University Parks, Winter 2006

Keeping the blues away with music

It’s no secret that January is the most depressing month of the year. The Christmas period in all its long-anticipated merriment reluctantly comes to an end, the nights draw in with increasing stubbornness and the despondent daily weather forecast becomes insistently repetitive. Is it just me or does January feel somewhat drawn out this year? Christmas is but a distant memory, the sun peaks through the clouds with only the frostiest of glares, and my decision not to pack a raincoat with the optimism that the sky won’t drown me halfway to my seminar has become an embarrassingly regular occurrence. ‘January Blues’ has been hanging on with its icy claws a month too long, and Spring is just tauntingly out of reach.

Whilst the likely remoteness of warmth and sunshine is a persistent damper on our spirits, the immediacy of music is something we can always trust in. Read on for five invigorating and uplifting musically-inspired activities that will keep those blue demons at bay and have you embracing the last of this cosy sweater weather before Winter dwindles (slowly, but surely), and blossoms into Spring.

Credit: Barne227 via Flickr
    1. Treat yourself to a night at the Theatre. From old favourites like The Lion King and Chicago, to new productions like Pinocchio and Hamilton, to the lesser known (but equally spectacular) shows like Barnum and Eugenius!, there’s always something to put a smile on your face. Next week I’m going to see Matilda for the third time… Now if that’s not something to feel giddy about, I don’t know what is.
    2. Accompany a long walk with uninterrupted musical listening. February’s frigid climate can feel bitingly cold when caught off guard, but bundled up warm with a flask of tea in hand and your favourite soundtrack, album or symphony playing through your headphones, provides the optimal conditions for an invigorating morning stroll. An avid forest wanderer myself, I find anything by Sigur Ros to be a suitably sublime pairing. Do check the weather forecast though for those pesky patchy showers…

      Music makes the macaroons even sweeter
      Credit: Brigitte Tohm
    3. Combine an afternoon of baking with your favourite upbeat tunes. This works wonders with soundtracks. Pair, for instance, Willy Wonka with anything chocolaty, 500 Days of Summer with rainbow vanilla cupcakes, Ratatouille with pistachio macaroons, Alice in Wonderland with Queen of Hearts jam tarts. There’s no stopping you reviving the Christmas festivities with homemade mince pies and The Snowman soundtrack. This is, quite possibly, the perfect rainy day activity.
    4. Embrace the darkness, soak up the nightlife and boogie the blues away. Let your body and mind become fully immersed in the experience, and don’t be afraid to challenge your musical tendencies with something new. Hate the idea of dancing in public? No one’s going to know if you bust a few moves around your bedroom. Go wild.

5. Perhaps the most obvious yet most avoided of musical activities is taking up a new musical instrument. Whether you made it a New Year’s Resolution or not, it’s never too late to start learning. Swapping that extra episode of your favourite Netflix show for half an hour of solid practice will boost your levels of productivity, creativity and confidence. Ideal for the procrastinator, ill-advised for the perfectionist.


Motivation doesn’t have to involve hiking up Mount Fiji or jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet. With the help of music’s restorative capabilities, find adventure in the mundane, warmth in the bracing cold and solitude in the chaos of everyday life, and I promise you that Spring will be with us before you know it.

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