Mindfulness Music Exercise

Listening to music is a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful day. Art therapy is a practice of using music and art to examine and communicate your emotions, which leads to positive psychological effects including reduced stress. I found an art therapy exercise that is very simple to do, and will give you a time to listen to music and work towards a sense of calm.

Music Free Association Exercise

Materials: you will need something to play music on (record/cd player, speaker, headphones), paper (light enough in color so your art will show up), pens/pencils or other materials you have available (paint/oil pastels/crayons/colored pencils) 

Either by yourself or with a small group, play either a song or playlist. Close your eyes or turn down the lights. Let yourself relax and try to feel the music. Take what you’re hearing and translate it into the page in front of you. 

After the song is over, open your eyes. Look at what you just created and see if there are any patterns, specific shapes, or anything that stands out to you. Think about what parts of the song manifested onto the paper, like if the track had an instrumental break, what did that look like to you? What were you thinking about while you made it? Did the song make you feel specific emotions or remind you of anything?  

You can repeat the exercise with other songs, I recommend using ones with very different genres. A house/electric song might end up looking differently than a classic rock song. It could be interesting to discover what your favorite genres look like on a piece of paper. Or how they make you feel while you listen to them. 

You can return to each of your creations and work on them more. You could emphasize or define parts that stand out. For example, if a shape looks like a bird, you could run with that and give it eyes and a beak. You could also change parts you don’t like. 

Photo taken by author, example of a finished exercise

This exercise is an excuse to relax, listen to music and create art. Making things can be healing and a good time to practice mindfulness. I really like this activity as a way to connect with your friends or family, it can be fun to look at the art everyone made while listening to the same song together. Or by yourself, it can be a way to see a song you love in a new light. 

For more information on art therapy you can check out The American Art Therapy Associations website or check out this blog with art therapy exercises 

-DJ lil witch