pile of music notes

By Peggy Qualls, Community Relations Manager —

No matter who we are or where we live, music is able to transport us beyond our present reality into a new place.  And during a global pandemic, music can be a therapeutic form of escapism for just about anybody!

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato

Music is a Powerful, Healing Tool

Music has always shaped our individual and collective lives: music plays a key role in religious services, special occasions like graduations and weddings, as well as gatherings such as dances or concerts. Music can stir our emotions, bringing joy, tears, laughter and much more.  Sometimes, just a few notes from a song can evoke a vivid memory of a time or place that otherwise could remain forgotten. 

Music is powerful! Research has proven that music can improve mood, decrease stress, decrease pain, enhance relaxation and decrease anxiety. Although it doesn't cure a disease, it can help with coping skills. There are now entire college and post-graduate programs devoted to music therapy and how beneficial music can be to overall health and wellness.

The Benefits of Music

Music is accessible to everyone, and we believe this is a tool you may want to use daily during this stay-at-home period.  A March 2020 article in Positive Psychology noted a few interesting facts worth sharing.

Interesting Facts about Music

  1. Your heartbeat changes to mimic the music that you listen to.
  2. Distinguishing changes in sounds were found to be equipped in those as small as a developing fetus.
  3. Listening to happy vs. sad music can affect the way you perceive the world around you.
  4. An “earworm” is a song that you can’t seem to get out of your head.
  5. A “brain itch” is a need for the brain to fill in the gaps in a song’s rhythm.
  6. Music triggers activity in the same part of the brain that releases dopamine (the ‘pleasure chemical’).
  7. Music triggers networks of neurons into an organized movement.
  8. Learning a musical instrument can improve fine motor and reasoning skills.

Music Therapy at Kendal at Granville

Here at Kendal at Granville, we are most fortunate that our Life Enrichment Director, Gabriella Drago, is a board-certified music therapist. She utilizes the two fundamental types of music therapy: receptive music therapy and active music therapy (also known as expressive music therapy). 

Active music therapy engages people in the act of making vocal or instrumental music, whereas receptive music therapy guides individuals on listening to live or recorded music. Both are important tools in Drago’s toolbox.

“Music therapy demonstrates positive effects for individuals of all ages. It is often implemented to assist individuals, especially those with Dementia, to decrease isolation. Isolation seems to be a problem for almost everyone at this time.” ― Gabriella Drago, a board-certified music therapist at Kendal at Granville 

Ways to Embrace and Share Music During These Times

Although everyone may not have access to a board-certified music therapist, it is possible to use music therapeutically for oneself. During these stay-at-home times, Drago suggests:

  1. Listen to a favorite song or artist to decrease feelings of stress.
  2. Sing a song or play a musical instrument to assist with emotional expression. 
  3. Learn a musical instrument, which at this time can provide a cognitive distraction and challenge.
  4. If you do play an instrument, sit on your patio or balcony and play for your neighbors.


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Sharing music is contagious in a positive manner. “If you do play an instrument, you can sit on your patio or balcony and play for others in the neighborhood,” Drago suggests. “It might feel strange, but music has a way of bringing people together, even from a distance, which is a beautiful thing in these times of social distancing! Evidence of this impact of music has been demonstrated in Italy, where neighborhoods are standing on their porches singing together, or in New Orleans where neighborhoods are playing instruments together.

“The way that we enjoy music may feel different than it once was, but different does not have to mean impossible,” Drago says.

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