Saturday, 17 May 2008

When words fail, music speaks

In Redruth again this week to observe a music therapist in session: a humbling experience. Six children, all with cerebral palsy, some with few words in their repertoire, some none at all. Robin began by touring the room with an African percussion instrument, spending a moment by each child while he 'put the music into them'. They all responded on some level: one boy, who could not articulate a sound, by stretching out his arms. The silent little girl sitting next to me began to cry as the session drew to a close - an eloquent response indeed. It made me think - again - of music as the most universal of human exchanges. Words are territorial, fancy parcels of received meaning. But everyone understands music - perhaps it is innate. Robin told me of a child he works with who was born 'without eyes'. But she can dream. The way she articulates her dreams is by pursing her lips and singing in a high pitched, wonderful way - like a dolphin, maybe, or a whale: an otherworldly sound. We none of us know what we are until life challenges us in some way. We none of us know what we might become.

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