‘Musicking’ for Mental Health

Author        : Kezia Putri, MMT, MTA, MT-BC
Editor         : Tara P. Sani, MD, MSc & Liana Carolin

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have to adopt social distancing as a new habit. These changes can affect our mental health. In this article we will explain how music can help us in maintaining our mental wellbeing.

What is ‘Musicking for Mental Health’?

Christopher Small (1998) in his book, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, defined the term ‘musicking’ as, “An involvement, in all capacities, in carrying out musical activities; whether as a performer, listener, by practicing, providing material for the performance, or dancing.” In this case, ‘Musicking for mental health’ means a self-involvement in musical activity of any form, as an active or receptive participant with the aim of supporting our mental health. 

Previous research around the world has shown that musicking gives positive impacts such as increasing motivation and creative engagement, improving mood, attention and communication. Musicking when done in a group also increases social engagement and bonding among the participants.

Even though the forms of activity are often similar, musicking for mental health is a different concept with music therapy. In music therapy, sessions are guided by a formally-trained music therapist. In music therapy there are three elements: music therapist as the provider and facilitator of the intervention, music and music activity as the media, and the client as the receiver.

Musicking for mental health can be done not only by musicians but also non-musicians. The purpose of this activity is to maintain our mental wellbeing, and not aiming to perform music in a professional setting, therefore, enjoying the activity should be the aim. This activity can be done independently, and therefore is suitable as one of the alternatives of meaningful activities for older people and/or their caregivers during this social distancing period. 

Read our article on Musicking for Older People and the Caregivers[1] for more ideas and advice on musicking.

About the author:

Kezia Putri is a music therapist and currently works as the coordinator lecturer for music therapy specialization programme at the Conservatory of Music, Pelita Harapan University, Jakarta – Indonesia.


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