I have written a lot about my involvement in my local concert band and in my monthly newsletters I always include a couple of albums that I have been listening to.
In January this year I was in a very bad way with my health, but I decided that I was going to focus my energies on getting well and music.
Possibly not the most obvious thing when you have so little energy you can’t drag yourself out of bed.
But I was beginning to turn into a sick person, all of my energy went on work and then resting. So I decided I was going to use my pacing techniques for music.
I started up my flute lessons again. I pretty much dragged myself through the door of my teacher’s house and played slumped in a chair. I wheeled into band rehearsals. I don’t know how I made it through those first few weeks of rehearsals, but I can tell you there were a lot of painkillers involved!
Over time I went from NOT being able to play most of the music to being able to.
I practice every day, building up the amount of time I spend rehearsing.
Concerts wiped me out utterly, the first two I had to spend the next two days in bed. One concert I sublaxed my shoulder part way through the concert – that was fun! I kind of squeezed it back in and went on playing. But I really did pay for it the following days and I am still doing the physio exercises to strengthen it back again.
I buy albums again in a way that I haven’t since I was a teenager, although I am limiting myself to two albums a month rather than the 5 or so I used to buy. I take a lot of pleasure from taking the time to really listen to them.
Over time I have gotten a great deal better at the flute – I am improving, that’s what happens when you play in a band. My tone has totally changed, my teacher called it ‘enchanting’, which utterly delighted me. I can now sight read relatively well, whereas I have always struggled a great deal.
And of course the music makes me feel like Jen again. I go and meet with other people once a week and interact with them! Being self employed I don’t see people on a regular basis, so this is lovely.
I am also finding that my hands are responding better than they did when I first started playing again and my muscle memory is improving and responding quicker than it did. My hands had started to drop things, possibly a result of having to push myself around in a wheelchair.
Yes, playing music takes up energy and time which could be spent working, or on rehab exercises, but much more importantly it has given me back me again. I am doing something creative for the sheer pleasure and joy of it. It is hard work, but music is very rewarding.