Music Can Soothe Your Savage Beast

Lucas Jensen | April 2, 2009 4:30 am
Wanna survive the recession with your sanity? Pick up a guitar. According to this Reuters article, that’s what 56-year-old optometrist Howard Levy did. Now he feels a lot better about his job, which has become more stressful due to the economic downturn. His band of eye-care professionals is called OffAxis, and he calls music “totally a stress buster.” He’s not the only one:

Steven Cox, CEO of, a music-instruction business based in San Diego with a network of private music teachers in 400 cities nationwide, said 2008 was a banner year in revenue, numbers of students and lessons booked.

Joe Lamond of the National Association of Music Merchants attributes some of this to the Guitar Hero/Rock Band effect, and, if you think about it, it’s a logical next step. A musical instrument, though expensive on the front-end, provides a lot of bang for your buck. Even the very longest video games top out at 100 hours or so, and sa a result really getting into them requires the purchase of multiple iterations, computers, and consoles. An acoustic guitar could be a lifetime of entertainment, regardless of your goals.

Lamond says that music merchants are struggling like everyone else, but are buoyed in part by some people’s new found search for fulfilling outlets of stress relief:

“Especially in this economic climate, people are searching for something that has meaning, for something fulfilling,” he said. “The generation that invented absolute connectivity and being available to your work 24/7, I think we’re rethinking what it means to enjoy our lives, and what we truly value, and … that is driving people toward these types of activities.”

This all may sound like good news, and certainly, it’s good to be hopeful about any aspect of the music biz doing well these days. Music stores in my area, however, have been struggling, only surviving on the strength of things like lessons. My favorite local drum shop closed up last year because of the economy, and a few Atlanta stores bit it recently as well; other stores are closing nationwide. I can’t help but feel like the Guitar Hero factor is overstated. I hope I’m wrong, and more people turn to music as a stress reliever, and buy their instruments at locally owned shops. I’d hate to be left with only Guitar Centers and a stressed-out workforce.

Any of y’all picking up guitars, keyboards, whatever to deal with the collapse of the world around us?

We’re Jammin’? Workers Tune Out Stress With Music [Reuters]