Befriending Anxiety - helping young people overcome anxiety through music

Befriending Anxiety - helping young people overcome anxiety through music
Since November we have been working with secondary schools across the country to deliver our Befriending Anxiety programme.

Devised and delivered by concert pianist and wellbeing expert Dr. Xenia Pestova Bennett, Befriending Anxiety helps young people overcome anxiety through music.

The programme, which combines breathing exercises with music and movement, teaches students practical ways to improve wellbeing and deal with general and performance anxiety. The workshops include music-driven guided meditation and teach students practical tools and coping mechanisms to help manage stress and improve focus.

580 young people took part in the programme which visited 17 secondary schools between November 2022 and March 2023 across counties Donegal, Monaghan, Carlow, Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Dublin and Westmeath.

During the programme Xenia worked with a junior and a senior class in each school. Every group took part in an introductory online workshop and two in-person workshops with Xenia in their school. All students who have completed the programme receive a resource pack to help them to continue to use the techniques once the course is finished.

"I enjoyed using the virtual toolkit that Xenia introduced – very helpful for both teachers and students. An excellent programme for all schools, I highly recommend it." Paddy Molloy, Teacher, Errigal College

Students who took part in the programme not only told us how much they enjoyed listening to the live music and taking part in the programme, but also how they have already been using the tools they’ve learnt and to help them deal with stress.

"I began using the techniques and I already feel a difference in my anxiety." 6th-year participant, Errigal College

"Xenia was very kind and I learned new ways to relax. It was a lot of fun." 1st year participant, Maynooth Community College

Looking back on the programme project facilitator Dr. Xenia Pestova Bennett said "This project has been a wonderful learning and growing experience for me. As musicians, we are used to sharing music that we care about, but bringing music and wellbeing techniques directly into schools felt even more special. Many of the young people that I encountered really struggle with anxiety in addition to other challenges, so it was a privilege to be able to show them calming exercises that will help.”

Befriending Anxiety was presented by Music Network, funded by ESB Energy for Generations Fund and delivered in partnership with Donegal Music Education Partnership and Music Generation Kildare, Carlow, Cavan/Monaghan and Westmeath. Find out more about Dr. Xenia Pestova Bennett’s projects and work.











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