An important study showed that members of a team who listened to rhythmic music together before carrying out a task worked more cooperatively and efficiently than groups who listened to music without a clear beat. People who listened to white noise did the worst. Why is that?
Brain studies have shown that music releases endorphins and dopamine. These neurochemicals cause us to feel pleasure and closeness to others. So when we listen to music together, we naturally feel closer to each other. Playing music together has an even stronger effect. And dancing together to rhythmic music creates the strongest bond of all.
Beyond common closeness, music is also a very effective way to draw large groups of people together into a tightly bonded unit. That's why schools have official songs, and countries have national anthems. When you sing that particular song together, you immediately feel a strong connection to the group.
For these reasons, many presenters at group events give the audience a chance to sing together, or move their bodies in a coordinated way, even just by clapping rhythmically. And rhythmic songs have long been used by spiritual and political leaders to create a sense of belonging and inspire people to action.
So keep music in your toolbox for those times when you need to bring a new team together, or make an existing group more cooperative and effective.