Music – helping young people cope with lockdown


Exploring the role deep listening can play in the development of creativity in people of all ages, with a special focus on the young.

My “Sonic Immersion” project took place from November 2020 – May 2021. The UK was in Coronavirus lockdown during much of this time and the project responded by giving young people a positive creative outlet during a challenging period in their lives

Inspired by the scientifically validated benefits of experiencing and participating in music-making, this project, supported by Arts Council England researched, developed, and piloted new ways for audiences to become immersed in both the creation and experience of music. Simultaneously, the project demonstrated the positive benefits music can bring to people’s lives.

The benefits explored were:

  • Enhanced Motivation
  • Stress Release
  • Mental Focus
  • Expression
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Teamwork

Participants, both online and in schools in Luton (a post-industrial town 35 miles to the north of London, UK, home of London Luton Airport) were introduced to the elements of musical composition through the website using online software to create beats and explore pitch via a variety of scales and modes. Initially the aim was to create sounds which were designed to increase the heart rate and provide the motivation to perform a challenging physical task:

As the project participants gained experience, they found the software could enable their musical imaginations to take wing. At this stage we began combining melodic patterns with beats and learnt about the formation of chords. With the participants musical imaginations brimming with ideas and sounds, we then had the musical tools to explore the scientifically validated benefits of creating and experiencing music in more depth. Online, participants explored music’s ability to energise, to release stress and to enhance mental focus. After all this online work, when the coronavirus lockdown was finally lifted the young people were able to explore music’s ability to enhance expression, develop spatial awareness and build teamwork. It was wonderful for my musician colleagues and myself to finally bring their music to life in person.