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0401 Castle Creek Road
Aspen, CO 81611

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Aspen Valley Hospital is available 24/7 to provide you with the expert care that you need!



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0401 Castle Creek Road
Aspen, CO 81611

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Mental Health

The Art of Wellbeing

Learn why music and art are key to your wellbeing—and how to add more of both to your life.

Imagine you’re at the grocery store picking up dinner, feeling drained and irritable. Then, somewhere between the produce aisle and dairy, your favorite song starts playing. Almost instantly your mood shifts. As you hum along, your tension ebbs, your heart rate slows and you feel refreshed.

Moments like this remind us of the incredible power of the arts to transform our everyday experiences and enhance our wellbeing. In fact, for thousands of years, people have turned to the arts to support health and promote healing. We still do today: Art and music therapy are widely used in healthcare settings throughout the world.

Good for Mind and Body

Put simply, the arts are good for your physical, mental and emotional health—and research backs it up. Studies show that engaging with music and art can reduce stress, improve brain function and boost our moods, in addition to enhancing our overall quality of life.

The music-brain connection has a particularly powerful effect on our moods. Performing or listening to music, for example, can reduce stress hormones like cortisol and trigger the release of feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals help us feel connected to others and access our memories. Research has even found that studying music can enlarge certain structures in the brain and improve neuroplasticity, or the organization of neural pathways.

And it’s not just music. Sketching, painting, dancing and even writing improve problem-solving, hand-eye coordination and our memory retention. Engaging in or experiencing the arts also provides physical benefits like reducing blood pressure, boosting immune system function and alleviating pain.

Art, Health and Healthcare

Music and art can be transformational in the healthcare setting as well, whether as prescribed therapy or simply as part of the environment. Research suggests that music therapy and music-based interventions may be helpful for anxiety and depression, pain management and symptoms associated with dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Art therapy offers patients creative ways to work through trauma, grief and emotions and assists in treating anxiety, eating disorders, schizophrenia and more.

rainbow brain iconBRAIN BOOST

Research shows that listening to music can reduce stress hormones and trigger a release of feel-good neurotransmitters, improving mood and helping us feel connected to others.

hands drawing paint off of a colorful palette

wide angle lens the view of an orchestra from the back Conductor David Zinman recieves a standing ovation as he and the Aspen Music Festival orchestra complete a splendid rendition of Verdi's "Aida". Dan Bayer photo.

Maggie Gerardi Circle Headshot“Listening to or playing music can be very therapeutic. We take trips to the Music Festival, art museums and galleries and programs come here to provide us with artistic opportunities. We see the benefits through the happiness and sense of community these outings and programs provide.”


Keep up with your mind and body on your wellness journey – join our community for practical advice delivered straight to your inbox.

Benefits at Every Age and Stage of Life

Senior Man In The Nursing Home Making A DrawingResearch has shown that children reap the benefits of early exposure to music: It calms them, enhances brain connections and can improve coordination. Later in development, the study of music can boost cognition and academic performance. It’s not just young people who benefit, though; music also promotes wellbeing in older adults, including those living with dementia.

“Listening to or playing music can be very therapeutic,” explained Maggie Gerardi, Director of Whitcomb Terrace, a senior living community. “When someone hears a familiar song, they become more alert and engaged. This in turn improves overall self-esteem, increases motivation and provides a sense of belonging that can overcome feelings of isolation.”

Gerardi also pointed out that activating the mind keeps it sharp. “Engaging in new activities stimulates our brains, which can guard against cognitive decline.” She noted that drawing and painting in particular—and arts and crafts in general—exercise the fine motor skills older adults need to stay active. In addition, she shared that music and art bring Whitcomb Terrace residents together, inspiring community and combating loneliness.

rainbow brain icon


Making or participating in art can help us feel happier and more relaxed.

A Healthy Daily Dose of the Arts

You may already be using art and music to support your wellbeing, even if you don’t realize it. Now that you know more about the science behind the arts-health connection, though, you might be inspired to add more to your daily life. Here are some ideas to inspire you.

Start your day with music.

Create a morning playlist filled with your favorite songs or tune into a favorite radio station or streaming program. Incorporate music into daily tasks like exercising, commuting, cooking or cleaning. Choose music that helps you keep your mood positive.

Make time for creativity.

Busy schedules make it difficult to carve out time for creativity. Set aside time daily or weekly for drawing, painting, writing or playing an instrument. Even just a few minutes of creative expression can boost mood and reduce stress.

Attend cultural events.

Going to a musical performance or visiting a museum or gallery can be inspiring—and a way to socialize. Find local suggestions below.

Create a calming space.

Designate a space in your home as a creative sanctuary—even if it’s a corner with an easy chair. Brighten up the space with inspiring artwork, color and more.

Whether or not you’ve ever learned to draw or play an instrument, there’s no expiration date on the benefits of incorporating the arts into your life. “The arts aren’t extra; they’re essential to our wellbeing at any age,” Gerardi emphasized. “Creating, viewing and experiencing art or music can have a calming effect, which is good for your body and mind. It’s also good for us socially. Going to a concert or drawing together stimulates conversation, inspires us to share memories and brings us together, at any age.”

The Art & Science of Musical Peak Performance July 15, 6:00 p.m. | Aspen Community Center

Join Aspen Music Festival & School and the Aspen Science Center for an evening of music and discussion to explore how science, technology and engineering help musicians achieve and maintain their musical mastery. Presented in partnership with Aspen Valley Hospital.

upcoming summer arts events 2024 aspen

Make time this summer for local arts and culture in the Roaring Fork Valley.


anderson ranch arts center event 2024Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Schedule varies

Enjoy a variety of arts-related events including free lectures, art auctions, gallery receptions and other on-campus happenings all summer long.


snowmass music festival 2024Snowmass Free Concerts Series

Thursdays, June 15 to August 24

Enjoy music against Rocky Mountain sunsets on Fanny Hill. Bring a picnic and a blanket to this outdoor gathering.


snowmass arts festivalSnowmass Arts Festival

June 24 to 25

This outdoor festival on the Snowmass Mall showcases local and national artists working in an array of mediums: painting, sculpture, photography, ceramics, glass, wood and more.


aspen music festival

Aspen Music Festival

June 26 to August 18

Hear some of the world’s finest classical musicians in orchestral and solo performances at the Michael Klein Music Tent or while sitting on the lawn. It’s an Aspen tradition.


downtown aspen art festivalDowntown Aspen Art Festival

July 19 to 21

The 21st edition of this art festival is a three-day celebration of national and local artists in Paepcke Park.