The downbeat: How to use music to feel less alone and anxious during social distancing

A purple apartment building in the nighttime, with open windows. Residents are seen through the windows performing various musical activities: playing piano, playing guitar, singing, dancing, and clapping their hands.
(Cassie Wang • The Student Life)

Being alone can be hard, but in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, social distancing is more important than ever before. On the bright side, everyone, including your favorite artists, is staying home, which means there are a lot of musical resources to help you feel a little less lonely and a little less stressed. Here is a list with a few ideas to get you started!

Go to a virtual concert

As many musicians are livestreaming themselves during these times of isolation, artists such as John Legend, Lizzo and Yung Lean, among others, have given the public the gift of entertainment from their homes. Instagram Live has a seemingly endless supply of videos to choose from, so instead of feeling bored and disconnected, join thousands of other viewers in a virtual music experience.

Vogue has collected links to several recorded sessions, Billboard has posted links to all the festivals being streamed this weekend and there’s also a constantly updated list of all known music livestreams happening until gathering restrictions loosen. 

Feel something new with binaural beats 

During a pandemic, it is understandable that stress levels may be on the rise, but binaural beat therapy can calm, soothe and aid in anxiety relief. According to Medical News Today, binaural beat therapy “makes use of the fact that the right and left ear each receive a slightly different frequency tone, yet the brain perceives these as a single tone.”

The produced sound, which can be described as a bit like gentle humming or a low-level vibration, can be utilized for just about everything — from improved focus to sleep therapy, there’s an audio file for it.

Why not try it for yourself? Get started with this Spotify playlist full of binaural beats, or try some with calming visuals

Cover your favorite songs or learn a new instrument 

YouTube has plenty of beginner tutorials, and between Ultimate Guitar and Guitare Tab, you’ll have thousands of songs to choose from based on what you want to learn. If you don’t have an instrument on you, websites like Chrome Music Lab’s Song Maker and BeepBox allow you to make tunes online.

Learn to produce or mix music 

Ever wanted to learn new software, but never felt like you had enough time? Well, no more excuses, because now all you’ve got is time. Download Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools or use an online platform such as Audacity or FL Studio, and either watch tutorials online (YouTube is your best friend for general advice and how-tos) or just play around. You’ll either learn some new techniques or challenge yourself by just messing around in the studio. Either way, you won’t be bored.

If you’ve ever wanted to get into DJing or live music production, try YouDJ, an online software where you can learn to DJ online for free. If you’re just looking to create some mashups or combine your favorite songs, try RaveDJ.

Enjoy the creations of artists in isolation 

SoundCloud has a quarantine playlist called “The Latest Uploads from Isolation.” Elevator Magazine also highlights new releases daily on their music page and features videos on their videos page.

For more mainstream releases, Spotify has a playlist called “New Music Friday,” Pitchfork handpicks their favorite new releases on their “Best New Music” page and NPR has a section titled “New Music.”

Explore the meaning behind the music

Normally, life is fast-paced. We don’t have time to get lost in the lyrics of our favorite love song, research the producer of that one fire beat or go behind the scenes to see how a music video was made. But during a pandemic, there’s plenty of time, so when you can’t explore outside, explore the internet and go crazy uncovering the secrets behind the music you listen to every day. Maybe, when the pandemic is over, you will have gained a new appreciation for some of your oldest favorite songs.

There’s numerous jumping off points — you can watch artists explain their lyrics with Genius’s “Verified” series, watch producers explain the thinking behind some of the hottest beats with Genius’s “Deconstructed” playlist or listen to the podcast “Song Exploder,” where musicians take apart their songs and tell the story of how they were made. Whichever path you choose, the material is out there for you to discover during this downtime. 

Make a playlist

Whether you use SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube, you can always set a mood, reminisce or get lost exploring recommended songs. And, of course, playlists are always best when they’re shared — try collaborating on thematic playlists with friends and family. 

Whether you try one, two or all of these suggestions, remember that, albeit virtually, everyone is in this together. And isolation often allows us free time, so enjoy this creative liberation while the world is on hold!

Ella Boyd SC ’21 is one of TSL’s music columnists. Besides writing, she enjoys making music, poetry and art.

Facebook Comments