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Letter of Recommendation : Build a pandemic playing list

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And finally, although I haven’t done this during the Pandemic, I imagine that when someone enjoys a playlist you created it is a special kind of love language.

We are now six months into the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States and we’ve had several stages of coping and distraction? Perhaps you are one of the people who organized closets and hosted Zoom parties. Maybe you invented a Quarantine and worried too much about it. Perhaps you perfected the art of baking bread or took up knottying. Whatever you have done during this time or haven’t done, congratulations on survival of this extremely difficult moment in time.

But there is another transition underway. As the seasons change, we’ll soon give up our picnic blankets and return to our homes. You may think then of a small bit of random advice, so you should take into consideration pandemic playlists.

This may not be a surprising recommendation. Even before the pandemic, you might have had a queue of songs that you listened to as you drove or perhaps your Monday Vibes playlist was the only thing that got you through. And right now, when we spend more time indoors and away from family, revisiting favorite songs and extending your musical palette is a solid idea.

Let’s start with what you might already be intuiting: Listening to music can help increase your mood or calm you down. A 2018 meta-analysis published in the journal analyzed 81 studies investigating music as a medical intervention to reduce stress and anxiety before, during or after surgery. Researchers found that there was a statistically significant decrease in anxiety and pain for adults who listened to music before, during, or after surgery. I’m not saying that your favorite ’90s playlist is a medical miracle, but if your mixes make your day a bit easier, it’s kind of comforting to know that you’re not imagining anything at all.

“I make playlists because I can pop in and out of different moods and different eras of my life”, says Adeola A., 35, stating that her Sam Cooke playlist reminds her of childhood. « I also find joy in the organisation of the songs.

In the past I have overlooked the pleasures that come from organizing my playlists. When I have aimed to create an hour-long writing soundtrack, I have found that it met my urge to control and rearrange. So, if you were one of the people who arranged your closets and drawers a few months ago but now you are over it, a pandemic playlist could also give you similar satisfaction.

My tendencies to my playlist have increased during the pandemic. When I feel stressed in the middle of the day, I listen to a random bossa nova playlist. I have a hodgepodge playlist for cooking dinner and a yoga playlist that only contains five songs (and that I have never used during my yoga practice). Spotify, my streamer of choice has curated the vast majority of my playlists. But even when I surrender to an algorithm, there is pleasure in listening to songs I would not pick myself. If creating your own playlist seems too much, I would recommend searching for a few you didn’t do yourself. (And even if you love building your own playlists, experimenting with others can still help you find new songs and artists.)

Also, we need to approach the obvious. Playlists also give an emotional release. In an essay about how nostalgia helped during the pandemic she writes: “For weeks it’s been nothing but My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, All Time Low, Dashboard Confessional, Say Anything, Use…the list goes on. As I cycle through anxiety, depression, grief, anger and a million other emotions triggered by my current situation, the old pop-punk anthems, angry Emo ballads and soft acoustic lullabies I listened to and loved as a teenager now put my heart at ease.’

And finally, although I haven’t done this during the pandemic, I imagine that when someone enjoys a playlist you have created, it is a special kind of love language. There is intimacy in sharing a playlist with other people — if they will listen. Adeola laughs ‘’ : “There is pleasure in sharing them, but I realized that no one wants them. A few years ago, I took all this time to create them because music is close to the heart”.

For Adeola, playlists are a way to connect and express her creative spirit with herself. For Borges, revisiting music from her teens brought some warmth in 2020. For me, when I remix playlists based on my moods or use them as companions throughout the pandemic, I find inspiration in melody and memory. So as we battle together to navigate another iteration of the pandemic (because, as we all know, it is still in progress), creating a soundtrack couldn’t hurt.

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