The Power of Music in Building Resilience

The Power of Music in Building Resilience

by Rosie Hays, MA, MT-BC

​(Pictured here from a Kindermusik class in 2018!)

Resilience, or our ability to cope and move through difficult times, is incredibly important to focus on as we continue getting through 2020. Building resilience is like building a muscle: it takes time and intention. I began to ponder the relationship between music and resilience. More specifically, I began thinking about how the Bucktown Music Kindermusik classes that I have been teaching and engaging in with my daughter are helping families build resilience during this year filled with loss, anger, and anxiety. Picture According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the components of resilience include connection, wellness, and meaning. We can build these skills through intentional engagement with music, both for ourselves and for our children. Here are some examples of how we can work with music for ourselves and how the activities in our Kindermusik classes support fostering resilience in our children.


Though we are socially distant, we can still build connection through music. through shared experiences, or more specifically, engaging with each other within a musical experience. You can do this at home with your family by exploring new instruments, discovering new songs, or moving together to music we love. With virtual classes right now, we are finding new ways to connect even though we can’t be together in the same room. For example, in our classes, the children get to connect with each other by showing each other the instruments they own or have made at home and then play together to the same piece of music. Children also connect to each other by sharing unique movements during a greeting ritual and seeing classmates join them in the movement they’ve shared. It’s such a joy to have even 1 year olds recognize their “friends” on-screen and learn each other’s names!


​One of the ways that the APA suggests fostering wellness is practicing mindfulness, or working to ground ourselves in the present moment. An important part of every Kindermusik class is intentional music listening. This is one of my favorite parts of class, as it encourages our kids to just be in the moment with the music, by relaxing our bodies with our breaths and sitting with the music. When it comes to music and mindfulness, I also think of the steady beat as a way to ground, not only into the music, but into the moment. Each Kindermusik class involves building steady beat awareness through sound and movement.

TRY THIS: Here is a grounding exercise that you can do at home for yourself or with your family that focuses on the music of our bodies: Find a comfortable place to sit. Once you are settled, take three deep breaths, allowing the sensation and sound of your breath to help you relax. Once you are in this quiet space, put your hand on your heart and pay attention to your heartbeat. Spend some time feeling your heartbeat. Allow the rhythm of your heartbeat to ground you into the present moment. Spend as much time here as you need, and when you are ready, play this steady beat on a drum or instrument of choice. Learn more about mindfulness & music


According to Dr. Brene Brown, “We are a meaning-making species-we need to make meaning out of experiences. Music is a creative medium that can satisfy our human need to make meaning.” Nurturing creativity feeds this part of ourselves that can help us get through hard times. Both at home and in a Kindermusik class, you can encourage creativity by entering the music experience with your kids through scaffolding, co-creating imaginative play within a music experience, and supporting vocal and instrumental exploration. It doesn’t need to be musically perfect to be meaningful. Additionally, music making is one of the first ways infants can engage in meaning making. With even the littlest babies, you can observe signs of musical engagement, such as tracking an instrument with their eyes, reaching out to touch or explore it, or vocal play by exploring new sounds with their voice. We may not all be musicians, but we are all musical beings. Cultivating our intrinsic relationship to music engages us in a meaning making experience, which builds resilience.


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