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With the semester in full gear, balancing work, social life and mental health can be a struggle. For some students, that struggle is alleviated by creating music.

One musician who uses music as a way to help with mental health is Aditya Datta, a Penn State student who plays the ukulele, guitar and can “bumble around” on the piano.

“[Playing music] is a really good way to focus emotions and ideas,” Datta (sophomore-economics) said.

Datta said writing music is a good way to “quantify” feelings that are difficult to understand. He added that it helps elaborate on concepts like emotion and love.

Datta mostly makes acoustic pop music, which he said occasionally helps with his mental health. He also sometimes does freestyle rap.

“I’m not that good at [rap], but it is fun,” Datta said. “When you can get like eight bars in a row, it’s really fun.”

And, Datta said pursuing the arts — not necessarily just music — is something people should do to support their mental health.

“Not everyone is good at music,” Datta said. “There’s a whole lot of artforms out there… people should do what they’re good at.”

Another Penn State student who doubles as a musician is Sasha Ahrestani. Although he does not play an instrument, he performs raps and sometimes produces music.

“Since [making music] is really creative, and I’m just doing it for myself, it makes me feel accomplished to [make music],” Ahrestani (senior-computer science) said.

Ahrestani said he feels this way about making music because it is “all him”, while other things he does are for other people.

Although music does help ,Ahrestani doesn't have many struggles with mental health.

“I think if I wasn’t [playing music], I would definitely be in a different place,” Ahrestani said.

Moreover, Catarina Rodrigues plays the piccolo in the Penn State Blue Band and also plays the flute, ukulele and piano.

Rodrigues (sophomore-food science) said performing does help her support her mental health. She said she always looks forward to practicing with the Blue Band at the end of the day.

“[Blue Band practice] is a really great mental break for me because you’re surrounded by people who are passionate about music,” Rodrigues said. “It’s a great experience.”

She also writes her own songs — songs she can sing and play on the piano and ukulele.

“You get to transform feelings into words and really express yourself,” Rodrigues said. “It’s really therapeutic.”

Additionally, Rodrigues listens and creates music based on her mood. She said she sometimes performs or listens to more “upbeat” music if she feels sad.

For people who already play musical instruments, Rodrigues said she recommends performing to support their mental health.

“For me, [playing music] has always made me extremely happy,” Rodrigues said. “Sometimes, it’s a really good escape. I know it is for me.”

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