Making Music Helps Mental Health, Ukelele Band Shows

Person in bright checked shirt and ethnic scarf playing ukelele

Relaxation and happiness are the most commonly-felt emotions when playing a musical instrument. That’s according to Spotify exclusive podcast Where is My Mind?, whose world-first Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown track went live this week.

89% of UK adults who regularly play an instrument feel it positively affects their mental health. When making music,

  • 56% felt relaxed,
  • 48% felt satisfaction,
  • 43% felt peaceful and
  • just over a third suggested playing music gives them a sense of purpose in life

75% of those polled said they play their instrument as a way of de-stressing, mainly

  • after a stressful day at work (54%)
  • when worrying about money (34%)
  • when stressing about an upcoming event (30%).
Person playing ukelele, as main image

Pic: Shutterstock

As we continue to grapple with social distancing and the changes that 2020 has thrown at us, it is more important than ever to know how to take care of our mental health; whether that’s listening to a favourite band, playing a musical instrument, getting outside, or taking a few moments to meditate.

The Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown

For Where is My Mind? host and presenter Niall Breslin, the positive influence that music can have on one’s mental health propelled him to create a special lockdown initiative:

To coincide with the release of the Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown track, research was commissioned to look at the potential benefits that playing an instrument can have on the soul.

It found that 89% of UK adults who regularly play an instrument feel it positively affects their mental health: 56% felt relaxed, 48% felt satisfaction, 43% felt peaceful and just over a third suggested playing music gives them a sense of purpose in life.

Weeks of practice

To bring this to life, as well as giving listeners the tools they need to create music of their own, Breslin and his team bought more than 400 ukuleles and gifted them to individuals currently working on coping with their mental health.

The budding musicians set off to hone their new skill, learning to play the song Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

After a few weeks of practice, the ukulele players came together — albeit at a distance — for a chance to record themselves on a brand new track and special music video set to coincide with a Where Is My Mind? podcast episode on the topic of music and mental health.


The recording features 400 budding Irish ukulele players, professional musicians, choir singers, Niall’s band The Blizzards, and some special Irish artists as guests.

The Where is My Mind? podcast episode out this week goes behind the scenes to follow the creation of the Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown band. The episode provides the tools listeners need to learn an instrument at home, and explains the healing power of music.

“Follow the advice and stay focused”

Dublin residents Emma Cooke and her dad both took part in the Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown. The pair were socially isolating together as Emma had been classified as high risk due to her ongoing chemotherapy. This led to feelings of anxiety and concern about what lay ahead.

Emma Cooke, Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown band member commented, “To keep myself strong and sane, I practised yoga, mindfulness and continued with my hobbies.

“Learning the ukulele was such a challenge, but like anything you just have to stick with it, follow the advice and stay focused. Not thinking about the news or being attached to social media was hugely satisfying and gave me a sense of purpose.

“I will definitely continue playing, and would encourage anyone who finds themself in isolation, and facing challenges with their mental health to do the same.

“The love just comes right through the music”

Musician Niall Breslin, short neat hair, open necked shirt

Photo by Morgan Treacy/Inpho/Shutterstock

Niall Breslin, musician, mindfulness expert and host of Spotify exclusive Where Is My Mind? said, “Music is an incredible unifier. I knew that sharing a musical journey would lift people’s spirits in a way that so little else could in the context of what was going on in the world.

“Now when I listen to the song we created, all together – all the voices, the whistles, the strumming, the singing, the energy – the love just comes right through the music.

“All of us, in our homes, all dealing with one of the scariest times in our lives; we all came together, we all came home, through this song.”

The Lockdown Ukulele Rockdown episode will mark the final episode of Season 2 of Where Is My Mind. The series has seen Niall and his guests explore different coping skills for the ever-changing, always-on, challenging world we’re now living in; from nature, to laughter, to love.

The podcast was named creative podcast of the year at the British Podcast Awards earlier this month.

Stream the latest episode of Where Is My Mind?

Sarah Proctor

I've worked on a variety of regional newspapers and national magazines. My Weekly and Your Best Ever Christmas are fantastic, warm-hearted brands with an amazing, talented team. I'm a sub-editor and particularly love working on cookery, fiction and advice pages - I feel I should know all the secrets of eternal life, health and happiness by now, but hey, we all need that regular reminder!