Imagine waking to the sound of an alarm clock drowning out your own snoring. Your ears and muffled footfall on the hollow stairs lead you to the clatter of dishes and the scraping of carbon toast. You’ve reached the kitchen and switch on the radio: a studio interview. Next channel, another one. Next, further talking heads. There is nothing interesting, enlivening, uplifting; no music. A guitar props up the corner of the room. It has no strings. You step outside. A jet roars its departure against the background hum of rush hour traffic. A jackhammer adds its machine gun staccato. There is no birdsong. There is no music.

I have recently had several medical appointments to address a blocked ear condition. The loss of hearing has made me appreciate afresh what a privilege our sense of hearing is, and how hard it must be for those completely devoid of hearing. Being able to decode each of the sounds that vibrate our tiny eardrums is such a gift. The alarm clock, the dishes, the toast scraping, the jackhammer and the jet all tell their story to give us an auditory landscape in which to live and move.

I am not a musician. I have dabbled with playing a couple of instruments in the past, but have never had lessons, nor learned to read music. However, I do enjoy listening to music (I have quite eclectic – my children would say ‘bizarre’ – tastes) and I love to sing. But lately that joy has been hampered by hearing my voice through my head, rather than through my ears. Then, when my hearing comes back into balance I can sing with gusto (not as I should, perhaps, but at least as I am used to). And the joy returns.

We have so many privileges in life. Among the best of these are our senses. When any one of these is taken away we are at a loss. Hearing is a wonderful gift, but perhaps hearing is just the wrapping for the gift of music. Whether you like to listen to Beethoven, Beebop, Bacharach or Beyoncé, or just birdsong; whether you enjoy playing a musical instrument, or singing in a choir, karaoke bar or the shower, be thankful that you can.

We can be thankful that we don’t live in a world without music. What a privilege.

13 thoughts on “A World Without Music

  1. I’ve had a similar experience and it felt like I wasn’t really living in the real world, but almost floating along in a parallel world; not a good feeling.

  2. Loved your comments, Robin and your lovely way with words. So true. Music lifts your heart and we are blessed to hear it.
    Remembering your visit three years ago. Erica

  3. John McNeil says:

    Four weeks ago I was fitted for my first-ever hearing aids. Thankfully, my hearing loss is classed as “mild”, but Helen was getting very frustrated at me not hearing her. My loss was more in the upper frequencies, so while my brain is learning to reinterpret the sounds, everything is sounding very tinny. The grand piano at church sounds like a honky-tonk! But we now have a very loud electric clock, and I’m sure that I can hear people’s gestures. Helen is a much happier lady, particularly since I asked the audiologist to set one of the hearing aid programmes to “Helen”. One of the unexpected results is that I speak much more quietly. But music listening is taking on a new lease of life.

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