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Undergraduates Choose to Participate in Music Activities During COVID-19 Restrictions

Undergraduates Choose to Participate in Music Activities During COVID-19 Restrictions

Presenter Name:Sara Marshall

School/Affiliation:McMaster University

Co-Authors:Rachael Finnerty, Constance Imbault, Laurel Trainor


McMaster University suddenly transitioned to remote learning in mid-March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This transition coincided with the final exam period for undergraduate students, likely adding stress to an already stressful time. Controlled studies indicate music-related activities such as listening to music or playing an instrument reduce stress in both lab and naturalistic settings (e.g. Linnemann et al., 2015; Toyoshima et al., 2011; Thoma et al., 2013). We used a survey to explore, in a naturalistic and uncontrolled setting, the extra-curricular activities undergraduate students chose to participate in during McMaster’s early COVID-19 restrictions, along with each activity’s perceived impact on wellbeing and anxiety levels (as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory­– State Subscale). 93.1% of respondents participated in at least one music-based activity (playing an instrument or singing, song writing, listening to music; n=778). When asked whether music-based activities supported their wellbeing during the pandemic, participants’ average rating was 5.525 on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (extremely) for their preferred musical activity. These ratings are comparable to the ratings for doing exercise (average rating= 5.681), an activity known to reduce stress. Finally, over half of participants indicated they were interested or maybe interested in participating in group online music therapy. Thus, students are using music to reduce stress during the pandemic, and interest in online group music therapy for proactive wellness is high in this population.

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