Music transforms and unites us, and it is in times like these that we truly recognize its value. With the virtual Hillside summer and winter festivals, we have been trying to bring healing and connection to folks during this period of uncertainty and isolation. We often talk about the emotional power of music, and it is equally important to think about its impact on the brain and the body. Science supports the notion that music can help improve cognitive development, mental health, and even physical health by directly influencing neurological pathways. In fact, studies show that young people who are involved in music perform better than those who are not, on music-related tasks and unrelated tasks such as executive function (apa.org). We sure hope that the youth performers we showcase every year at Hillside can also improve their various abilities and skills through music!
Of course, music has a huge influence on emotional and mental health as well, with research providing key evidence about music’s ability to help ease anxiety and depression (apa.org). During the pandemic, this has become all the more important as we try to find ways to cope with the strange circumstances through concerts online or singing on balconies with our neighbours. We are linked to music through rhythm as our bodies are organized rhythmically (MusiCares). While we can’t dance together on the island for now, we hope that the Hillside online concerts have been bringing you healing and joy in a difficult time. The universal language of music has no barriers, and we are grateful to have reached audiences across the world with our online concerts, which is not something we could do most years. Until we meet again, keep singing, keep dancing, and most importantly, keep smiling.