How Does Music Drive Creativity? | The Garage Group

How Does Music Drive Creativity?

Our two courageous summer interns have deep passion for all things creativity. Building on their experiences in and out of the classroom, Lizzie and Turner decided to dig in to learn more. Lizzie explored the connection between music and creativity, and how creative environments are enabled through different types of music.


If you think creativity is just about art and music, then think again. In today’s world, “Creativity is the driving force behind scientific, technological and cultural innovation, and it can be considered one of the key competencies of the 21st Century,” says the authors of a recent study exploring the effects of music on creative cognition. What we need most is creativity, but there is a scarcity.

So, what if you can’t draw a straight line and think you’re not creative? Think again. Creativity isn’t only for artists and musicians. What we think of as creativity means original ideas, unexpected ideas, insights, and solutions. This uses both the right brain’s divergent thinking (imagining and expanding thinking to generate novel ideas), as well as the left brain’s convergent thinking (narrowing down to the best choice). So, whether you are another Rembrandt or Stephen Hawking, you can grow your individual creativity.  

Have you heard of the Mozart Effect from the 90’s? This was the first study to link classical music to increased spatial cognition. In 2017, researchers found the effects that different types of music have on creativity. This showed that happy music with high emotions increases creativity. Specifically, it increases the number of ideas. The key is the music needs to have a strong emotional impact and a catchy beat. It is best to listen to your favorite music or songs without lyrics. We all have our happy songs that boost our mood. Scientists now believe that the happy mood accelerates increased creativity.

Can music help me at work?

Yes! At The Garage Group, we use music to help you get ideas flowing. We enable non-linear thinking such as Mind-Wandering and Associative Thinking to move beyond limited thinking by opening our minds and focusing on nothing specific to help us get into the flow. This is great for activating imagination and flexibility. You may even notice that often, as you sit listening to a playlist, your mind ends up far from where you started.

Mind-Wandering helps activate the imagination. This is like putting your car into self-driving mode. It can’t be controlled because mind-wandering, and the resulting creativity, happens when we let our mind think freely about nothing specific. These free-form thoughts occur when we stop steering and allow thoughts to flow without conscious control. During this period of auto-pilot driving, the imagination and flexibility networks are activated and working together.

At TGG we provoke Associative Thinking to allow the mind to experiment with fitting different ideas together in multiple ways and to connect the dots in unexpected ways. Sarah Shiffman, an Associate Strategist at TGG, loves designing the perfect creativity-sparking playlist for client sessions. “I like to use music to match the mood or adjust the mood.” If you are joining us for a session, you might notice the first day’s music to be calming. As the work progresses throughout the week, the music pumps up the energy of the group to stimulate their ideas.

Where do I start?

If you’re focusing on creativity, try listening to high pitch songs with 60-80 beats per minute. Our top 5 Spotify playlists are:

  1. Creative Boost
  2. 60 bpm Baroque & Study Learning Music
  3. 50-70 bpm
  4. 60 bpm (Ludwig Mattson)
  5. Wake up Happy

The musical beat will sync with your heart beat and you will really feel the music. Don’t forget to include those special songs that bring back really great memories; those are happy songs just for you.

Now that you know how TGG uses music to stimulate our workplace, what’s on your creativity-sparking playlist?

Explore More