An Ode to Elevator Music

by | Feb 2020

A group of people ride on an elevator.


The experience of mall shopping—or elevator riding—is missing something these days—Muzak’s “classic” elevator music.

The experience of mall shopping—or elevator riding—is missing something these days. It’s missing Muzak’s “classic” elevator music. To delight me, my daughter found Charmaine Radio on Pandora recently.

The loud modern music we hear today can gnaw at our brains. Studies have found that listening to the music you love will make your brain release more dopamine, a crucial neurotransmitter for humans’ emotional and cognitive functioning. It might be that I am the only one who loves elevator music… but I wonder. On the launch of Apollo 11, the astronauts listened to Muzak to calm themselves.

Seven billion elevator trips happen every day and two-thirds of the people riding do so in complete silence. We enter the elevator and position ourselves as far away from each other as possible.

We’ve somehow lost the hunger for polite and meaningful conversations in environments like elevators. Research shows us that even small and superficial encounters, even with strangers, has significant emotional health benefits for the people involved.

In the 1930s and ‘40s, elevator music calmed frazzled nerves and was a distraction to fend off boredom while people waited. Muzak’s music was proven to make workers happier and even more productive.

We can try harder to reach out to one another. We need to look outward and be aware of our fellow humans. It might be the smile on a stranger’s face that adds a little … lift.

Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living. In her column, she shares observations and wisdom about aging and senior living in our community.


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