Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Ukuleles And Mental Health

I've been meaning to write about this for months. Perhaps the significance that I haven't done so until now is that depression is a robber. It robs you of your interest in things, it robs you of motivation to do anything, and it robs you of drive. For years, I had dismissed it as a predisposition to procrastination. I didn't do things until the last moment, until I had no option to do it, and then I beat myself up for not doing it as well as I could. That's what depression does for you. Not only does it make you underperform, but then it makes you feel bad about it.

So, what to do? The classic advice is you talk. Well, that's okay if you can. Depression has a few tricks up its sleeve. It has already convinced you that you are worthless. Its now going to tell you that you are not deserving of other peoples' time and concern, and that you don't want to be a burden to them. That is what depression does. It's completely unreasonable.

My saviours, Nell and my Uke.

I talk to my dog. Get a dog. Dog's live emotional lives. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not hierarchy that keeps the pack together, it's emotional attachment. Dog's drink how to do empathy with their mother's milk. They offer emotional support without realising that this is what they have done. Get yourself a dog and treat it well!

Talk to your uke. Or if you don't play a uke, talk to whatever musical instrument you play. If you don't play a musical instrument then take one up. If you're going to take up an instrument, then may I recommend a ukulele. It is a straightforward business learning the six or so chords you need to know to play quite a large repertoire of tunes. If you do resort to talking to musical instruments, you will find that they talk back to you, and you will be doing what countless people have done for generations before, you will be singing away your blues. Try it! It's an effective therapy.

For the sake of those who have no faith that the ukulele could ever be a contended for singing the blues I include this.

There's a gigantic catalogue of songs about woes, and the misery of the human condition, which for reasons that are not immediately obvious, make you feel better by immersing yourself in them. You are no longer alone, your suffering is shared by the rest of humanity. My favourite song to go to when I'm feeling rough is one by KT Tunstall, Through The Dark. It's a song which presents explores the notion of a romantic infatuation with depression. It's a cracking little song, with some great progressions.

Through The Dark

Here's KT accompanying herself on piano :-

Just to show that this blog is not all froth, I'm giving you some further reading :-

1. London Ukulele Project
2. Can active music making promote health and well-being in older citizens? Findings of the Music for Life Project
3. Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American literature: A vernacular theory - HA Baker Jr.
4. Urban blues -Charles Keil



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