BY: ZOEHRIYA “NUHA” ANWAR STAFF WRITER
Many college students and faculty at Mason will have to face numerous difficulties because of this pandemic. These difficulties can be debilitating to our mental health and cause significant emotional distress. Music is an important part of taking care of our mental health, and it will help us get through this crisis.
I used to be a carefree, bubbly and confident person who had a passion for composing and playing piano songs in addition to helping support others as a mental health teen counselor for 7 Cups. Unfortunately, that all changed as a result of harassment and abuse I faced from a toxic friendship in high school. Throughout the first two years of college, I have suffered significantly with my confidence and constantly doubted myself in everything I did. I had tried to invest time into self-care and improving my well-being, but wasn’t able to due to schoolwork.
For the past few weeks that I have been in quarantine, I have invested that time to focus on taking care of myself. I have gone back to playing the piano and even started composing a few songs of my own. The piano is a symbol of my childhood since I used to always play it for my late father and other family members. The piano has also allowed me to connect with who I was before that toxic friendship: a carefree, bubbly person.
During the time of the pandemic, I have also been stressed out with my online classes. As someone who isn’t good at science and is not pursuing a health profession, I dreaded taking my anatomy class online. However, since I started playing the piano again, I noticed that it has been a lot easier for me to absorb concepts I am learning in my anatomy class because it keeps my mind engaged.
As I reflect on the role that piano played in my joyful childhood, I am met with a cliche explanation that music is therapeutic because it alleviates stress and improves our memory skills by creating new neural pathways. But I believe music goes beyond just being a source of therapy. It allows us to find unity and comfort, two things that I believe are essential during this pandemic.
TikTok, which is a video-sharing social networking service, has featured a group of Italian teenagers in one apartment building singing to a popular Rihanna song while under quarantine. By singing a song together, even if it does not involve physical closeness, these teenagers demonstrate how music brings unity. By providing unity, these teenagers know they can still be able to live their life fully and enjoy the little moments, even if they don’t involve going out.
Music also allows communities around the world to find comfort during the pandemic. Recently, I watched a livestream of the One World: Together At Home concert which featured celebrities like Taylor Swift, Chris Martin and John Legend. By performing for billions of people worldwide, these celebrities are providing assurance to these individuals that there is a silver lining through this pandemic.
I could never afford tickets to a Billie Eilish concert despite how much I saved up from my summer job. But now I can afford to “attend” a live concert of hers by simply turning on the TV or logging into Facebook. This free, live concert not only provides comfort for so many people, but it also, in a way, tackles economic and physical barriers. Even someone who lived outside of the U.S. and couldn’t afford to see Billie Eilish would have just as much access to her concert livestream.
We cannot say for certain when we will be able to see our friends again, or if we will get to see them again. But, for now, we can live in the moment and find comfort and unity through music.
Just like we turn on our phone flashlights at a concert, we can shine our light by sharing the gift of music with each other. Share a Spotify playlist you like with your friends. It can be Red Hot Chili Peppers. Black Sabbath. Post Malone. Whatever you like. If that doesn’t work, tell your friends to tune into concert live streams. It will take time before things get better with the pandemic. But, right now, what’s important is that we give off a ray of hope that we will all get through.