Fighting COVID 19 Anxiety with Music: A Phenomenological Study on Bach’s “Air on Strings in G” for Stress and Anxiety

Fighting anxiety caused by the COVID 19 pandemic is essential to mental health programs of every country in crisis. The Music Psychology Center – MPC, located in Angeles City has utilized classical music, specifically Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on Strings in G”, for individuals coping with stress and anxiety. Sixty nine (69) respondents were initially exposed to the classical piece and majority had positive psychological benefits in coping with anxiety. This phenomenological approach for investigating variables was significantly effective and more research should be conducted on the positive psychological benefits of Bach’s music in anxiety intervention programs.  

This study utilized a phenomenological approach that identified the psychological benefits of classical music, specifically by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on Strings in G”, to sixty nine (69) respondents suffering from anxiety due to the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown condition. The study lasted for 25 days, using Bach’s music as the primary intervention for their anxiety. The respondents were advised to listen to this musical piece and contemplate on their emotional state. The respondents were also instructed to write down whatever the music elicited without a structured template.  The musical piece was always the first intervention method in all of the respondents. They were briefed thoroughly to be as detailed as possible, but still retain their freedom of expression while listening to this particular music. Bach’s “Air on Strings in G” was their initial introduction before any other empirical based classical music was introduced based on their unique stress qualities.

Furthermore, the respondents had freedom in playing back the musical piece as many times as they want while they mindfully ingest and meditate on whatever emotions, ideas, and feelings they were experiencing and expressed in writing down in a list, narrate a story, impressions of the musical piece, effects and emotions they felt, poems, drawings and sketches, and all that they can utilize to illustrate while listening to Bach’s music.

Majority of the respondents felt calming effects of Bach’s “Air on Strings in G” in their initial intervention. As they listen to it more, the positive effects significantly increased as they reported to have been coping with their anxiety in their daily activities. They were able to do the daily activities, step by step, improving day by day, in which they could not execute before their exposure to Bach’s music.

On the other hand, a few have cited that Bach’s “Air on Strings in G” had limited effects on their coping with anxiety, when listening to the piece they would feel the psychological effects of calmness, peace of mind, serenity and security, it only lasted for a while after they have listened to the music. Their anxiety would come back as thoughts of threat and insecurities slowly emerge again right after to their exposure to the classical piece.

Moreover, despite of the short term effects o their psychological well-being, the study still considers the significant benefits of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on Strings in G”. As recorded in this phenomenological approach, the positive psychological effects of Bach’s music were still evident however short it may last. Out of the sixty nine (69) respondents, ten (10) of them indicate this short term effect of Bach’s music. As they finished listening to the musical piece, negative thoughts arise again and they had to listen to the music more often compared than the other respondents who just listen every morning. Considering this phenomena, further studies should be conducted to supplement and strengthen the intervention for their coping with anxiety. The study will continue to investigate and determine alternative approaches and methods in terms of classical music to be useful for positive psychological effects in coping with stress and anxiety on the respondents.

Recommendations for further studies on the psychological benefits of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on Strings in G” should be conducted, and this phenomenological study should continue to all sixty nine (69) respondents in order to identify and determine factors and variables that may be beneficial for coping with stress and anxiety. Music Psychology Center – MPC is the first I Pampanga, Philippines that has the capability to conduct phenomenological studies regarding music psychology and their significant psychological benefits to individuals coping with stress and anxiety.

“Once you realize that music transcends entertainment, that is the only time you could fathom the accurate utilization of certain types of music to specific mental or cognitive functioning and enhancement” – Pelayo (2019)

SOURCE: Published in Pelayo, JMG III (2020) Fighting COVID 19 Anxiety with Music: A Phenomenological Study on Bach’s “Air on Strings in G” for Stress and Anxiety DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.23418.44488