Tuesday 30 June 2015

About Music

I have been playing in a trio at one or two local homes for the elderly and disabled, learning a lot from this, particularly in gaining performance experience. To be able to play for an entirely uncritical audience removes a lot of the pressure that creates nerves and enables focusing on playing and communicating. Conversely, however, when you perform it is essential to feel that an audience is responding and in a classical environment this usually means that they sit quietly while you play, then applaud, at least politely, when you finish. For the trio neither of these necessarily applies and that can be disconcerting.

In these circumstances, you learn that even to evoke a small response from a person suffering from dementia can be an indication of the effect that music has. Quite literally it has the ability to take a fractured personality and make it whole again. Listeners with quite advanced stages of mental degeneration can become animated, self aware and can remember the music we are playing that they may have heard many years before. We've played sessions that we call 'Memory Music' to great effect.


This experience, amongst others, was why a couple of years ago I set off on a musical expedition to find out more about the way classical music is appreciated. This has changed over the years, particularly in recent times, coinciding with discoveries about how the brain responds to music. This project became a bit of an obsession and has resulted in a book, Ramblings About Music and the Mind, or, simply, About Music. It's an exploration of the borders between the art and science of music.

I'd like your help with the next stage: if you think you might be interested in the content, which ranges free and wide from music and Pythagoras in Ancient Greece to the contemporary music technologies of today, there is a synopsis at www.billanderton.uk. There is also a short questionnaire with the synopsis which will provide me with some valuable feedback. I'd be grateful if you can take a few minutes to have your say and email this to me.