Music has been Blair Clark’s life.
So, the Carmel vocal coach understands how important it is for young people’s mental health to be able to continue their passion for music amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the things I’ve been focused on is coaching young people for the purpose of emotional release,” said Clark, who runs Coach Blair’s Voice & Performance Studio. “It’s giving them that artistic outlet but also it’s very therapeutic. A lot of the parents have mentioned how they noticed how their kids have been able to adjust better because they’ve been able to come here in a safe environment.”
Kristen Boice, a Noblesville licensed marriage and family therapist, said a study led by Mission Behavioral Health showed 7 out of 10 teens reported they are struggling with their mental health in some way during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 93 percent said they struggled with anxiety or depression and 45 percent said they felt more stressed than usual.
“Music and singing are healthy outlets to express and process through their deeper emotions while having fun at the same time,” Boice said. “It helps release some of the tension, tightness and stress held in the body and nervous system. Both my teenage daughters take vocal lessons from coach Blair, and he’s more than a vocal coach. He reaches the students on a deeper, more personal level and helps process and express their feelings, stress, loneliness and overwhelming that every teen is dealing with right now. It’s a safe place to show up and be yourself, and kids need this now more than ever. It’s not just vocal lessons. It’s having a life mentor.
“My girls feel joyful, happy and more confident after leaving each session with coach Blair every week. It’s a very supportive and nurturing environment.”
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lockdown in March 2020, Clark had Appel Heating & Air Conditioning install a new filtration system in his Carmel studio approximately six months ago.
Clark has installed other measures, such as one student comes in at a time and a parent sits in the lobby watching on a screen.
“My coaching is always one-on-one, and that’s one of the reasons it is working,” he said. “I’m 15 feet away, I keep my mask on and I’m behind Plexiglas.”
Along with coaching young people, Clark said he has more adult students coming to him now than before.
Zionsville resident Sue Wickliff is one of those adult students, starting weekly lessons shortly before the pandemic began.
“We have very few live gigs, so it’s a great time to keep pursuing your craft,” Wickliff said. “When you are not singing, you are not using your muscles and you atrophy, so when things start up again, you’re not going to be ready.”
Along with coaching and performing, Clark is the owner of Artist Development Company, a booking, promotion and management agency.
“When I’m not performing, I’m booking,” Clark said. “When I’m not booking, I’m coaching. When I’m not coaching, I’m working with young recording artists with my Artist Development Company. I book some other venues.”
The pandemic has been a difficult time for musicians.
“I’ve been in the music business all my life. That’s all I’ve ever done,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of us out of work. A lot of my gigs got canceled. A lot of musicians’ gigs got canceled. There’s no place to play. Hopefully, things will pick up and change.”
Clark is the founder and one of the lead vocalists for The Fun Factor Band. As a solo artist, he has been a frequent performer at City of Carmel events. He is slated to play in the Elkhart Jazz Festival in June.