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“If Music be the Food of Love, Play On”

This month we have the great pleasure of hosting two bright young things, Lily and Ned, who have each brought a new perspective to the work that we do. They have been working away on research projects and today Lily wrote this very moving piece about how she identifies with the work of Finding Rhythms.


“Have you ever experienced that feeling of total speechlessness? Like when something happens – you see something beautiful, you hear something shocking, you go somewhere new, and you are literally dumbfounded. I have. I can remember it so vividly it is almost palpable. I was in hospital, living in one room, on one corridor, with no access to the outside world. I became an empty shell, aimlessly floating up and down the dimly lit hall. Suddenly it felt as if this was the world in its entirety; dark and depressing, hot and heavy. All sense of reality seeped out the triple glazed windows as if by osmosis.

And then, three weeks into the admission, I was given the green light. I could sit in the 10 by 5 metre courtyard for 15 whole minutes! Pure elation rippled through me as I counted down the hours – no, seconds – until my mum came that evening to take me down. And that’s when it hit me. She opened the double doors, and out I stepped, November’s ice-cold wind lacerating my face with full force. But I didn’t care. I was speechless, gobsmacked, flabbergasted. However you want to say it, it doesn’t matter – I was utterly lost for words. It was as though she was St Peter opening the gates to heaven. I saw the sky for the first time in three weeks! I breathed real air, not recycled muggy crap. I literally ate the air, wolfing it down for dear life. And no matter how long I sat on that bench and stared up at the sky, I could not find the words to describe the feeling inside of me, and even now, eight months later, I still cant. But what I do know is that from that I have learnt how to truly appreciate the small things in life, all the stuff we take for granted.

Now imagine being stuck in a prison. Cooped up in a dank, grimy cell for 23 hours a day, constantly watched, feeling sub-human, as though you have no rights, treated like shit. Hapless victims of society. At least where I was I was being treated by experts, my every need tended to. Sure it was no picnic in the park, but at least I had ways to cope, things to do during the days. But why should prisoners be so disregarded and overlooked? What right do we as fellow humans have to act that way? We don’t.

So when I first heard of the work that Finding Rhythms do, a weight in my heart lifted. I don’t know quite why, but throughout my whole life I have always had a slight obsession with prisons, prisoners, and the criminal justice system; I’m constantly absorbed in some documentary about the world’s harshest prisons or interviews with psychopaths. I think its because I long to help everyone, to change the world and make it a better fairer place. And call me an idealist, but I think Finding Rhythms are going to do that, one beat of a drum at a time.

Its possible that when the inmates first heard about the Finding Rhythms workshops, they would think it was a waste of time; “who cares – its just music, it doesn’t mean that much?” But I don’t think that’s the case. Correction, I know that’s not the case. Because the magic that comes out of the workshops is so raw, so organic, so totally full of passion. It seems that it gives them a sense of purpose, like they do mean something and their story can be heard. This emotional release is so crucial, and could, maybe, just maybe, give them a reason not to reoffend.

Listening back to the tracks already made, I sure hope so, because those guys have real talent, and so so much more of it to give. And I can only imagine that when they listen back to it, they will be speechless, gobsmacked, flabbergasted with what they have created. Because it gives them a sense of purpose; that they can do something right even when it is constantly drilled into them that they are bad and everything they do is wrong. And it’s the small things like that that matter. Who would’ve thought that music could be the answer? ‘If music be the food of love, play on’. Damn straight, Shakespeare.”


By Lily Morrison-Bell


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