Though the past year has been difficult, one of the positive aspects that’s emerged has been a new sense of community. Humans are social creatures, so when we’re faced with isolation we need to look for new ways to connect with people – and one of the most effective ways to do this is via music. You may have seen the viral videos of people singing to each other from their balconies while in lockdown, or watched musicians live streaming to reach fans at home. Music has the power to improve mood and decrease pain and anxiety. It also reminds us that we’re all in this together, and it can be a very therapeutic way to process our emotions during difficult times.
While we may not be able to go to a concert right now, or meet up with friends and family for a singalong, there are still many ways we can get involved with music and give our physical and mental health a significant boost. Here are some ways you can get involved with music from home.
1. Sing like no-one’s listening
Of all the different forms of music, singing is arguably the most powerful – and accessible. Time and again studies show that singing doesn’t only have the power to boost our mood and encourage social bonding – it can even raise our pain thresholds. Because singing is a mindful activity that allows us to stay present, it can create distance from negative emotions like stress and sadness, and help us feel calmer, happier, and more confident.
Singing is the perfect antidote to lockdown loneliness and anxiety, and there are so many ways you can incorporate singing into your daily routine. You could begin each morning by choosing a theme song for that day; think about how you’re feeling or what message you want to convey – then choose a song that feels empowering. If you don’t already sing in shower, give it a go – and then try singing when you’re making coffee, cooking dinner, or cleaning the house, too. Singing isn’t called ‘the world’s most accessible stress reliever’ for nothing – so why not give it a try and see what difference it makes?
While singing by yourself has big benefits, singing in groups is even more beneficial. When we sing with other people it provides feelings of belonging and togetherness – and considering that so many of us are feeling isolated right now, there’s never been a better time to enjoy the benefits of communal singing. You could reach out to friends and family and suggest a virtual singalong via Zoom – or why not consider joining a virtual choir? Got 2 Sing Online Choir runs an online choir class every Monday evening, so you may want to try a free taster session. Alternatively, you might want to join Music for Everyone’s free weekly online choir.
2. Make a playlist for every occasion
One way you can make good use of any extra leisure time right now is to make a playlist for every occasion. Being in lockdown causes everyone to go through a rollercoaster of emotions – but the good news is that there’s music to suit every mood. Whether you’re feeling low and need a pick-me-up or just want an outlet to express your frustration, putting together a playlist to suit your mood can help you regulate your emotions and feel more positive and empowered.
For example, if you’ve noticed you’re feeling sad, try putting together a playlist of songs that convey happy memories and positive feelings, and see if that helps. If you’re finding it hard to unwind, try making a playlist of soothing music that you find relaxing. If you’d like more advice on how to choose songs to suit your mood or a certain occasion, check out the mood playlists on music streaming services. Spotify (free basic account), Apple (try free for three months) and Amazon Music (monthly subscription fees apply) all offer a variety of genres to suit your frame of mind, whether you’re looking for a song to boost your mood or a track that’s perfect for a cold winter day.
You might want to check out other people’s playlists for inspiration – or research the most popular songs that are getting people through lockdown. The Bee Gees ‘Stayin’ Alive’ takes the top spot in public playlists, with Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’, The Police’s ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ and R.E.M.’s ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ all making the top 10 – so if nothing else, you may find exploring playlists provides a bit of wry humour at the expense of our situation.
3. Attend live music events online
If you’ve always enjoyed listening to live music, the good news is that you can still do this from the comfort of your own home. Musicians are still keen to connect with their fans, and there are all kinds of virtual events you can attend in 2021 – from virtual festivals to must-see livestreams and intimate concerts. Not only will attending a live music event online be enjoyable, it’s also a great way to show solidarity and support for your favourite artists and venues.
Head over to The List to check out upcoming online music events: from Valentine’s Day online music parties to big gigs with the BBC London Symphony Orchestra, there’s hopefully an event for everyone – and as an added bonus, most of these events are free. Eventbrite also has plenty of exciting online music events lined up, including concerts with top cellists, jazz music series, and even open mic nights. Alternatively, why not head over to Song Kick and check out their many upcoming live stream concerts?
We all need something to look forward to right now, so why not book tickets for a fun online music event and invite along some friends or family members too? After the live music you could arrange a Zoom call to chat and share what you all thought about the show, and perhaps plan your next virtual music event. After all, the show must go on, and appreciating music with your loved ones – even virtually – is just as rewarding as it is enjoyable.
4. Join online music groups
If you love talking about music, there are all kinds of online groups you can join where you can meet like-minded people, chat about your favourite bands, and swap music suggestions. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then it’s worth heading over to the music section of the Rest Less community forum, where there are always lots of interesting musical discussions going on.
Alternatively, you could head over to Music Banter; one of the internet’s biggest online music communities. You can post or read album reviews, chat about musical instruments and songwriting, rate new releases, talk about life in the community forum, and delve into sub-forums for pretty much every musical genre – from punk, folk, jazz, reggae, rock, indie, pop and classical.
You might also want to check out Chorus.fm, where you can take part in polls, chat about music new and old, and swap recommendations. If you like writing songs yourself, head over to SongStuff where you can chat to seasoned songwriters and enthusiastic amateurs alike. There are forums for introductions, forums for tutorials and reviews, and forums for writing songs – covering everything from asking for criticism and feedback to participating in fun songwriting challenges.
If you’re on Facebook, you may want to browse some of their music-focused groups – and because there are over 10 million groups, we’re sure you’ll find some that interest you! There are groups for people who love 80s music, groups focused on classical soul music, and groups for classical music lovers – to name just three.
5. Start learning to play an instrument
You may not be able to meet up with a music teacher in person right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start learning to play an instrument. Because of the extra time we have on our hands right now, lockdown is actually the perfect opportunity to start learning a musical instrument – and with the amount of online learning opportunities available, you can find plenty of exciting options whether you want to learn independently or with a teacher.
If you’re keen to start learning online by yourself, you might want to check out the BBC’s music resources and courses – and if you’re interested in learning to sing, head over to BBC Sing for a step-by-step guide on improving your singing technique. YouTube also has countless music tutorials, from vocal warmup exercises to learning the basics of piano playing. There are so many free music tutorials available online that it’s impossible to list them all, but you can check out 21 of the best here.
If you’d prefer to learn with a teacher, you can do that from home too. Yousician uses award-winning technology to give you feedback as you learn to sing or play the guitar, bass, ukulele or piano. For a monthly or annual fee, you’ll gain access to over 1,500 popular songs and exercises across multiple genres, and the enormous video library encompasses all abilities – from rookie to advanced. So why not try a free trial to see if it’s for you?
At imusic-school (subscription fees apply) you can learn to play 12 different instruments including the harmonica, drums, clarinet and flute, and you’ll be paired with an expert teacher to give you personalised instruction and guidance. Alternatively, head over to the courses section of our website to see if there are any music courses that inspire you.
6. Mix music using online programs
If you want to get creative with music but don’t fancy learning an instrument, then why not try mixing your own music? These days there are so many accessible music-editing tools that with a little bit of practice, anyone can find their inner DJ and have fun making their own tunes. If you just want to have a play around and use existing music to produce unique remixes, you can do this with free software – check out Lifewire’s recommendations for free DJ tools to find out more.
If you’re totally new to mixing and creating your own music and would like some guidance, you could always sign up for Udemy’s Beginner Audio Mixer Course, where you’ll learn how to use professional sound mixers. You don’t need any prior knowledge of audio equipment, but you do need access to an audio mixer to practice on yourself. Alternatively, you might want to check out Udemy’s Complete Mixing Masterclass, where you’ll begin with the very basics of mixing and work up to creating great tracks.
The power of music in enhancing our physical and mental health and helping us feel connected to others can’t be minimised. Music is part of what makes us human, and even in the midst of a global pandemic we’ve found new ways to bond over it, and to use it to boost our mood, manage stress and maintain our sanity.
The beauty of music is that there’s something for everyone, so whether you want to learn an instrument, try mixing music, connect with like-minded music lovers, or simply take some time to sit back and really listen to your favourite tracks, now’s the perfect time to do so.
Have you spent much time listening to music this lockdown, or getting involved with other areas of music? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave us a comment below or join the conversation over on the music section of the community forum.