The coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of all our lives, and that includes live music. As festival season is reaching its climax, many who were meant to be pitching their tents have instead had to settle for watching Glastonbury repeats in the living room with a warm can of cider in hand – and maybe the occasional five minutes standing outside in the rain. Or alternatively we had virtual concerts – some were brilliantly performed and broadcasted, some were hampered by dodgy internet connections, some were seamlessly edited together and some were just downright weird (I’m looking at you Gal Gadot and friends). The virus has meant that our entire world has been thrown into uncertainty and for many this means a huge amount of anxiety; and to say working from home has proved a challenge is an understatement – but maybe music could help with these issues, in a small but meaningful way.
With life not looking to return to normal for the foreseeable future, uncertainty and the anxiety that accompanies it is a constant issue for countless people. Music however, is also a constant – we will continue to have access to the music we know and love for however long COVID-19 continues to influence our lives and this, for me at least, is a comfort. For music lovers, there is always that song or that artist that somehow manages to calm us down during a stressful moment – it’s a baseline, something we know and can rely on. Or maybe it’s genre, or a Spotify mood – perhaps ‘Ambient Relaxation’ send you into a state of calm and contentment or ‘Rock Classics’ has you head banging and quickly forgetting the worries of the day to day. Music provides us with a moment of peace and serenity, a point in time where nothing else seems to matter, to be alone and appreciate the present. Yet equally, it can be a shared joy – you might not be able to go to festivals and concerts together, but you can share music even now. Whether it is a Zoom listening party, a shared playlist or giving each other music recommendations – sharing a love of music can be a great way to de-stress.
Uncertainty is not the only thing causing stress and anxiety though, with huge numbers of people still working from home (alongside school holidays) there comes the many challenges of noisy family members, freezing Zoom calls and neighbours who thought lockdown was the perfect time to build that extension they were always talking about. What’s more, it could be that this sees a shift in the way we work, and that more and more of us will be working from home in the future. For some, home can be a very productive environment, but others would much rather be in the office than perched on the end of the table whilst the kids try relentlessly to give their laptop a makeover. Well perhaps music can help in this situation as well; in a similar way to dealing with stress and anxiety (after all, working from home tends to come hand in hand with stress), – music can be a way to calm us down and get us focused. This again, differs from person to person – for me, lyrics can be a distraction so I’d rather some calming instrumentals; for others the music is just background noise and the lyrics don’t affect their productivity. Try and find what’s best for you, it might not be music you already know.
I suppose the message here is that if you know yourself and how music affects you then you can use that to influence your mood or your productivity; but if you’re struggling to de-stress or stay focused at home then maybe searching for some new music and widening your tastes could be beneficial. After all, we could be in this situation for a while yet so finding the best way to get through it with good mental health is vital.