Playing it by ear


Marianthe Meyer

Emmy Dunn, senior, uses music to cope with stress and connect with her friends.

On first impression, Emmy Dunn, senior, goes with the flow and doesn’t care what others think about her. 

But her classmates see the part of her that is confident, not the part that’s insecure and wants to please everyone.

They see her laughing with her best friends, not with the friend group that disbanded at the beginning of the pandemic and left her isolated.

They know she likes psychology, not that she wants to study it to understand her own emotions and find words to describe the way she feels.

They hear her listening to Lil Uzi, Kanye West and Mac Miller, not “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson, from the Curious George soundtrack, which cheers her up by reminding her of her childhood when she’s sad.

In fact, they don’t know most of the songs she listens to, or that she has a playlist for every occasion: party, school, sad, emo and “Winter Depression Never Sounded So Good.” And they don’t know about the dozens of nights spent blasting those playlists in a car with her closest friends: one of her biggest stress relievers

Music has always been a way to express myself and connect the way that I feel [with songs].

— Emmy Dunn

“[During the pandemic], I wasn’t where I wanted to be academically or socially. There came a time when everything felt so out of my control,” Dunn said. “Music has always been a way to express myself and connect the way that I feel [with songs].”

But music is more than just a way for Dunn to connect with herself: it’s a way to connect with her best friends, who share a joint playlist with more than 24 hours worth of their favorite songs. It’s a topic of discussion: “If you get us talking about one song, you’ll have us talking for hours.” And it’s a way to pass time: “If I’m not working, doing homework or at school, I’m with my friends, in a parking lot, listening to music in a car.”

First impressions paint Dunn as confident. Music is helping her become it.