Music as Medicine

Throughout time, music has been an influential force that impacts everyone. Whether it is being played on a phonograph, record player, boombox, Walkman or iPod music is heard all over the world no matter how old or young. From the start of a child’s life they are played lullabies, and as the child progresses in life the music changes with their personality. For some people music has even saved their lives. Although that is a statement that seems to be a really cliche thing to say, but in all actuality it is a valid point. For a lot of children, teens, adults and elderly, music heavily impacts their lives, whether it is saving their lives, putting them in a good mood or just calming them down. Music can do a lot for people, and without it, many would not still be alive on this planet.

The blaring speakers bump the lyrics that are being sung by Mike Kepko and the rest of Civil Youth on stage at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. The lights blazing bright, pigmented, and dramatic colors, the lyrics of “Follow Me” from Civil Youth’s new album, Ossein, are running through the heads of everyone in the crowd. The fans arms are bouncing up and down to the beat, their heads bobbing to the beat of the music. The venue is a place where everyone has escaped everything they entered the venue with, left it at the door and have been filled with music and positive vibes.

Not only does music help performers, it helps the listeners. Those who listen to the voices of bands and the messages that a specific band tries to convey to their fans. Crim Nguyen of Finish ticket says that it is one of the most humbling things to hear when a fan tells him that his music has helped them get through something, or that it just simply has affected them. Music has affected me in a way where it has had such a huge effect on me that I credit it for saving my life. Chris Norton of The Casual, a local band from Philly, speaks on how music helped him through depression. “Music has had substantial effects on me. For a few years, I struggled with depression, and music became therapeutic. Depending on the genre, it can make me feel complete bliss, or total heartbreak, which I think is what makes music amazing.”

“Hard to explain what a feeling I’ve found, Between hope and a doubt that holds me to the ground, Low in dry fields of California I dream, Of a life lived with ease; simple and serene, But it’s hard to find the optimist in me, When the life I’ve loved is slowly wrecking me, It’s more, it’s more, it is more to you than it was when we were kids, And now, and now, you see the world, oh, plainly as it is, And boy, were you wrong, And boy, were you wrong, Booze is the kindest of poisons these days, You wake up, a fresh start, troubles masked in the haze, But it’s hard to find the optimist in me, When the life I’ve loved is slowly wrecking me.” These are lyrics from Finish Ticket’s song “Wrong”. Some might say that these lyrics are dark or sad, but it is lyrics like these that help people connect and give them something to relate to and to not feel so alone. Many people are in search of something that they can relate to and they find that in music like this song. A huge amount of people of all ages listen to music to connect and to relate, and songs that Finish Ticket, Civil Youth and the Casual perform and sing do just that.

When asked why each of these musicians got into music they responded with similar answers. Nguyen comments, “I actually started music for myself but after my parents passed away, I wanted to do something to be a role model for my little sister and at the same do something that helps other people so I chose music.” Norton describes why he writes and performs music, “ I play music primarily for enjoyment right now, but if my talents somehow changed or helped someone for the better, that would be incredible. If I knew what I was playing had an effect on those listening, I would strive to write/play with them in mind…… The otherworldly high I get when I play music is what motivates me. There is no feeling like performing in front of crowds, and it’s a feeling I will always want to experience. Also, the thought that I could one day make a living playing music is a huge motivation. That would be a serious dream come true.” And Kepko makes remarks as to why he enjoys playing music for Civil Youth’s fans, “It’s a bit of both [playing music to make a change and playing music for enjoyment] because I love the enjoyment of playing, and seeing people sing our songs, and it’s serendipitous that it helps both them and I.

Each of these artists have had a situation in which they have turned towards music for an escape of their problems whether it was a coping mechanism to help with the death of family members, or depression, family problems, heartbreak or any other situation where a person needs someone to relate to, and something to help them get over it. Kepko credits music for single handedly saving his life.

By tuning out and escaping to the world that is music creates a surreal feel that can mend whatever you need it to. An upbeat song can change your mood from sad to happy for some. Others a pop punk song will bring their mood from down in the dumps to happy hippy, giving someone a drug free high. The rush that one can get from simply streaming a song through their headphones and having the lyrics pump into their brain. The chords playing on and on relieving them from their thoughts is something that one can hardly resist.

No matter how old or young a person is, music will always have an impact on the human race. Just about everyone in the world listens to some sort of music. Music unites people, and saves people and helps people. In the end it is clear to say that music gives people the opportunity to escape whatever is bothering them, at the click of a button. The other world that is created when listening to music is something that is truly incredible and that is why music helps people and saves people, it gives them and out and gives them something to relate to and to care about.

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