Listen, she said. You will feel better Mommy. She wove a tapestry of music around me, filled the air with light and sound, joyful this moment, melancholy the next. She allowed time to pass. Fingers move along the range of possibilities. She didn’t wonder if it was good or bad, if anyone would care to listen. She didn't look at herself from the outside. Just played from within. I forgot my worries then, the pain this year has caused, the bridges I haven’t crossed. I watched the back of her: hair flowing, butterfly dress falling arms reaching for the piano. I don't know how to play but I know how to listen: To her strength in a gentle moment, To her confidence in my recovery Unknowingly she shares her courage with me. (While I question everything.) I allowed myself to fly roll wander heal with her fingers on the keys.
My cancer treatment nurses encouraged me to listen to music during chemotherapy infusions. I loved listening to my daughter play piano. She would record her practices so I could hear them while in the chair.
According to Psychology Today, music reduces heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. It reduces depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Further, positive lyrics influence thought, empathy, and desire to help. We can use music during COVID-19 to help us as families to cope, communicate, and enhance our emotional well-being.
Moving to Music
Breath Painting, by Ruthika Javarayappa
Javarayappa’s “Moving to Music” activity helps us connect music, breath, and movement using paint. She suggests:
Gather paper and paints. Listen to different types of music and listen to it with your eyes closed or a lowered gaze. Observe how you are breathing to the music. Hold your brush and paint strokes to go with your breath. Experiment with your non dominant hand as well. Then, paint without music and listen to your breath alone.
Hop, trot, and bop along to this song about the pets. Parry Gripp, National Geographic Kids
National Geographic produces wonderful videos you can use to connect to others, build empathy and get dancing! My daughter and I enjoyed moving like each animal in “SomeBunny Loves Me” and chanting along with the song’s chorus.
Playing with Music
I am inspired by Michael Franti’s rhythms and prosocial lyrics. His songs make me feel hopeful. Enjoy this video duet with Michael and Joselyn. Dance, sing, and add your own instruments as you listen. The blog I link to below give some suggestions for how to create drums and move to music.
Another way to play with music is to explore how technology can enhance our understanding of music, and the possibilities for creative expression. Enjoy trying the activities from Chrome Music Lab below.
Experiment with Music. Chrome Lab.
Reflection Questions: Exploring Music and Emotions
What is music?
Can there be music in silence?
What makes a sound musical?
Why does different music bring up different feelings?
What music do you listen to when you feel different ways?
How does dancing to music make you feel in different circumstances?
Try writing a poem and singing it. How does that make you feel?
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
Creating a Musical Home Environment, PBS Kids.
Featured blog artwork, “Fugue: Painting in Captivity” by Jennie Oppenheimer, www.soulio.org.
Sharon Frances (formerly Chappell), PhD, is the Executive and Artistic Director of Well Beings Studio. She is a teacher, breast cancer survivor, parent and artist, and the founder of the Little Green Monster Project.
If you have an activity, artwork or story to share about emotional well-being during COVID-19, please email Sharon!