• Sarah Bell

Turning to Music as Music Therapists

What a year it has been. I hope you all are taking care of yourselves during this time, being kind, gentle and patient with yourselves. I hope you are turning to music for comfort, for healing, for enhancing your mood and for connection. Every season my friend makes a playlist. The act of curating music helps her get excited for the new time of year. I really loved this idea and thought:

How do we as music therapists use music in our own lives? What music are we turning to during this time of uncertainty?

I have found that I’m listening to slow and beautiful music more and more. It’s a way for me to slow down, to sort of soak in the music and find respite even if for only 5 minutes.

On Spotify it’s really easy to make playlists and I’ve made one for “my inner child.” The songs on this playlist are soothing, almost like lullabies. Sigur Rós, Mavis Staples, Patrick Wolf and Jeremy Dutcher are on my list.


Here are some ideas of how to use music as a tool for care and gentleness during this time.


Make a playlist around “Songs that make me feel safe” “Songs that help me to slow down” “Songs for soaking”


Focus on deep breathing while listening to instrumental music, on your exhale breathe in a sense of “peace,” and exhale “anxious or worried thoughts”


Create a soundscape for yourself, experiment on your instrument of choice, hold chords and feel free to bring in breath and your voice. Perhaps check out Diane Austin’s free associative singing for inspiration.


Send a friend a piece of music you’ve been enjoying and say how it reminds you of them. I recently sent a friend a piece by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. She thanked me for helping her to start off her day with beauty.


During this time there is isolation and music, as we know, is a simple and deep way to connect with ourselves and those we love.


Be well, make music and take care of yourselves and those you love.


I will end with a blessing by one of my favourite poets John O’Donohue.


This is the time to be slow,

Lie low to the wall

Until the bitter weather passes.

Try, as best you can, not to let

The wire brush of doubt

Scrape from your heart

All sense of yourself

And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,

Time will come good;

And you will find your feet

Again on fresh pastures of promise, Where the air will be kind

And blushed with beginning.

-John O'Donohue


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