by Nicole Mattson


(A record player plays a tune).

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled or postponed all of the upcoming concerts we all have been looking forward to. If you are stumped on what to listen to next after you have grown tired of repeatedly listening to your playlists, try listening to instrumental music. Most bands from the 1970s are known for their phenomenal chemistry between the singer, guitar, drums, keyboard, and even cowbell. That being said, it can be eccentric to take the singer out of the equation. You can find underlying meanings in how the instruments are played, which can help you understand the bands’ music and dynamic even more than before. Instrumental music gives you, the listener, room to think more creatively and make the song your own: how does the song make you feel? What does it remind you of? The options are endless. In times when it feels like the pandemic will never end, listening to different types of music can help you relax, which is a crucial part of taking care of yourself.


(A guitar and band setup sits on a stage).

It is also interesting to look through instrumental music since many songs are not well-known. If you are tired of listening to the same Fleetwood Mac album over and over again, try listening to some instrumental versions! You can chill out to all the songs listed below, or you can pick and choose certain songs based on your mood.

If you are feeling strong:


  • “Pali Gap” by Jimi Hendrix 


Rainbow Bridge, posthumously in 1971

“Pali Gap” was released posthumously in Rainbow Bridge in 1971, after Jimi Hendrix’s death the previous year. One of the more powerful songs on this list, how could you resist listening to Hendrix’s moving guitar solo? This song is perfect for both loosening up as well as doing something you enjoy.

If you are feeling groovy:


  • “What a Shame” by Fleetwood Mac


Future Games, 1971

Fleetwood Mac… there is not much to say about them except that they are one of the grooviest bands of all time. This song was released before Stevie Nicks joined, but it’s still worth listening to since it is instrumental. “What a Shame” is an easy listen, since it will make you feel good about yourself.

If you are feeling bored:


  •  “One of These Days” by Pink Floyd


Meddle, 1971

You all know the saying, “only boring people get bored”. Sometimes being bored is inevitable, since there are limited options for things to do during the pandemic. “One of These Days” starts off repetitive and a little dull, but escalates into something great. Hopefully, it will put you out of any boredom you may be experiencing.

If you are feeling candid:


  • “Do You Know What?” By Sly and the Family Stone


There’s a Riot Goin’ On!, 1971

According to Oliver Wang in their article, “Sly and the Family Stone: 20 Essential Songs” published March 15, 2016, on, “Greil Marcus famously wrote that There’s a Riot Goin’ On! ‘was no fun. It was slow, hard to hear, and it isn’t celebrating anything.’ In short, ‘It was not groovy.’” So, while you can still chill out to this song, it’s important to note that it was created in a time of change when being honest was more important than ever. If you’re feeling outspoken, you should listen to this “Do You Know What?”, as well as the other songs in There’s a Riot Goin’ On! such as “Family Affair”.

If you need a pick-me-up:


  • “Daybreaker” by Electric Light Orchestra


On the Third Day, 1973

Electric Light Orchestra’s music is known to put people in a better mood; honestly, who wouldn’t feel better after listening to “Mr. Blue Sky?” Even without lyrics, ELO’s music can still make you feel happier. The addition of the violin in this song is phenomenal and can make you feel some type of way.

If you are feeling nostalgic:


  • “Lipstick Traces” by UFO


Phenomenon, 1974

The wailing guitar in this song is begging for you to reminisce about your past; perhaps this includes your life before the world shut down. “Lipstick Traces” encourages you to think deeper about yourself and what you’ve been through, and how you can improve your life post-pandemic.

If you are feeling inspired:

  • “Intermezzo No. 1” by Abba

Released in 1975

Intermezzo No. 1 is one of the more upbeat songs on this list. Like ELO, Abba’s music guarantees it will put a smile on your face. You could cook, paint, or just walk around the house listening to this song.

Bonus song: If you have wanderlust:


  • “Bron Yr Aur” by Led Zeppelin


Physical Graffiti, 1975

Are you tired of listening to “Stairway to Heaven” over and over again? Put on “Bron Yr Aur” and drive around for a little bit. Even driving is a good way to take a break from things happening in your life, and an excuse to leave your house. This song is nice to listen to on a road trip. Even if you can’t travel anywhere due to the pandemic, going somewhere like a park could be a fun adventure.

  By Molly Rosenfeld

You might have seen the “10 Day Performer/Artist Challenge” circling on Social Media. “Every day, select an image from a day in the life of a Performer/Artist: A photo from a day you felt fierce or a memorable moment you’ve had during a practice/performance/show, or anything else meaningful to you. Be active, be positive, be passionate… Raise Awareness of the Arts!” The idea was that you nominate a person a day, but no one ever nominated me. 

When my college, San Jose State University, canceled classes due to COVID-19 in early March, my parents decided I’d be better off at home in Southern California sooner rather than later. I changed my flight back to Long Beach to two weeks earlier than planned. Stuck at home in parent-imposed isolation, I was more than a little bored, so I was trying to find productive things to do. I had access to old photos, and I decided to nominate myself.

Music has been an important part of my life since I did “Music Together” classes with my mom as a toddler. I started violin lessons at school in third grade, and switched to cello seven years later, at the end of ninth grade, my freshman year of high school. 

Molly holding a violin, March 2012.

I had a lot of fun picking out photos, ranging from a shot of me sitting at my grandmother’s piano when I was two, to the yearbook photo of one of my school orchestras. For the tenth and final day, I wanted to do something to tie it all together. With a lightbulb moment of inspiration, I pulled all of the paper concert programs I had saved. There were a lot! I was able to fit a decade’s worth on the family coffee table, 2007 to 2017. They represent my growth as a musician,  and the journey of a lifetime.

Programs for talent shows at Emerson Parkside Academy Charter School, held in the Millikan High School auditorium, to performances as an intermediate “All Star” and Chamber Orchestra Violin III at Leland Stanford Middle School. Then to my one concert as an eighth grade second violinist in the Ohlendorf Orchestra, the middle school Honor Orchestra for the Long Beach Unified School District. It was the first, last, and only time I received city-wide recognition. I was too busy to audition for the high school honor orchestra in ninth grade and tenth grade, not invited to participate in eleventh grade, and was an alternate as a senior, so I wasn’t able to rehearse or perform.

From programs for concerts of original scores of Sibelius and Tchaikovsky at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, before I thought I’d ever have a chance to play music at that level, to accompanying Zigeunerweisen, violinist Christina Eastman’s Senior Solo, to my grand cello debut at fifteen. To the conspicuously absent year that was 2014, the darkest year of my young life. For reasons beyond my control, I was forced to stop playing, and it was devastating. To my comeback at seventeen. This collection ends with programs from the first three shows of Orchestra at the Beach, the long awaited official second orchestra at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. I had the honor and privilege of being a founding member during my early years of college. 

I didn’t include programs from choir concerts or studio recitals where I performed solo pieces. Honestly, they’re not as important to me. Singing has always been more of a hobby, and I take more pride in the music I’ve played collaboratively.

Without orchestra, I’d have a giant hole in my life and heart. I’d feel unfulfilled and almost empty. As a tiny and eager eight year-old with a half size violin, I never imagined that a decade later I’d be a cellist in a university orchestra, but I never stopped doing what I loved; sharing my musical gifts with anyone willing to listen. 

Last April, all of my figurative blood, literal sweat, and occasional tears of frustration tangibly paid off. I was accepted to the undergraduate music program at the School of Music and Dance at San Jose State University. I’m currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees in behavioral science and music. Sometimes I still can’t wrap my head around that. I’ve felt pure shock and disbelief, and awe. I’ve been proud, angry, and sad. I’ve waited, persevered, and triumphed.

I find myself spending a lot of time reflecting on my experiences in orchestra, but rarely appreciating the whirlwind they have proved to be. COVID-19 has forced me to stop and think about how lucky I really am. I found my greatest passion in grade school and held on to it. I’ve been so fortunate, in all but one year since, the only things that have stood in the way are my own feelings of “Maybe there’s a better way to spend my time” “This isn’t worth the work I’ll have to put in” and “I’ll never be good enough”. I’ve pushed through. I’ve spent nearly two-thirds of my life as a true musician, and there’s not a chance I’m stopping now. I’ve decided to pursue a career in music therapy. I can’t wait to combine two of the things I love the most: music and helping others become their best self. 

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey. As always, to Cecilia Tsan, my cello inspiration. The first performance of Kol Nidre was all that it took for me to fall in love with cello, even though my brain needed time to catch up with my heart. To my classmates and fellow ensemble members who have become some of my dearest friends, and all of my teachers over the years, and to my family, for the unwavering support you’ve given me. I love each and every one of you, and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know. I always have, and I always will.

Molly holding a cello, May 2017