If you’ve been online at any point within the last year, there’s a fair chance you’ve seen this video of people in Italy singing during quarantine:
And instead of wondering what the heck they were doing, it seems pretty likely that you and anyone else who happened across that clip just knew what was going on: It was music, plain and simple.
Whatever the reason behind them, bad days come to us all and there are times when finding your quiet place sitting still and breathing doesn’t do as much as it used to. Now that’s perfectly fine; with how things have been the last few months no one can be blamed for wanting to go to the nearest Karaoke Hub after quarantine lifts, renting a room and unleashing your inner Aggretsuko on a poor unsuspecting microphone. Singing is the most accessible stress reliever, after all.
Making music isn’t unique to humans by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a very human thing in how it builds a sense of community and expresses volumes more than mere words might, for sheer range of expression and nuance inherent to the art. Make no mistake: Humans are social creatures, so whether we’re making an acoustic guitar sing or composing a story on a synthesizer it’s all really just another way to reach out and connect with each other.
This doesn’t just go for in-person social events or concerts over Zoom. The use of music in film and games is, when properly executed, a deeply effective way to draw your audience in and evoke empathy, as in certain scenes from the likes of “Detroit: Become Human,” “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” or one of the most immediately recognizable songs in a modern franchise.
There are benefits to all these beyond the more immediate and obvious lift in mood derived from making or performing music. Its positive influences on cognition are well-established, particularly among older adults, and there are hints that singing in a choir, specifically, may help strengthen a person’s immune system.
Learning to play an instrument comes with its own set of benefits, of course. Fine motor skills and sensorimotor speed and function all saw improvements correlated with musical training, more intensive training resulting in more pronounced improvements. And that’s not even getting into how it gives people another avenue to explore and develop creative skills and a strong sense of rhythm, something integral to percussion.
In all, with how much more free time we seem to have been getting lately and people growing a deep-seated need for a creative outlet, it might not be a bad time to live out your high school dream of making music and starting your own punk rock band after all.