During the coronavirus crisis, community support has evolved from a series of spontaneous musical flash mobs to connect with each other to coordinated displays of appreciation – including clapping, shouting, and singing – to acknowledge the health workers on the front lines.

Much like singing, this external expression of gratitude is helping people to cope in times of crisis: providing personal and social development, mental health and well-being benefits, and community strength and harmony.

With strict constraints on our movements and general way of life, we tend to feel a lack of control, something that we have not experienced since the second world war. Being confined in our homes, we are missing our normal social support from friends and family, and our freedom to control our day-to-day lives but making music provides a means to regain control.

People in Spain have been filmed acting out with music, creating duos across apartment buildings. The citizens of Wuhan chanting “Keep it up, Wuhan!” and singing patriotic songs from their windows encouraged themselves and their neighbours in their efforts to save their city. In Italy, citizens have been playing instruments and singing from their balconies during their lockdown. Parodies on YouTube are both lifting community spirits and reminding people to look after each other – not just themselves.

Even though people are trying to move on from the crisis, many nations are still struggling to contain the virus. Our solidarity must not stop here and it has to keep living on. Just like Rihanna’s song that say’s “Please Don’t stop the Music!” so, we should not give up. 

Music is a universal language that has the ability to resonate its melody to hearts of humanity especially now, where many people need support and need to cope with their stress during self-isolation. If we could enjoy music and listen to the melody at a deeper level, music can be the best therapy that could naturally heal ourselves from the dark energy. 

For some, this behaviour might have begun with trying to ease their boredom of staying confined at home. But others clearly wanted to support their community using the only methodleft available to them: by making music.

Why do we sing during times of crisis?

Music creates a sense of belonging and participation. It is an antidote to the growing sense of alienation and isolation in society – even more so now we are being asked to actively practise social distancing. In the face of uncertainty and panic, music is a social balm for soothing anxiety, enhancing community connections, and acting in defiance of a threat to community spirit.

We have seen this before. People sang as flames tore through the roof of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral April 2019: hymns in the streets when Parisians could do nothing else to save the beloved icon.

During the crisis, concerts at home and list of initiatives from musicians and artist collected massive donations for Covid-19 relief. Some Indonesian event organisers broadcasted concerts with zero audiences on national television and ended up with billions of Rupiah donations to significantly help the first responder as well as people affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The spontaneous reaction by the Parisians as they sang during a historical day is an example for us showing how music was used as aas it is a reflection to their need of reassuring each other that, even though the cathedral was being destroyed before their eyes, their community would continue. The music also seems to have been forthe cathedral itself – reassurance that she was being supported by her community in her time of need.

Rintang Azhar

Rintang Azhar

Rintang is a previous staff writer for NOW! with experience in hard news and lifestyle journalism. He specialises in art, design, culture, fashion, environmental, and urban issues.