Live Your Music at Concordia moves in-person workshops to online sessions

Mental health relief through music continues to be available to Concordia students amidst pandemic

Graphic Florent Aniorte

Live Your Music at Concordia (LYM) is a series of weekly drop-in classes that provide students with a mental health break.

The musical improvisation sessions are designed to allow students to express themselves in a creative way, leaving day-to-day stress behind for one hour. It brings students and community members together to play music, create friendships and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

For Valentina Plata, a student new to Canada,  Live Your Music has given her the feeling of community. “It makes me feel like I belong because we’re all vulnerable while we improvise, which I find very comforting,” said the electroacoustic student. “Joining this space fills my soul and my smile,” she continued. 

Live Your Music co-facilitator, Dr. Irene Feher, and her students at an in-person session before covid. Courtesy Live Your Music at Concordia

The workshops take place every Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. In accordance with social distancing regulations, LYM has moved what normally takes place in the JMSB building to online Zoom sessions. 

Music professor Dr. Irene Feher and her co-facilitators create a space where participants are encouraged to individually express themselves through sound while maintaining a certain structure. The workshops include games and improvisation activities such as narrating stories to freely improvised music, music association where participants take turns associating sounds to each other and more. The sessions even use Zoom to their advantage when using sound features and breakout rooms. 

Participants of all musical levels are welcome and instruments are encouraged, although not required. LYM student ambassador Azfar Adib explained that expressing yourself through sound can be as simple as using your voice, a cup and a spoon for percussion sounds or even downloading keyboard sounds on your phone.

Feher spearheaded the project back in 2018 after training with a non-profit organization called Music For People which focused on community music improvisation. 

“I feel so good after I leave a Music for People workshop. So I had the idea, how can I make this grow in the city of Montreal?” said Feher. 

“I leave feeling completely relaxed and feeling just overjoyed. The sensation of playing music with a group of people, when you leave the space, it makes you just feel so connected.” — Kate Markle

After introducing the idea to The Student Success Centre here at Concordia University, Live Your Music Concordia sessions began. The project has since grown and has been able to continue throughout the past years due to funding and sponsors.  

“We received funding from two sources, but the main source was a $25,000 grant from an anonymous alumnus of Concordia music,” said Feher.

Moving to an online platform was not without difficulty, mostly in regards to occasional technical difficulties, but LYM student ambassador Eric Elliott Lee explained the importance of continuing the workshops. “I think music has a really amazing power to create spaces for people,” Lee said. “It’s so difficult to find that in-person these days. I think Live Your Music is important to keep that spirit alive.” 

A space to connect is not the only important aspect of LYM workshops, Azfar Adib explained how he and other participants leave feeling better than before joining a session. “For me, it’s been a case of refreshment,” said Adib. 

“I leave feeling completely relaxed and feeling just overjoyed. The sensation of playing music with a group of people, when you leave the space, it makes you just feel so connected,” said co-facilitator Kate Markle when talking about the lasting effects of in-person LYM workshops. While the Zoom sessions are different, they still provide a feeling of connection. Markle added that the online sessions allow creativity to enter our homes and they still have lasting positive effects.

For students interested in joining, the Zoom registration can be found on Live Your Music at Concordia’s Facebook page or through this link.