Lesson 7: Music

Music is my teleportation device. I use it to relive the memories of my time abroad. It’s a part of my soul and when I share it with people it truly means something special. For example when I hear Bruno Mars’ Marry You I am immediately sunbathing on the docks of Lake Fairlee Vermont, working out the harmonies with my rock of a friend Mayen. I had to come up with an audition piece to teach a group of 50+ children in about an hour, it was a roaring success, and the first time during my employment as a singing/drama teacher in America that I really felt I had done something meaningful. I felt empowered. And now when I hear that song I feel empowered, like I can accomplish anything. 

That must have happened to you, when a song comes on and you’re suddenly transported to a time and place you thought you had forgotten about, but that forces you to relive the emotions you felt at the time. Music is dangerous. There are songs I won’t listen to, point blank, because I know they remind me of the saddest or loneliest times. Equally there are songs I listen to on repeat just to try and recapture the amazing experience they gave me the first time.

When I arrived in America last summer some of the latest chart toppers were: Calvin Harris, Summer; Clean Bandit, Rather be and Pitbull, Timber. I’ll admit these weren’t my usual style, but they became the soundtrack to precamp (the 2 weeks before the campers arrived, during which unspeakably crazy things happened) and went on to be the Anthems of the summer. When I hear them I feel young and free, as well as feeling nostalgic for a time that was truly perfect. 

Some of my loneliest times were in New Zealand. I was at the end of my 9 month adventure and honestly just wanted to go home. I was on the road a lot over a 3 week period just staring out of the car window at the scenery, it’s the most beautiful magical place I have ever seen, but I was feeling sad. This sadness led to the creation of a playlist which I still have, and when I see it sitting there in my spotify app it makes me smile and think “these are the songs that got me home” and I am so grateful for them. Some of these songs included: A Great Big World, Already Home; Ed Sheeran, All of the Stars; Kisschasy, Dinosaur and American Authors, Home. 

Sak Noel’s Loca People will always take me back to dancing around the camp kitchen in the middle of the night with the European kitchen staff. We were attempting to teach the Americans about the European club scene – they didn’t get it, but we had the time of our lives drunk and eating peanut butter from the industrial sized tub. No one can take that moment away from me, it’s imprinted into my brain and activated by that song. It’s like I’m  in a movie, and these songs are the soundtrack. I’ll never be able to go back and re shoot the scenes, but I can watch them as many times as I like – does that make sense? Maybe I’m crazy, but that is the profound effect that music has on me. 

One of the best experiences of my life involves my love of music. It was a small experience but one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done. Sort of a eureka/epiphany moment for me. My summer camp was located very near to the French speaking part of Canada, hence there were a lot of first time campers with literally no understanding of the English language. I noticed one girl in particular was struggling a lot with homesickness and she couldn’t communicate with anyone, she must have been so scared. She was around 13 and would always come to music class and just sit in the corner, I couldn’t get her to join in with my singing lessons. One day she turned up to music class and went to her usual corner but this time she picked up a guitar and started playing, and for the first time I saw her smile. So I picked up a guitar and went and sat next to her, I listened to what she played and repeated it, then I played something and she repeated. We were communicating! Through music! We moved to the piano and continued to bond, and I swear from that moment on she wasn’t scared anymore. I got her involved in a project I was working on which culminated in her singing in front of the whole camp at the final campfire – in English! Granted she didn’t know what she was saying, but she was so happy and I was so proud. Whenever I hear the song Everything has Changed by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran I almost burst with the flood of emotion and memories it brings back – maybe I’m just soppy!

There is so much more I could say about how music and singing has impacted on my life, I haven’t even touched on the musical I MD’d in America ( it’s Frozen and you can watch it here: http://youtu.be/nM0P-Z79tKo ), but I would like to keep this short and leave myself some stories to tell another time. Music is powerful, and I wonder what songs transport you back to the pivotal moments of your life? 

Lesson learnt:

The power of music is endless. It can transport, empower, communicate, break down language barriers, lift you up, bring you down, open your eyes and evoke powerful emotions. Don’t underestimate it.

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