Music was a big player in building my confidence and resilience as a child and a teenager, yet now as an adult I keep having this love/hate relationship with any music project I pursue.
So, in the very beginning I became part of a choir with my best friend from primary school. I was about 7 or 8 at the time I think. This taught me singing techniques and allowed me to socialise with a wide range of people. At one point we even performed in a large football stadium to hundreds, possibly thousands of people.
Along came secondary school, my friend and I left the choir after many years and our school luckily ran a project called “Rock School” which allowed teenagers to form bands of any genre and practice on a Monday night in school for 50p each a week. I found my love for drumming here and she played bass then she moved on to sing lead vocals in another band.
Now I’ll pause a moment. I know you are likely thinking “How on earth did an introverted, highly sensitive child and teenager have the guts to do this?”. Well in part I believe it is the INFJ personality type. We are stubborn and relentless in our pursuit of what makes us tick and for me it was music. My personality allowed for hours of practice alone on the drums without me giving up or becoming bored. This allowed me to be the “glue” that held these bands together and really listen to what the other members of the group had to say. I also believe the fact I was surrounded by school friends, I was in our familiar school environment, that I was able to be a bit more comfortable and channel my nerves into this meaningful outlet.
Fast forward to university, with my now husband (who is an INTJ and plays bass guitar) and it was not long after we had settled into our new city that we felt we needed to join a band. In the end he joined one and I joined two, I drummed in one and was lead vocals in the other.
Despite not having much money, or a car, we slowly built up a collection of musical instruments and both of our bands were doing quite well. We kept this up for over a year until disaster started knocking at our door. Both bands eventually broke up, I continued doing small projects, learnt basic acoustic guitar and even learnt to play bass guitar so I could support my uncles band at a festival. I later jammed with colleagues at university once I was in my first graduate job but again that fizzled out. I’m now sat here at 24 with a full spare room of instruments and no project to allow me to play them.
There are multiple reasons why music projects and pursuits don’t work. A big one for me was the lack of money and resources as practice spaces and transportation to and from gigs all cost a lot, as well as the upfront cost and upkeep of instruments themselves.
On reflection however, I also feel being an introvert is playing a part. I suffered with some bad experiences in my musical journey from blatant sexism to being told during “band discussions” about the various flaws I apparently had. My quieter personality in a room of large egos and extroverts meant I would often get drowned out or brushed aside. I would mull over these negative comments and feelings for days, weeks even. Pulling myself apart and agonising over every single word. Sometimes I would have these strange outbursts of anger, or an outpouring of feelings, like a cork popping on a bottle. More often than not my bandmates didn’t even realise they had upset me, or an experience at a gig had upset me, until it was too late. I was most confident at written communication, so they wouldn’t understand how I could write about these things but find it hard to say it to them face to face. Texts, social media, and now blog posts too are a far clearer way of me expressing what it is I want to say.
The perks of perfectionism meant I would do my best to learn my parts off by heart and perform with precision despite my challenges (impossible to set up a drumkit and thrash around in a tiny 1 bedroom flat right?!) . I would struggle with outward expressive performance on stage though, many photos of me drumming showed such a serious expression on my face as I concentrated so heavily on getting it just right. It took a lot out of me and my nerves before gigs were bordering on crippling.
To be fair, I was singing and drumming at the same time for a lot of the gigs so I was having to concentrate really hard! Still, this apparent “seriousness” (which is very common for the INFJ personality type) was sometimes seen as refreshing, other times seen as a bit of a “buzz-kill” in the creative community.
The long hours and multiple commitments (two bands, plus a full time university degree and a weekend job) meant that I got the introverts “People Hangover” really often as well as genuine physical exhaustion. I wanted to retreat to be alone and sometimes this was impossible, meaning I was more likely to appear moody, distant etc without meaning to. Ever heard the term “resting bitch face”? I was the very definition of this!
When the bands ended I was caught up in securing my graduate job, then planning my wedding, then finding another job so I certainly didn’t feel sad or bored. The small projects I pursued afterwards rebuilt my lost confidence and I honestly feel my new, reflective, mature approach will stand me in good stead. I am highly aware of my flaws, I always will be, and I will always pursue anything musically with a lot of my heart and soul on my sleeve. This vulnerability will hopefully now be overshadowed by a maturity grounded in these experiences so far and make me reflect and make me a better musician and person for it.
To finish up: My musical journey so far has been amazing, I’ve met some truly talented and fantastic people. I’ve done things that push boundaries and performed to big crowds despite the nerves. I have some reservations now though as to how I move forward. My financial situation has yet to improve (but it will in time!) , I still don’t drive (but learning to!) so I won’t rush into a new project but I also won’t rule out ever playing music again in future.
Until next time,