What Music Means in a Pandemic

By Lauren Aliotta

April 29, 2021

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For the past year, society has seemed to have hit the pause button on normality, forcing us to enter into a new era. Each day is a constant cycle that consists of Zoom meetings and computer screens that has outlived the hopeful attitudes of people believing that these times will soon end and normal life will begin again. Every day is just as isolated as the last, and staring at everyone’s name in their own little box during Zoom calls has gotten more and more dismal.

However, for some of us, music has served as a tool to maintain the normality of our lives every day, forging and strengthening connections between people and helping us remain in touch with our true selves.

Music can help us feel connected to the artists and other listeners, giving us the opportunity to realize that we are not alone in this isolation that COVID-19 has created. Lilybee Wilcox, a sophomore, feels this way, and adds that “through artists’ music you can learn a lot about them too… Music is also very connecting. I have strengthened many friendships through music.” Through sharing new music with friends, these relationships are strengthened.

Ephram Cola-Jacquin, a senior, has experienced a similar connection during the COVID-19 pandemic: he wasn’t familiar with K-Pop until a friend suggested it to him. Now, Cola-Jacquin and his friend bond over listening to this music. Music can help us put the world into perspective and realize that although our current situation feels like an unbearable weight on our shoulders, there is still some good that can be enjoyed everyday. It can also give us a refreshing distraction from this harsh outside world. Cola-Jacquin agrees with this: “It helps me get my work done and sometimes forget about the bad things happening in the world right now.”

Music can be used as a tool to get lost in our thoughts, but also to ground us. Vasilisa Mullin, a freshman, uses music as a tool to “express [her] feelings.” For Nathan Quiroa, an 11th grader, says listening to queer artists of the hyperpop genre during the pandemic has given them “an extended amount of time to finally self reflect on [themself] and what [they] value and also reflect upon [their] gender identity as a whole.” Music builds self confidence, and helps us explore our true selves.

But it’s more than that. Henry Tremblay, a junior, says, “I listen to rock to get motivated when I’m not feeling motivated otherwise, and then jazz calms me down.” With music, we are able to be transported to a new world, a different reality. Our moods can be changed from exhausted to exhilarated with a single song. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Music gives us a chance to escape from the worries of the pandemic and get back in touch with ourselves with the click of a button.

Similarly to other students’ experiences, for me, music has become a tool to help break up the bleak days of pandemic life with bursts of upbeat and rhythmic sounds. It is my beacon of light during these dark and dreary times. I often find myself reaching for my headphones when my virtual life on the screen becomes too dizzying and tedious. The soul-rattling bass and drums of Twenty One Pilots and the rhythmic and revitalizing anthems of Cardi B help me get on with my day and enjoy some moments of distraction from the chaos that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like Cola-Jacquin and Wilcox, listening to my favorite music helps me to realize that there is a whole world out there, separate from my small world of Zoom meetings, filled with all different perspectives on life. One minute Adele could be telling me a story about betrayal and spite and the next minute Oasis could be telling me one of forgiveness and love. I could be singing along to The Beatles and then dancing to Fitz and The Tantrums soon after. This music helps me keep in touch with emotions during these difficult times, similar to Mullin, Quiroa and Tremblay. Whether listening to Billie Eilish, Broadway soundtracks, Chopin, or Travis Scott, music is a therapeutic tool that allows us to stay in touch with ourselves and others during this time of confusion and unease.

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