Some years ago I was on holiday in the Gambia strolling through a market when I spotted a guy making drums. I went over, sat down and picked up a drum and began a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘No woman no cry’. Within seconds the whole place erupted with people clapping, joining in and dancing on the tables. I realised that day the power of music and how it transcends all barriers.
These days I do similar things, often with young people, and within minutes I can see connections. Some rush over to become involved, others stop what they’re doing and observe from a distance. For that brief moment or session stress and tension seems to evaporate replaced by either curiosity or joy. If I had anything to thank the Lord for it would be for giving me the skills to do that because for me it’s mind blowing.
Finally back at work and have done a couple of shifts. So far so good although I’m limited with some things because of my arthritis. I picked a guitar up for the first time in months and played a couple of instrumentals for a youngster who said to me afterwards “that was beautiful”. He then gave me a demonstration of his drumming skills and I returned the compliment. Somehow I have a feeling I’ve seen the last of my big regular gigs but it’s lovely to still be able to engage and make an impact with children through my music.
I’ve been a musician for donkeys years really and worked in some fabulous places; with a smile I should add that I’ve been kicked out of some of the best dives too.
But it’s always been my ambition to use my knowledge and skills positively hopefully in a therapeutic area, perhaps in supporting young people through difficult or anxious times in their lives. I think where that thought stems from goes back to one of my many visits to Africa.
I was in a village in the Gambia and had stopped in the market place to admire a craftsman making a kora (their traditional stringed instrument). To his side were a collection of drums which he had also made and I couldn’t resist picking one up and having a go on it. Cracking out the Marley anthem ‘No woman no cry’ it was no more than a minute before the whole place erupted in song, clapping to the beat so loudly that it almost invited the dead to join in.
Although my Gambia experience was about 15 years ago I’ve never forgotten the lesson I learned that day, how the power of music can uplift and unite, and take people to a better place even for a short time.
To get to the point I’m dancing today because (in line with my adult education) I’m booked on my first therapeutic music course. May 20th can’t come quick enough :):)