Maintaining mental health in the music department

Music society organizes mental health week during the busiest month of the year

Music may be therapeutic, but studying it can sure be stressful! MTA Music Society/Submitted

As March continues and April approaches, stress levels continue to rise in the music conservatory. Student recitals, jury season, final paper due dates and final exams are looming in the near future and the environment seems to get more frantic and chaotic every week. On top of their normal course load, music students are expected to practice between two and four hours per day, depending on their instrument of choice, which gives them less time for homework and other assignments.

The Mount Allison music society organizes a mental health week each year during the month of March to help in these stressful times. “Mental health week is important in trying to combat any tensions that we have, individually and as a group,” said Bryenton Innes, president of the music society. “It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves, especially in the music building, and I find it’s nice to have something to remind me of the resources that are available.” The mental health week, which ran from March 4 to 10, was filled with fun activities and mental health resources.

The week began with an arts and crafts day on Monday, with colouring pages and art supplies set up in the conservatory’s student lounge. Students were able to come and go as they pleased or to just sit and de-stress from their day with some art. On Thursday evening, students gathered for a Bob Ross paint night, another activity using art as an outlet for relieving stress and anxiety. The week concluded with a conservatory movie night with The Road to El Dorado. Students gathered to share snacks and enjoy the film as a way to unwind at the end of the week.

MTA Music Society/Submitted

As well as the art-focused events, the music society organized activities such as meditation, walk-in counselling and even a visit to a local farm. Maggie Brewer, the newest member of the Wellness Centre staff, was set up in the lobby of the conservatory on Friday to chat with students about resources at the Wellness Centre and the work she is doing as the mental health and harm reduction educator. Through workshops, campus events, awareness campaigns and educational outreach programming, Brewer is working to promote positive mental health and wellness at Mount Allison.

“This week isn’t going to be an end-all solution, but it’s a small piece that we can offer,” said Innes. “I would like to see the music society continue to advocate for student health.”

Having this week also encourages students to let loose. It becomes easy to lock yourself in a practice room and work all day. You forget that music isn’t the only part of your life. “Having a week like this as a reminder is a good excuse to bond with our peers and just have fun,” said Graham Kidd, a third-year music student.

With initiatives like this, students can strive for a conservatory environment that is both physically and mentally healthy. It provides an atmosphere that asserts the importance of taking breaks and encourages students to break out of their practice rooms and remember that music is fun.

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