Music has the power to change our mood and raise our vibration. Whether you’re writing, playing, or listening to it, music can help us tap into our truest self.
Today we speak with LA-based songwriter and lifestyle blogger Hannah Avison, about how to use music as a self-care practice.
Splendid Spoon: Hi Hannah! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hannah Avison: Hi! I’ve always loved songwriting. Since I was eight, I’ve been making up melodies in my head. It stemmed from being bullied. When I was in second grade I was picked on. I didn’t have anyone to play with at recess, so I spent my time writing melodies and lyrics.
As I got older and more confident, the bullying ended, and my passion for music only grew. I became known as the kid who made music. I’m so grateful to my parents who invested in my talent, sending me to camps, lessons, and workshops for so many years. I eventually attended Berklee College of Music, and began my professional songwriting career.
SS: How do you feel when you’re creating music?
HA: Writing music makes my heart happy. There’s nothing like spilling your feelings or creative ideas into a record. When I’m writing with an artist, it isn’t even about my own experience. Instead, I play therapist for another individual and help them capture a moment of their life. It’s really exciting.
When I lived in NYC, I was out jogging and got an email that stopped me in my tracks. A young pop-country artist cut a song of mine in Nashville, and I finally heard it. I kept jogging as the song danced through my headphones. I began crying — hysterically crying. It was so gratifying to hear my art take shape. I still have that feeling every time I receive a recording.
SS: Creating music, whether you’re writing or playing it, is such a personal experience. How do you think this helps us get more familiar with ourselves?
HA: Music is one of the oldest forms of communication. We spend so much time communicating through emails or texts that we often neglect the most crucial person in our lives — ourselves. Whether you’re writing a song, or connecting with music as a listener, it inspires you to dig deep.
When I’m creating a song, I have to ask myself some hard questions: did this event hurt you? How did that make you feel? Has this changed your view of things? Where are you now? To accurately get my message across, I have to be brutally honest with myself. Sometimes I have to analyze things I don’t want to delve into, in order to accurately depict a situation.
It can be tough, but it’s always therapeutic. At the end of the day I’ve not only created a new piece of art, but I’ve also come to terms with a part of myself.
SS: Music has a strong power to change our mood. How do you use music to change your vibration on a daily basis?
HA: I absolutely use music as a mood booster. Me and my roommate often blast fun records in the apartment when we’re getting ready for the day. Music has this phenomenal ability to build energy. It can also be used to help with the low points as well: I definitely have a couple of songs I listen to on repeat when I’m feeling down: they help me move forward.
SS: How do you recommend we incorporate music into our self-care routine?
HA: Treat yo’self! If there is a band or artist you love, try to see them live! It’s a totally different experience. Whether you watch the show with friends or on your own, you’ll have a blast. Listen to the words, sing along, and build some oxytocin.
I also recommend chilling out with your favorite playlist. We need to schedule a little R&R into our lives. What’s better than closing your eyes and listening to your favorite tunes?!
SS: When do you feel most at peace?
HA: I live in LA & work in entertainment, so that’s a hard emotion to hold onto. However, I feel most connected to myself and my loved ones when I’m able to disconnect from the world.
My boyfriend and I love hiking. Luckily, California has countless amazing, easily accessible trails, so we try to go as much as our schedule allows. I also recently started practicing yoga and meditation on a weekly basis. Meditation is a hard concept for me to grasp, but I’m working on it! I hear that once you start, it becomes an essential piece of your daily routine.
SS: When writing music do you start with a certain mood you want to instill in the listener?
HA: Of course! Every song’s concept is different, but if I write based on my genuine feelings (or those of a collaborator/artist), the listener will be moved into the same headspace. We want to hear honesty and truth, so if I can accurately depict mine, others will relate.
SS: We all love creating music, whether it’s singing in the shower or playing in an orchestra. What is it about making music that has such a powerful effect on our mood?
HA: Creating music is like working out. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals which boost your mood. The same happens with music. We use our truest self to create something beautiful out of nothing. I think it’s amazing. One moment there’s silence, and the next there’s notes, meaning, and emotion…I think it’s impossible to not get a kick out of that!
SS: Can you share your go-to self-care routine?
HA: Outside my music career, I’m a lifestyle blogger. I love anything that makes me feel my best. Besides music, I couldn’t live without facemasks, adventures, and my favorite humans.
For me, self-care is about doing things that make you feel happy. Sometimes that’s long car rides with records that give me the chills; sometimes it’s exploring a new neighborhood with my besties. The most important lesson to keep in mind is that you create your own happiness.