Playing, learning and listening to music can have a massive impact on how you're feeling. However, like any powerful resource, there can be positives and negatives attached. Mike Tweed talks to local musicians and experts about music's impact on the mental health and wellbeing of people of all ages.
Whanganui outfit Anny's Jam Band have played together every Tuesday for the past four years, playing an ever-expanding repertoire of classics, including Stand By Me, Cold, Cold Heart, Georgia On My Mind, and St James Infirmary.
They spent last week's session rehearsing for a show at Porridge Watson on Sunday, their first gig in quite some time.
Band leader Anne Keating said the average age of the group was about 70.
"For people like us, it gives comradeship. We have a rapport, and it's all based on the harmonics of the music.
"Something will happen and you'll look at each other and go 'yeah'.
"Music definitely brings a depth to your life."
There was a wrap-around effect of playing in a group.
"It's that care and support. If someone is sick you say 'Are you okay? Do you need anything?'," Keating said.
Playing music often led to feelings of positivity and optimism, music therapist Daphne Rickson said.
"Those are prerequisites for good mental health.
"It can trigger emotions and raise thoughts, and there is all the physical stuff involved in singing or playing."
Uptempo music, especially, could get "brains and bodies moving".
"If you're a musician you'll know what that's like. When you finish a gig at night-time it's really hard to go to bed and sleep," Rickson said.
"The right music can also calm us down. In other words, it helps us regulate our bodies and emotions so we can get on with life in productive ways."
Rickson said research had shown group singing, when facilitated in a certain way, could lead to a sense of connectedness and supported social skills and self-worth.
Mirror neurons, which fired in the brain when someone performed an action or saw one being performed, helped develop a strong sense of empathy.
"That's really an important aspect of group 'musicing'. Our brains saying 'we like these people'."
However, choirs and other musical groups that focused on competition and improvement of technique were not always a good fit for some people, and could increase stress.
Playing music together was how her family "got through things" as she was growing up, Keating said.
For Māori especially, getting together meant getting out the guitar.
"It's usually one guitar and about 10 harmonies.
"There is just something about music, it's the essence of our being, really."
Keating said she ran karaoke once a week when she worked at a disability service.
"I knew that one of the boys, who had Down syndrome, loved heavy metal.
"He sat on the chair and didn't speak, but as soon as I put his music on he would jump up, grab the microphone and away he went.
"That was the same for a lot of the clients. Just give them the mic and let them go. It didn't matter if they were in tune, it mattered that they were participating."
Whanganui musician and teacher James Paul recently founded Black Sand Music Retreats, which offers groups a weekend deep dive into jamming, songwriting and recording.
Most of his private students were adults.
"With the right teacher, learning an instrument is totally achievable," Paul said.
"You can see that click with people. It definitely helps with the 'feel-goods' if you're stuck in your job or feeling like you're an old dog who can't get taught new tricks.
"That is definitely not the case."
Being able to share what you had learned with your children was another benefit.
"I've got a few adult students who learn with their kids. That seems to be really enriching.
"For me personally, music is one of the biggest things in keeping me balanced. It's a way you can turn off to everything else and just play and become engrossed in something."
Simply listening to music could trigger memories and emotions, Rickson said.
The classic "breakup song" was one example that could have a negative impact.
"Young people, in particular, will listen to those kinds of songs over and over again when they are in a bad space, and not do themselves any good at all.
"We've got 'honey, they are playing our song', which is a beautiful thing, but it's not always positive."
Rickson said music was a natural, human pursuit.
"To quote a South African saying, if you can walk you can dance and if you can talk you can sing.
"For people who say they can't sing or dance or play, typically a social or cultural event has intervened.
"We can all do it. We just need to let go of ourselves, and let go of the expectations that others might have of us."
Any nerves attendees had at the start of a musical retreat were usually long gone by the end of the weekend, Paul said.
"People make new friends and feel way more confident in themselves.
"Adults come in and realise it's actually possible, after a lifetime of thinking they aren't talented enough to be a musician."