Music and Mental Health
“Music can heal the wounds that medicine cannot touch.” (Debasish Mridha)
I had been so excited to write about Burke’s amazing PlayEnsemble line this month. I teach K-5 general music and couldn’t wait to plan engaging lessons for my students using the outdoor instruments this spring; lessons I could share with other music educators and park and rec departments. We were going to jam, play our favorite songs, play along with recorders and ukuleles, spread joy; but then COVID-19 had made its way to the United States and schools were closed for the remainder of the year. The words “quarantine,” distance/virtual learning,” and “social distancing” are a part of our normal vocabularies now. This has been a trying time for all of us, both physically and mentally. We know how to take care of our bodies (eat well, exercise, wash hands, avoid touching one’s face, etc.), but how do we take care of ourselves mentally? Meditation? Reflection? Journaling? Therapy? While I am not a licensed therapist, counselor or psychologist, I do understand the healing power of music.
“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” (Elton John)
Music has been a uniting force around the world during this unprecedented time. We have seen videos of people singing from their balconies in Italy, neighbors having sing-alongs, coronavirus parodies and even free online concerts from our favorite musicians. If you’d like to learn more about why people turn to music during times of crisis, check out this post from the World Economic Forum: Coronavirus: Why have we turned to music?
“Music brings us pleasure and releases our suffering. It calms us down and pumps us up. It helps us manage pain, sleep better and be more productive” (Alex Doman, author of Healing at the Speed of Sound).
Music has this amazing way to transform our minds, enrich our souls and express our feelings in ways that words alone cannot. Many studies have been conducted on music and stress and music as a form of therapy. Music has the ability to lower heart rate and blood pressure, ease nerves, relieve stress and even improve mood and sleep quality. According to Harvard Health, “Bright, cheerful music can make people of all ages feel happy, energetic, and alert, and music even has a role in lifting the mood of people with depressive illnesses. A 2006 study of 60 adults with chronic pain found that music was able to reduce pain, depression, and disability. And a 2009 meta-analysis found that music-assisted relaxation can improve the quality of sleep in patients with sleep disorders.” To learn more, click here: Music and health
Music is a way to bring people together. It is hard not to participate in band, choir, orchestra and other ensembles right now. We miss attending concerts, performing in front of live audiences and even having dance parties with friends and family members. Even though we are not experiencing life as we knew it pre-COVID19, music is a driving force that continues to defy the odds and bring us together. It is our safety net, our therapy and form of expression. When you are feeling frustrated and bogged down with the world, don’t forget to turn to music - it will always be there for you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amie Beeman is a music educator in the Greater Milwaukee area. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education from St. Norbert College and her Master of Music Education and Kodaly Certificate from Silver Lake College. Amie has been teaching K-5 general music for 13 years, both in Wisconsin and Maryland. She is currently the President of AWAKE (Association of Wisconsin Area Kodaly Educators) where she is involved in local and national conferences and professional development opportunities for music educators. Amie believes music is a part of what makes us human and that it is essential for all children to develop a love and appreciation for music.