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CAS project: Music and mental health

King Edward’s School, Birmingham. Sexagesimal Concert in the Ruddock Performing Arts Centre on Monday 9 March 2020 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the school Symphony Orchestra. Lauren Zhang plays Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no.5, op.73 ‘Emperor’.

For many music has always been a way to deal with adversity and now, during a third national lockdown, it is once again an important method to help with these growing pressures. There have been several studies that show the beneficial impact of listening to music of any genre on mental health and in reducing stress. And we would like to share our experience of making music and how it has helped us through this difficult time. 

I think, especially during the national lockdowns that we have been facing and are currently in, continuing with as much music as possible has been a way that I have been able to relax but also feel like it has been productive at the same time. I have been struggling with not being able to take time away from working as there has been no clear-cut end of the school day whilst being at home and so going away from my computer to play piano and lose myself in the music has allowed me to build that structure back and take control of my time. With everything else in my life grinding to a halt, music and music-making, even if alone, has been one of the things that has allowed me to move through this difficult time.

Sam Ecclestone-Brown

Maybe the ancient Greeks were getting somewhere by making Apollo in charge of both medicine and music. It’s no secret that music affects our brain, mood and stress through the function of neural networks which slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce levels of stress hormones. Yet, these clinical observations might not glean the full extent of music’s effect. Perhaps dramatically put by the poet Robert Browning, “He who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.” In many ways this holds true, as personally music often provides a solace and respite. Small things like putting on a good tune whilst washing the dishes are exceedingly therapeutic activities! However, above all, playing and listening to music is plain fun. I’ve spent countless hours browsing through many eras of music just appreciating the little quirks and characteristics. To stop there would be a shame, so I’ve tried my hand at emulating my favourite works on the piano and even an acapella voice. So, whenever the tiring online school day gets to you, remind yourself to have a break and immerse yourself with some music!

Junias Wong

Listen to Junias perform ‘A Quick Break – Cuphead’

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