Guest Post: The Positive Effect of Music by Ruby Leigh-Smith

To understand the positive effects of music, we have to understand that music – the kind of music that defines who and what we are – is not usually found until we’re in our teens, or even later in life, because we are still growing into ourselves, defining and redefining who we will be.

Music is part of what defines us as we go through life, marking every stage.

That’s what I love so much about music. Everybody has an individual taste, and arguably, no two music fans playlists will be the same.

As soon as we discover our own music, we are free to become who we want to be. To me at least, music creates you, and moulds you.

When I was fourteen, I was going through some personal stuff, and I felt like nothing would ever be right in the world again. But it was actually my best friend at the time who got me into music properly. I owe her my love of it.

She told me about bands that would be classed by most people as ‘emo’, but to me, they were life saving – metaphorically, anyway.

From My Chemical Romance to Fall Out Boy, I managed to feel better than before when I listened to their music. I had found something that, to me at least, seemed exclusive.

I felt I was the only person in the world who listened to the music. It spoke to me, and loved it. Of course I wasn’t, but that didn’t matter to me in that moment when I discovered it.

As time went on, I found my second greatest love – concerts. Live music is something else entirely. The aura that is exuded at a concert lifts me up, and has continued to do since 2018 when I went to my first concert, Fall Out Boy at the O2 Arena in London.

Since then, I have been to over eighteen live shows, and one festival.

Over the years, a lot of research has been done into the positive effects of music.

A recent study found that 60% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 had increased vocabulary performance after taking just one month of weekly music lessons. A team of McGill scientists examined over 400 research papers, and they found that music decreases stress and anxiety and increases immune system functions.

This got me thinking about everything that music does that you might not even be aware of.

I have high functioning autism, so music often calms me down, and allows me to focus, or separate myself from the world when it all gets too much.

When you find artists or groups that you identify with so strongly that you can imagine they’re beside you in your darkest and lightest moments, then you have found friends for life.

You’re never alone as long as you have chords, rhythm, lyrics and a song that speaks to you.

Music is a form of escapism.

It has a positive impact on your brain, making you feel better when you feel that things couldn’t be worse, or lifting you up when you’re feeling a bit lost in the world.

Music has also been proven to help with studying. I used to change the lyrics to songs to fit with my school revision.

I changed Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ to ‘Fat Bottomed Physics’ and crammed GCSE physics equations in there – and let me tell you, humming that song under your breath in an exam room might look strange, but it works.

Many people find it beneficial listening to music at the same time as studying or reading.

Blocking out background noise with something that you listen to regularly can really help you concentrate on what you are reading or writing.

Additionally, and perhaps the most important point, is that music helps you find where you fit in. It helps you find people to identify with who listen to the same music as you or idolise the same musicians. Those friendships help you find new artists or genres of music that you might not have listened to before.

Making friends is hard for many people, but music makes it just that little bit easier to connect with those that understand you.

From making friends and helping you express yourself, to picking you up when you’re feeling down, music is like coming home to a hot cup of tea after a long day. It will leave you feeling so much happier when you’re feeling sad.

Music has done so much for me since the day I first listened to My Chemical Romance back in 2018. I’ve changed as a person because of it.

Over the last few years, I’ve started listening to other genres of music. I idolise the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership of The Beatles, and next year I will be seeing Queen + Adam Lambert in concert.

Music is a big part of my life. I have my own blog inspired by my love of music, and this have brought me a lot of opportunities.

I have even reviewed the books of people such as Sir Paul McCartney, and interviewed The Boomtown Rats bassist, Pete Briquette.

These names might not mean a lot to some, but these are people who have inspired so many musicians which we listen to today, like Kanye West (Kanye, Sir Paul McCartney and Rihanna released a song in 2015, link here).

Even musicians like Oasis, The Foo Fighters, and Bruce Springsteen have cited artists such as The Beatles as their inspirations. Without those who came before, we would not have artists like Cardi-B, Taylor Swift, or Porter Robinson. Music would not be what it is right now.

The positive effects of music are never ending.

It’s an expression of who we are and who we want to become, and I certainly wouldn’t be who I am without the soundtrack to my life.

Ruby Leigh-Smith is an aspiring journalist, writer, and a Gypsy, Roma and Traveller activist. She writes about music and books. You can read more of her work here: https://music-devotees6.webnode.com/

A Weekend in Brighton

I’m back!

I took a long break from blogging before Christmas, but not intentionally. I started a new marketing position last month and I’ve got some side projects on the go (But no side chicks sadly… which reminds me, what IS the male equivalent to a side chick?) so it’s been a bit hectic.

But I’m back to blogging again so it is all good!

The weekend just gone was pretty awesome, so I thought I’d write a post about it.

I’d decided last year that I’d go out and plan more trips in 2016.

I had a list of gigs I wanted to go to and places I wanted to visit that I hadn’t been to yet. Brighton was one of them. So when I saw that an artist I’d be listening to for a while (and was desperate to see live) had a gig in Brighton this month, I couldn’t not buy a ticket and plan a weekend away.

So my friend Grace and I went up on Sunday, ready to explore the seaside town where everyone is as cool as a cucumber (It must be difficult being that cool).

First up, I won’t lie to you. The weather was (insert emoji poo here)💩

I’ve always wanted to be swept off of my feet but the wind in Brighton was taking the mick. At one point my glasses were literally swept straight off my head. And then there was the rain. If rain were a person, it’d be the worse kind of person.

So I had planned to get some really inspiring and artistic photos of the pier and some really nice looking fish and chips but snap chat quality photography was the reality of the situation.

We did shop. Now, I’m not a massive shopper (unless it is online) but there is definitely a better selection of retail in Brighton then there is in my hometown, where you’d be lucky to find a shop that doesn’t sell either phones or anything that cost more than a pound. So the retail therapy did commence. Thankfully my bank account didn’t take too much of a beating.

Later that evening we then headed down to KO Media, an amazing little venue, to see Gavin James. First of all, this venue is so much like Luton’s Hat Factory it’s unreal. I’m willing to bet money that one’s design was based on the other. Just like Hat Factory, it looks like a little café but when you walk through to the back of the building, the stairs lead you down to a basement style room. I’m pretty sure these are my favourite type of venues for gigs.

You can’t beat the acoustics you get in a room of that size and it always feels so much more special. I literally felt like I was down the pub, having a pint.

Interesting story (disclaimer, I will not be held responsible if you don’t find this extract interesting), I found out about Gavin James purely by accident when I tried to Youtube Gavin Clark who featured on ‘This Is England’s’ soundtrack and forgot his last name! So thank you, Gavin Clark.

Gavin Jame’s was as amazing live as I’d hoped he’d be. I’d listened to ‘Live at Whelans’ on repeat so I knew he’d be fantastic anyway but it’s always great when an artist is as good live, if not better, then recorded.

The support acts were also super talented and were amazing warm-ups to the show.

Check them out.

Craig Gallagher Music

Orla Gartland

So yes, probably one of the best gigs I’ve been to! (The Cure is another!)

I got one picture of the venue itself.

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As you can see, it’s really clear and gives some great detail into what the hell is going on… 😳#sodarkyoucantflash

That was taken before the gig even started because, I will say this honestly, am I the only person in the entire world who thinks it EXTREMELY rude to be on your phone during shows?

I get recording a single song or even a segment of it, but if you are on your phone for the entirety of a show, it looks really rude.

Also, people who talk through people’s performances? Is that considered OK now? Maybe I’m just old fashion but last time I checked if you’ve paid to see an artist/performer live you should at least pay some attention to what’s going on around you. Especially when Gavin’s signing Nervous because that is literally my favourite song ever.

Rant over.

So yes, it was a pretty amazing weekend, bar the weather. I’m definitely thinking of revisiting Brighton in the summer. Actually, sod that, who wants’ to come to live there with me!?

Oh yeah, and when we arrived at the train station after lunch, our train was delayed by a fallen tree but once I’d settled myself down for the most expensive hot chocolate I’d ever brought (even if it was the nicest), we realised the train to Bedford was, in fact, leaving in 10 seconds.

MAD RUN to the platform where once you’ve jumped on the train, you become very upset with just how un-fit you are and how much money you just wasted on half of a hot chocolate.

But sod it because the gig alone was worth it!

G

(P.S. I’ve got some really exciting projects coming up which I’ll keep you all updated on!)

Also, I’m on Twitter!

And here are some pictures from my weekend away. Not actually of Brighton but ah well.

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This is England 90 Review

SPOILER ALERT!

Anyone who has followed this phenomenal series from beginning to end will understand why This is England fans across the country were left bawling their eyes out as the series came to an end the other week.

Yes, the last episode of the series had arrived, a series that had started as a gritty independent film set in 1983 and traveled right up through the years to the beloved era of the ’90s. I can honestly say, I’m going to miss those fictional characters on my TV.

Lol, Woody, Milky, Shaun. We’ve seen these loveable characters grow up in front of the screen (literally as Thomas Surgoose was only 13 when he prised his role on the film as young Shuan). We’ve seen their ups and downs. We’ve witnessed them mature and change throughout the years and true fans will agree, many have become ‘attached’ to them.

Just like the film and previous two series, This is England 86 and 88, this series was NOT a disappointment and the last episode wrapped everything up in a gripping and nail-biting finale where most of our characters got a happy ending.

Lol and Woody finally tied the knot in a wedding, which, although traditional, was certainly as close to ‘them’ as they could get! The reception at the miner’s club was far from fancy but it was certainly true to the characters.

Kelly got kicked out of the flat by Harvey when he found out she was addicted to crack. She ran away and was pursued by poor Gadget. Sadly though, Gadget still doesn’t get the girl.

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I think Meadow’s was looking to portray Kelly as the lost soul, running from herself and blaming everyone else for her problems. But you couldn’t help but feel sorry for her when she turns up at Lol’s wedding with a card and finally admits she had a problem with her sister. I’m really glad Meadows allowed Kelly self-reflection as a character. I was starting to worry she’d gone completely off the rails. Her reunion with the gang was cleanly bringing down some walls that have been built between the characters in this series. Harvey appears to be making reconciliations with Kelly. Although Gadget’s fairy tale love story was not to materialize. Harvey appeared to have that corner covered though. But as they say, mates before dates YO!

Shaun, however, did find himself an eligible beau in the form of fellow photography student Charlotte. And Smell was left no more than a fart in the wind. Although she was sure to show her green-eyed monster before the episode was finished. I’m still a bit confused as to why Smell didn’t have more presence in this series, seeing as she was a more developed character previously. But I’m more than happy that Shaun found his vocation and ended the series as one of the most likable and developed of the characters.

So pretty much all our favourite characters were together again, happy in life and in love.

But that couldn’t account for the fact that this last episode left just a few people ‘upset’ by Combo’s exit from the series.

The café scene in which Milky drove Combo to a derelict café to ‘talk things over’ was possibly one of the most powerful scenes witnessed in the series.

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For the first time since the series was born way back in 2006, we see vulnerability in Combo we have never seen before. Even when we cast our minds right back to the end of the film, remembering the brutal assault inflicted on the much loved Milky and just how unprovoked and evil it was, we still can’t help but feel desperately upset when Combo meet’s he’s demise.

Throughout the series, Milky has been deemed a quiet and gentle character. I couldn’t help but feel some frustration and disappointment when he allowed he’s relatives to take Combo away, tears, and regret etched across his face. He didn’t even try to prevent the act from happening.

It’s quite easy to understand why he wanted revenge against Combo. After all, this was the man who left him so badly beaten, his family was unsure he was going to make it. Yet I think this series allowed the audience to reflect on what revenge really means and whether it truly makes us feel better in the long run.

We can understand the resentment Milky feels towards Combo, and his anger. But seeing that look of remorse on Milk’s face throughout Lol and Woody’s wedding celebration just showed how a quick decision acted upon in a moment of passionate anger, can leave you feeling nothing but guilt. As the old saying goes ‘an eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind’.

Stephen perfectly portrayed a man on the edge. I couldn’t have imagined Combo could feel fear. Throughout the series, he has been portrayed as the alpha male, the boss, and a guy who stared fear straight in the face and laughed. But I can guarantee that audiences across the country who watched Meadow’s final installment of This is England on Sunday, would have fought back tears as Combo cried and screamed for he’s own life as the hands of a vicious gang even bigger and stronger than him. I can honestly say that scene was one of Meadow’s most traumatic and emotional. The audience would have felt helpless. Nobody wanted Combo to suffer the way he did. The fans had grown attached to him. And to know he didn’t have such a happy ending will have left a lot of people still attached to their TV screens, hugging them tightly and asking Meadows ‘WHY?’

Meadows really is a creative genius. He captured the countries imagination with some of the most lovable and intriguing characters to ever appear on British television and a story with true realism.

It was British television at it’s finest and truly BAFTA award-winning if I do say so myself.

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5 Things I’d Tell My Teenage-Self

Growing up is never easy.

It’s commonplace to find your teenage years engulfed by angst and raging hormones.

Most people will remember those years fondly as they mature into relatively civilised adults. And some may do all they can to avoid reminiscing of such times. But you’ll almost certainly be who you are today thanks to your time as a teen.

It moulds you into who you are today. Every experience, good or bad, will have taught you a valuable lesson in life. And for that, we should always be grateful even if we wouldn’t necessarily choose to go back and do it all again.

As a 21-year-old, I understand I still have a lot more to learn in life.

But I also think I’ve changed a great deal since my years as an angry, moody and undoubtedly irritating teen.

There are a lot of things I feel I would have benefited from if someone had sat me down and told me about them way back when. And hopefully, a lot of you will be able to relate to it when you think back to your younger selves.

So, here you go, 5 things I’d tell my past self if I knew what I’ve learnt today.

Stand up for yourself.

Sometimes you can be a bit of a pushover. Remember, only you have the power to allow other people to belittle you. If you speak up and let your voice be heard, people will understand you mean business!

That doesn’t mean you have to be rude or obnoxious, though. Just don’t allow other people to speak down to you or make you feel less of a person than you are. Bullies prey on the venerable. Don’t give them the opportunity to upset you or stop you foing the things you love.

Be more confident!

Put your name down for school council! Sign up for drama classes! Start up a band!

Do all the things you are worried you’ll be judged for because other people’s opinion of you is none of your business.

At the end of the day, the only emotion you’ll feel will be regret for the missed opportunities you had a school. So what if people talk. Let them talk all. The only thing that matters is that you are happy and doing all the things you want to do!

STOP dyeing your hair black!

No seriously stop. I get you are going through the ‘emo’ stage and you think it’s really alternative and edgy, but you just look ill. The thick black eyeliner is also a no go zone. You look like you haven’t slept. Even My Chemical Romance would ask if you were OK.

Punky Fish isn’t the only shop in the world!

Let’s be honest. It’s not even real punk fashion. That furry purple jumper look’s like you’ve just skinned the Cookie Monster’s girlfriend. Also, Beetle Juice wants’ he’s stripy black and white trousers back. Just sayin’

Love yourself.

Ok, so I’ve insulted your fashion sense and your ‘emo’ inspired makeup/hair, but I’m telling you right now, if you learn one thing from high school, learn to love yourself.

Popularity and a big pair of knockers will not matter one iota in 5 years time. Enjoy every aspect of your personality. Understand that the only person who can make you feel comfortable in yourself is you. Embrace the awkward phase and the alternative clothing because if you want to dress outside the box, you’ve got to rock it with confidence.

Understand that people like you because of who you are and not who you are trying to be. The only person you want to impress is yourself.

So, to all the awkward, angst-ridden teens out there, understand there is no one else in the world quite like you. You are unique and amazing in every single way.

And I promise you, even though it feels like you don’t know who you are right now, you are not lost. You are just searching for your true self. And one day it will all make sense, the ups, the downs, the fights and the tears. They don’t last forever. One day you’ll see just how fantastic you really are.

G XO

Featured on BBC Three Counties Radio

For anybody who doesn’t currently follow my Twitter or like my Facebook page (I’ll leave the details below if you’d like to follow me on social media), on Friday 28th August, I appeared on the brilliant Nick Coffer‘s radio show on BBC Three Counties Radio!

I was asked to go on the show to talk about my blog as well as the subject matters I talk about on Georgia Next Door (Anxiety and mental health). Nick and I had been speaking on Twitter a few days previously and realised we had a lot in common when it came to dealing with anxiety!

It was such an amazing opportunity to feature on my local radio and talk about issues that mean a lot to me.

For anyone who missed me on the show Friday, here is a link:

http://bbc.in/1Fjs8jW

Let me know what you thought of the show!

Thank you all for the continued support and hello to all the new followers!

Georgia

xo

Follow me for the latest news and updates about my blog:

Twitter: @thatgeorgiacoan

Facebook: Georgia Next Door

The Alone Sibling: Dealing with Sibling Loss

1000205_10201530543682559_863423124_nAs a child, I couldn’t have imagined what life as an only child would be like.

A number of my cousins are only children. And although they knew no different, I almost felt sympathy for them. How lonely they must feel? With no one to play with, no one to tell their secrets to or moan about their parents with.

My brother and I were very close as children right through to the teenage years. We were also arch enemies, like most siblings. But through all the beatings and vicious insults, there was always an unbreakable bound and enough love to create world peace 5 times over.

We were best friends, although we wouldn’t have wanted to admit it. There wasn’t much we didn’t speak about. I think my brother was the only person in the world who could make me laugh so much I wet myself (literally). We encouraged each other’s confidence. We bitched about rude people and we would be the first to stick up for one another in a fight (I specifically remember almost reducing a boy to tears when I charged up to him in the school playground after he stole my brothers football).

Yeah, we were pretty much partners in crime.

One of my fondest memories of my brother was him riding down on his bike to my college so that he could walk with me home. (I would often have to bribe him with a Pot Noodle, but still)

The day I found out my brother had gone was single handedly the worst day of my life.

It was like the world had fallen from it’s axis and the ground had crumbled beneath my feet.

It’s strange all the small details that you remember. Like the wheel chair in the family room that specifically read ‘departures lounge’ on the back or the criss crossed button on my cardigan that I repeatedly ran my nail up and down whilst trying not to look at my devastated parents in the corner of the room. And the doctors face when he came into the room with a large group of medical professionals and told us they couldn’t save my brother.

All I can remember after that is falling to the floor as though the ground had dropped, sick to my stomach and crying so uncontrollable I honestly didn’t recognise the noise of my own screams.

All I wanted to do in that moment was go back to being a five year old child. I wanted my parents to sweep me up and tell me it was all OK and just a bad dream like the ones I had when I was younger. I wanted someone to tell me it was all a mistake, that normal, average families didn’t go through this loss. My naivety was so over powering. I felt like the smallest, most vulnerable creature in the world.

The weeks after were just a blur. For any one who has lost a sibling, you’ll know the swarms of people, both old and new who appear at your door step with flowers in hand, cards with well wishes and messages of condolence. And you’ll know that after a week to two after, when those flowers have begun to wilt and the everyday life once again resumes, those visits are far and few between. And suddenly, the daunting realisation that you are now completely alone with your grief hits you like the biggest wave you’ve even faced.

And those waves keep on hitting you, like a Tsunami that ceases to relent.

As a sibling, our grief is often not as noticeable to others. People will continually ask you how your parents are. They don’t mean this in a rude way, as though the are ignorant to the over bearing black cloud of grief that engulfs your head and hangs over you. It’s just they don’t know what else to ask you.

Let’s be honest, sibling grief isn’t widely spoken about. We don’t speak about the effect on an individual, how it changes their life’s for ever. Maybe we are frightened to speak about it. No one wants to image life without their sibling.

But that doesn’t mean our voices shouldn’t be heard.

This is the story of an alone child. How life can change in an instant.

It gets a little easier everyday, but everyday has its challenges.

And the reality of an alone child will always be with you, like a black crow sitting beside you. And occasionally it will consume you, the grief too hard to bear. But you will get through it. Because that’s the only choice us alone siblings have.