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Study suggests 5% don’t repsond to music at all

March 14, 2014

According to this study 5% of the population may experience something called musical anhedonia.

Basically, they don’t emotionally or physiologically respond to music. Music doesn’t effect them and they don’t connect with it, on any level, the way the majority of the population does. (I know, I can’t imagine either)

If this is true, I wonder what that means for worship time in churches, as much of the worship experience in our Christian culture is music heavy.

Often I’ve looked out at the crowd and seen the occasional blank face or the person reading their bulletin while the room is singing. I’ve seen a very small number of people who routinely come in late or hang out in the coffee bar until the “real teaching” time gets started. I think we’ve always just assumed that this was maybe an overly intellectual person, or maybe they just didn’t like the music style, volume, song selections, or are just uncomfortable/awkward singing out among others. Do we need to change our music, singers, production?

Could it be that 5% of listeners in church simply don’t care about the music regardless of the quality or the volume or the “depth” of lyrics? Maybe they’re not music snobs after all. Maybe they would be fine if music was done away with altogether. This study seems to imply just that. If this is indeed true, it could very well explain a few things we’ve struggled with for years.

I’ve always felt that as musicians and tech artists we’re called to lead worship and much of that involves music. We lead with a medium that the majority of the population emotionally connect with and if we flex to accommodate anyone it is those who value music in general and hold worship in particular in a high regard.

But it also suggests the bigger question – As artists (worship leaders) how do we (or can we) even connect this 5% with the biblical idea of corporate worship?


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