How does music connect us?
Music’s impact on performers and listeners and their relationships with others
June 3, 2021
“Music has helped me focus on a medium of expression and distract myself from my thoughts,” said Clark senior Andre Hiwatig. “By focusing on music, I learned to accept my thoughts as they were and really appreciate my abilities.” Hiwatig mainly listens to acoustic, bedroom pop and R&B.
Whether it’s through making a personal playlist or listening to songs with friends, music provides a variety of ways for listeners to express themselves and connect with others. With over a thousand genres and millions of songs, there’s lots of room for exploration, connection and self-definition.
“I usually listen to music when I’m doing my homework or when I go on walks. Discovering music I like is really fun because I can find new artists and songs to listen to,” said Glendale High School junior Asa Yoshioka. He said that his favorite artists include SZA, Ariana Grande, Olivia Rodrigo and Chloe x Halle. In addition to listening to music often, Yoshioka has also been playing the piano since he was six years old.
For musicians, playing an instrument acts as an outlet for creativity and self expression.
“Music has always been an important part of my life,” Yoshioka said. “Both of my parents and my sister all play an instrument. Because of the piano and my musical background, I’ve been exposed to many different kinds of music and gained a deeper appreciation for its power to connect. I love sharing and listening to music with my friends.”
Like Yoshioka, Hiwatig has also been playing instruments for much of his life. He started by learning how to play the clarinet in fourth grade and has expanded his skills to the ukulele and piano, as well as singing.
Hiwatig said that even though he didn’t have a specific inspiration to pursue music, being part of a larger group sounded fun. “As I played clarinet throughout middle and high school, I became inspired by prodigies and other musicians around the world,” Hiwatig said. “Seeing young people like me in large concert halls really pushes me to keep practicing.”
Hiwatig made many of his middle school friends through orchestra and band. “It helped me establish solid friendships. It was awesome just making connections, especially through high school,” he said.
By dancing with others, music helps Immaculate Heart High School junior Maddie Oracion create new bonds, too.
“[Dance] had me create friendships for the first time outside of school and connect with them in a way where it’s totally different because we’re all doing something we love,” Oracion said. “It’s a totally different connection.”
Oracion started taking dance classes at 10 years old and joined a competitive team when she was 13. Because of the pandemic her time in the team was cut short, but she plans on going to new dance studios and exploring more. Although unable to participate in competitions, Oracion regularly dances in her free time.
“Dance helps me personally because it’s always something I turn to. When I have a stressful week I set time aside to dance in my room to take time off from doing homework or whatever is stressing me out,” she said.
Similar to Oracion, those who frequently attended music events were also affected by the coronavirus. However, after a year of many canceled and postponed music festivals and concerts, music events have begun to return in 2021.
Large-scale yearly music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza gather hundreds of thousands of people in one venue with performances from a variety of artists. On average, 32 million people go to at least one music festival in the US every year.
“With everything that happened in 2020, I can’t wait to be able to enjoy festivals and live concerts again,” said electrical field engineer Michael Lazaro. “Being on festival grounds with friends is the best feeling because we’re all experiencing the same things together, whether it’s discovering new songs and artists or trying new food. Without a doubt the experience, beginning to end, stays with us.”
During the pandemic, music has allowed people to connect virtually through streaming services like Apple Music, Soundcloud and Spotify.
Spotify, in particular, includes interactive features that allow users to see what their friends are listening to. Features include the blend feature, which blends the music taste of two users, as well as collaborative playlists, which allows multiple users to add songs to a single playlist.
“I love sharing music,” Lazaro said. “It’s a way for me to express the feelings I can’t find words for.” From musician to dancer to listener, music connects people in many ways. Even with different lyrical interpretations and musical preferences, music can help someone understand themself as well as those around them.
“As we listen to music in the present moment, it draws a very abstract feeling we can’t explain,” Hiwatig said. “Sharing this mystery with other people is just the beauty of music itself.”