It has been almost a whole year since I joined v.com and first of all, I want to say how much of a wonderful resource it has been for me. Not only has it given me the opportunity to talk to other people with the same interests (which believe me, is a rare thing where I live), but it has really spurred me on with my motivation in playing the violin, and in music in general. So before continuing with this blog, I'd like to say a big thank you to Laurie and Robert Niles for giving us v.com, and to the general community here for being such kind and lovely people, reading my blogs and giving much needed words of encouragement! Thank you!
Now I have that out of the way, I can commence with my actual blog topic - my tinnitus! I wrote a blog about it back in November 2010 which can be found here, but I thought it was time for an update.
Last year, I started going to a tinnitus councillor just to try to get my severity of the condition under control. It was bringing me to the point of tears every day just with sheer frustration at the sounds whizzing around constantly in my head and ears. After 6 months of trying special CD's, I decided they really weren't working and my tinnitus was actually raging more than ever. So at my next appointment, I told my councillor how awful it had been and that nothing had really changed in the long run apart from it getting worse. So, she took the next step which was to give me a small device to wear inside my ear canal which lets out a basic white noise sound (kinda like the sea), re-training the ear to block out the sounds of tinnitus. The good thing with this is that two birds can be killed with one stone, as hyperacusis can also be tackled which is the 'partner' thing I suffer from.
Fairly quickly, I started noticing the effects the device was having on my tinnitus. It was generally much calmer in noisy situations and my hyperacusis wasn't as bad. But then, disaster struck when the device broke and I had to wait until my next appointment to have anything done about it. When I did go to the appointment, it was replaced. I found out that the devices had a known fault on them that couldn't be fixed and once they had gone, they had gone. They last longer with light use, but I use mine heavily as I need assistance when I venture anywhere out of the house. So within a couple of weeks my second one also broke.
I made do for a few weeks without it, but the tinnitus started taking over my life once more. When I snapped a few days ago finally and was in tears, I rang the hospital and made an appointment. My councillor had a new treat for me when I arrived the next day. It was a new device! Not just a replacement of the old type, but a brand new, more reliable, different design device! Okay, yes, I have to throw the aesthetics out of the window with this one as it is a 'behind the ear' (BTE) device that looks like a hearing aid. But I don't really care, I'm just happy my tinnitus is finally getting back under control again. The good thing about the new device is that it has been 'tuned' especially to my needs too, so the noise is the perfect pitch, dynamic and more. It has excited me probably a little bit too much, but seriously, when you go from extremely bad to feeling quite good within a day, the difference really is wonderful!
Tomorrow I'm going to go shopping for some cool new stickers to stick on the aid! Then, I'll be wanting to show it off to everyone! I think I might get a treble cleff, or music notes, or a violin! What do you think?
Let's face it - I've never been a fan of contemporary music. Well, that was until my choir master, Simon, decided to plonk a newly written piece in front of all of us at choir one day. 'How about some contemporary music, Eloise?' he said with a grin on his face, as he saw the look of dismay on my own. I peered at the booklet. Twenty-two pages worth of mish-mash notes stood out. Straight away I could see that the composer (who had actually written the piece specifically for our choir) had decided not to give it a firm key signature. Or time signature. Or anything normal, for that matter. Where were all the 'rules' I am so used to having in music? Where was the comfort in normal harmonies? This was all so new to me, and my brain couldn't seem to do anything much but reject the piece on the first rehearsal.
But slowly, over the weeks, I started to learn how this strange new music worked. Sections of notes were starting to jump off the page at me and become something with life and feeling and rhythm, and yes - even harmony.
The choir parts all start in unison and then a few pages in, break off into many weaving patterns and clashes. They feel like they are working against each other together, if you see what I mean? And the piano part, well, that's totally different, full stop. Even so, it suddenly came alive and it worked so well with everything else going on, much to my surprise. It was becoming wonderful!
The way we worked at the piece gave us room to interpret the phrases in our own ways and add our own suggestions. We also worked with the composer who was delighted with the effort everyone was putting in to his piece. The choir, as a whole, bonded more because of the immense technical challenge we were facing together, and as the goal set by Simon was to sing this as part of a major competition, we had no choice in the matter, other than to get on with it, regardless of taste.
So many exciting bits crop up in the music that I can't list them all, but quite frankly, it has been wonderful to learn. It has been one of the biggest learning curves I've ever had, actually. And we did sing it in the competition in the end, gaining the highest marks on any individual piece out of the many choirs from all over the world singing there. It took the choir a long time to learn it, but together we have started a journey which will hopefully be continued by the next round of people, and the next, and so on, for many years to come.
And before you ask, no, I still wouldn't call myself a contemporary music fan, although I do now love the piece we worked on for so long. It became living for the first time because of us, and it is something to be proud of. But what this new, contemporary journey has taught me the most is to start opening my ears up a bit more and make my brain work slightly harder to hear the music in otherwise unorganised sounds written on a page. I've had to 're-train' my brain over the last few months to become more accepting of this style. Of course, I do like my comfort in nice, melodic harmonies still, but at least I can now say I don't mind different styles so much. After all, today's composers are tomorrow's influence, right?
More entries: June 2011
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