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UnCOVERing Our Grief: Music in the Face of COVID-19

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

We are now three and a half weeks into a period of social distancing and stay-at-home orders in Massachusetts.

It is certainly challenging to outline the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on people all over the world. Sickness. Loss. Financial instability. Grief of all kinds.

People are coping in different ways, and musicians have taken to sharing musical performances on social media to find joy and comfort amidst these trying times. Professionals, amateurs, and beginners are sharing covers, originals, virtual ensembles…. you could say that the creative juices are flowing.

Perhaps I am slightly biased in saying this, having been a musician for most of my life, but it warms my heart to be reminded of the consoling power of music during periods of tribulation and grief. Part of my senior project at UMass was based upon this exact notion: the idea that in times of turmoil and widespread grief, music serves as an effective source of comfort and consolation for those afflicted.

I think it’s safe to stand by this assertion now, in light of the situation that has been unfolding around us.

In times of turmoil and widespread grief, music serves as an effective source of comfort and consolation.

What makes music so comforting? I think the answer varies from one person to the next. It could be the tendency for certain music to appeal to our deepest thoughts and emotions. Maybe it’s the capability of certain music to transport us to a completely different place and time, pulling us away from the trying circumstances before us. The act of playing music or practicing an instrument also teaches mindfulness, thus posing remarkable benefits for one's mental and emotional health.

For me, music brings me joy by connecting me with certain people and places that are important to me. Certain melodies, harmonies, and tones also speak to me in an intimate way that I am not so sure I can explain.

To switch gears – a few days ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and recorded my own acoustic cover (see below). I’ve loved The Band Perry since they released their self-titled album in 2010 (I was in eighth grade). Their songs (their nostalgia-filled lyrics, their country music twang, and their folk-filled melodies and instrumentation) always made me feel like myself. Having grown up on a dirt road in a small town (in what some people might call the middle of nowhere), I have to admit that there’s a part of me that loves country and folk music. It’s just a part of my story. Lots of people hate on country music in my experience, but to my ears, some of it can be really moving.

This song reminds me of a time in my life marked by excitement, unbridled creativity, a naive sense of optimism, and joy-filled self-discovery. This past year has been disorienting for me in several ways, in addition to the COVID-19 situation. Returning to my roots through music reminds me of my passion for music-making, this gift that I am able to pursue, solely by the grace of God.

What about you? How is music comforting you now, or how has it comforted you before? Let me know in the comments or shoot me a message. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Stay healthy and safe, everyone, and be sure to love one another through this mess.


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