Only Music

I like my Monday night yoga class very much. There are 8 or 9 of us breathing heavily in a converted garden room as a neighbourly teacher takes us through our moves. There’s only ever been one problem ……the music. It’s not that the music is bad or anything, it’s pretty bland really, it’s just that, well, it’s there.

I have the same problem with films. I’ll find myself coming out and discussing the soundtrack. I’ll have an opinion about it and my friends will say…I didn’t even notice the music. It’s a problem I’m working hard to resolve but it’s been around for a long while now. From early memory I remember watching the TV just to hear familiar tunes on the test card. It didn’t bother me over much that there was nothing to see, I was only really interested in what was coming out of the speaker. You can see how this leads into days getting lost and confused. When I’m listening to a radio half-time report live from a football ground I’m more interested in the song in the background than the story being told by the correspondent. Music kinda takes over in one way or another. I see most of this as a curse rather than a blessing, and I often wish I could shut my brain down.

I say all of this because we are all here because we love music. Some of us may be more catholic in taste than others, but I suspect you are unlikely to be reading this blog if music isn’t a high priority in your life. For most of us that priority is an adjunct to work; we play or listen as a way of relaxing. It will help us celebrate or be the soundtrack to a broken-hearted period or it might well set us up for the working day. Last week I got to experience something really beautiful about music that may not have happened to everyone.

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I’m patron to a very special group of musicians called The Fridays who are part of MusicAll. Based in Hazelewood School in Glasgow, The Fridays meet (every Friday) to make music. Nothing unusual about this so far until you realise that members of the group are all people with extreme sensory disabilities. This means that when The Fridays do a gig – it’s a big deal. There’s a lot to organise. Last Friday, on top of all the other stuff, they had to contend with me playing and singing with them too. They learned up two of my songs and we played them together at a fund raising lunch in the Glasgow Hilton to 800 guests. It went very well and everyone enjoyed it hugely.

What is so moving about any time I’m with the group is how much of a difference the music is making. Although they sing and play, some of the young people are not able to communicate in other ways; sometimes they can’t talk. One girl in the group was silent and uncommunicative in all other areas of her life until she started to make music. When I sang with the group last time round she was still not able to say hello or make any form of greeting. Last week she greeted me like an old friend. Music had sneaked in where all other forms of contact hadn’t worked. It was magical.

This Tuesday we can gather round the radio and be glad we can all enjoy music as a life giving force. Love the old songs from Trisha Yearwood, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. You can also enjoy the new songs from Valerie June, Sam Baker, Will Stratton, Charlie Dore and Conor Oberst. But mostly let us all be glad about what music can do. Join me from five past eight this Friday on BBC Radio Scotland.

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