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What Matters? Music Matters

What Matters? Music Matters

Having spent the last eighteen months establishing Green Heart Collective, founder Helen Redfern is reflecting on what really matters in life for her...and maybe her reflections may inspire you too to explore life with gratitude and curiosity. Click here to catch up with the previous blog.

I'd genuinely forgotten how important music is for me. Maybe it's that you don't really miss something until you get a glimpse of it again. I've had a few glimpses recently but have learnt to bury the yearning to immerse myself in music and simply carry on with life.

By music, I don't mean background music. We have music on at work some of the time, but that is just background noise for me. To enjoy music, I have to do nothing else. I have to immerse myself in it. It's like watching a film: even at home, I like to really watch a film without chat, without interruptions, without looking at my phone. Otherwise, what's the point? And that's why I love the cinema so much: it's a fully immersive experience. 

Back to music. On Saturday, I was at a festival of 80s tribute bands. When the bands played, I was completely silent. I didn't sing along. I barely even moved. That makes me a weirdo at an event where everyone is shouting and singing and videoing...but my enjoyment comes from listening to the musicians, not myself or the people around me! I'm a bit of a purist though - if one element is a bit off key or out of time, or the overall effect is too chaotic/crowded, then it ruins the whole thing for me. It makes me a bit of a critic. I can't help it. People want me to just say I'm having a good time, not pick out all the little details that make it feel less than perfect! I'd been so excited for the Queen set, but that was marred by the reverb on the mic being left on for several of the songs. I tried to ignore it but couldn't get past it. Fortunately the singer noticed too and went offstage to get it dealt with - and then I could relax and enjoy the rest of the show.

I have a Classical background. Maybe that's the way I am. I remember as a teenager lying on the floor between two speakers in the pitch black listening to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto. That's how I like to listen to music. And that's why I don't get to do it very often. I want the music to consume me, to fill my entire being, to resonate within me. It's a full body experience. 

Playing music is somewhat different, but overlaps obviously. When I play in an orchestra, I get swallowed up by the experience. Nowadays, it's marred by not being able to play as well as I used to, but I still relish the feeling. When I play my violin alone, sometimes it feels like heaven - like I could do this for eternity, I lose track of time and feel this is what I was created to do. And yet I rarely do it. I rarely carve out time for it. It's as if a little time is almost worse than no time at all. It's that glimpse of something incredible again that lights a fire of yearning inside me...it's painful and therefore better to be avoided, maybe?

You know what? I think it's because deep down, there's a part of me that considers playing music, however great it feels at the time, as a colossal waste of time. It's not productive. It doesn't achieve anything. I could be using this time to do something much more worthwhile. This is something for me to wrestle with because I want more music back in my life again. I just don't know how to justify it.

Maybe the justification (if I need one - maybe I don't) is that music - played and listened to - touches my soul in a way that language cannot. It heals me and restores me. It connects me to something mysterious and beautiful and spiritual. And how can that experience be anything other than worthwhile? 

How and when do you experience music? What does music mean to you? Do you need more music in your life?

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