Lillian Cohen-Moore
12. 09. 2011

I can thank Monica Valentinelli for inspiring this post.


Monica’s post Speak Out With Your Geek Out gave me a permission I couldn’t give myself with any ease: geeking out more than in passing on say, Twitter, about music. I’m Pandora happy, blip addicted, YouTube surfing, in love with music.

I’ll have a music minor when I graduate, though I did briefly major in music awhile back. I’m a geek for music, because it’s amazing. Music is in so many cultures, part of culture, part of language. It can be remixed, reinterpreted, mashed up, replayed, overplayed, never played at all, and never played enough. I’m a synesthetic, which adds dimensions to music for me that I don’t have proper English words for. Just colours and tastes.

We have concerts, radio, Pandora, garage bands, iPods, CDs, stereos, recitals, we have so many ways to transmit music when it isn’t live, and a variety of venues for when it is. People introduce each other to music, argue about it, chart courtships and lifetimes with it. Music has a history. It’s more than plain chaint, “classical music,” oldies and rock. And a part of that history is every music geek’s personal experience with it.

I grew up at the tail end of the 1980’s, leading into the 1990s. So my childhood had records, tapes, mix tapes, FM radio, concerts, religious music at services, singing in the car on road trips, and starting in junior high, vocal training before, during and after my parents convinced me to audition for a choir that had been to Carnegie Hall.

I’ve tried playing instruments. I’m a terrible violinist. I’m functionally illiterate when it comes to playing guitar. I am a just barely passable accordion player, and I have vague memories of childhood piano shenanigans. I can bang a bodhran in a crowd, and have sworn off harmonica. Being unskilled at instruments doesn’t bother me, because I had fun trying.  It’s always been fun, even though my being a music geek has a bump in the road.

When I was seventeen, I was diagnosed as having considerable, measurable hearing loss. I straddled the curving line of that loss, between being able to pass as fully able to hear and being unable to function without a hearing aid. I was a teenager, and desperately afraid of being more different than I already was. Of being disabled. Of losing music. I decided to become an English major, instead of majoring in music. I stopped singing with bands and choirs, and became a stage manager. Music became a private soundtrack, a passionate love I’d evangelize for, but mostly enjoyed on my own, headphones cradled to my ears.

What I’ve learned from being a music geek is important. I experience music in my own way, and that’s more than okay. I make and hear and feel music differently than I did at ten, or fifteen, or twenty, and being a geek is partly about that journey it takes you on. Being open to letting your passion for something grow and change while you do. I learned to not give up, from being a geek about music. And I learned that you should have things you love so passionately they light the whole world up for you. That they’re worth growing and changing with, and working to hold onto.


3 responses to “Speak Out With Your Geek Out: Music”

  1. Some of the biggest music geeks I know can’t sing and never learned or at least didn’t stick with an instrument. I think that’s part of the power of music – it can still have a tremendous effect on you and you can even interact with it to a certain (and still very meaningful) extent even if you yourself can’t create it in traditional ways.

    Our house is full of music – iPods, Pandora, instruments, singing – and I love that, even though at the moment I don’t play or sing anything. :)

  2. Jess Banks says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I’m a huge music geek too, and I love the joy with which you describe all the ways you’ve engaged with music over the years, even the less than technically successful — they still seem successful, though, because you clearly got enjoyment from them, so who’s to say otherwise?

    I literally cannot imagine being so in love with music and facing any kind of hearing loss at all, but it seems like even that has simply become another lens through which you process the experience, rather than letting it diminish anything. You’ve completely changed my definition of the way music can be a positive influence in someone’s life, something that, after participating in music for all but the first 4 years of my life, I honestly didn’t think was possible. Thank you SO much.

  3. Sarah says:

    I <3 you so much, the way only another music geek can after reading your words. Thank you ever so much for sharing. I can identify with nearly every word, and empathize with the rest. Music is part of the fabric of my being-always will be. And yes, we each SHOULD have things in our lives that completely light them up.