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Musicians and the impact of playing.

Some suggest (not just me) that playing music (or active, participatory engagement with it) can have a positive impact on emotion and mental health alongside it being a lifelong resource.

By active engagement I mean playing, practising, rehearsing or any other form of being physically involved with a music-making process. The use of creativity and active engagement of music can also present a unique opportunity for musicians to emotionally soothe themselves and make meaning from psychological difficulties experienced within the music industry environment.

Zooming out of the musician community, in the field of music therapy, non-musicians and the clinical population, participatory music engagement (playing music) can be beneficial in a multitude of ways. These psychological benefits include positive factors, such as increased wellbeing, better quality of life, positive influence on moods, facilitation of self-esteem and cognitive development alongside an overall increase in public wellbeing and health. Additionally, within the general population, the community aspects of musicking are often found to be the most profound in terms of subjective wellbeing, derived from social factors and the value of social bonding and cohesion.

Despite these positive findings linking music engagement and wellbeing, some researchers do still argue the extent to which the arts or music impact the promotion of wellbeing.

As always, most of the research studies I have mentioned have been conducted within the classical demographic which has its own rules, regulations, learning environment and occupational environment.

Us ‘popular musicians’ are far less protected and perhaps more exposed in regard to the different and varied concerts we perform, our closeness to our audience and even the resources we use to make music. We are also more likely to have a media presence and be performing our own material, these factors will all have a significant impact on how our active engagement with music impacts us emotionally. Again, most of the interviews I have conducted through the ‘Tonic Music’ radio show, highlight the personal ways in which these musicians use their music as a support strategy and also the varied ways in which their occupation can help or hinder this. To listen back to these interviews head over to the Tonic's Mixcloud page.


Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health. You can listen again to any of the previous show on the Tonic Music Mixcloud page.


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