Music has always been an essential part of my life, and was one of the main reasons I kept going in the mid nineties when about everything that could go wrong in my life was going wrong. I can only recall a patch of about six months around 2008 when I had no interest at all in listening to music for some reason.
At its best music is the area where I feel most alive. Music integrates my thoughts, emotions, and senses of physical involvement as little else does. Nevertheless, it shouldn't become an escape, a substitute for life. Rather I believe music can help to mediate between our world of here and now and the realm of possibilities and the beyond. Currently, singing in a choir is helping me greatly, after a period of bereavement and lack of focus, to become more optimistic and active again.
Music has always been important to me - my parents told me that I would spend hours in my cot, aged two or less, singing nursery rhymes to myself, and when as a student during university vacations I was dying of boredom in our local cardboard box factory, I would go through my hymn repertoire - 2 hours - and then my carol repertoire - one hour - just to get through. Music and poetry for me go together and I have always had a good memory for both tunes and lyrics.
But music has meant much more to me & my husband since we retired. It's given a shape and purpose and a source of happiness where we might have felt bored and aimless. We both also love dancing to traditional English and Scottish jigs, reels and strathspeys.
Classical music started to mean much more to me at retirement, and indeed it became almost an obsession, but that does seem to have burned itself out. But music itself will always matter - when my mother had dementia she still loved singing and that love persisted almost to the day she died.
What would a world without music be like - I shudder to think.
It has shaped my life to a considerable extent since I discovered classical music in my 30s, and has become profoundly important. There was a period of around 12 months during my 40s when I couldn't bear to listen to any classical music - when I was dealing with some serious mental health problems. The ending of that period was marked with a Mahler concert at the BBC Proms in London that felt like a reawakening. This 12-month period showed that I can live without music, but only as a lesser, incomplete person. I know music makes me a happier, more feeling, and a more alive person with a better connection to myself and to life. It nourishes me and I need and want it, simply. It also gives me enormous satisfaction and pleasure intellectually as I try to grapple with and understand it more.
I hope to spend an ever-increasing proportion of my time with music as I get older.
Music has always been essential to my personality, even a defining factor. For me it is the most profound way of communicating what it means to be human. It is my existential user interface to reality.