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This week Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, reflects on the power of music and creativity.A Music student carries her guitar.

A few days ago I was buying a coffee when the young man serving me said, “well, this is my last shift, it’s a twelve hour shift before I’m made redundant.” I was slightly taken aback by his words but asked him how long he had worked at this place and how he was feeling about his situation. He replied, “around nine years. They’re giving me two months pay but that’s ok, I’ll be fine, something will come up.” He then added with a smile, “In fact I’ve bought a piano – I’m going to learn how to play the piano.”

Even though I felt a little sorry at his situation, I admired his accepting manner and positive demeanour. But I also reflected on his new goal – learning to play the piano. He had said this with a note of aspiration in his voice. People have turned to music during these Covid-19 times for both comfort and joy. We’ve all seen clips of apartment singalongs, sublime pieces being played on beautiful Italian balconies and Zoom choirs. But I think that if playing music with others gives people a sense of community and belonging, it also provides meaning and control. The uncertainties of our Covid-19 world has left many of us feeling we have little control over our lives.  But music always enhances our inner and outer worlds. It reassures us that there is beauty and freedom to create. Whether we are listening or playing ourselves, new worlds open up. I will probably never see that young man again but I was touched by his optimism. I simply wish him well with his determination to move forward with new hope and new goals.

Photography: Paul Dodds