On A Happier Note – Coronavirus and Music

Quarantined Italians make music from their balconies, in attempt to lift spirits, March 13th 2020.

Since the international outbreak of Covid-19, there has been an immense sense of anxiety and panic, with people being separated from their loved ones due to social distancing, and in some countries, a lockdown being instated for the safety of others, meaning a reduced access to the outside world and public facilities. However, citizens from all over the globe are finding ways to comfort those in the most need and bring solidarity through the power of music. As one of the oldest art forms, music is one of the biggest ways we feel connected, and is how people are connecting with each other during these unprecedented times. The language of music forgoes age, gender, race, it’s a language that everyone can understand, which is why music has provided unity throughout history in times of separation, and now more than ever. Italians are proving this, demonstrating that music can help transcend the panic that Covid-19 has brought.

The people of Italy, one of the most effected counties, are taking to their balconies and windows to listen, make, and experience music together all while keeping a two or more metre distance. Italy has reported over three thousand deaths as a result of the Coronavirus, a death toll that has surpassed China where the disease originated, and is currently the highest in the word. Despite this, swathes of videos have gone viral of Italians keeping up morale by bonding with others using music. Providing a community feel, Italians are using traditional instruments, or otherwise, to create and replicate songs with their neighbours and people from surrounding areas. And it has had an enormous positive impact, not just in Italy, but globally. People all over the world are getting involved making music, to lift the spirits of others, to give praise to the key workers, show gratitude for the health care workers, and encourage people to stay optimistic. 

Not only have people been making music from their balconies, celebrities have been live streaming their concerts to give people a musical experience from home.

Stars such as John Legend, Chris Martin, Pink and Lizzo have taken to performing in front of their cameras, to live stream themselves creating music for their fans during lockdown. Providing some much needed entertainment throughout this difficult time, celebrities are serenading the public from their living rooms by staging live concerts at home. Many of the in-person concerts had to be cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19, therefore celebs are appealing to their self isolating audience, many of whom would have been disappointed by the cancellations. Well known figures of the Instagram community, John Legend and Chrissy Teigan delighted their fans with an hour long livestream, with John starting the stream playing some of his biggest hits and showing off his talent on the piano. By the end of the video, the watchers praised the power couple, saying it ‘brightened their day’ and had them laughing and smiling, regardless of the current global situation. 

Somerset’s very own Elvis, Barry Paull, takes to the streets to entertain neighbours during lockdown. 

A South-West tribute act, Barry Paull, drew people out from their homes in Ilminster after performing some much-loved Elvis songs in his garden. Barry has been performing as Elvis for over 21 years, (18 years professionally) and is a well known figure around his town.

Barry has said that he was setting up some new equipment to try out when people began to poke their heads out of their doors to see what the noise was:

“I decided to set up at the side of my property in Ilminster to test the sound quality. I got through two songs and all of a sudden I looked around and all the neighbours had started to come out and set chairs up” said Barry. “When I stopped singing the second song they all shouted ‘more’ so I thought why not, I’ll do a few more. It went on for about an hour, they just loved it.”

He believes that music has an especially positive impact during the lockdown:

“Any music is a lift for anybody, in times of trouble. We’ve all got our favourite song, you put Elvis into the mix and it’s just awesome music, from the ballads through to the rock and roll, the gospel. It definitely has an impact on everybody,” continued Paull. “I’m quite a well-known character in the town; I do a lot of charity events, so it’s always well supported, because of the love of the music, the dance and having fun, it brings the best out of people, I believe.”

For more information on Barry’s Elvis tribute act, visit www.elvisconcert.co.uk.

Ben and Danielle Marsh and their four children, from Kent, said that their performance of a Covid-19 adaptation of a Les Misérables song was intended to give their friends and family a laugh during lockdown, before it became in internet sensation. 

Whilst people building a sense of hope and togetherness is so important during this time, it is also important to note that music itself has many health and psychological benefits already, which could be why so many people are turning to this creative outlet at such a stressful time. Studies have shown that when you hear music that you enjoy, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on mood. It has other effects too, such as; lessening anxiety, reducing stress, improving exercise, easing pain, providing comfort, and can soothe children. All of these factors can contribute to overcoming a fear of the pandemic, and make for a more enjoyable and relaxed time during the lockdown that many countries are enduring. Overall music is one of the most powerful tools that we have for improving well being, making it no surprise that during one of the toughest periods of time that a lot of countries have encountered, we use music to counteract the negativity. 

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