Music means the world to me, and played a huge role in my recovery from the depression, stress and anxiety brought on by my dealing with schizophrenia. Fortunately I started in the second grade and continued through college playing the piano. My teacher was Mrs. Hulfish and she lived on Winchester Street in a lovely old white house with a large front yard full of green grass and big, old trees. I would walk from my home to her house once a week throughout my years of grade school, elementary school and high school. I walked because I liked to walk and because cars were not so common at this time ( the early 50's) and I didn't have access to wheels.
I mostly played classical music and because of Mrs. Hulfish's influence I was always going to concerts in the Washington D.C. area with my family.
I loved to play the piano but my playing horrified my family, in particular my father, who always retreated to his office in the garage. Sort of demoralizing for a young person.
In addition to the piano I started playing folk songs on the guitar in high school with Barbara Stenson as my teacher. She got me a small Gibson which I loved. Unfortunately my time as a guitarist came to an abrupt end when the Gibson was stolen from my room at college.
I also played the cymbals in the Warrenton Band and High School Marching Band. So much for my early musical career. Although as a musician I left a lot to be desired. I loved to play and it always lifted my spirits and caused me to be temporarily happy.
I didn't play music again until I was in my 50's when I started to play the flute with Debbie Gilbert attempting to teach me. I had smoked many cigarettes of 20 some years which permanently caused me to have breathing difficulties. Still I persevered. However, breathing is of paramount importance for good sound and performance when playing the flute. Eventually my hands started shaking a lot and I quit trying to play. But several years later I figured "what the heck" and took it up again. Then one day when Debbie was flustered she lost patience and told me that even her young pupils were better than me. Discouraging! No more lessons. I started practicing on my own which is not as easy and good as having lessons. I am now trying to get Shannon to teach me how to work on developing my breathing while playing the flute.
Then in 2006 I bought a Taylor Big Baby acoustic guitar and started taking lessons at Drum and Strum, the local music store.Then I had to change medication because my regular medication was no longer manufactured. While adjusting to the side effects of the new drug I fell twice and fractured my spine and damaged my right leg and left arm, and found it too difficult to hold my guitar, so I bought a mandolin which was a tad bit easier to handle. Two years later and my back is getting better.I am going to resume playing and especially, practicing. This year I bought an open-backed banjo because it is not quite as heavy as the regular banjo. It is a difficult instrument to play but as Dr. Lebensohn said one day, "Miss Goin, I admire your steely determination." I am like a pit bull with a bone.
Why do I try? For two main reasons. Number one is that I love music and what it does for my soul and for my brain. Literally you must 'use it or lose it.' It encourages me to think positively and it gets me out and about to listen to others, especially good musicians. Number two is that I meet such nice, interesting, creative and talented people, and it keeps me motivated not to give up.
I believe music is necessary for the human soul and brain development. It is especially important for those less fortunate who are mentally challenged both with official 'mental illness' and for those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and other such debilitating conditions. If someone cannot afford an instrument (for they are expensive as are lessons) then they can consider going to church and joining the choir and singing and playing the bells. Both are musical ways of expressing oneself going back to the beginning of time. Besides, they are fun, pure and simple. Fun!