By Nafina Raha
In times of isolation, such as the quarantine we have been living in since March, people are turning to a wide variety of activities in order to pass the time and cope with the lack of normalcy. Yoga, baking, painting, hiking, and the like have been common newly acquired hobbies as we are finding ourselves with tons of downtime in the absence of regular school/work hours. One of the most common things people are turning to amidst this isolation is music.
The music industry has been deeply impacted by coronavirus restrictions, with most shows and performances being pre-recorded or live-streamed. However, many popular artists, including Ariana Grande, Omar Apollo, Aminé, Kali Uchis, Miley Cyrus, Teyana Taylor, Fiona Apple, Thundercat, Sam Smith, The Weeknd, Tame Impala, and hundreds of others, have released new music throughout the long stretch of quarantine, reflecting how this downtime has encouraged and stimulated musical creativity, and allowed musicians to turn to their music for solace.
Online music streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, have received an increase in paid subscriptions, revealing that not only are people creating music as a coping mechanism, they are listening to it in order to cope with the isolation of quarantine as well.
Listening to music provides a way to relieve stress and focus on the positive. Studies such as those performed by Mindlab International, have shown that simply listening to music can relieve anxiety and built-up stress. Music therapy has also been proven to improve the immune system, according to the American Psychological Association. It focuses on separating different parts of a song, and focusing specifically on the instruments or the lyrics as a way of calming down and centering oneself. This form of therapy allows for increased relaxation and comfort. Though just listening to music is obviously not the same as actual music therapy, it still provides a state of stress-relief and solace amidst the boredom of quarantine.
“Now more than ever, music has been my crutch whenever I need a reprieve from reality, whether it be listening to my favorite artists or losing myself in my piano,” senior Anahid Assadourian said.
Many have also turned to music as motivation to stay active during
quarantine. Without sports and the usual physical activity that were part of our day-to-day life before the pandemic began, people are finding it harder to stay active. Music helps to motivate you while working out, whether it’s going on a hike, running on the treadmill, or simply dancing along to your favorite tracks. It keeps you focused and encourages you to keep going. Studies such as the one in 2010 led by sport psychologist C.I. Karageorghis have found that listening to music that you enjoy can contribute to a more efficient, vigorous workout.
“Before Covid happened, I was used to training with my teammates, so at first it was harder to run by myself in isolation without the motivation of my peers. But listening to my favorite songs while training has really helped me stay motivated and active,” junior Jahnie Hoffman, a member of Granada’s track and field team, said.
Music provides a sense of connection to regular life amidst the loneliness that many are experiencing in quarantine. Social isolation blocks off connection to friends and family, but music fosters some degree of emotional connection. During this isolation, music can provide a sense of emotional support and allow us to consolidate our state of being.
Two key parts of the brain’s limbic system, the amygdala and hippocampus, which each control emotional processing and memory, respond directly to music, showing how, on a scientific level, music allows people to keep in tune with their emotions and state of being. In short, music has served as a form of escape from the loneliness that many of us are feeling from the lack of connection in normal day-to-day life. Familiar songs serve as a fond reminder of good memories from life before quarantine, while the extensive downtime we now have has brought tons of time to discover new music.
“Music has been one of the only things that keeps me going during quarantine. It’s always been a comfort for me, but it’s been especially helpful during quarantine. It helps me focus as I do schoolwork, tidy up my room, or just helps put me in a good mood. I think the size of my playlists have probably more than doubled within the past few months. I’ve been able to find so many great new artists and songs because of the extra time that I have. I’ve also seen music helping people to bond during quarantine too. For example, on TikTok you’ll see a bunch of people in the comment section bonding over how much they love an artist,” senior Regina Santos said.
Music helps us feel less alone.