Musicians and the Therapy of Music

Musicians and the Therapy of Music
Abby Skye | Katie Mulcahy

Many musicians throughout history have identified with the LGBTQ+ spectrum and community.

They express this identity and their emotions through music. Musicians such as these include Freddie Mercury from Queen (bisexual); Marie Ulven Ringheim from Girl In Red (queer); Mikaela Straus from King Princess (gay and genderqueer); and Robbie Skinner from Cavetown (transgender), just to name a few.

There are many more LGBTQ+ artists who all deserve some time in the spotlight, and they’re out there to be discovered. Identity and the discovery of it have been and always will be big themes in many songs and music groups. Focusing on identity not only helps the musician express how they feel about the topic but can also help listeners and performers convey their thoughts and feelings as well.

Music is a universal language – it is a tool that is used to express the emotions of the presenter or composer to the listener.

Music is used in many religions and traditions as an expression of what those cultures are about. It does not require lyrics or a translation to be understood and appreciated by many. It is rare, if not impossible, to encounter someone who does not enjoy listening to music for its therapeutic value.

The best part about music is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different genres of music. Anyone can write their own lyrics, have them rhyme, or don’t, or compose a piece totally without words. The same applies to instruments; you can have one, or multiple, or none at all if that’s what you prefer. It is entirely up to the musician and how they want to express themselves with their music.

Musicians have the talent of being able to express how they feel or tell a story through their music as well. They come from all walks of life and all levels of skill, which means anyone can be a musician if they are willing to put in the effort.  You do not have to have perfect pitch or know how to play multiple instruments (or really even one) to become a musician if you put your heart into it.

There has never been a better time to get into music and expression than right now.

With time in quarantine and access to the internet, you have infinite resources open to you to learn how to compose music or publish it. Though opening your music to the public is not necessary, you can keep it all to yourself if that’s what you prefer. Just creating music by yourself or with friends may have a therapeutic value for you. Making music can also increase overall morale during quarantine, which has affected many people’s mental health negatively.

If you don’t want to create your own music, that’s fine too. You can present music that already exists, whether that’s because it relates to you, it makes you feel some sort of way, or you just like how it sounds. The music that you create or reproduce is entirely up to you in regards to how you want to do it. You can even remix existing songs, change dynamics or speed, change lyrics to a different perspective, or express it how it was presented originally.

Creating music isn’t just something fun to do when you’re bored because it has significant health benefits as well. Music can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, along with cortisol, which is a stress hormone. While it decreases these negative features, it increases serotonin, which is a hormone that helps with depression and allows brain and nervous system cells to communicate. Together, serotonin will put you in a better mood and state of health. Music is often suggested by therapists because of these health benefits and for how serotonin can impact people. Becoming a musician is also recommended by therapists as a coping mechanism as being able to put words to how you feel, which can be very helpful in the healing process.

Music also has a significant impact on people’s memory.

Reproducing, learning, or listening to music has been shown to significantly improve memory in people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Though it also helps memory in people who do not have general memory problems. Many people use music as a way to remember certain events – albeit good or bad. Usually, remembering things with a particular song brings greater, more vivid details than what would have been present if trying to remember without using music as a stimulant.

Writing music typically seems like a scary thing to approach at first. However, many people who do it feel it is more like writing a journal entry, and when they present it, it is more like telling their story. It is much like how talking to a therapist or to a trusted friend makes people feel better about their situations. This also has the same effect on the listener – people are more likely to listen to something that they relate to at a higher level. People tend to find comfort in knowing that they aren’t the only ones going through a type of situation that they might find to be challenging to take on alone.

Songs can be about almost anything and other people will be able to relate to them. Whether the topic is about happiness, sadness, anger, or the love for the color blue, the chances that someone can identify with it are very high. Because of this, music is often seen as a unifying art form and one of – if not the most- beautiful human creation.

There are so many benefits to creating music; it is almost impossible to find a reason why you shouldn’t compose.

Mental health among members of the LGBTQ+ community is statistically shown to be worse than in people who are not – though all mental health is valid. Creating music could be the missing link for improving your mental health. It can help you express your identity and generally make you happier. Especially in times like these that we are living in today, everyone could use some cheering up.

Unfortunately, far too many people believe that they don’t have the means to be musicians because they don’t think that they are talented enough. This is, unfortunately, a mindset that is all too common in artists young and old that has led to the world being void of many peoples’ hidden talents.

The first step to overcoming this is to stop comparing yourself to other people. You are unique, and you are not them. Don’t compare yourself to other people if it is only to put yourself down because you will only overlook your self-worth. Far too many people never pursue their passions and dreams because they lack confidence in themselves or fear other people’s reactions. Don’t worry about how other people see you, be true to yourself, it will make you a lot happier.

So, to any people out there who are still undecided on if they want to start creating music, go for it! You are far more skilled than you give yourself credit for. You are talented. You can do it!