Emma Bryceland is a student of music at the Academy of Music and Sound who has come up with an innovative and unique mix of mindfulness, therapy and music to improve mental health. Especially relevant during Depression Awareness Week, Emma’s inspiring but fairly new venture seeks to help people find their inner peace by using music as a healing power. She started Soul Bubble in 2016 and encourages people of all musical skill sets to get involved. I spoke to her about her new venture and about how music really can improve mental health.
How would you describe Soul Bubble?
Soul Bubble is about helping people become happier! We all know that going to the gym makes our bodies stronger and healthier. Think of Soul Bubble as a gym for your mind, here to give you the outlet to make your mind healthier and stronger. Soul Bubble is an interactive arts-therapy course, focused on cathartic songwriting and mindfulness. The course follows a personal and bespoke path to the ultimate goal of writing a song which will be recorded and given to you as a reminder of how you can turn your more unmanageable feelings into something that you have control over. Each one-on-one session will take you through another page of your personalised project book which will introduce you to mindfulness, exercises involving colour and sound to evoke emotions, analysis of lyrics with introduction to creative writing and the basics of songwriting. Open to everyone, from experienced songwriters to people who have never thought about writing a song. Soul Bubble is about finding time to work on your mind, to make it stronger and more resilient to everyday hassles and in turn make you a happier person!
What led you to start it?
I began contemplating on how my own thinking and mental happiness have improved over the last five or so years and why this change had came about. I realised it wasn’t just by chance or a case of becoming older and somewhat wiser, it was an amalgamation of creativity and mindfulness. I had began meditating and practicing mindfulness, reading books such as Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff and The Power of Now which taught me a new way of thinking and managing my busy mind. As well as continuing with my creative outlets, songwriting, singing, dance, drawing and crafts. I realised that combining this new mindful way of thinking with creativity was making for a happier me. I wanted to let people in on my new found route to happiness, so I created Soul Bubble! Our thoughts are like puzzle pieces, you can either leave them in your mind box all jumbled up or you can take some time to sort them out, find a way to make sense of them and all of a sudden have a clear picture. To me this is mindfulness, you don’t want your mind to be full, you want to be mindful. Mindful of what is going on around you, say you’re worrying about something, stop, think about right now, this very moment. You’re maybe sitting at your laptop or on your phone reading this, think about it, in this very moment everything is ok. The peacefulness found from stepping out of your busy mind and appreciating the present moment is so valuable to your happiness, try it. It takes practice and consideration at first but soon you’ll realise that from this mindful training, your thoughts become naturally less cluttered. Mindfulness is one of the key aspects I cover in Soul Bubble sessions.
Why do you think music is so important to mental health?
Music flows through our bodies, we have rhythm in the way we walk and in our heartbeats, we have melody in the way we speak. We have emotional responses to music, I’m sure we’re all familiar with being uplifted or brought to tears by music but as well as this we have physical responses to music, your heartbeat and breathing can quicken or relax, shivers felt down the spine. Its amazing, music is a core function of our brain and it effects our physical being. Understanding the therapeutic nature of music is so important to mental health, simply just listening to music or investing time in writing music as we do in sessions is so cathartic and healing. I’ve felt the benefits of this first hand. I remember writing a song years ago while I was consumed by a terrible relationship and trying to play it for my friend, I couldn’t get through it without crying, she urged me to finish the song for her and the relief I felt after was unbelievable. It was like I had removed these horrible feelings from my mind and poured light on them, it wasn’t as hard to bear, my mind was clear and I began to heal. I’ve played that song now in front of many audiences, from open mic nights to on stage at King Tuts and you know what, it feels great that I created something beautiful from what was a difficult time in my life. With Soul Bubble I want provide guidance to help anyone achieve that freeing and powerful experience!
You’re a singer/songwriter yourself – who and what influences your own music?
Yep that’s right, I started as an acoustic singer/songwriter and still love playing in that style. I’m also in a new-age disco funk band Emma Nuelle where I can let my more glitter covered self shine! Oh so many influences! Artists like Etta James, Joni Mitchell, Lana Del Rey and Prince [This post was published on the day Prince passed away R.I.P Prince], they know how to bleed emotion into their music. For me, lyrics come from really powerful emotional spells to things that happen everyday, even writing a song embellishing on your six minute journey on the subway can lead to something great. For Emma Nuelle I wrote a song about being a mermaid, called Mermaid, started as a bit of fun but its a total crowd pleaser and so fun to sing!
As a student at The Academy of Music and Sound, how do you manage running Soul Bubble as well as doing well at uni simultaneously?
Launching Soul Bubble and getting the knowledge behind me to make the sessions viable and ready to offer to people was the brain child of a business module in my course. So despite difficult deadlines and hoops to jump though at uni, being a student has inspired me to do something with the ideas that I’ve been having for a while and I’m really happy that Soul Bubble has been born!
What have been your highlights since beginning Soul Bubble?
I just launched the page and website less than two weeks ago so I’m absolutely delighted with the response so far! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from what I’ve been posting on the page and from people who have attended sessions. I’m booking people in for blocks of sessions and looking forward to seeing the positive changes in my clients week by week and letting their creativity shine!
And finally, what are your future plans with Soul Bubble and with your own creativity?
My future plan for Soul Bubble is hoping to host more weekly sessions and to help more people tap into their happiness through creativity. Further forward I would like to speak to places such as music stores or places that host meditation or craft workshops in and around Glasgow to see if they would consider letting me host group Soul Bubble sessions to introduce more people. I would also like to look into getting arts funding so that I can offer this service to more people. After uni my plan is to continue running Soul Bubble, gigging and spending a lot of time in my home studio writing and producing more music to keep the creativity flowing!
Soul Bubble’s Facebook page can be found here and you can directly contact Emma by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to book a session or simply find out more.