles in the respiratory system, it may be beneficial for certain lung and breathing conditions.

Finally, it develops a sense of belonging and connection

When you sing together with others, you’re likely to feel the same kind of camaraderie and bonding that players on sports teams experience.

So what are you waiting for, stick on your favourite song, and sing it loud and proud!

Story Three:


Everyone loves music right? Wrong. For roughly 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population, listening to a song is halfway between boring and distracting. This is a phenomena called musical anhedonia. Although these people may be capable of experiencing pleasure in other ways, they don’t enjoy music


Research shows that the vast majority of people who enjoy music show an increase in heart rate or skin conductance—where a person’s skin temporarily becomes a conductor of electricity in response to something they find stimulating. Musical anhedonics, however, show no such physical change to music. 

Recently, an experiment at the University of Barcelona identified people who didn’t listen to music as a hobby, and then tested them with numerous different pieces of music. One of the pieces included John Williams heartfelt score to Schindler’s List and the other, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Those affected showed no changes during the music, however they were able to identify what they thought they should be feeling. 

A recent study took those findings a step further by studying responses in the brain to music and found that the listening and reward parts of the brain simply didn’t interact in response to music for anhedonics. 

Still seem strange to you? Well, the findings have helped musical anhedonics within their social circles. They now have scientific proof that music really does nothing for them, and can get their well meaning family and friends to stop sending them songs! 

Vocabulary about Music

This glossary accompanies Episode 4 of the podcast series and will provide vocabulary about music you heard or read which may be new or unfamiliar to you.


  • Moved – affected in an emotional way
  • Foot-tapping – moving your foot in time to music – this can also be a compound adjective to mean that music is lively and upbeat
  • make the hairs on your arms stand on end – shocks or frightens you (literally makes hair on your body stand up straight

Story One

  • top of the charts – very popular, number one or thereabouts in the list of popular songs
  • moving – an adjective to mean that something causes a strong emotional response

Story Two

    • budding – beginning or starting but appearing to show signs of being talented
    • tone deaf – not able to hear differences in musical sounds – used colloquially to mean that some can’t sing or isn’t musical
    • stick on – a phrasal verb to mean the same as put on or play (on a device or player)

Story Three

    • took those findings a step further – to develop or progress something
    • does nothing for them – doesn’t affect them in any way
    • pieces of music – an individual song or composition (remember music is usually uncountable)

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