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Thursday, September 12, 2024

Using Music to Heal During COVID-19

Here in Illinois, we’re fast approaching a month since Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered us to shelter-in-place. The order forced us to rethink our day-to-day lives and reevaluate our priorities from the boundaries of our home. For me, this meant exploring my longstanding passion for music and using it as a way to heal and cope with the burdens of COVID-19. Music is an effective tool to create bonds, share emotions and uncover the different layers of what it means to be a human.

Thinking back to where my love of music flourished, I’m reminded of the summer between my junior and senior years of college at Northern Illinois University. As an accounting major, I didn’t take classes that furthered my fascination with music, but that summer, the radio station offered me a job to disc jockey.

Every Tuesday morning, I arrived at the station before 9 a.m. and sifted through hundreds of alphabetized vinyl records to find three hours of tunes to play. I picked about 30 records, fired up the turntables, greeted my audience and set the needle down. DJing was like a weekly vacation for me where I forgot about my problems or headaches. My goal was to play music that would help others do the same.

Now, many years later, I get a chance to rekindle my passion for sharing the wonders of music with others.

As a member of The Village Chicago, I have the opportunity to connect with many individuals throughout Chicago’s North Side. During shelter-in-place, it dawned on me that I might be able to provide new opportunities for us to persevere and learn together during this troublesome time through sharing music. While I still have more than a hundred vinyl records (albums) and a turntable, for this initiative I’m using a computer and YouTube. I’m gathering a small but robust group of followers who want to find new music for comfort or transport them to a different place. From Marvin Gaye, to Elton John, to the Allman Brothers Band, and many more artists, I don’t see myself running out of music to share with those who will listen. For me, this is a labor of love. Even after a busy workday, I enjoy sending the daily email with a new song and a few comments about it.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I truly believe that music is a key to the soul. At Chicago Methodist Senior Services, we place an emphasis on older adults having the opportunity to explore music at whatever level they are comfortable with. Whether that is playing the piano, singing along to some of their favorite songs or simply listening to others perform, the impact of music is profound.

Times are hard for everyone right now. We are burdened with loneliness, fear of the unknown and anxiousness for a return to normalcy. I believe that if you make time for what you love, whether that is writing, drawing, watching Netflix, or in my case, listening to and sharing music, you will be okay. Use it to heal. Use it to grow.

The entire CMSS team and I would love to read about how you’re spending your time and fulfilling your passions as you shelter-in-place. Please leave us a note in the comments section or tag us on social media so that we can get through this together.


Bill Lowe, CMSS President & CEO

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