To the Editor:
All across the world, people are turning to music to help them cope and connect with others during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, we saw a plethora of handwashing songs and parodies. Next came the viral videos of people in Italy singing to each other from their balconies. The Facebook group, Quarantine Karaoke, has over 400,000 followers. Musicians are posting live concerts from home and choirs are sharing virtual group songs.
So many of us, unable to connect with each other in physical space, are doing so through music. It makes sense. Coronavirus fears have us feeling anxious, isolated and perhaps even depressed. We seem to intrinsically know that music can help us, in concrete and specific ways, with all of these feelings.
Making music encourages group cohesion and bonding. To music with others, people need to work together in a cooperative, synchronized manner. Research shows that when we make music together, people feel more bonded, more trusting and may even start to synchronize heartbeats.
Music also has a direct impact on our physiology and biochemistry. Making music reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and modulates levels of dopamine and serotonin, all which help improve mood.
One thing that excites me about the musical explosion happening right now is that music is being made by everyone. Not just the professionals, but everyone. This is the way that music once was. Music was shared around the piano, in the legion hall, across the fire and on the front porch. Singing once was a part of everyday life and now, perhaps it is again.
So please, keep the music going. And when this current crisis passes, remember how important music was in helping us get through this. Remember it the next time your local school system wants to cut music programs from the budget, or community arts organizations come asking for donations. Professional musicians, music therapists, teachers, and community music groups are being financially devastated by the loss of paid work. Yet, the music goes on. Because what else can we do? We are human beings, we will persevere, and there will be music.