Music: Cheaper Than Therapy

Life has an awful tendency of hurling high-speed curveballs at just about everyone in this world and there are a few things that have the ability to guide a person through some of the seemingly unforgiving times that we inevitably have to face as human beings.

As we continue to age, we find that times become increasingly difficult. There is only so much that can be done to help us cope with the struggles of heartbreak, the loss of a loved one, or simply a day that didn’t go as planned, but perhaps one of the most effective and popular ways to handle life’s unsatisfying situations is music.

“If you’re in the midst of a difficult life situation, music can help you go inside, find the hurt, and deal with it,” Laura Dubois, noted pianist and music professor explains. “Music can alleviate stress, which is something we all go through. If you feel angry, frustrated or hurt, you can use music to express that, and therefore get it out of your system.”

Keeping negative feelings bottled up inside is not beneficial for anyone, yet it can be difficult to find the proper way to express one’s self in tough situations. For many people, music serves as a creative outlet that gives them the opportunity to properly express themselves in an easier and less complicated way.

In fact, freshman musician Natalie Zeller confessed that one of the main reasons that she writes, plays, and listens to music, “is to escape from the daily struggles of every day life. When I need a distraction from the world, I love nothing more than sitting down and getting out my frustrations through creativity.”

Zeller also emphasized that yet another reason why so many people turn to music as a way to help them handle unexpected events is because it “is one of those incredible things that can make a difficult situation seem not so bad, because when another artist writes about a hardship that maybe you’re going through, you don’t feel as alone.”

Ross Ottman, first year student and musician, also believes that music has the power to transport its listeners to a previous time in their lives. “It provides them with an escape from reality. It can bring someone back to a time when they were really happy or really sad, and in that way it can also change their mood at that moment based on what they are listening to,” Ottman explained.

Similar to Ottman’s thoughts, psychology professor Janice Stapley said, “Some people use music to ruminate or focus on their current mood, such as dwelling on many sad breakup songs when they are having relationship trouble. Others use music to modify their moods, such as putting on something upbeat if they are feeling depressed.”

Listening to music has the potential to become a very emotional experience, and many old memories can be stimulated upon hearing a single line in a song. For some, mix tapes and burned CDs hold the same amount of precious value that scrapbooks do for others. Within each song could be a handful of old memories and treasured moments that were lost as time eventually progressed.

The realities and hardships of today can be hard to handle, but luckily, music is always there to depend on during the times in which life gets rough. Whether it’s by writing, listening, or playing, music can be one of the most therapeutic things that this world has to offer.

In the words of David Tripold, Chair of the University music department, when listening to music, “Our hearts are touched, and we are transported even if just for a while. A memory of some important event is jogged, our emotions are stirred, and yes, we escape the merry-go-round just for a little while.”