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UNLV Jazz Ensemble uses musical therapy through pandemic

Posted at 11:31 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 03:25:14-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — While the pandemic has impacted so many physical aftereffects, mental health has become a top priority in society, and musical therapy is becoming more popular to treat stress and anxiety.

UNLV’s Jazz Ensemble composed an album expressing the struggles students faced in a pandemic school year, as the musical students, like many others were significantly impacted.

“It was definitely hard to learn how to express myself at home the same way I did in classes or in these live concerts at these library concerts,” said vocalist Kailyn Richards.

“Having to be on Zoom, interacting with people I’m used to making music with on a daily, was very very difficult,” said Edward Sarabia, a saxophone player.

On Wednesday evening at the Clark County Library, UNLV’s Jazz Ensemble performed for the first time in more than a year.

“We don’t really learn to sit in an apartment or an empty space for a long period of time with no one to critique, or listen, or applaud,” said Keegan Carter, the bass player.

“All the music classes went to Zoom and it just wasn’t the same, so we’re glad to connect with the people again,” said vocalist Gary Fowler.

For these musical students, this is the sound of therapy.

“It has saved lives,” said Dave Loeb, the director of jazz and commercial music at UNLV Music. “This many students that would never have gotten through this with the mental challenges and severe hardships.”

Musical therapy has proven to be beneficial especially to young people when treating their mental health.

“Putting it into a music listening regimen that allows someone to actually experience catharsis where there’s a significant reduction in unsettledness, like anger, anxiety, depression and a significant increase in peace wellbeing and happiness,” said Judith Pinkerton, the founder and CEO of Music4Life, Inc., a company that offers musical therapy sessions.

However, music transcends beyond the stage. While music programs nationwide have lost funding in schools, experts say music can be a powerful tool in the classroom.

“Research shows more and more, that music can help with academics,” said Manal Toppozada, the executive director of Note-Able Music Therapy Services, Nevada’s only non-profit musical therapy organization. “None of us learned our ABCs by saying them. We learned by singing them.”

This is why organizations like Note-Able Music Therapy Services, Music4Life, Incorporated and UNLV’s music program are sounding off the need to maintain music in the everyday lives of listeners of all ages, especially young people.

UNLV’s Jazz Ensemble continues its concert series on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at UNLV. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

The Clark County Library offers several live music performances, magic shows and other events free to the public. For a list of events, click here.