Creating, recording and listening to music over quarantine
The silver stars of First Avenue were illuminated only by city lights as the bright bulbs above were turned out for the night. Little did Minneapolis know at the time, but this would be the last day music would be played for a live audience for the foreseeable future.
In March 2020, the live music industry was shut down by the global pandemic of COVID-19. Concerts and music festivals were forced to be canceled or postponed as the severity of COVID-19 grew all around the world. Not only was music affected, but also school and work for nearly everyone.
The pandemic caused worldwide stress and panic. Many worried about loved ones and the unknown future ahead. Amidst this chaos and despite a lack of concerts, music remains a way to cope – whether that means creating music or merely listening to it. Music has been proven to have many positive effects on mental and physical health. Especially during high-stress situations, like quarantine. Music became even more so essential during this time.
According to Harvard Medical School, “The human brain and nervous system are hard-wired to distinguish music from noise and to respond to rhythm and repetition, tones and tunes.”
Researchers from the UK published findings in the Frontiers of Psychology journal about the beneficial impact of music on human development. The brain has many reactions to music. It can hype you up before a big game, bring you hope amidst struggle, tell a story, share a culture, and express a wide range of emotions. It is even known to temporarily revive memories and cognitive activity in Alzheimer’s patients.
“Music is very therapeutic.” said senior Will Carlen, student musician at Minnehaha. “It’s a form of expression that conveys ideas and themes through the lyrics of a song and the tonalities of the notes. Music is the best art form in my opinion.”
Karen Lutgen, choral director at Minnehaha Academy, has a similar point of view. She points out that music is “great company” and a “mood lifter”.
“A song can express those emotions and kind of lift some of the weight of that because it kind of names that emotion and gives clarity to it, and recognizes that other people feel that way too,” Lutgen said. “Like when a songwriter can put into words what I’ve been feeling, maybe I can be like yes I resonate with that. There’s some sort of comfort, even if it’s naming something really uncomfortable. There is comfort in the fact that someone else has named it.”
According to The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, “Music has been scientifically proven to have a powerful effect on the brain. Recent research shows that music can help in many aspects of the brain, including pain reduction, stress relief, memory, and brain injuries.”
During the seemingly endless quarantine of COVID-19, many of the powerful, positive effects of music were shown as people all over the world continued school and work remotely.
Students at Minnehaha used this time as an opportunity to create and produce their own music.
“During quarantine, I wrote almost a song a day,” said Carlen. “Most ended up being garbage, but my motivation to write was at an all-time high. I tried to use the time as an opportunity to improve.”
Carlen writes music, plays instruments, and sings with fellow Minnehaha student and producer Daniel Haack. The two recently released a song, “You”, which was written over quarantine and recorded over the summer.
Junior Fae Mwanzia started creating music as an eighth-grader and became very involved in his own music over quarantine.
“I wrote a lot [of music] over quarantine,” said Mwanzia. “I made a lot of beats. So, music affected me a lot over quarantine. It was my go-to.”
Mwanzia has even started working on his own album.
Many found ways to listen to and create music over the COVID-19 quarantine. However, live music remains not an option for any of these musicians.
“I miss both going to concerts and performing, there is nothing else like live music,” said Carlen.
One solution to this problem was technology. Access to zoom allowed for much-needed concerts, although remote.
“As a family, we had the opportunity to lead music for a Wednesday night, zoom service through a church,” said Lutgen. “My husband and I were the musicians leading it and so I was on the piano. Both of us are singing. My daughter Lucy actually played the cello, And then our youngest Greta who’s a kindergartner was familiar enough with that she would sing along with a couple songs, so it was a really neat thing that we did as a family. That only happens, because we were doing those zoom Wednesday Night services.”
Covid-19 caused cancellation, confusion, anxiety, and separation. But it could not stop the beautiful effects of music and the resiliency of people all over the world.