Students continue looking to music as an escape from stress


While scrolling through her family’s shared Apple Music account, senior Delaney Niswonger discovered for the first time the unique sound of what would become her favorite band. 

On a mutually curated playlist shared with her sister, Delaney was perusing the tracks looking for a band to satisfy her perpetual craving for folk music. Stumbling upon a song by the duo Mandolin Orange, she was filled with the sort of feeling she looks for in music. 

“[Mandolin Orange] are a blend of folk, bluegrass, indie pop, and alt-country, so listening to them is always a really fun experience,” Delaney said.

This hazy satisfaction brought on by a funky beat is a feeling that teens have been chasing for decades. From the uproar caused when The Beatles would visit America to modern high schools filled with music-obsessed adolescents, Delaney is not alone in often turning to her favorite artists as a form of escape. 

“[Music] is a morale booster in a number of aspects of my life,” Delaney said. “When I’m in the car and want to have a fun playlist to make my drive more interesting, or when I’m doing homeworkbored and not understanding thingsputting on music can really change the attitude.”

When I’m in the car, and I want to have a fun playlist going to make my drive more interesting, or when I’m doing homework, and I’m bored and not understanding things, putting on music can really change the attitude.”

— Delaney Niswonger

And it is not just the tune to popular songs that draws Delaney—and many other young people—in; symbolism plays a vital role in the music that she listens to. 

“I think a lot of songs have really good imagery and metaphors,” Delaney said, “and they can really [transport] you into a different world and entrance you into the music.”

This sound that Delaney searches for does not have to be sought out in current releases either. Some, in fact, travel back to 1819 in search of inspiration and diversion. One anonymous junior student—a pianist himself—often finds himself listening to the trilling tunes of Franz Liszt, a composer and piano player from the early 19th century. Liszt, who began playing when he was eight, was a gifted musician and one that many young folks can idolize. 

“I think I discovered [Lizst] in middle school,” the anonymous student said. “I was really impressed with his music because, in my opinion, it is probably some of the most challenging music I’ve ever heard.” 

Through Lizst’s compositions, this student finds what many others look for in those smoother, fuller sounds: a sense of isolation. From lo-fi to classical, he believes these sorts of songs can defer oncoming stress and distract from the hustle and bustle of a regular school week. 

“I feel like, in general, teens are under a lot of pressure, whether it be from parents or school,” this student said. “Music does provide a way to escape that.”

Even further popping off the page, junior Ivan Wheland is a fan of the Hip-Hop and R&B sides of the music industry. Ivan began finding solace in these genres when he discovered Lil Uzi Vert, his seventh-grade self vibing to the rapid and expressive sounds of this musician’s discography. 

“He was kind of my introduction to the whole [hip-hop] scene,” Ivan said, “and he [is] also a big influence on the scene now.”

Furthermore, Ivan views the comfort he finds in music as something a bit different. It is not so much the vivid story-telling or lulling melodies associated with other sounds, but more the grounding and relatable force that seeps from his playlist. 

“I know I’ve definitely used music as a way to cope,” Ivan said. “As to why people do that, I think a lot of people listen to sad music when they’re sad; I feel like [music] gets people [to feel] reassured in their feelings.”

This style of lacing lyrics with engaging emotion is popular within these students’ chosen genres and necessary when catering to a teenage audience. Through the words of someone a person respects, they learn to be well-rounded and emotionally mature, whatever those characteristics may entail. In rougher times, an anxious student can also return to these tracks and calm their mind, this tranquility pushing them to finish their work. 

Nevertheless, some of these enlivening moments overtake the student body of FHC when discrepancies occur in the lyrics. Not every line can be perfectly fitted for the mood, but teens can and will continue to find joy in how a melody makes them feel.

“Some music just sounds so good,” Ivan said, “it doesn’t matter what they’re saying. You just associate certain emotions you’re feeling with the music.”