Music Feeds the Soul

Ella Potter, a rising fourth-year student in the College of Medicine, contributed the following article. It is one of the educational initiatives sponsored by the NEOMED’s Student Wellness Committee as part of its peer-support series on eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. The concept of eight dimensions of wellness comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a U.S. government agency.

Back in the throes of STEP studying, my gratitude towards music has resurfaced. 

I set limits on my social media accounts and Netflix time, but I make sure to throw on a few songs during my breaks throughout the day. And I look forward to Fridays, when Spotify updates its Release Radar playlist, customized from the music and artists I listen to. Not only does this list provide a few new songs to help push me through my weekend studying. It also gives me a way for me to feel current on something other than my Question-bank progress.  

I recently started listening to the motivational/good-mood playlist I created last year for my STEP 1 studying. It took me right back to the highs and lows of dedicated study time: I imagined pumping myself up before sitting down for a six-hour practice exam. I pictured the sunset drive I took in the backroads of Rootstown the day Dreamland was released. I visualized walking around The Village, listening to my favorite song, because I was having trouble falling asleep. 

The way a song can be nostalgic is one of the reasons music is so wonderful. When I hear Twenty-One Pilots playing, I am once again standing in a crowd of people swaying and screaming along. Most early 2000s country songs take me right back to listening to my dad’s radio at our family cabin, where you could only pick up one station. Any time Just a Friend by Biz Markie plays, I think of my best friend and me innocently, yet passionately, singing to each other back in high school. Just a few months ago, two of my classmates and I stayed up way too late, enjoying old music videos. 

Around this time last year, the Center for Student Wellness and Counseling Services (CSWCS) released a Whale Watch newsletter on the power of music. “Let the Music Speak” shared how music can influence us to feel empowered and inspired, reduce stress, and provide a needed cathartic release. Included was a link to “Rest” by Half Alive, a song I had shared with the CSWCS staff that was at the top of my STEP 1 playlist. The article also provided resources on how music influences the brain; affects your mood, emotion, and wellbeing; and helps you stay healthy. 

Studying is a part of being a student. Putting some pieces of your life on the back burner is unfortunately, sometimes part of being a professional student. That said, we are still just humans. Music is one way I can feel connected to the world and my whole self. Whether it is music, reading, exercise, art, video games, Friends episodes or Marvel movies, we all need something to help keep us grounded.  

View Whale Watch newsletters, created for students by the Center for Student Wellness and Counseling Services. 

 The newsletters are just one aspect of the Self-Help ToolKit  of resources available at the CSWCS website.  For more information on the CSWCS or to make a counseling appointment, call 330.325.6757 or email

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