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Music brings light to local performers

Rachel Beverly was first to perform at the Bernie Milton Pavilion at Apple Fest this year

This Year’s Apple Fest Performers Discuss Music and Mental Health

Apple Fest means many things to the community. The event, held for the past four decades, is a time to celebrate the season through food, entertainment and community.

For musicians like Ariel Arbisser, a songwriter who performed at Apple Fest this year, music is a way to promote female empowerment and healing.

“I’m proud to represent those things and make them an open topic for anyone to talk about,” she said.

A Healing Art Form

Arbisser said music has helped her through some dark times.

“When I feel extreme emotions, my go-to is to pick up a pen and write,” she said. “I think that’s where my best work comes from, and sometimes that can be a dangerous game”

Although she released her debut album, “Risk of Love,” a year ago, she said she recorded it four years ago — a tumultuous time for her, personally.

“I ended up in a really terrible relationship,” Arbisser said. “It really threw my whole life off track and it took me away from my music for three years.” 

Arbisser revealed that said the initial COVID-19 shutdown helped her finally process those heavy emotions and rediscover her passion. 

“Those were dark times in my life, but now it’s cathartic to sing and share those memories with my audience.”

Ariel Arbisser performing as a backup singer in the Jeff Love Band | Source: Ariel Arbisser

Music and the Mind

However, Director of Ithaca College’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services Brian Petersen said whether an artist intentionally incorporates mental health into their work, many studies have proven that music can impact a listener’s mind. 

As someone who has always taken an interest in the music industry, Petersen said he knew a thing or two about music and the affect it has on the mind.

“Minor and major chords not only differ in sound, but in the affect they have on the brain,” he said. “While major chords tend to promote positive energy, minor chords induce sadness or nostalgia.” 

Though music can have a positive effect on listeners and artists, Petersen emphasized that the music industry can take a toll on an artists’ health.

“Once you get into the business of music, the art can lose its fun,” he said. “You have to find a balance and keep that positive energy you get from the art.”

Arbisser agreed.

“I tend to either be all or nothing,” she said. “You can ask my band, I’m still trying to find that balance, but whatever I’m doing is working for the moment.”

A Good Balance

Rachel Beverly, a songwriter who opened this year’s Apple Fest performances, also discussed how challenging it is to balance music with other aspects of her life. 

“Even performing locally, I’m out on the road a lot,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of down time.”

Alongside music, Beverly has also worked at the Ithaca Bakery for the past four years. She said the business has been extremely accommodating to her music schedule. 

However, she said, she managed to find a good balance between her life and her music life.

Local artist Rachel Beverly discusses how she balances music with her everyday life | Source: Brooke Vogel

“I’ve seen days where I think I could do something else, and maybe I will sometime down the road but I’m always going to gravitate towards music because it’s very therapeutic for me,” Beverly said. 

“Overall, it’s a great outlet and it’s brought me so much joy,” she added.


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