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Throughout the ups and downs of my life, there has been one constant: music.
It’s something that I’ve been doing ever since I was little. I started learning guitar aged six, had my first singing lesson, joined my first musical theatre stage school when I was 10, and started my classical singing training when I was 12.
I’d always loved to sing. I remember my dad calling up the stairs to tell me to be quiet, because it was 10pm and I was in my bed, staring at the ceiling pretending I was bellowing into a crowd of people.
Throughout my teens and early adulthood, music became more than just a hobby or something I enjoyed doing. It became an escape. For me, it was my happy place. I would spend hours creating playlists on Spotify ready to travel to Brighton from my home in West Sussex, where I studied Music Performance. I would spend my evening playing my guitars and writing songs to the melodies I had created. I envisioned a career in music. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened — but that hasn’t stopped music taking up a huge place in my life.
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I’m always fascinated when people tell me they don’t really ‘like’ music. That they don’t really listen to it. Because I cannot imagine a day going by where I haven’t repeatedly gone through my favourite Spotify playlist, or sang along to a guilty pleasure in the shower. I have a deep-rooting love for music; there is something for everyone, in whatever mood, and I think that makes it incredibly special.
It’s the first thing I turn to when I am happy, sad or bored. When I am walking somewhere, trying to entertain my son or driving in the car.
I have songs that cheer me up. Songs that make me cry. Songs that help me to heal. That’s what I think music is: Healing.
There is something about putting words down onto a page and watching them flow perfectly to a melody I have practised over and over that is so satisfying. Singing along to the notes on the page takes me out of the room and into my own world. A world I have created.
I find it fascinating that music can connect so many of us together, through those first scribbled words on a page. How you can get to know a musician through their words without ever meeting them.
I think there’s something special in music that joins you together without really even knowing a person. I know that’s how it felt at college, in my classes, at the school. You just seemed to ‘get each other’ more than anyone else. I think music helped me ‘get me’, myself.
Music — both other people’s and my own — has helped my mental health massively over the years. It’s more than something to bob your head along to, but the opportunity to unleash your emotions in a private setting, your rules over whether they remain in that private setting or whether you perform and open up to the world. It has helped me to go deep into my creative side and to see what I am capable of. And that’s the thing with music; you never really know exactly what you are capable of. You could write something new every day, and think it is the ‘best’ piece of music you’ve ever written each time. That’s the thing with music: it’s limitless.
There’s also something about an acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment that helps soothe me when I am feeling sad. A deep, soulful voice or a soft raspy one. The amazing thing about music is that there are multiple artists out there to tell your story to you, in words you didn’t know how. I’ve forgotten just how many times I’ve listened to Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ or ‘Courage’ by SuperChick when I’ve been feeling sad.
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Escapism is a difficult thing to explain, but that’s what it is: As cliche as it sounds, when I pick up my guitar and place it down to my notebook, ready to write a song, it is only me that instrument in the room. It helps me to forget everything that is going on around me — even if it might be the influence for what I am going to write.
There are lots of people who step back from music because they don’t think they’re ‘good enough’, or because they don’t feel they’re ‘creative enough’, or simply because it just seems a little overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.
Writing music can be the perfect way to express and explore your true feelings. Ones you didn’t even know you had yourself.
I’m not going to say it’s going to heal you from all of the bad things in your life — but what it can be, is a comfort. One that you have total control over.
And there’s something special about that.