Why Lawyers Should Make Time for Music


Why Lawyers Should Make Time for Music

Like many lawyers, I constantly struggle to “turn off my brain.” Current legal issues, client advice, strategies for upcoming negotiations and fast-approaching deadlines are almost always occupying a significant portion of my mental real estate, although I do strive to maintain the ever-elusive work-life balance. Yet work and everything that comes with being a lawyer, is just one aspect of my mental load, fighting for space alongside the other daily tasks required to be an attentive partner, parent and friend, and to maintain my own physical and mental well being. The to-do lists never stop; neither does my brain, and it can be exhausting. But for me, music is the one thing that silences all else, at least for a little while.

Music has always been part of my life. I started taking dance lessons at age 2, piano at age 4, violin at age 6, singing at age 7, trumpet at age 11 and trombone at age 14. I majored in music at university, intent on becoming a music teacher, while also continuing to sing in choirs and play in ensembles. Music was going to be my profession — but I found that once it became a job, it no longer provided the solace for me that it once did (teaching Grade 8 band may also have been a contributing factor!). So I took a break, went back to doing music for pure enjoyment (in my case, singing in a chamber choir), and decided to see if being a lawyer would be a better career fit (which, fortunately, it was).

During law school, I withdrew from my musical activities to focus on academics. And life, in all aspects, continued to get busier: articling, an associate in private practice, parenthood (twice), a couple of moves, working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and the associated challenges disconnecting from work). Turning my brain off became increasingly difficult, resulting in anxiety, insomnia and a general inability to be present in the moment. Ironically, although I had eliminated music in my life due to busyness, music was one thing I needed to add back in.

I discovered that music is my reset, my break, even though it takes time away from all of the other things that I need to do everyday. It pulls my brain out of repetitive thought patterns, enabling easier immersion in the “now,” whether it’s at my kid’s soccer games, around the dinner table or on date night. When it’s time to come back to my desk, tackling that legal issue, crafting that client communication or finding a path through challenging negotiations seems easier. A bit of music is sometimes all I need to return with a fresh perspective or new ideas. I find that actively engaging in music (playing or singing — not just listening) provides the most benefit from a mental health and well-being perspective.

Interested in incorporating music into your daily life? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Work remotely? Take a ten-minute break to play, or work on teaching yourself, an instrument. There are many great online resources, and most instruments can be rented inexpensively from your local music store.
  • Try a dance class one night a week.
  • Join a community group! There are many excellent community choirs and instrumental ensembles in the Lower Mainland and throughout B.C.
  • Learn a musical instrument with your kids, your partner, a colleague or a friend.

So dive in, leave your mental load behind, and make some music!