Chopin list

Saturday August 18, 2018

Music has the power of healing, this is my firm belief.

I first realised it during recovery from a mental breakdown in 1970. I was 18 and felt very alone. My family had gone off to live in the U.S.A. It was my first term at university in London. I was parted from my twin sister for the first time, and my brother was not family-minded. He came to visit me once but was mortified and embarrassed at me and my plight and couldn't relate. I didn't see him again, he didn't keep in touch by letter or telephone. It probably wouldn't have occurred to him to support. I am not "doing him down" unfairly, for that was pretty much the way it seemed to be back in the Seventies," least said soonest mended" applied to the shameful topic of mental health, or ill- health in my case! We have come a long way really, even if there is still lots of work to be done.

So finally then to music, and its restorative power.

Simon and Garfunkel 's Bridge Over Troubled Water spoke to me as no other words could've done at that time. Chopin's Nocturnes, played by my young cousin, were pure balm. The range of emotions that seemed to be expressed in those sweet piano keys was both new and thrilling to me, and gradually lifted my spirits so that I had some interest once more in the world around me. I started to take care of myself, washed my hair, put clothes other than nightclothes on again.

Years later, I heard a psychiatrist, on a radio programme, talk fervently about the power of music in healing. I knew it! I almost shouted at the radio. This man, Anthony Storr, spoke of how Haydn had been his saviour, and explained far better than I could the power of music to our systems. New - and yet at some level, not new - to me. Because my mind had known this, even in the grip of despair and fear. And been able to feel its healing power.

Have you also been helped by music? I'd love to hear what in particular your go-to pieces of music would be, and how one or two special pieces have helped you.

A Moodscope member.

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