Part two of Adam Ficek writing about community and camaraderie in music relationships.
Having explored the importance of the social elements surrounding music communities in the last two blogs, this week’s piece looks at the benefits of music making in communities outside of the band and group framework.
There is something powerful that happens when we play music together as musicians or just people that enjoy the musical process. I was first drawn to working with Tonic through their use of music with those who were struggling psychologically.
Learning to play an instrument, singing in a choir or writing a song has a powerful impact whether we are professionals or amateurs. Music belongs to us all, a universal scaffold to support us during the most turbulent of emotional winds. Making making builds self-esteem (see Link A below), influences our mood (see Link B below) and serves our general wellbeing (see Link C below). Self-esteem is built by being in relationship and gaining a sense of value and worth through the eyes of the other. Music can act as a bridge towards a universal goal, gathering these relationships as it evolves and moves.
LINK A: BRITISH JOURNAL OF MEDICAL PSYCHOLOGY ARTICLE
LINK B: WILEY ONLINE LIBRARY ARTICLE
Effects of a music-creation programme on the anxiety, self-esteem, and quality of life of people with severe mental illness: A quasi-experimental design
LINK C: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY ARTICLE
Cognitive, Motor and Social Factors of Music Instrument Training Programs for Older Adults’ Improved Wellbeing
We also know how music listening lifts us emotionally but there is additionally something innately supportive about the music we hold dear, whether this be nostalgia, the music itself or the sound waves that make the song. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, we know it helps us all, although, as a caveat, there are times when it can be less positive! (I’ll discuss this another time).
From a personal perspective, outside of being a professional musician I witnessed the value of music first hand, back in my schoolteacher days. Yes, once upon a time I was a Secondary School music teacher! My main motivation for this was driven by the passion to pass on the lifetime skill, meaning and emotional support system that I derive from music. What better way to spend our time than learning to play the stuff that we love to hear. It can be a surrogate other, a lifetime mission of mastery, afford us community and build our self-confidence. I knew this personally so wanted to evoke this in the youngsters of North London. Of course, this wasn’t as easy as I had imagined in an inner London Secondary school but hopefully, I did pass some of this passion down through the generations. I now have the alternative luxury of sharing this with others as a performing band member, DJ and general music maker.
Amalgamating these experiences, I now view music from a bigger perspective, whether we are professional musicians, teachers or just fans, it is bigger than Live Nation and the Amazon-ian commercial world. Many people forget this! Underneath your ‘favourite star’ you will find a human being with the same biological make up and emotional complexity that we all hold. Our mutual fragility is often held together by this thing we call musicking whether we are professionals or not. For those of you missed it, this vulnerability was beautifully articulated by Ian Broudie in the first of my radio shows for Tonic Music which you can listen to via the Tonic Mixcloud page.
Read part 1 of Music and Community here.
Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health.