One of the things that gives me most joy in life, is music. Music is creativity, music connects people, and there are many lovely people I would never have known if it wasn’t for music.
I play the mandolin, guitar, and anglo concertina. I have tried tin whistle, fiddle and diatonic (2-row) accordion. I plan to go back to play the 2-row accordion again and I hope to be able to play the fiddle again but I’m not sure about that. The reason for my uncertainty is a long story that I may tell another time.
My playing and singing was on top when we lived in Ireland, and my self esteem in music was too. After we came back to Sweden, everything went downhill with studies, work, garden, life, stuff. In recent years I’ve only sporadically taken time to play music. And when I don’t do it regularly, there is a piece missing in my life. Usually I don’t realise what that piece is, until I meet with music friends for some tunes and/or songs, go to music events, or similar.
This winter has been terrible in many ways, but after my body started protesting against stress, I have started thinking about what I need to change in my life, how I need to set priorities, what I should do more, what I should do less. I’ve started thinking about what gives me joy, and about what is less important. What is important ranges from self care & health related things, letting myself feel beautiful, peace and quiet, taking a day off every week when I’m allowed to do nothing, stop caring about what people think, to actually do what I haven’t taken time to do for a long time. One of those things is music.
I spent this past weekend in the south of Sweden at a music event I go to (almost) every year. I’ve been there eight times since 2007… and it’s one of the best weekends of the year. It’s a gathering for concertina enthusiasts, and it’s super geeky and super inspiring. Good music, nice and inspiring people, good food, and a fantastic environment. We stay in a scout house near a unique forest, the only area in Sweden where you can see vresbok trees, Fagus Tortuosa, aka “twisted beech”.
We learn tunes from each other, have different kinds of workshops, we have jamming sessions, play for each other in a “concert for ourselves”, enjoy a fantastic Saturday night feast (one of the concertina players if a professional, fabulous, chef) and we have a concert on Sunday afternoon for the village locals. Whatever happens, I always go home with loads of inspiration and promise myself to play a lot more at home but then life and work come in between. I can’t let that happen again!!
I left my concertina with a person who is going to open it and see if he can do adjustments that will make it more responsive – aka I may be able to play without working hard to make sounds – and in the meantime I’m borrowing one of his concertinas, that is a higher quality, lovely instrument. And when I have such a beauty in the house, of course I need to play it! It’s very likely, also, that I will upgrade to a better concertina. It’s a beautiful instrument and it’s what I would like to focus on when it comes to Irish music. Now I’m going to learn the Cliffs of Moher jig, the Merry blacksmith, the Sligo maid reel, and many other tunes… not in order to become a top class musician because that’ll never happen, but simply because playing Irish tunes on the concertina makes me happy, being able to make music with other people makes me happy.
Could I spend that time on something that would bring in money? Of course. But letting yourself do something that gives you quality of life is also important.
I’m 40+ and one reason why I crashed from stress this winter was that I had started thinking about what I want my life to be like, that i was unsatisfied with lots of things, and wanted to focus on the right things but didn’t know how to achieve that.
I’m slowly getting there… we have interesting plans for the future and I’m slowly changing mindset.