Today I’m grateful for Music!
As a Music student it’s hardly surprising that music plays a big role in my life. At the moment I am revising like nobody’s business for the 3 exams I have this semester – the first exams I’ve had while at university. Having not taken an exam since June 2009, I’m feeling a little rusty on the revision front, so I’ve gone to town with plans, coloured pens and flashcards, tables of composers/poets with their D.O.B/D.O.D and 3 major works… I’m hopeless with numbers so I’m trying to cement those dates in my head any way I can. When I revise, I plaster every available surface above my desk in material so that every time I look up I’m confronted with a useful bit of info. I’ve even got a post-it stuck to my revision plan saying, ‘STICK TO THE PLAN!’ It’s stopped me deviating at least 3 times today… Like all revision, it’s tough. You have good days and then you have times when you literally look at the clock every 2 minutes.
Like many of us, I use music as a way to escape. If I’m feeling worn out and braindead, I might put something on to have a (really bad) dance to. Usual choices are Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader or Twistin’ the Night Away by Sam Cooke. Within one of my modules this semester we’ve covered how we have our own ‘personal canons’ – a collection of pieces, songs etc that have importance and meaning to us. (This differs from the traditional Western art-music canon, which includes composers like Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms and so on.) We may use these pieces to change our mood, reflect on a past event or get ourselves hyped for a night out.
On the other hand, I frequently use music if I want a few minutes of peace and tranquility in my day. One of my absolute favourites is a relatively recent acquisition, kindly bequeathed to me by someone after I sent her a piece of Monteverdi we’d discussed in passing. Brahms’s Einförmig ist der Liebe Gram from his 13 Canons Op. 113 is just delicious. It’s the final canon (this time with reference to its canonic texture – think of singing something in a round) and uses the melody of Der Leiermann, the final song in Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle. I’m in no way religious, but I every time I listen to it I feel certain that if there were/are angels, they would sing like this. I listen to it multiple times a week, sometimes several times a day and it settles a blanket of calm over my being. Only while playing or listening to Chopin’s Nocturnes or Satie’s Gnossiennes have I ever felt such tranquility…
Curiously enough, it was Pachelbel’s Canon in D that made me want to learn the piano, despite it originally being written for string instruments. It was a piece that used to play as we filed into assembly at primary school, so I think that I have a sentimental attachment to canons! Music is definitely one of those things that can transport you from one time or place to another, can help you to transcend and escape from difficult moods or mindsets. When I listen to Alright by Supergrass I am immediately taken back to one of my earliest memories as a child, bouncing around my dining room telling my dad to turn it up!
Music is so present in our society that sometimes we can forget to stop and take notice of it. In almost every shop you go in to or advert you watch, music is the accompaniment. Sometimes it’s not to our taste, sometimes we really wish the person sitting opposite us in the library would turn down their tunes or get better earphones. But being able to listen to music is a gift. Not everyone has the ability to hear and it’s important to remind ourselves to be grateful for all music – from the dawn chorus right down to that track that makes you cringe and change radio stations. Music is glorious. Liberating. Therapeutic. I could go on all day…
It’s hard to take a photo of music, so here’s a shot of my super-sexy Sennheiser headphones that are my preference when I’m flying solo.
On a totally unrelated note, I read this quote today and it really stuck with me:
If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that you should tell people how important they are to you. Not because they could leave at any moment, but because they’re here now and it’s worth saying something.
I firmly believe in this. I am forever being over appreciative – a dear friend once described me as an ‘affectionate volcano’ – because I think it’s so important. Sometimes we meet a person and we’re overwhelmed with appreciation. Maybe they’re just really nice, perhaps they did something kind and it touched you. I think expressing this is really vital. Telling someone that they’re important to you, that they have had a positive impact on your life is positive for all involved. And it doesn’t have to be someone new – telling the people you’ve known for eons that they’re great is important too because they’re the ones you might overlook due to overfamiliarity. Many people don’t know what to do with compliments, they might get flustered and maybe it’ll feel a little more awkward than if you’d just kept quiet, but you can’t take it back and that’s a good thing.
I am reminded of this quote as I write:
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William Arthur Ward
How bonkers would that be? We all need to remember, once in a while, to get out there and give that gift! (If you’re shy, maybe do it anonymously?)