Student Group - Excellent Work (Japan)
What Music Gave Me
1st Year, General Course of High School, Tochigi Prefectural School for the Blind
Madoka Yasome(16 years oldˇfemale)

As my eyesight is poor, I inevitably cause trouble to people around me. So, I’ll live by limiting my relationship with others. 
- I harbored this thought since I was a child, which made me reluctant to speak with others.
In my nursery school, children around me said to me, “Ma-chan, you keep bumping into us, but the teacher doesn’t scold you!”, and “You’re sly! You don’t do anything for others, but are forgiven because your eyesight is poor.” In my primary school, my classmates shunned me because of my poor eyesight. 
When I entered a junior high school, my heart was tightly closed against other students. I couldn’t address my classmates, and make friends with them though I wanted to. I didn’t know what a friend was like, and how I could make friend. Anxiety was my only companion.
But I knew one way to relax myself. That was music. Since I was a child, I loved songs and instruments greatly. I always sang for myself. Also, I began taking lessons in “shinobue” flute at the age of eight. I could concentrate, and forget any bitter experience when I sang or play flute. Music gave me time to enjoy myself to my heart’s content, without minding my poor eyesight, and me being shunned by others and unable to do anything right without the help of others.
Only music could enter my closed heart. As a pupil in my primary school, I opened my heart only to members of my family. But that changed greatly in just three years, that is, when I was going to junior high school.
At the school, I joined its brass band. Though I minded being together with many people, I also felt it a little lonely to play music I loved so greatly only for me. So, I had a small expectation that I would be able to play music with many people once I joined the brass band. Despite my anxiety, I could make this decision because of this sole hope. Then, the instruments which each member had to take charge of were announced. Mine were flute and piccolo. I was surprised to know that two instruments had come to me. In addition, I was to play the solo part of a piece of music that older members had chosen for their practice and performance at a competition. I was very glad, but simultaneously felt some anxiety.  I wondered if I would be able to play the part well. Also, I thought of the possibility of hearing jealous words from members of the same school year as mine, and other negative things. So, I unconsciously withdrew from exchanges with other members, even though I didn’t hear any such words.
One day, I and other members were doing voluntary practice. I couldn’t concentrate, for I was thinking of irrelevant things. To divert myself, I sang while looking at the score. Then, I heard someone say from the back, “You sing very well!”

I was surprised, and looked around to find a girl who also took charge of a woodwind instrument. She was in the same class as mine. She smiled and said, “Probably your task is hard, for you play two instruments and, moreover, a solo part. But I’ll help you. Let’s try hard!”

 I realized that I hadn’t any reason to feel anxious. She said further, “Even though your eyesight is poor, and you can’t do something for that reason, I don’t think that’s bad for me.
I’ll support you, say whatever you wanna say to me. In return, please teach me music. You sing very well, and are good at other things too. Let’s be friends!”
Clang. A door in my mind opened, though slightly. I felt strange, for I sensed something that was entering the inside of me. That was warm and gentle. I felt that the thing would dispel my anxiety about my inability to build up relationships with people.  Before that moment, I was frightened when someone tried to enter my mind. But it was wonderful that this time, I didn’t feel any fear. I thought that music invited people to my world.
The intimacy between me and the girl grew little by little. Also, with her help, I could contribute to the success of our band in the competition.
She remained my classmate for the next three years. I also made friends with other classmates gradually. The door of my mind opened gradually. I became able to speak with my classmates in a natural manner. While I had been accustomed to loneliness, my mind was opened to other people in my junior high school days. During the graduation ceremony of the school, I and my friends said to each other, “Thank you for your help,” “Let’s keep trying hard as high school student,” and “Don’t hesitate to ask my advice.” While offering parting and encouraging words to each other, I felt that they are my true friends.     I felt that now I knew what a friend was. I realized that a friend was one who opened the door of my mental world, and entered it.  I could find people who were like lights that came from the opened door and illuminated my mind gently.  Music helped me to find them.
The meaning of music for me changed in the three years. In the past, it was something that just supported me. But now it was something that had helped open the door of my mind from which others had entered, and that encouraged me to seek for people whom I wanted to invite into my mind.
Now, as a fist-year high school student, I sometimes feel it difficult to live in the completely new environment, that is, the school for the blind. So, I want to continue to play music, and turn what music gives me into my mental power.
I organized the music club to play music, an encouragement for me, with other people. While practicing musical performance, I feel various emotions. I feel joy. I also feel a desire to be a better player. Further, I feel togetherness with other people, and a desire to know more about them.
I think once again, “I’ll surely love music forever, as it helps me overcome my handicap and build up relationships with many people.”


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