For many of us, it’s been around two months since we’ve been permitted to physically gather together in our music communities to play shows, attend shows, or – hell – even practice, for the most part. While many take to the internet to virtually hang out with friends and share riffs, listen to music, or talk about what it was like for musicians “before” and what it will be like for musicians “after,” many more are essentially without their music scene and music community.
Some may ask, who cares? You can still listen to music, you can still practice your instrument by yourself, you can still interact with other musicians online if you want. What are you really missing?
A lot, it turns out.
To those people wondering what musicians and music-lovers are missing during this period of isolation, I offer this message from guest contributor Kelly Phillips. As a musician, music-lover, and music scene enthusiast she has an important story – and a ton of gratitude – to share. I asked Kelly to share her story and gratitude on Of Music and Mind because for her (and many others) participation in the music scene and music community is critical to personal growth and self-development.
Kelly Phillips is a passionate music lover; her music history covers a lot of ground. Back in 3rd grade she learned saxophone as her primary instrument, then moved onto low brass in late high school, before finally turning to drums at age 25. She’s currently teaching herself to play bass, as well. She views herself primarily in a “support role” in the local music scene as opposed to an active music-maker.
Kelly hosts a podcast called Tapestry where she chats with musicians about their creative processes and the role music serves in their lives. She also puts her art and design background to good use by designing flyers and album artwork under the moniker Arrowpoint Graphics. Kelly is happiest when she sees her music friends achieving their goals and sharing their craft with others. This “admirer role” (rather than creator/composer, she clarifies) stems from her love of being a tastemaker, and tending to appreciate projects she connects with, more so than feeling the need to create her own music.
Kelly on The Music Scene
In this guest piece, Kelly talks about the larger “experience” and “flow” of what she calls a music scene – the artists, promoters, and fans within in, the actual emotions occurring at the point of performance, and the way she navigates through these experiences – and personifies it as “you.”
My life dramatically changed in 2018, thanks to my 6-year relationship coming to an end. It was the most “certain” thing in my life, at least on paper, until that point. When you find someone who at first shares so many of your hobbies and concerns, it’s a validating, warm, loving feeling. And over time as we both matured and progressed in our personal development, the gap between us grew wider, and I could not figure out why. I’d been a musician and music-lover my entire life, as was my partner, but our expression of love for music in those months winding down to the fateful collapse began to become vastly different from one another’s.
When I would want to go out to a show on a weeknight and just feel the experience of live music, but my partner wouldn’t, I started to feel guilty, or feel as if it was an experience I ought to be sharing unabashedly with this person, the love of my life as I thought. When I would attend shows alone, it allowed me to revel in this grand creation unfolding in front of me – radiant in my own unfettered personality, free to enjoy myself and bask in the sounds, pulsing bass, hammering drums, and raw display of emotion. The yearning for that experience drew me closer and closer to you.
When I would travel out of state to go meet up with online friends I had made in various music-sharing and discussion groups, I began to feel almost as if I was “emotionally cheating” on my partner, because as I grew more honest with myself and our relationship, I noticed that I truly enjoyed speaking about music and experiencing it with those friends, no matter how far away they may be, more than I did with the person I was sworn to always love and care for.
This cycle of questioning why I was feeling more and more drawn to the music scene started to eat away at me inside. I began seeking out more company from my musical friends; their discussion, opinions, feedback, and passion for creating something so universally loved provided to me a surrounding blanket of warmth — it was that feeling I was lacking thanks to the rift which had grown between my former partner and I. We simply were not moved by music in the same way anymore.
The thought that one could witness the reproduction of art and not outwardly express their feelings about it at all seemed (albeit wrongly by me at the time) to be a problem, as if this lack of expressive passion was a dysfunctional reaction. For this I am sorry, and I’ve since matured in my thinking about the fact that every person responds to music and art differently. Not every soul is so moved by music that they may cry, scream, sing along, or run through a mosh pit with wild abandon, but that certainly describes me.
But that difference between our reactions plagued me nonetheless, creating an emotional void I wasn’t sure how to fill otherwise. As each week passed I grew more distant in my connection to my partner, and craved MORE connection to the heartbeat of the music scene. I craved the experience of being able to be entirely liberated in the moment, to relinquish what it means to “control yourself” and become absorbed by the sights and sounds happening in front of you; the freedom to don your patched vest and proudly represent those you support; the freedom to set your life’s problems aside for an evening and allow the sensations you get from hearing an angry, happy, or emotional song fill the room.
You have become my second family and the beating pulse of my heart. You reconnected me with an activity I knew I loved but had been suppressing to please another person. You amplified what I knew was a budding passion within me, and inspired me to make it my life’s joy and pursuit. I have spent hours and hours with you while you reaffirmed my personality and my quirks, instead of making me feel ostracized for being “too passionate” or “too into it.” You surrounded me with people who feel the same way, and have imbued in me a lifelong refusal to back down for loving something too much.
Thank you for connecting me to the friends and network I never knew I’d so fervently want and need in my life.
– Kelly Phillips
Thank you to Kelly for sharing her experiences and gratitude for the music scene! It’s a timely reminder of the life-sustaining benefits of music and the psychosocial benefits of the music community. While not everyone has the same connection with the music scene as Kelly — or fulfills the same needs with it — our music communities can be a vital source for inspiration, motivation, and belonging. If you’d like to share your story, contact us! Be well!
Friendly reminder: Of Music and Mind content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the assistance of qualified providers (such as some of those found on the Resources page) with any questions you may have regarding any medical conditions.